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How to create an enterprise portal


Published on: 07 Oct 2020

By Vinod Subbaiah

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It’s challenging to enhance your company’s capabilities when all the information, processes, and people are scattered across the organization, requiring you to switch between applications and devices to get your daily work done.

Employees expect technology to simplify their work, rather than become their source of their frustration that impedes them from doing their work efficiently. When an employee uses at work eight applications on average, switching between so many apps during the day cuts down their productivity with a direct impact on your company’s performance.

An enterprise portal is a framework that integrates many back-end systems, enabling easy access and distribution of content within and outside of your business’ IT infrastructure. It is a web-based, single sign-on platform that strengthens your team’s day-to-day efficiency by consolidating all digital data into one platform.

With an increasing number of business tools, web services, and mobile applications, it becomes more challenging to keep your business content unified and consistently updated. 

The portal connects with and gathers data from various business systems and applications via portlets and displays relevant information to the user, based on their role in the organization.

If you’re looking for a way to improve your operations management through reliable digital solutions, building a self service enterprise portal might be exactly what your business requires.

Before you roll up your sleeves and start building and enterprise portal, there are a few s essential things you should think about and know about that will help you step into this journey with the right mindset.

1. What type of portal does your business need?

An enterprise portal is most efficient when it addresses a specific business issue. Therefore, the first step is to define the primary goal of the digital platform you are creating.

A common pitfall in this process is that once businesses start to understand the positive impact of an enterprise portal on the organization’s efficiency and operations, then they try to pile on many applications to it which makes it somewhat of an overkill.

If content management and distribution are a challenge in your organization, building an enterprise content portal will help you provide centralized access to the company’s information and documents. 

On the other hand, an enterprise application portal could integrate multiple company applications by integrating with and retrieving data from their back-end, offering a single point of access, thus eliminating the silo approach to business operations. 

An enterprise collaboration portal helps you streamline communication and knowledge management between employees or external partners by enabling features that allow you to share repositories, calendars, and provide additional communication channels to support business operations.

Digitizing your company’s operations can become, without a doubt, a mammoth project. Only when you break it down into specific and achievable tasks, you can break the silos of your organizations one by one, tapping into the potential of the digital workplace.

2. What are the critical features you need from your enterprise portal?

Regardless of the type of enterprise portal you choose, there are a couple of fundamental components that are, in fact, some of the platform’s building blocks.

  • Single sign-on. An enterprise portal becomes a one-stop-shop for any information the user requires, which implies authenticating only once to gain access to all the data that the user is authorized to access.
  • Integration. The rationale behind building an enterprise portal is to consolidate multiple business systems into one and simplify digital access.
  • Access Control. Each user gets restricted access to content based on their role within the organization.
  • Personalization vs. Customization. Customization refers to the enterprise portal’s ability to allow users to customize their dashboard. Personalization can also be done in the platform’s settings by the administrator to display content that fits that user’s role precisely.
  • Analytics. “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” Having access to the platform’s analytics is essential for understanding the company’s operations efficiency and gaining insights into areas that need improvement. 

While these essential features are what every portal has in general, your business may have unique needs and challenges that require a particular approach, which leads us to the next question.

3. Should you build a web portal from scratch?

Although several well-established vendors on the market offer ready-made enterprise portals, such as SAP Enterprise Portal, SharePoint, or IBM WebSphere Portal, they can turn out to be complex, rigid, or too expensive for your organization.

Frequently, they either lack essential features or have too many unnecessary features to make it useful and relevant to your business.

Enterprise portal development might require a significant initial investment, but the benefits of having a custom software portal is that it can scale very fast. When you intend to streamline the company’s workflows while reducing operational costs and improving collaboration, no software built for the masses can cater to all your business needs without tremendous effort to make it a perfect fit for your organization.

When you set out to build your enterprise portal, you have both the flexibility and pressure to create an internal tool that forms the foundational pillars for your company’s digital transformation. To ensure the portal’s user-friendliness, scalability, and resilience, consider these 3 crucial factors.

  • Ensure clarity across all development stages

Starting with the portal’s requirements, information architecture, security protocols, and design, every development stage should be guided by clarity and a shared understanding of the platform’s success standard. 

It’s not enough to agree on a set of nice-to-have features; an enterprise portal is a mission-critical system that requires being backed-up by clearly defined processes and SOPs that ensure its long-term effectiveness. 

  • Embed flexibility into the system’s structure

The last thing any company wants is another legacy system that inhibits their growth. To avoid this in the long run, ensure scalability with whatever you develop.

  • Put collaboration at the heart of your enterprise portal

Aligning employees’ expectations with the organization’s needs is a prerequisite to ensuring the enterprise portal’s success. Building a collaborative platform can happen only if you start with a collaborative approach. Similar to any software development project, collecting user feedback is a critical step.

Besides reducing redundant processes, an enterprise portal aims to enhance employees’ capabilities by offering proper tools to fulfill their tasks efficiently. Involving the end-user in the process will contribute to creating a better performing portal and a work culture where employees are self-motivated to help build a better business.

Unlocking the value of enterprise portals can bring exceptional benefits to organizations. Whether your company is looking to reduce operational expenses, simplify workflows, boost employee productivity, or increase revenue streams, an enterprise portal enables you to take meaningful steps towards creating a digital work experience. 

With a unified view and access to the company’s data, employees can enjoy a more convenient, secure, and efficient tool that acts as a self-service platform and improves collaboration and information management.

Change always comes from within, so as long as your core business flows have the proper resources to adapt, digital transformation will have tremendous ROI in your organization.

Vinod Subbaiah Vinod Subbaiah