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5 Things to Keep In Mind If You Decide To Brand SharePoint

by on November 3, 2011
  1. Hire Experienced SharePoint Professionals – Research and vet vendors selling SharePoint branding services and provide list of approved companies to those in charge of projects. Do they have the SharePoint expertise? The design expertise? How much experience do they have with your version of SharePoint (2010, 2007, Foundation, Enterprise)? Do they understand the implications of branding the User Interface and how it effects the User Experience (UI, UX)? Are they pushing more design, change, branding, or just hours than you are comfortable with? Are they willing to follow your design standards not their own, but still voice concerns where it will interfere with functionality?
  2. Create Internal SharePoint Standards – Before you begin, come up with company standards regarding the final outcome of SharePoint branding and customizations. For example, require that no work is done that will negatively impact the core SharePoint user interface.
  3. Define a Common Site Architecture – Require standard UI and structure so that users don’t get lost and know where to find things! Make all sites predictable and your users we be able to get started that much quicker. They will not have to chase down a site owner to discover where specific sets of documents are kept. This includes using common names for common libraries and lists.
  4. Review and Approve  Site Customizations – You may want to implement an approval process as a blanket standard to make sure site owners are following the rules. Make no exceptions for a specific department and make sure all sites changes meet your previously created Approved Standards. This should be completed before changes are made live to normalize site layout, structure, etc.
  5. Documentation, Training, Foresight, & Prudence – Require that sites and site customizations be maintainable by site owner. If you have to call up a branding company for every change, revisit the design & branding planning with your design company. If they are not willing to take Owner management into account, you may want to find another company to work with. Make sure the management is simple enough for you lowest common denominator to manage. Err on the side of caution and use your discretion wisely.
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2 Comments
  1. Hi Emerson,

    As someone highly involved in project management, I would like to know how much does a sharepoint consultant usually charge?

    • The cost of a SharePoint consultant varies greatly, depending on your company, your location, etc. Many of the big city consultants can charge an arm and a leg. With something like SharePoint, you can easily go remote and employ a consulting group (which I prefer over a single consultant, as the sum is greater than the parts) from a more rurual or less competitive area. Say Portland, Maine vs. Boston, Massachusetts. You could save as much as half on hourly or project rates. Many of the more rural consulting firms are subcontracted by the bigger firms, so they may be who you end up working with anyway – with the middle man taking a nice cut.

      However, if you are seeking a firm, you need to do your homework – try setting up a sales call or interview with the company. Who are their clients? Are they happy? If not, do the clients understand & use SharePoint, or is it a misunderstanding of the application? Are they up front with their pricing? Can you easily contact them? How long have they been in business? Do they just “consult” and leave you with a piece of paper, or do they have real world knowledge with the ability to implement your SharePoint solution? Do they push you into more than you want to do? Are they sensetive to your user and superuser levels of knowledge, and willing to adjust the solution to fit user needs as well as business culture needs? Certifications are nice, but do they actually have experience?

      Expect to pay @$200 an hour and quickly up from there depending on the consulting firm and the location. If you find one for less, be careful, especially if they are in an expensive location like New York, Boston, Seattle, etc. They may be just starting out. I have seen some SharePoint installation irrepairably mangled by novice SharePoint “designers”. If they don’t truly understand the application, it’s functionality can be easily broken, and no-one will be happy with your SharePoint Solution, if they can even use it, in the end.

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