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Wednesday, August 8, 2007

When an organization should require portal or intranet?

During my numerous implementations of portals and rolling out intranets for small to medium to large companies, I’ve found out that requirement of a portal is not related to the size of the company, but actually, it’s a mindset which derives this requirement.

One of the companies for whom I’ve designed a KM portal is surviving without a proper intranet, the company is a strong 1000+ employees spread in multiple locations in India and operations in more than half a dozen countries around the world. They still don’t see any requirement for a portal or intranet. The KM solution which I’ve rolled out is accessible to only dozen odd managers who wanted a central place to store their documents. A very primitive kind of a KM solution, but none the less it’s been used by the managers(but not by 1000+ employees!) Here is another example; a company with 20 odd employees is having a successful intranet solution using Windows SharePoint Services 2.0, with thriving community of 3 administrators and around 17 users including their CEOs. So, for whom the portal/intranet is? and when one should start looking for one?

Here are some pointers.

1. When communicating face to face between teams/group of people becomes difficult due to time difference, the number of people needs to be communicated or simply due to geographic constraint.
2. When information which requires sharing is large and needs to be communicated with many people in short period of time.
3. Timeliness of information is a key among the organization.
4. When emailing and other means of getting information fails in terms of getting timely response from teams.
5. When networking problems occur during the peak hours of email uses.
6. When management thinks that they need an internal branding exercise to spread a feeling among employees that the organization is really “organized” and care for them.
7. When management wants to change the way the organization as a whole behaves/works or is been seen by others, in other words “modernizing” an agent for change.
8. When a strong need of virtual collaboration is felt in the organisation.
9. When most of the time spent by an employee requires finding information from various sources rather than preparing reports/making critical and timely decisions based on that information.
10. when organization has enough money to procure the infrastructure require to build such systems 

So, If you are facing any or many of these problems and some more than an intranet solution can help, you get rid of some or most of the problems you are facing. Basically, intranet/portal is a tool for the organizations to communicate, collaborate and share their work related and in some scenarios personal/social information among their stakeholders which roughly includes, management, employee, vendor, partner, customer and shareholders.

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