SPR Consulting has been working with Forsythe, a technology consulting firm in Chicago, since 2010. Through a series of successful initiatives, the relationship between SPR Consulting and Forsythe has grown, and most recently, SPR Consulting has worked with the company on a SharePoint 2013 cloud migration. We recently sat down with Christian Jacob, a senior consultant who has been with SPR Consulting for more than two years to learn more about his work on the project.
The Project’s Beginnings
The initial SPR Consulting team had just completed wave one—the implementation of SharePoint 2010—when Christian was brought in to facilitate the second wave of its SharePoint implementation. For Forsythe, SharePoint is a knowledge management system; a way they collaborate across business units and share data on various projects. Christian would be responsible for implementing enhancements to this business critical tool.
Creating an Enduring Relationship with Forsythe
One trait SPR Consulting is known for is its collaboration with clients and this project was no different. The Forsythe development team was new to SharePoint, so while Christian was focused on the job at hand, his role included training and guiding their development team toward autonomy. This consultative approach allowed SPR Consulting to share its expertise and provide even more value to the client. The training increased the Forsythe development team’s confidence in themselves as well as in SPR Consulting’s capabilities and armed the client team with the knowledge they needed going forward.
The successful wave two work, along with the comprehensive training provided to Forsythe, led to another project for SPR Consulting. This project dealt with records retention and records repository. SPR Consulting’s good work on this project eventually led into its current client project: updating Forsythe from on-premise SharePoint 2010 into SharePoint 2013 in the cloud. “With the work our team was able to contribute, the relationship with Forsythe has grown stronger and their trust in our company has increased, which we can directly attribute to the latest SharePoint migration,” said Christian.
To migrate Forsythe from SharePoint 2010 to 2013, tasks were assigned to Christian while someone from Forsythe worked alongside him to bring the project to completion. Together, SPR Consulting and Forsythe worked through code to explain and document how things were completed and how to properly code the update. Eventually, SPR Consulting transitioned the project—slowly giving the Forsythe developers more responsibility and coding time to transition things over to their team. Forsythe gained the admin and configuration skills needed, plus an understanding of how SharePoint works so they could ultimately complete the tasks on their own.
The SPR Consulting’s commitment to quality has delivered to strengthen the Forsythe partnership. SPR Consulting directly helped their developers with a speedy recommendation and built overwhelmingly positive trust with them. The length of the SPR Consulting engagement is a testament to its strong relationship. In this industry, many projects last only months, but truly special client relationships last for years.
Exceeding Forsythe’s Expectations
SPR Consulting was selected by Forsythe because it had proven results based on its technical expertise and an understanding of the product. No one has more experience and knowledge in SharePoint than SPR Consulting. Its ability to understand the client’s needs and translate them technically—and be able to deliver on that consistently—has played a big role in why SPR Consulting is still here and why Forsythe is continuing the working relationship.
SharePoint 2013 is still a fairly new product and moving it to the cloud is still a relatively new process. A lot of companies have yet to make the leap. When they do, leaning on SPR Consulting’s experience and expertise will make the project far more predictable and successful.
As we continue growth in 2014 and beyond, SPR Consulting is expanding its team of talented experts in Microsoft technologies. One of latest additions is Aashish Warty, evangelist of portals and collaboration. A recent hire, we sought him out to find out more about him and his time at SPR Consulting so far.
How long have you worked at SPR Consulting?
It’s been about two months now, but we’ve packed a lot in since I started!
Tell us about your role.
My actual title is pretty interesting… evangelist of portals and collaboration. It’s a Microsoft-type title that basically means I talk about new technologies within Microsoft SharePoint.
What are your duties in this unique role?
It definitely is a unique role! Basically, I’m responsible, both internally and externally, for the SPR Consulting Microsoft SharePoint message. That includes everything from the user experience side to knowledge of the many implementations we’ve done for clients. My background most recently includes a role with a migration SharePoint company. I came from the largest SharePoint ISP, so my background really fits well with this role.
