Before you decide to hire a SharePoint consulting firm, make sure to read this.

Before you decide to hire a SharePoint consulting firm, make sure to read this.

A company underwent expansion, prompting the leadership to enhance both customer and employee experiences by bringing in a full-time developer to establish an in-house SharePoint intranet.

While the corporation had an IT department familiar with Microsoft 365, the absence of developers, a formal development process, project managers experienced in software implementations, and reliance on high-level requirements characterized their situation. Despite lacking prior experience in these roles, the newly hired developer inadvertently took on the responsibilities of a project manager and business analyst.

With no prior experience in any of these jobs, the newly hired developer unintentionally assumed the tasks of project manager and business analyst.

As the initial deadline for completing the site approached, six months into the project, there were no formal check-ins, only sporadic inquiries about the intranet’s progress. Seeking extensions, the developer showcased a homepage that reflected the vision but required additional development. Despite multiple extensions granted for additional features, the firm’s board, growing impatient, sought alternatives after the third extension. Fortuitously, someone initiated a Google search, leading to our involvement.

Over the course of ten months and an expenditure of approximately $100,000 (in addition to unused licenses and waiting time), the organization faced the following challenges:

  • There are no official prerequisites.
  • The developer’s only source of requirements was paper sketches and a few emails with bullet points.
  • The solution was only around 30% complete.
  • Pages appeared similar to the high-level sketches, but their functionality was not entirely functional.
  • Many of the features the developer had created were available off-the-shelf for a fraction of the cost.

After ten months, the project was terminated, as the replacement pre-built intranet offered most features for only 20% of the total cost and was completed in three months.


We are reaching out because the sight of numerous project failures can be disheartening for all parties involved. These failures often stem from selecting an ill-suited product or developers recreating features already available in existing solutions. Drawing from experiences in my own projects, I aim to impart valuable lessons to assist you in avoiding such pitfalls.

Our intention is to furnish you with comprehensive insights, outlining the advantages and disadvantages, along with a tool to facilitate your decision-making process. Is it logical to:

  • Engage a consultant?
  • Hire an in-house developer?
  • Opt for a SharePoint product or consulting firm?
  • Consider any combination of the aforementioned options.

Why consider hiring a SharePoint partner?

There are several compelling reasons to bring in a SharePoint partner, and based on our insights, the following factors are commonly cited by our clients:

  1. Existing SharePoint Environment:
    • If you already have a SharePoint environment in place.
  2. Commitment to SharePoint and Microsoft 365:
    • If you plan to continue using SharePoint and the Microsoft 365 platform.
  3. Resource Limitations:
    • When your in-house resources lack the capability or time to complete a specific task.
  4. One-Time Assignments:
    • For tasks that are one-time projects and don’t warrant the training or hiring of a full-time employee. Examples include:
      • Cloud migration or Microsoft 365 projects.
      • Development of a departmental SharePoint site or a corporate intranet.
      • Creation of a new intranet.
      • Integration of SharePoint with other systems like SAP, HRMS, and payroll.

What SharePoint services are available?

About a decade ago, SharePoint consultants were considered unicorns, capable of handling all aspects. IT managers often sought approval to invest in a “SharePoint expert” to address their needs.

The role of the SharePoint unicorn has evolved into distinct positions, including:

What kinds of SharePoint services are available?

  1. Full-Stack Developer or SharePoint Developer:
    • Skilled in the development aspects of SharePoint.
  2. Consultant / Technical Advisor / Trainer in SharePoint:
    • Offers consultancy, technical advice, and training.
  3. Business Analyst / Solutions Advisor / Advanced User and Trainer:
    • Combines roles of a business analyst, solutions advisor, advanced user, and trainer.
  4. SharePoint Consulting Services Company:
    • A company specializing in providing SharePoint consulting services.
  5. SharePoint Product/Consulting Services Company:
    • A company selling SharePoint products while offering consultancy services.

While this list is not exhaustive, it covers major categories. Some consultants may specialize further, such as becoming Microsoft BI or PowerApps consultants. For simplicity, we categorize finer specialists within the broader categories mentioned above.

When deciding between a single specialist and a SharePoint consulting firm, consider the following factors:

Capabilities Range:

  • Determine if you need an individual capable of designing a solution, training users, and providing support, or if internal support can be managed.

Complexity Understanding Requirement:

  • Assess whether you seek a specialist with broader technological expertise beyond SharePoint, understanding of the business and industry, or if highly technical proficiency in SharePoint alone is sufficient. Consider whether you can direct or quality-assure their work.

Required Supervision:

  • Determine if you need someone who can independently manage their daily tasks, deadlines, and project scope, or if you will be involved in managing aspects, including potential budget and time overruns.

Tolerance to Risk:

  • Evaluate whether you expect the expert to bear the responsibility for losses in case of breaches, errors, or failures leading to damage or leaks, or if you are willing to assume part of those risks.


  • Consider the financial aspect and assess how much the specialist or consulting firm costs in relation to your budget.

By weighing these factors, you can make an informed decision based on your specific requirements and preferences.


Each of the four types of SharePoint partners is ranked in terms of their ability to meet the five criteria listed above.

In most cases, they rank as follows: (understanding that there can be exceptions).

Before you decide to hire a SharePoint consulting firm, make sure to read this.

