Confirmed: There Will Be New On-Premises Versions of SharePoint

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article about myself mostly, and then about the death of SharePoint, or what seemed to many to be the death of SharePoint.

In the article, for those of you who still haven’t figured out how to click links, I pointed out that Microsoft had been extremely vague in their language about whether there would be new version of SharePoint for on-premises clients. The only official words had been from Microsoft marketing, stating something about “yeah, we’ll continue to support it alright”. No firm commitment about building new versions, though.

Sometimes, however, there are glimmers of awesome from Redmond. The discussion about whether there would be a new version had been ongoing for a while, and it seemed that some people were privy to inside information *hrmpftMVPscough* that the rest of the community desperately needed.

Today, Jeff Teper, the head honcho of SharePoint in Redmondland, publicly confirmed in a comment to my article that there will, indeed, be a new version of SharePoint on-premises. In fact, they’re actively working on the next one right now, which makes sense if there would even be a new version.

The comment, verbatim, from Jeff, was:

Ongoing Server Releases – We are committed to on-premises releases of SharePoint and Exchange on a comparable cadence to past server releases. We are working on the next one and will share more down the road.

The comment was made on SPYam in response to my “SharePoint is Dead” article, and just in case you’re still not part of the awesome SPYam community, here’s the picture of the comment:

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There aren’t any clearer ways of saying it: No, SharePoint isn’t dead, not even on-premises. There will be on-premises releases going forward, around the same rate that we’ve seen so far. And Microsoft will release servers.

I guess that means people need to start preparing for SharePoint 2016 after all and that clients can rest assured that there will be continued evolution.

Great work, Jeff! Please train the rest of your people to be like you are.

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Hiring Cheap SharePoint People – A Clarification

After recently writing an article on how it is stupid to hire cheap SharePoint consultants I got a huge amount of feedback, mostly positive.

Some people didn’t seem to read or couldn’t understand that article, though, because some people were extremely angry that I berated their salary requirements. Other people pointed out, correctly, that a low price doesn’t mean bad quality and that a high price doesn’t necessarily mean higher quality.

Allow me to elaborate a bit.

Diamonds Aren’t Coal

Diamonds and coal are, as most people know, mostly the same thing; pure carbon. However, despite them sharing this characteristic, they are vastly different. You’d think most people would opt to get a fistful of diamonds rather than a fistful of coal, but you may be wrong.

For one, you can’t barbeque a steak on diamonds. They simply won’t burn, at least not at any temperature where a steak would benefit from its presence.

Second, diamonds are difficult to store. Yeah, you can put them in your pocket, but you’re likely to lose them, misplace them or have them stolen. A pound of diamonds in your garden shed would likely mean you’d freak out every time a car drove by, in case someone was trying to steal them. You need a high security setup that costs tons of money and leaves you paranoid.

Third, diamonds aren’t really useful for anything for most people. Granted, diamonds are incredibly useful in certain industries, but you really know what to do with them before they are valuable beyond, you know, being pretty.

See what I did here? In case you are a bit retarded, let me elaborate.

Expensive Isn’t Always Good

If you want a nice, juicy steak, buying diamonds is a really bad idea. True, diamonds are cool, but they’re not what you want, and likely not what you would like to put into your project due to its extensive cost.

Coal, on the other hand, while cheap and abundant, gives you exactly what you want, a way to turn carbon into heat and then into a tender sirloin, possibly with a baked potato, some corn on the cob, and bacon which you will, of course, barbecue on a tray of aluminum foil.

So, coal is often more useful than diamonds. In fact, you’ll rarely find your life depending on having diamonds but you can easily imagine situations where you’d survive only if you have coal.

C’Mon, Enough Food, Talk SharePoint!

I mentioned in the previous article that hiring cheap labor is usually a bad idea. However, sometimes, cheap labor is exactly what you want and need, and hiring SharePoint superstars is a horrible idea. Let me give you a few examples.