Although I’m still in the “rookie” phase, my role includes blogging, speaking events and industry conferences, among other things. Internally, I’m responsible for educating people about the latest and greatest around Microsoft SharePoint. In addition to that, I’ll be working as a project manager and architect on a lot of projects. This role includes many facets, which makes it both an amazing opportunity, and a fun and interesting way to go about my day.
What is your professional and education background?
I studied computer science in school, but it wasn’t until my professional career that my “real” education began. SharePoint isn’t something you learn in school. I worked for a SharePoint administrator company and learned about end-user facing aspects, problems they experienced and problems with SharePoint as a whole. It was an incredibly helpful experience early in my professional development.
Next, I worked in the software side of SharePoint, tackling user problems. The company was pretty large, which meant ample opportunity for large customer implementation for migration and management software.
The experience I gained in those roles really armed me with a strong foundation of knowledge, but I was looking for an opportunity to apply my experience in a greater capacity—something I’ve found here at SPR Consulting. SPR Consulting has given me the ability to leverage the knowledge I have gained through hands-on work on big problems at large companies and apply them in new real-life situations for our clients. I’ve done a lot of white boarding and advisory services which offers a really great opportunity to grow.
What are you working on right now?
Right now I’m working with IDEX on their cloud migration from a 2007 on-premise solution. It really is a perfect kick-off project for me because I leverage lists and Microsoft software as a service. I just came from a migration software company, so it’s a perfect start.
What skills have you gained while working at SPR Consulting?
I’ve really picked up some critical experience and skills already in my role, particularly from a project management perspective. I didn’t come from a consulting background, so this is an area where I’ve had to really seek out guidance to hone my skills. It’s been a learning experience.
Another big thing that SPR Consulting does a really good job with is the documentation they provide for the clients. As a result, I’m now writing documentation which is something I was not used to doing for all my work. Whether it’s learning concepts, diagrams or just writing out a deployment guide. I think that’s been the biggest learning experience—it seems kind of small, but I had never done it before, and I really understand its value.
What is your life like outside of the 9 to 5 at SPR Consulting?
Golf and travel are my biggest passions. Life in a big city also offers some incredible opportunities for a foodie like me. I love exploring new cuisines and beverages across the city.
When it comes to travel, I am way more than a “beach guy.” I like to travel to Europe and really experience life in small towns to see what they have to offer. I’m not much of a tourist—I want to experience life in other cultures. I’m actually planning my next big trip now. I’m traveling to Scotland this summer with a friend, and we’re going to explore small towns, incredible golf courses and distilleries.
What is your favorite part about working for SPR Consulting?
I hate to compare SPR Consulting to where I used to work, but at my last company, I was the most experienced person in SharePoint. Here at SPR Consulting, I’d say I’m “middle of the pack,” which is incredible. I’m able to talk to anyone about their specialty and learn so much. There’s someone who’s a big infrastructure person, etc. It’s like working with your own little Google search—if you have a question, there’s always someone with an answer because they’re so knowledgeable in every single field. It’s really an incredible place to work.
What drives you in your career? Each of us has different needs and goals, so chances are more than one thing is on your list. We understand that each person is different, so we’ve worked hard to create a well-balanced workplace that meets a wide range of needs for our employees.
Other companies may focus on a single “door buster” benefit, but we won’t ask you to sacrifice a well-rounded career experience. We feel strongly that balanced benefits mean a better, more enriching experience for you, and that translates to a better experience for clients. In this issue of Looped In, you’ll read about some of our team members who have experienced the SPR Consulting difference firsthand in a variety of ways. Our benefits package addresses your work/life needs, and our learning and training opportunities help you grow as you work. Plus, when you choose SPR Consulting, you triple the range of potential to work in a wide variety of technologies and skills among the three solution practices we operate—an incredible benefit that goes beyond the standard package.
We take pride in the unique and engaging opportunities we have to offer top tech talent. Now that 2014 is well underway and SPR Consulting is adding to its cadre of expert IT consultants, we invite you to keep watching for and reading Looped In to get a firsthand account of the work experiences we offer and the cool projects our tech hires are working on for our loyal clients. We have really exciting projects in the pipeline and we can’t wait to share them with you!