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.


Found this article valuable? Want to show your appreciation? Here are some options:

a) Click on the banners anywhere on the site to visit my blog's sponsors. They are all hand-picked and are selected based on providing great products and services to the SharePoint community.

b) Donate Bitcoins! I love Bitcoins, and you can donate if you'd like by clicking the button below.

c) Spread the word! Below, you should find links to sharing this article on your favorite social media sites. I'm an attention junkie, so sharing is caring in my book!

Pin It

Published by

Bjørn Furuknap

I previously did SharePoint. These days, I try new things to see where I can find the passion. If you have great ideas, cool projects, or is in general an awesome person, get in touch and we might find out together.

2 thoughts on “Hiring Cheap SharePoint People – A Clarification”

  1. Very insightful posts (for both articles).

    I often see companies and government entities go with cheap consultants/contractors with all kinds of IT projects (not just SharePoint), and I often see companies and government entities scratch their heads wondering why the project wasn’t launched in time or why the project didn’t work as they expected.

    I also like how you addressed the case where cheap labor is a more appropriate solution than the “rock star” consultant. If the task at hand is maintaining existing solutions with a little bit of enhancement development, I would hire cheaper labor because it would be an insult to the rock star’s intelligence and skills to put one on that task. However, if I’m looking to develop a new solution that has the potential to bring a high ROI for a business operation, I’m going to invest the money in higher-quality consultants/contractors with proven records.

    I love your quote because it’s true – “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 back.” I’m going to use it and give you credit for it.

  2. SharePoint is an absolute pain to use. Anybody who is an expert in SharePoint deserves to be paid well, considering the trouble they have to go through.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.