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Part One – Eight Steps to Deploying an Enterprise Portal
Part One – Eight Steps to Deploying an Enterprise Portal
Part One – Eight Steps to Deploying an Enterprise Portal
Part One – Eight Steps to Deploying an Enterprise Portal
Part One – Eight Steps to Deploying an Enterprise Portal
Part One – Eight Steps to Deploying an Enterprise Portal
Part One – Eight Steps to Deploying an Enterprise Portal
Part One – Eight Steps to Deploying an Enterprise Portal
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Part One – Eight Steps to Deploying an Enterprise Portal

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  1. Part One – Eight Steps to Deploying an Enterprise Portal By Mike Ferguson Managing Director, Intelligent Business Strategies Over the last six years I have been fortunate enough to work all over the world deploying enterprise portal products with many different companies in many different industries and through trial and error, have managed to arrive at what I hope remains a stable eight step approach to successful implementation of enterprise portals. Having taught these eight in my seminars at portal conferences mainly in the US, I am most grateful to Knowledge Management magazine, for the opportunity to share this approach with you over a series of articles. The eight steps are as follows: 1. Develop the portal business case, and plan for portal implementation 2. Understand user functionality and content requirements 3. Define a portal architecture, and select, install and integrate portal products 4. Develop the portal taxonomy and categorisation scheme 5. Design and customise the portal user interface 6. Develop the security and single sign-on architecture 7. Develop, implement and integrate information, collaboration, applications with the portal 8. Personalise and prototype to create multiple role-based portals, train users, and deploy portal technology in a phased manner Before I get into these, let me first start from the most basic of questions. What is a portal? The reason I raise this is because six years on from the emergence of this technology it is still the most frequent question I get mainly because the word portal has become one of the most abused terms in the industry. Everyone with a web interface is now claiming they have a portal. Not so. Portals are not a concept, they are real software products e.g. IBM WebSphere Portal Server, Microsoft Office Sharepoint Portal, Oracle Application Server Portal, Plumtree Portal, SAP Enterprise Portal, Vignette Portal. A portal provides internal and external users with a single, integrated, personalised (role-based) and secure web-based interface to business processes, information, applications and collaborative tools. Figure 1 shows a screenshot example of a portal page which contains portlets – parts of the screen dedicated to providing the user with access to many different back end systems. The portal makes it “look like” it is all one system i.e. the user doesn’t know he or she is connected to multiple systems. Portlets go under many different marketing names e.g. portlets, gadgets, iViews, modules, pagelets. © Intelligent Business Strategies Ltd 1
  2. A Portal Provides A Personalised Single User Experience portlets Figure 1 One of the most frequent questions I get asked is what is the difference between Enterprise Portal technology and an Intranet. A major difference between the two is personalisation. With portal technology every user gets a different personalised view unlike an Intranet were all users see the same pages. Implementing a portal therefore is the successor to an Intranet, the next generation beyond Intranet that more precisely aligns content with the role of each and every user. These personalised views are sometimes called role-based portals e.g. a sale manager’s portal, a procurement manager’s portal, a financial administrator’s portal etc. Personalisation means that a user has authorised access to several portal pages which each contain a set of portlets that provide access to the information, applications and collaboration tools the user needs to do their job. If the user changes job then they may no longer have access to some portal pages but have access to others relevant to their new role in the company. Within their security profile, users can switch between portal pages via tabs or menus. However portal products are much more than a personalised web based user interface. Portal products support: Single sign-on security Personalisation services Taxonomy development and navigation services Information publishing, Automated information discovery and categorization services Search Notification and delivery services Collaboration tools and workflow services Content management and storage © Intelligent Business Strategies Ltd 2
  3. Integration with applications and business processes A development kit for customising the portal user interface, adding new web devices and for building back-end portlets However these products are not a panacea. Their main role is to offer user interface integration (see figure 2). This is a very important point because many people get confused as to what a portal can do for them. Portals are not the answer to data integration, application and business process integration or people integration. Additional software identified in Figure 2 is needed for these tasks and can be integrated with portal technology. Portal technology vendors today are now offering content management and collaboration tools with the portal and starting offering interfaces from portal software to the other software components mentioned. When I ask people what they are trying to achieve, they almost always say that they want to do all five levels of integration shown in figure 2 and not just integrating user interfaces. This implies that companies are looking for an enterprise integration technology ‘stack’ in which the portal is just one piece. However what is clear is that they want to start this enterprise integration journey by implementing portal software, collaboration and content/document management first. I also find that people implementing portal software are re-evaluating their content / document management strategy and how they use collaboration tools. The Five Levels of Enterprise Integration Integration is happening at all these levels ETL , EII & content Data Integration management software Application Integration EAI Software, SOA Business process integration Integration Business platforms process People integration management software User interface Enterprise Integration portal Collaboration tools software A portal provides user interface integration It is NOT a solution for the other levels Figure 2 One of the attractions to portal technology is that they are cheap, quick to implement. For example, administrators can fairly rapidly create role or task based portal templates consisting of portlets assembled into parameterised portal pages that are wired together and © Intelligent Business Strategies Ltd 3
