SharePoint is the best platform to create an engaging intranet for your organization. However, most organizations confront big knowledge gaps when building a new SharePoint intranet, or modernizing an old one. Total Solutions has learned that the key to success with this powerful technology is to focus on the process as much as the outcome.
Our top consultants believe that a successful SharePoint intranet is more about the process than it is about the outcome. Here are their top tips:
Partner with Experts Who Can Get the Job Done
Microsoft does a great job updating SharePoint with new features, functions, and fixes. However, these constant changes make it hard for the average person to keep up with all the ins and outs of the platform.
IT teams and dedicated SharePoint intranet consultants struggle to keep up with these changes. It feels like everyone has a horror story of being over their head with their IT team or having a vendor who blew through budget and missed the mark.
While consultants should be experts in what they offer, it is important for your consultants to remain humble. Total Solutions Senior Systems Administrator Tim Rubin says that SharePoint consultants should focus on how they can navigate the platform to help their clients.
“Technologies like SharePoint constantly change,” Rubin said. “A true SharePoint partner is a problem solver who can find answers to tough questions, not someone who claims to know everything about a platform that moves quickly.”
Beyond expertise, Customer Success Executive Jessica Royalty says that the best consultants look beyond your business needs and try to deeply understand your organization.
“In my ten years of client work, I’ve learned that it is important to be curious about you and the needs of your organization,” she said. “If your vendor tries to make recommendations or show off their certifications before they truly understand you, then you might not be working with the right partner.”
Putting a Relationship into Action
Clear and honest communication at all steps of the process can ensure that you maintain a close relationship with your vendor throughout an engagement. Total Solutions rapidly builds SharePoint intranets in iterations, called sprints, an agile method that Royalty believes puts transparency at the forefront of any relationship she has with a client.
“Because we work iteratively, I have to actively communicate with the client to ensure that every new thing we build actually suits their needs,” she said. “Working quickly in small steps allows us to address any feedback we receive before the problem becomes too big for us to handle.”
Beyond constant communication and feedback, one of the most important aspects of building any technology for your business is understanding the people who will be using it.
Total Solutions Design Lead Drew Fitzpatrick says that consultants who try to continuously understand their client’s users and stakeholders are better equipped to create high quality SharePoint intranets.
“It’s important that consultants understand how these stories make their clients feel from all different angles. That is how a vendor can pursue effective SharePoint solutions and next steps that actually address the problems their clients face.”
Building a relationship with a vendor should be like any personal relationship. Fitzpatrick says that personal and professional relationships require a foundation of trust and understanding that can only come from each side deeply understanding the stories of the other.
“Everyone has had bad relationships, and those relationships help us learn what to aspire for in a future connection, as well as what we’re sensitive about,” Fitzpatrick said. “When we get to know clients, it’s important for us to be in a place where people trust our ability to act on what we know about their previous lessons and pain points.”
Users at the Core of Your SharePoint Intranet
While many different consultants can build a SharePoint intranet, designing with the user at the forefront can be the difference between being satisfied and getting burned. SharePoint Consultant Mike Quail says that it is important to combine technology expertise with an understanding of users to design solutions that work with an organization, rather than for an organization.
“I think it’s important that a vendor advocates for what the users want, and that a client participates in listening to that user voice,” Quail said. “More participation leads to better design, which leads to better outcomes for the client, better outcomes for the organization, and better work altogether.”
If you have questions ranging from how to design a better solution all the way to continuously improving your current SharePoint intranet, contact us to begin the conversation on how we can assist you in reaching your next step in the process!