If you are building a SharePoint development team from scratch, you want to hire people who cannot tie their own shoelaces. People fresh out of college or maybe a year or so out are awesome candidates to become great.

Remember, you want to build these people into greatness. That’s much harder to do if they already come with professional baggage. Try teaching me new stuff; I’m an old dog and set in my ways, and you’d spend far more time teaching me new tricks than a young, inexperienced developer.

Speaking of team building, it may be an awesome idea to have just one highly experienced SharePoint person on your team, but support that person with less experienced people to do more trivial tasks. The superstar can be a team lead where the others build experience by following that lead.

When we’re on this subject; don’t fall into the trap of assuming that experience equals leadership ability. Great leaders aren’t necessarily great technical performers.

Second, you may have a project that just requires a lot of work. Seasoned and highly experienced developers are more efficient, often by a factor of 2-3 times that of less experienced people,  but some tasks are just about doing work, not about working smart. Paying $200 versus paying $50 when there really aren’t any difference in the output is just stupid.

Your project may not even require the experience of a seasoned veteran. Perhaps you’re just starting out and want to get a feel for SharePoint by doing some simple customizations without risking too much involvement. Hiring someone to throw up a few proof-of-concept solutions may be all that’s required before you decide whether to take the plunge and do a larger scale implementation.

Further, keeping a highly experienced veteran motivated is very difficult, especially if you want to employ these people. As an example, I love learning new stuff, all the time. If I do the same tasks over and over, I get bored, and I really don’t want to be bored. Others are motivated by peer recognition, money, closeness to family, or other things.

A person consistently able to deliver $200 of value is going to have a much easier time switching jobs if you don’t manage to keep them happy. If they’re dissatisfied, they’ll leave, taking their skills and experience from your projects with them.

A sure-fire way to de-motivate someone completely, regardless of pay level, is to tell them they’re not worth what they produce in value. If you want me to work cheaper, you’re saying that I’m not worth what I give you back.

So… Hire Cheap Labor Then?

I’m not saying that. I’m saying that people with less experience and thus less able to deliver massive value in a short time are cheaper for a reason, and that’s often exactly what you need. Sometimes coal, sometimes diamonds.

A $50 per hour SharePoint consultant isn’t necessarily not worth $50, but they are certainly, or at least most likely, not worth the same as a $200 per hour consultant. Know what you want and what you need, and you’ll be able to find the right people for the right tasks.

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Found a Cheap SharePoint Consultant? Stay Away!

A couple of years ago, I put up a separate web page for people looking to hire my professional SharePoint services. I get fairly regular requests from companies looking to get someone to help them out either with short-term stuff or longer term projects.

Oh, and if you are looking to hire me, feel free to drop by that page. There is important information there. Read it all before contacting me.

NOTE that I do not do SharePoint consulting anymore, though.

However, a lot of the people contacting me seems to not have read my information about pricing. In short, I charge $200 per hour. I don’t negotiate unless there is a long-term contract or I really like you or your project. If you ask me for a cheaper price,  I’ll say no.

Enough about me, though. Let me explain why you’re stupid to try to save money by hiring cheap labor.

I Can’t Afford $200 Per Hour!

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Plenty of people will balk at seeing a certain price. $1 million dollars? Wow, that’s insanely expensive. Until you realize it’s the price of a Manhattan penthouse, at which point it is the deal of a lifetime. $4,000 per hour? Wow, that’s insanely expensive, until you realize it is to hire Mark Knopfler for your kid’s birthday party.

You see, price is really irrelevant until you compare it to value. Paying $50 is much cheaper than $200, right? Well, if it were for the same service, you’d be right, but chances are good that whoever charges you $50 per hour is unable to sell their services at a higher price. Why is that? Well, because the value they deliver is not worth more than $50.

Let me ask you this. How much would you pay to get $500? I’m guessing that most people would pay anything below that because they would effectively be getting free money. Would it matter then if you paid $200? You’re still getting $300 free.

