In part 1, I wrote about two fundamental aspects of SharePoint as a product and why each one is critically important when considering your requirements.
There’s more to the story of course, like the cost of the Internet Connector licensing and adequate server resources, when even starting to ponder the use of SharePoint for public facing web sites. In short, consider other products.
In this installment, I’m going to consider the 3rd leg of the stool; the skills needed to implement successful SharePoint-based Intranet or even Extranet portals.
First though, some more background. I have found it useful at times to distinguish the SharePoint product from SharePoint the platform. There are many useful and creative functions that can be implemented in the SharePoint 2010 product; even with the Standard Edition. You need people with skills and imagination. I am constantly surprised at what people possessing both attributes can accomplish in SharePoint right out of the box.
However, there is a line that exists between custom code and no-code required for every feature of SharePoint. These lines, as it were, are very important but not always very obvious. It is SharePoint the platform that you must turn to when these lines are crossed. The platform in SharePoint is all of the non-visual, API, geek stuff that comprises about 80% of the entirety of SharePoint Server. For the most part then, I’m using the term code here to mean C# web parts, event receivers, services integration, etc.
When considering your “must have” requirements, it would be great if you knew exactly where these lines were so you fully understood the skills and costs associated with any given decision. Producing a plan/estimate that you or anyone else should have any confidence in requires you to understand the resources that are needed for your potential project.
As a management mentor of mine once said, “(at work) no one likes surprises”.
It is critically important for you to understand what you don’t know about SharePoint projects. If at any time in the project you need the best skills affordable, it is in the planning/feasibility phase. I cannot over-state the importance of this point. It will save you money, and probably a lot of disappointment. Chances are great that if you spend the time and money up-front, your overall project costs will be lower as a result. There’s a really good reason SharePoint consultants charge what they do.
In other words, its best if you know exactly what you are doing.
Which of course sounds simple enough, but it is the #1 problem I have seen in my 7 years as a SharePoint consultant. Make sure you get a SharePoint consultant, not someone who can merely read Blog posts and guess at the answers. SharePoint consultants should have about 10+ years of overall experience and at least 3 years in SharePoint by itself. SharePoint consultants are pretty-much dedicated to SharePoint work on a full-time basis, and there is a ton of work to ensure this.
Interview potential candidates and consulting companies and ask hard questions like “How will you prove that SharePoint is the right tool for us?”, or simply “Why should we use SharePoint?”.
When SharePoint is the right choice, it’s not difficult to justify it.