  4. saved in a template. Authorised end users can then pick up these templates as a ‘quick start’ and rapidly create role based portals for people in their business area. It is this rapid deployment that often delivers fast return on investment. Step 1 – The Business Case and Portal Planning The first step in the above outlined approach is the portal business case. I often find many companies struggling with how to justify portal technology to the business. One way to tackle this is to learn from companies with successful portal implementations e.g. Pratt & Whitney, Ford Motor Company, Herman Miller to name a few. If you look at many of the winning case studies presented at the annual portal awards, they all have one thing in common regarding the business case. This is that they focussed on how to use portal technology to help improve a specific key performance indicator (KPI) i.e. how to use it to achieve better business performance. The focus of these companies was first to understand their strategic objectives and targets in their business strategy and then look at how portal technology could help the company reach those targets. In the three case studies shown in Figure 3, IT justified portal technology to the business by stating how the portal together with appropriate business content (applications, information, collaboration tools) would provide maximum improvement in a specific KPI. Therefore the portal on its own was not ‘sold’ to the business. On the contrary, portal technology was justified in the business case by combining it with a subset of applications and other information to be able to deliver something to the business and/or external users that was currently not possible. Example Portal Case Studies Based On KPI Improvement – e.g. Revenue KPI What applications, information and collaborative services integrated via a Portal give you maximum improvement in this KPI? KPI = Increase Revenue Industry Strategy Improvement Digital Deploy a customer sales and Increased revenue by 25%; copying purchasing portal to enhance increased contract renewals by company customer relationships and 15% improve customer retention Petroleum Deploy an enterprise portal to Increased revenue by $2.8M by company integrate 20 applications for synchronizing deliveries via pipeline maintenance, MRO Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI) purchasing, transportation, VMI, and reporting Office Deploy a supplier portal to Increased on time deliveries by furniture manage external 15%; increased sales by better company manufacturers scheduling; doubled revenue without adding headcount. Figure 3 © Intelligent Business Strategies Ltd 4
  5. To help with the business case you should also try to enlist a business champion (sponsor) as early as possible. If your business case is focused on KPI improvement, then the obvious candidate for the role of a sponsor is the executive that owns the KPI and that has responsibility making that improvement happen. It is likely that he or she manages a business unit that has good visibility and a strong business need for access to integrated business content that will show a quick ROI. If IT is seen to put forward a business case to such a person that tries to improve on the KPIs they own, then business backing is likely to quickly materialize. Assuming this happens, planning needs to start rapidly. Planning should involve: • Setting up a portal development team • Establish a repeatable development and deployment methodology for iterative portal deployment. o On each iteration, this methodology should target a combination of information, applications and collaboration tools at a specific user community and different roles within it. One way of doing this is to setting the intended scope for the portal around a core enterprise business process tasks. Alternatively scope could be limited to a specific business functional area e.g. sales, marketing, procurement etc. The main objective of the methodology is to iteratively deploy the right content to the right user communities to help improve the business case KPI in their area. It should then delegate administrative responsibility to a content manager in that area and then move on to the next iteration. • Defining portal governance guidelines to establish policy , procedures and standards • Defining an implementation plan consisting of core implementation plans and milestones. • Basing portal deployment on a delegation strategy so as to distribute content management and administration responsibilities across the organization to nominated power users. The development team should include people with content and business knowledge, a corporate librarian to help with taxonomy design, business process and application integration experts, a web security administrator, a portal administrator, application developers for portlet development, and an enterprise architect. In addition content managers will be created around the business areas as the portal is deployed. Portal governance is also important for long-term success. Policies and procedures should be developed to establish guidelines, rules and regulations to manage portal implementations. This includes policies on: • Security • Common look and feel (e.g. templates to be used in publishing content, portal customization, branding etc.) • Content authoring, approval and publishing as well as content archiving • Common business vocabularies to be used in taxonomy design © Intelligent Business Strategies Ltd 5
