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Five Steps to Building a Successful Extranet

November 1, 1997
Related Topics: Intranets/Extranets, Featured Article
How to focus on the fctors that determine success.
  • Evaluate costs and benefits
    In many cases, the cost of an extranet is negligible for human resources because the outside vendor will handle development and implementation. On the other hand, the benefits can be enormous. It's possible to cut costs, reduce administrative overhead and provide employees with better service.
  • Create a partnership
    An extranet requires solid communication between human resources and the vendor supplying or managing data. Designing an easy-to-use interface is a good start, but data must flow back and forth smoothly and, for employees, transparently. Each extranet should be custom designed to address a company's specific needs.
  • Communicate the benefits
    An extranet won't succeed simply because an HR department creates a link to a 401(k) provider or HMO. It's important to publicize the extranet and provide services that attract employees to the site.
  • Manage content/provide value
    The interactive capabilities of the Web are one of its greatest strengths. An extranet allows employees to view accounts real-time and model data in ways that weren't possible just a few years ago. It allows them to search for doctors or use referral services quickly and efficiently. However, employees will use an extranet only if they see value in it -- not because it reduces costs for HR. That means content must revolve around the needs of employees and not the desires of HR and a vendor.
  • Look for new opportunities
    Because the technology is so new, many potential applications for extranets haven't yet been considered. Think out of the box and look for new ways to outsource electronically.

Workforce, November 1997, Vol. 76, No. 11, p. 30.

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