A colleague of mine referred to what we do as SharePoint mercenaries. Better known as guns for hire. We are the consultants that come in and patch things up, sometimes reverse engineer the solution now hobbling on it’s last leg or just waiting for someone to put it out of it’s misery. We make that call.
I once got a consulting job by basically doing a on the spot assessment of a department’s SharePoint site. I asked to see their broken solution and within 10 minutes realized that it would be more expensive to reverse engineer their broken code that somehow manage to infiltrate through out their entire site collection than to start from a blank slate. I gave the quick and dirty run down on what was wrong with their site and strongly recommended that they start from scratch rather than me patch what was broken and hope nothing else breaks on their site. The director of the team thanked me for my honesty and I got the job. He was half expecting me to spin another fantastical tale on how another consultant could magical whip up snazzier code to fix their problem. I told him, no. That was not my intention. My intention was to get them back up and running with minimal pain so they were not dependent on the tool.
When I look back at all my former projects, I realize that is what I am good at. I see myself as a SharePoint war medic. I observe the situation, access and analyze the damage and go in and either patch and repair or build and configure. Either way, I do this with precision, with determination and sometimes I enjoy the shit storm that I’m in.
Sometimes I view SharePoint consultants as layers of hell. Yes, hell. Think of Dante’s Inferno. Each different section of his hell was neatly categorized. Nine circles of hell to be exact. SharePoint is similar, in my opinion.
There are the SharePoint admins. The ones that have the working knowledge of what keeps the servers running. The patches that they install, because it’s Windows, of course they have patches! The continuous monitoring of systems. I would consider this the 1st circle, also known as Limbo. You draw your conclusion to this reference. Ironic, yes?
The 2nd circle, also knows as Lust, I would categorize as those SharePoint developers. And by developers you would have to delve and nit pick which side of bridge you would stand on.
I often ask recruiters to specify what they mean by developers. Because there are developers who write code who have absolutely no clue how SharePoint operates and will smash C# or whatever they are most proficient at into any environment and there are SharePoint developers who know better than to do that. Perhaps I am a bit harsh on these SharePoint folks. I am sure they are fine people to party with.
Just like in Dante’s 2nd circle of Lust. These SharePoint devs are often consumed by their appetite to run code into SharePoint and do it with vengeance. I personally have a distaste for these folks as I am the mercenary who has to go in and fix and clean up their mess. As the saying goes, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
As we descend into the depth of Dante’s Hell, you will notice the further down we go, it is not fiery and hot as you might expect, rather it becomes colder and a frozen wasteland.
Not saying SharePoint consulting is a cold and frozen wasteland but it can often suck the soul out of you. As another former colleague once told me, it will suck you dry and leave you nothing but an empty husk.
The irony is that the further down in hell you descend, you realize that at the end of the road, you come to the realization that you were not in on a cruel joke. What I am talking about is the final circle of hell.
A long time ago in my early SharePoint consulting career, I once held a very idealistic and naive outlook on this content management system. I gloried in the simplicity of the infrastructure and content types. I became a SharePoint evangelist. I was dewy eyed and believed in people doing the right thing because isn’t that what we all should do? The right thing?
Over the years, after going in and fixing so many broken systems, migrating legacy sites to new homes and watching the new sites/homes become nothing but vessels of junk.
I began to realize that there was a much more deep seated betrayal to be uncovered. The treachery was perhaps rooted at the core.
Maybe it was always a given that if you give people the option to take the easy road with many options, you will eventually mess things up so badly that you will have to be dependent on consultants to fix and clean up your mess.
It’s a symbiotic relationship. A parasitic form of love and hate wrapped up in a neat little package called SharePoint!
So that leads me to what I consider myself. A jack of all trades SharePoint consultant. Battle ready and hardened by the reality that people will screw things up and I will always have a job to fix things. No matter how hard you blow your evangelical SharePoint horn, at the end of the day, we will be around to fix what you broke.
And like some SharePoint consultants, we will find the irony of our situation, write about it and laugh and shrug it off. It’s better than beating your head against the brick wall and wondering why your head hurts when you are done.
Life isn’t so bad. I like the challenge. I thrive in it. There will always be a job for me.