Fellow analyst Mike Gotta pointed me to a blog post by Arpan Shah about a new accreditation program for SharePoint:
The goal of the Masters Program “is to provide a means for training, recognizing, and developing the top SharePoint technical experts in the world.” … Just to qualify for this program requires meeting a super high bar. This program is not for everyone; it really requires an exceptional depth and breadth of SharePoint real world hands-on experience & knowledge working with real customers. It also requires an investment of time (3 weeks in Redmond) and money.
It’s hard … if you meet a SharePoint Master, you know you’ve met someone with deep SharePoint expertise. You can feel confident that it took a lot of real world experience, a rigorous training program and having to pass difficult exams!
I guess SharePoint MVP wasn’t a shiny enough badge to wear! What can a SharePoint Master do that a SharePoint MVP can’t? I’m picturing that where an MVP might code a SharePoint search page that returns too many unneeded results, a Master could do a Jedi-like hand wave, recite “These aren’t the documents you’re looking for. Move along.”, and the superfluous results would magically disappear. And if a fight breaks out at the hotel bar at the next SharePoint Conference, you may see one sysadmin holding another back from attacking and saying with reverence “No, don’t mess with him! He’s a SharePoint Master!”
Seriously though, this relates to a point a client asked me yesterday about SharePoint consulting firms I would recommend for creating a SharePoint statement of governance (and would I recommend Microsoft). My answer was that I haven’t been researching or following the consulting firms so I don’t have enough data points here to point in one direction. But what I have observed is that SharePoint has been wildly successful – more than Microsoft even expected. What this means is that there’s far more demand for deep SharePoint knowledge than there are consultants who can supply it. Microsoft in particular has been staffing up, but has to rely on its partners even more than it normally would to meet demand. Good SharePoint developers, admins, and architects (to say nothing of specialists in SharePoint search, workflow, business data catalog, portal audience definition, etc.) are spread very thinly across the market right now and will continue to be for the next few years at least.
That said, I think the unspoken flipside to these validating titles like Master (which I find a bit over-the-top) is that there is such a glut of poor SharePoint consultants who put it on their skills list after creating a few simple sites that Microsoft finds it necessary to distinguish who really knows SharePoint. Hopefully this helps since there are enough challenges to an enterprise collaboration, portal, or content management implementation in general without having to worry about bad consultants and contractors too.