  6. • Taxonomy integration across departments and business units • Sub-portal integration with enterprise portals • Web service integration and portlet development standards e.g. shared code libraries • Administration and ownership and usage reporting • User training Implementation plans need to include tasks shown in the side bar. ++++++++++++++++++++++++ Beginning of Sidebar +++++++++++++++++++++ Information Management& Collaboration Business Process Integration • Portal taxonomy design •Integrate portals with process management • Crawler Set-up software • Categorization rules set-up •Create task list portlet • Subscription set-up including scheduling of •Assign process activities to user roles and/or information individual users •Information profile creation e.g. •Build “process activity” portal pages Marketing profile, Supply Chain profile, •Associate portal pages with process activities Procurement profiles etc. in process models •Search index set-up •Test business process/portal integration •Content approval workflow creation •Test dynamic portal page presentation on task •Collaboration tool integration selection Packaged Application integration User Profile and Security Management • Deploy pre-built portlets for packaged • User and role identification applications • Set-up single-sign-on security authentication & •Build additional portlets using the package authorisation specific portlet builders • Set-up user profiles including ‘generic’ user Legacy Application integration profiles •Build portlets • Set-up self registration •Integration of Windows Terminal Server, Citrix • Define global and authorised user services etc., with the portal (temporary measure) • Portal template creation •Green screen redevelopment … •Allocate ‘appropriate’ user services to communities and specific roles •Set-up personalisation rules •Authorize users to publish and subscribe ++++++++++++++++++++++++ End of Sidebar +++++++++++++++++++++ Step 2 - Understand user functionality and content requirements Currently most business users struggle with multiple user interfaces to systems, loggin on and off every application. Typically, applications are not integrated with other information needed to do a users job more productively. In fact in many cases a user has to make use of multiple applications, web sites, documents and other sources of information to complete a particular task. In addition mobile workers such as sales force or field service employees often do not have access to applications and also business partners or customers have no self-service capabilities. All of this is symptomatic of a company without portal technology. The challenge in this step is to understand what combination of content/documents, business intelligence, collaboration tools, applications and business process tasks that each user community needs to have access to via the portal. Also the device needs to be taken into account i.e. some users are mobile and may need access via a mobile phone or a PDA. Different users have different needs and we need to understand these requirements to successfully deploy portal products. © Intelligent Business Strategies Ltd 6
  7. To do this requires undertaking a content usage study for a nominated user community. The purpose of the content usage study is to understand how user communities in your company use business information and to identify the content you want the portal to manage. Importantly, this needs to be done while with an eye on business benefit so that what we deliver in a role-based portal will help specific users contribute to improving the KPI identified in the business case (step1). The content usage study tries to identify relationships between different content from disparate systems and to thoroughly document how identified business communities use business content. More specifically it tries to identify what roles users perform, the processes and tasks performed by people in each role, what content they use to perform the tasks, who uses the content, what devices they use to access it, who they share it with (internally or externally) and how they collaborate with others etc. to do their jobs. The term content in this case is used in the broadest sense of the word to mean a combination of application functionality, BI, unstructured information, collaboration tools etc. that each role needs in a specific community of users. That community could include internal users, external users or a combination of both. Clearly this content usage study is not intended to be done across the enterprise. It should be done iteratively. One way in which people do this is to follow a core business process to help them focus on specific user communities (see figure 4) Iterative Portal Deployment Following A Core Operational Process From End-to-End e.g. Airlines Agent passenger booking B2B Direct Airport Crew Passenger Passenger booking handling managem’t Baggage Flight Flight In-Flight Flight handling turnaround departure procedures arrival servicing Passenger Cargo Cargo Flight arrival/ booking handling preparation connection B2B Cargo distribution Cleaning Catering Engineering Fuel supply services supply chain supply B2B supply chain chain Follow your core operational process from end-to-end What content is used by users in each area? What data flows between systems and communities as you move along the process? Figure 4 Using figure 4 as an example of an airline business, there is clearly a content usage study to be done for agents, passengers, cargo customers, cargo handlers, airport staff, (crew © Intelligent Business Strategies Ltd 7
  8. including cabin crew, flight deck crew and crew administration roles), suppliers (cleaning suppliers, catering staff and suppliers, fuel servicing staff and suppliers, engineering staff and suppliers) etc. etc. Each iteration of the portal development and deployment would involve a identifying communities and performing a content usage study in the area selected for deployment e.g. cargo handling. Once we have this information, we know the business needs and have the information needed for personalization (used in the very last step of our methodology). At this point we are ready to perform Step 3 which I will discuss in the second part of this series next month in EI magazine. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Mike Ferguson is Managing Director of Intelligent Business Strategies Limited, a leading information technology analyst and consulting company. As an analyst and consultant he specialises in enterprise business intelligence, enterprise business integration, and enterprise portals. He can be contacted at +44 1625 520700 or e-mail at mferguson@intelligentbusiness.biz © Intelligent Business Strategies Ltd 8

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