Who Ya Gonna Call?

I attended a presentation in the city yesterday, put on by a Microsoft Business Partner. The partner in question has just created a new position — a person to drive / encourage SharePoint success in client organizations. I’ll call him Fred, but that’s not his name.

So Fred’s job is to turn up at one of the partner’s clients, and look into whether the said client is getting a business return from SharePoint, and if not, to then give some counsel, advice and direction about what should happen. Given my focus when working with clients, I stridently believe that this type of work is essential … but … I have a problem with a business partner doing it with internal staff.

Here’s the problem as I see it: How does the client know whether the advice given is in their best interests, or in the business partner’s best interests? If Fred looks into the use of SharePoint, and recommends (a) more infrastructure, (b) more development, or (c) more consulting, on what basis does the client trust that Fred has said that to improve what the client does vs scheduling the partner’s developers and IT admin consultants.

Help me out here (comments please!):
(1) At your firm, would you ask someone like Fred (partner-aligned) for input?
(2) If you would, what would make you trust his or her advice?
(3) If you would not, where would you go for that input?

0 thoughts on “Who Ya Gonna Call?

  1. I think I would go for having an internal person being the SharePoint advisor… I think it will be essential for a successful implementation and usage for SharePoint that the organisation has some resurces that are dedicated to challenge and push the organisations usage of sharepoint.

  2. If I’m the IT Manager I feel it is my job to do this kind of assessment myself. I should be knowledgeable enough to do it, or I should have staff who can, or I shouldn’t have the job in the first place.
    The only possible exception is in a very small business with limited technical staff. I’m not a fan of relying on outside vendors for day-to-day support, and I’m also not a fan of having mission-critical systems that I or my staff can’t support, so in that case I would argue that the staff either needs to be more skilled or infrastructure that isn’t fully understood shouldn’t be used in production.
    So, I suppose at the end of the day, I wouldn’t be very likely to contact a partner, but I wouldn’t be very likely to contact any outside consultant, either.

  3. To me it’s a matter of the number of people in IT, not the number of people in the company. Some companies treat IT as a necessary evil and only put a person in charge of it so they have a place to point fingers. Those companies already outsource a majority of IT tasks, so for them to rely on outside consultants is a matter of necessity.
    In my opinion if you have an IT team greater than one person they should be able to support the infrastructure the company needs. Outside input may be sought as part of a specific project, but once everything is up and running there should be no long-term dependence on outside help other than vendor support.

  4. I fully understand where you’re coming from Michael.
    I would hope that all consultants, whatever their affiliations, act in the best interests of their clients. I also know that this is not always the case ……. and hence your concerns.
    For the last 10 years I had been the Regional Director of IT for an American Environmental Engineering Company, with responsibility for IT in Asia. We had implemented SharePoint. However, as you so rightly observe, we (like many other organisations) found that our staff appeared to be oblivious to the potential of SharePoint. As a result (and despite the fact that the implementation was technically sound), the implementation fell short of our expectation with regard to the benefits it brought to the business.
    In my new role I work with the company’s clients who have either implemented SharePoint or plan to do so, and are struggling to make sense of this tool from a business perspective. In both cases, I hope to help them define the benefits of this tool that are relevant to their business; help them to develop a change enablement plan that will realise those benefits; and avoid the pitfalls that we fell into.
    I am not a developer, nor am I a member of the marketing team (excepting that we are all ‘marketers’ to some degree). I am a business analyst who understands how SharePoint can change the way we do business. As a result – I obviously have a bias toward SharePoint. That’s presumably why clients seek my opinion. Within these parameters, I will always do my utmost to provide honest and useful counsel …. and will welcome independent review of my recommendations.

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