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Digital Transformation

Gartner PCC – 6 Portal Pitfalls

Jim Murphy held a standing room only session this morning covering the 6 pitfalls with portals.  I’m curious, was it standing room only because lots of people have encountered pitfalls, or are all these people just starting out with portal and want to avoid these pitfalls?  My guess is that many of these people already have some form of portal and want to see before they get to a problem what others have encountered.

Perficient’s Michael Porter and Glenn Kline had a very popular series of blog posts and speaking engagements titled 12 Things to You Shouldn’t do in a Portal Project.  Our lists are similar, with Gartner taking a more strategic view perhaps.  So here are Jim’s 6 pitfalls in reverse order:

6. Underestimated Cost/Complexity – This is one of my favorites.  I can’t count how many times we give a customer an estimate based on our many years of experience, only to be asked to cut it down to the bare minimum.  In most of these cases, those companies spend lots of time trying to recover from minimal effort to make their portal work right.

5. Underutilization of Portal Technology – Jim’s quote is “All we got is a page of links”.  While I have never seen this in a real portal implementation, I have seen many companies buy the suite of products, but ignore content management and/or search and/or analytics.   When we work with companies we try to convey that portal is an ecosystem and not a single product.  Our roadmaps try to incorporate the wide range of capabilities to ensure clients get the most out of their portal.

4. Absence of Fresh, Relative Content – Jim cites the following factors that contribute to this pitfall:

  • No people plan for identifying responsibilities, rewards, training or monitoring
  • No agreement on taxonomy
  • Search is an afterthought (see #5 above)
  • No monitoring of content usage (see #5 above)
  • No life Cycle Strategy

3. Inability to Meet Expanding Demand – This is a common issue that can be a direct result of #6 above.  Ways to avoid this pitfall include: setting up a portal center of excellence and staffing it appropriately; creating shared, reusable services and delegating development and/or content management.

2. Lack of Value for End Users – Jim’s quote here is “No one uses it the way we tell them to.”  Often end users are left out of the implementation effort, so they don’t have an intrinsic interest in the platform.  We ignore a system of rewards for usage and contribution. Our user experience design consists of a couple of managers deciding the design.

1. Faulty Governance – This pitfall can arise from no governance or too bureaucratic governance.  But you have to remember that portal is an enterprise system in most cases.  These kind of systems cannot be successful without good leadership, good perseverance, and good organization.  If you have a CRM or ERP system, think about what kind of governance it takes to make those systems successful; surely portal is no different. Perficient talks about the need for good governance all the time.  I can’t think of a portal initiative that did not include a robust set of governance issues.

All of these pitfalls point to the need to have experienced people implementing your Enterprise Portal.  Without this experience, you will likely encounter at least one of these issues.


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Mark Polly

Mark Polly is Perficient's Chief Strategist for Customer Experience Platforms. He works to create great customer, partner, and employee experiences. Mark specializes in web content management, portal, search, CRM, marketing automation, customer service, collaboration, social networks, and more.

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