So one of my favorite questions I get from people outside my culture is:
So what do SharePoint consultants really….well….do?
Honestly this is a wildcard question. There is a few different general answers you might have based on your focus, and then there is the all in one method. Your focus as a consultant will drive the answer, and really there is some real hotshots and some general button monkeys. So we are going to try and cover a few of the options…this is not saying your role in you org is not valuable….just keep one thing in mind.
A team is build up of lots of individuals performing different tasks, but a team succeeds by everyone doing their part. The star quarterback is nothing without the group of logistics, health providers, gear managers, hydration specialists….and that is off the field.
So here is a list of the most common roles in a SharePoint consulting team:
The Information Architect/UX
The Project Manager
The Account Manager
The Account Executive
So lets discuss a few of these….
The Architect (make sure to read this)
So the Architect role is the overall tech master of the project. It is usually their vision, or concept the rest of the team is implementing. Think of this as the Quarterback.
This role is one of the most pivotal of all the roles on the team. In fact this is usually the only role that a person cannot be swapped, or have a few folks performing on a part time. To be the Architect, you must have a understanding of everyone’s role below, and basically be a near God of SharePoint. This is actually one of the most common titles SharePoint consultants have, and most common they have no clue.
I like to say there is over 5000 folks in the world that understand SharePoint, but there is less than 400 that actually know what they are doing.
Many of my projects in the past 10 years have been from following idiot SharePoint Architects. They implement what they read on a blog, or from some generic book….and bang. Something is wrong…..Yes every environment is different, and thus you will have things show up that do not exist somewhere else….welcome to IT Baby.
One of my more favorite roles in the consulting is being the “Master of Nothing”. This is the person who know so much about nearly everything that you are walking encyclopedia of information. If you don’t know it, give me two minutes and I can discuss it intelligently after I absorb the subject from 10 different sources.
The power of the Generalist is the fact they can guide the team on a lot of best practices, know where information is, and commonly is not bias towards a specific option.
So the next critical role is the SharePoint Developer. This is well a job that is a pain in the butt. SharePoint is a platform with many gotchas and hidden rules, so developers have to work within the constraints of SharePoint and this is not always intuitive and fun. Many purist will not develop at all in SharePoint. So having a dev that can do magic with code is great. This is one of your most powerful roles in the lifecycle of SharePoint.
A person who is a SharePoint Designer can fall into a few different categories, the most common though is a person who focuses on the Layouts, Wireframes, CSS, and application of design assets into SharePoint. They are not normally graphic artists, or creative (not saying some do not do this role also).
Commonly the UX, and Design aspect is performed by a IA/UX Role on the team. These are more specialist roles that will only be on a project for a short time, and depending on budget or scope may not be on it at all.
So there is very few Guru’s or Masters of SharePoint. I have a few on my team, what does that mean. Well a guru can be a few different ways. There is a person who knows there role, then there is a person who LIVES the role. I myself focus on UX/IA/and Design.
The guru is not a necessity to survive or have a good team, it is just great when you know that person will not get stumped, they will find the answer, and not give up on an issue. That is a guru. Think of Sherlock Holmes of IT.
Well there is a few different folks I lump into this category, but in general their job is to manage the team and the client. I give them props when they do their job right, all is calm. If they don’t well it does not matter how good the tech team…you are….DOOMED.
Now not all projects will have these folks on them, sometime the Architect plays this role also, so keep that in mind….a great tech team can self Project Manage.
I will discuss them more in detail later. But the team management are crucial to success so make sure they can do it right.
So what makes up a SharePoint Consulting team, lots of different personalities. There is a consultant for Every Occasion, and SharePoint as a platform will weed out those who suck fast. Just keep in mind one thing. When someone asks the dreaded question:
You can answer:
Well Bob, depending on the day I do a lot of different things you just would not understand!