Why Should Small to Medium Sized Businesses Care about Portals?

An Article by Denim Group Principal, Sheridan Chambers

The other day, I read that the world’s 500 largest companies were each going to build a portal for themselves that would revolutionize their business and collectively save them billions of dollars. I also read in the same article that the 2-year total cost of ownership for the average portal for one of these businesses is $1,500,000. Obviously, this is out of reach for the average business.

So why should small and medium sized businesses care about portals in light of this? Because even modest investments in portal applications and infrastructure can help businesses work better as a team and more efficiently overall.

What functions can a portal serve in my business?

Publish and Distribute

For businesses that write manuals and publish volumes of documentation, especially when these are distributed within the company, a web-based publishing and delivery solution can save tremendous amounts of money and time. Not only does this prevent you from having to print all the materials every time, the distribution becomes instantaneous.

Centralize and Version

I get very frustrated when I have to use out-of-date marketing materials and proposal templates. A portal that serves as the central repository for these documents and materials can help solve this problem. In addition, some portals will allow versioning of these documents. Versioning is when the portal makes a new copy of a document every time changes are made and the updated document is checked back in to the portal in addition to the original version. In the event that something happens to the document, you can return to an older version. You can also see who made what changes, and when.

Automate Paper Processes and Workflows

Businesses that shuffle large quantities of paper around the office for approvals and sign-offs can take considerable advantage of a portal. The paper can be moved online and the sign-offs can be performed digitally. The electronic documents will move through your office considerably faster and will not get lost in the process.

Inegrate Data for Executive Views and Single Sign-On

Portals can pull data from different information systems within your business, process this information and then present it in an executive view. This is useful for making quick decisions or keeping track of your business at a very high level. In addition, a portal can serve as a single point of access for your employees to get to a variety of different information systems within your business. This serves as one login and a consistent interface into various systems.

Document Collabroation and Teaming

Some portal products can integrate into office productivity software. In this way they allow for better change tracking and sharing of documents between individuals. Teams of people can work on documents together and publish them to the rest of the business when they are complete.

Publish Information to Vendors and Cusomers

A well-built portal can also allow an organization to publish information to trading partners, vendors and customers via a secure login. This information can be published in an automated fashion or manually. Group products like discussion lists make it possible for your customers to communicate with you via the portal.

Summary

Do not assume portal technologies are financially out of reach for your business. Even small and medium-sized businesses can take advantage of these emerging technologies to streamline their businesses and make them more efficient or increase internal communications. It will save time and money in the long term.