How much would you then pay to get an unknown amount of money? It could be $5 or it could be $500, you just don’t know. The risk now is much higher, so you’re likely to want to pay much less.

Let’s Talk SharePoint

SharePoint is awesome, and don’t let ignorant fools tell you otherwise. It has the ability to make money for you. Lots of money. If you have half a brain, you invest in SharePoint because you think it will generate or save money for you.

However, it will make you money if you treat it right only. Buying SharePoint and then leaving it there is a bad way to use it. Buying SharePoint and hiring idiots to manage it is even worse. Now SharePoint isn’t saving or generating money, it is costing you money.

In the previous year, I’ve seen a huge rise in organizations that hire cheap, often out-sourced labor and end up not getting what they need. Not only have they spent their own time and money, they have also lost any potential benefit of having SharePoint.

It is a massive loss because, you know, they paid $50 per hour to some half-assed out-sourcing company rather than paying $200 to someone who know how to tie their own shoelaces.

One particular case was this, and I’m leaving identifying details out. A company had initially contacted a well-reputed company, been quoted a rate of around $225 per hour, said no because they found another company doing the same thing something related to SharePoint for $65 per hour.

Their solution was not a trivial one; it included fairly rigid requirements and fairly extensive customizations. The project ended up taking the better part of six months, costing a few hundred thousand dollars.

On roll-out day, the solution didn’t work. Apparently, nobody had bothered testing against the parameters of the production environment. The solution not only didn’t work, it also killed functionality in other solutions.

“No worries,” said the developers, “give us Farm Admin access and we’ll have it working in 24 hours”. The client, again oblivious to the cocking of the gun, gave up their passwords, and boom, everything worked, except for, you know, SharePoint.

At that point, the developers said “Sorry, we’ll refund $10K” and went on their merry business, not returning calls and emails.

But at least it was cheap, right? Well, of the roughly $250K the client had paid for their four developers, they got $10K back, but at the cost of now having a non-functioning SharePoint farm, no solution to their initial problem, and no more money to spend on fixing the damn thing.

But It Would Be Insanely Expensive with $200 per Hour!

I got the requirements from the client before I heard about the disaster they had gone through. The client asked me to give a ballpark estimate, and having done a few projects in my time that had some similar components, I ended up with a quote of $40K.

Yeah, I’m a developer so you should expect to increase that amount somewhat, but even if you treated me like a complete novice in cost estimates and multiplied those estimates by six, you’d end up at around the same cost. And no, I’m not a novice estimator.

Right off the bat, I can tell you that a good SharePoint developer works 2-3 times more efficient than a bad SharePoint developer. So, you may get a third of the hourly rate but you pay for three times the amount of hours, so no, you’re not saving money, you’re just wasting time.

Then there is the case of accuracy. A good SharePoint developer will build solutions that last and that are stable, that does what it is supposed to do and, if you’re really good, can be extended through well-understood and documented processes. A bad SharePoint developer will not, and you end up paying but not getting what you want or at least an inferior product.

Finally, consider risk. Yeah, a well-reputed, experienced developer with a track record of years and years of successful deliveries will cost you more, but you also know that you’ll get a well-reputed, experienced developer with a track record of years and years of successful deliveries. Hire someone off the streets and your SharePoint project will be like a box of chocolates; you’ll never know what you’ll get.

That’s Just a Horror Story

You’d think that this is just a rare occurrence; that someone should be so stupid/unlucky/defrauded only in the exceptional cases.

If it weren’t for privacy concerns, I’d invite you to my inbox one day so you could see for yourself, but I’m estimating that 7-9 out of 10 requests have similar stories attached. An organization hires cheap labor because they need to save money or have some idiot policy that they can’t pay more than $X per hour no matter what. They then get exactly what they paid for; a cheap solution that breaks more often than it works, or even worse, breaks something else or doesn’t work at all.

The cost of these savings is far higher than it would cost to hire someone where the output is more predictable. You’re saving yourself to poverty rather than harnessing the awesome power and profitability of a well-designed SharePoint solution.

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