Over the weekend, I had an interesting meeting with my colleagues at Innovative-e discussing our business growth strategies. Not that I didn’t know this, it dawned on me that there REALLY is a lot of SharePoint work out there. HOWEVER, I can tell you that not everybody with the word “SharePoint” next to their name has the necessary expertise and experience to do the work. To rephrase a well known quote: “The SharePoint harvest is plentiful, but the well-qualified workers are few.”
Realize that SharePoint expertise alone is not enough.I have met and worked with a lot of technology experts in the last two decades and there’s only a handful that became truly successful (professionally and financially). One characteristic that stands out is that they are all well-rounded individuals. Their expertise goes above and beyond their geeky capabilities. They are equally as proficient in the areas of: entrepreneurship, project management, human capital management, leadership and business analysis.
In short, you want to stand out as a true SharePoint expert who can bring value to any organization that requires your assistance. You do not want to be the person who pops the MOSS 2007 installation CD, configures it and walks away. You want to be more than that.
You want to be someone who customers can turn to in order to help them ADDRESS business needs using SharePoint. You should be able to specifically address questions like:
“How much money can we save in document management in an organization of 500 people if we roll out SharePoint?”
“Can SharePoint be implemented in accordance with SOX guidelines? How?”
“What kind of metrics can we setup to measure the ROI of using SharePoint after 6 months?”
So what do you need to do? On top of your SharePoint expertise, make sure you are knowledgeable in the following disciplines: Business Analysis, Project Management, Systems Design, Requirements Gathering, and Software Development Life Cycle.
Partner with subject matter experts (SME).
As evident in tip #1, it requires various skillsets to really be a successful SharePoint solutions provider. You cannot do it alone. I am not saying that you have to start a company, however, you have to be smart enough to partner with subject matter experts (SME) in areas you are not well versed with.
For example, what if your customer has a need to integrate SharePoint with an existing VAX/VMS system (if you don’t know what that is, you weren’t born yet when it was being utilized.)? Don’t take it upon yourself to integrate it if that’s not your field of expertise. It’s a complete waste of your time and a dis-service to your customers.
Focus on a vertical niche.
After the initial SharePoint rollout dust settles, the next wave of organizational SharePoint needs would be focused on utilizing SharePoint for a very specific business need in a specific industry.
For example, we know that the US government is heavily implementing SharePoint, what are some US government business needs that can be alleviated using SharePoint? To be more specific, maybe you can come up with a solution to efficiently implement Earned Value Management (EVA) for the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) using SharePoint. How about improving digital asset management of the National Library?
I can go on and on with examples but I reckon you catch my drift. Here are some industries that are underserved where SharePoint has a big potential for: Construction, Healthcare, Small Business and Non-Profit.
Be a thought leader.
This tip relates to #1 and #3. I suggest that as early as now, position yourself to be a SharePoint though leader in a specialized field.
For example, if you are able to make a case of benefitting from using SharePoint for Earned Value Management, then come up with a SharePoint solution to do so. This solution should be practical and realistic and not all text book.
In addition, you should formalize your thought leadership position by writing a book, publishing articles, conduct training and speaking at conferences. Essentially, evangelizing your expertise in this very specialized field.
Once you have established yourself in a thought leadership position, you need not worry about getting enough SharePoint-related work.