I’ve done a number of SharePoint projects now and I see a growing trend where companies are treating consultants as a replacement for proper SharePoint training. Where I see this most is in SharePoint 2010 installations / migrations. The consultant will get ready to start the project and the manager or CIO will declare, “I want my IT person to be present when you do the install so he or she can learn how to do it.” My response is always, “That’s great! I’m sure your IT person will learn a lot, but what kind of training do you have scheduled for him or her to solidify his or her SharePoint skills?”. At that point, the response I usually get back indicates that training hadn’t even been considered. Don’t get me wrong. I love to teach people about SharePoint. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be in this industry. However, there is only so much you can learn during a consulting engagement. You are doing your company and your “IT Person” a huge disfavor if you think he or she will learn everything about SharePoint in just a couple of days during an install. It simply isn’t going to happen.
When the management insists on having an employee present, I usually have the employee do “the driving” as much as possible. This means, the IT person will be behind the the keyboard and mouse. This actually works well for me because I can document the settings used while he or she is typing them into SharePoint. When I am doing installs, I try to explain why we are making particular configuration changes so that the administrator has a better understanding of the environment. In my experience though, the problem with this “training” approach is that I have yet to see an employee actually take notes during any part of the process. I’m not sure if this is due to lack of interest or what. A lot of times SharePoint is just another piece of software that gets dumped on an administrator’s lap. He or she gets some hands-on experience with the install and configuration, but the administrator may have trouble when they have to do this configuration later on his or her own.
I’m definitely not saying to not have your IT person present when you do a SharePoint install. It’s definitely a good thing. As a consultant, I will strive to arm your administrator will all the right weapons to make your SharePoint environment a successful one. However, I am hoping to reset your expectations coming into the engagement. Consultants simply can’t teach your IT person everything there is to know about SharePoint administration, architecture, development and do the migration in such a short period of time. If your administrator has limited SharePoint experience, you really need to invest in some quality SharePoint training. This will boost your administrator’s confidence in his or her ability to manage the SharePoint environment. Not to mention, he or she will probably get some sort of training manual as a take-away in which to refer. What if there is an outage? Will your administrator be able to handle it? Does he or she know how to troubleshoot the environment and look for errors? It’s something you need to consider. Am I off-base here? I’m just hoping to help some people get the proper training that they deserve. :) What do you think?