Determining Ranks (Low, Medium, and High):

In assessing ranks based on the provided rationale, partners are assigned scores of Low, Medium, or High for each criterion.

Range of Capabilities:

  • This category encompasses standard capabilities that a partner may possess, including Business Analysis, Project Administration, Architecture, Development, Training, and Helpdesk & Support.
  • A partner is classified as Low if they possess only one unique capability; a score of 2-3 is considered Medium, while a score of 4-6 is deemed High.

For the evaluation criteria, the breakdown is as follows:

Understanding Complexity:

  • In this category, proficiency is gauged based on:
    • Specialization in SharePoint.
    • Knowledge of integrating SharePoint with other systems.
    • Ability to recognize when SharePoint is not suitable, suggesting alternative solutions.
    • Understanding non-technical risks, including Change Management.
  • If the partner possesses only the first item on the list, they are considered Low; a score of 1-3 is classified as Medium, and 1-4 is designated as High.

Supervision Required:

  • This criterion assesses the level of supervision needed for daily tasks and project management:
    • Partner can manage daily tasks but relies on your weekly arrangement.
    • With high-level guidance, the partner can plan work for up to 1 or 2 weeks.
    • High-level coaching enables the partner to handle tasks for one or more months.
    • The partner will autonomously manage their tasks and your internal resources while overseeing the entire project.

If the partner only fulfills the first item on the list, they are deemed Low; a score of 2-3 is considered Medium, and 4 is categorized as High.

For the evaluation of Risk Tolerance, the criteria encompass:

Risk Tolerance:

  • This category involves assessing the partner’s ability to handle risks, considering factors such as:
    • Inclusion of Service Level commitments in the partner contract (e.g., response time commitments).
    • Specification in the contract on addressing failures to fulfill or deliver, covering aspects like staff turnover, outages, and financial responsibilities.
    • Possession of Errors and Omissions coverage.
    • Possession of general liability, errors and omissions, and cyber insurance.
  • If the partner fulfills only the first item in the list, they are considered Low; a score of 1-3 is Medium, and 1-4 is High.

We consider your partner low if the cost is in the range #1; 2-3 is Medium, and four is High.

Price Ranges (Hourly):

  • The financial aspect is evaluated based on hourly rates:
    • Less than $100/hour is categorized as Low.
    • In the range of $100-150/hour is considered Medium.
    • Within the range of $150-300/hour is designated as High.
    • Rates exceeding $300/hour are also classified as High.

To prepare for hiring a SharePoint partner, especially a consultant, follow this checklist:

  1. Understand Long-Term Objectives:
    • Identify specific events or milestones that indicate goal achievement.
  2. High-Level Requirements:
    • Compile a list of high-level requirements to attain objectives.
  3. Deadline Awareness:
    • Determine the deadline for achieving results.
  4. Milestone Breakdown:
    • If necessary, break down high-level criteria into milestones for partial success.
  5. Budget Consideration:
    • Establish the budget, understanding when costs exceed benefits.
  6. Recognize Internal Costs:
    • Consider internal time required and involvement of IT, HR, and other departments.
    • Evaluate licensing fees, especially for additional SharePoint licenses.
  7. Consult Professionals:
    • Explore alternatives and options.
    • Confirm budget estimates and licensing requirements.
    • Detail specific needs for at least the initial phase.
  8. Contact Potential Partners:
    • Assess potential partners against the defined criteria.

To assess internal costs, follow these steps:

Internal Costs Recognition:

  1. Time Commitment:
    • Evaluate the internal time required to manage the project effectively.
  2. Resource Allocation:
    • Identify the involvement of internal resources, including IT, HR, and other departments. Specify the extent of their required contribution.
  3. Licensing Fees Analysis:
    • Examine licensing fees, particularly for additional SharePoint licenses that may be necessary. Seek guidance from experts in this regard.

Consultation with Professionals:

4. Explore Alternatives:

  • Recognize available alternatives and explore various options.
  1. Budget Confirmation:
    • Confirm the approximate budget for the project.
  2. Licensing Requirement Verification:
    • Validate licensing requirements, considering insights gained during the understanding of internal costs.
  3. Specific Needs Identification:
    • Compile a list of more detailed requirements, focusing on at least the initial phase.
  4. Partner Engagement:
    • Reach out to potential partners to discuss your project requirements.
  5. Criterion Evaluation:
    • Assess whether the selected consultant aligns with the criteria established above.

When evaluating a SharePoint consultant, consider the following criteria:


  • Communication:
    • If your policy allows, engage in conversations with references, particularly for high-scoped and high-cost projects.
    • Inquire about the specific issues the references faced and why they chose the consultant.
    • Understand what aspects worked well and what did not, and assess how their feedback contributes to resolving potential challenges.
  • Understanding Requirements:
    • Evaluate the consultant’s ability to ask questions, ensuring a comprehensive understanding of your project requirements.
  • Delivery Capability:
    • Assess the consultant’s capability to deliver within specified dimensions, considering factors like capabilities, understanding complexity, supervision requirements, risk tolerance, and cost.
  • Project Approach:
    • Examine the consultant’s ability to break down work into phases or provide proof of concept, demonstrating a structured project approach.

By focusing on these specific criteria, you can move beyond relying solely on “gut instinct,” which might lead to challenges in project execution.

If you’ve read this far, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our specialists to help you enhance your business.