Create an interdepartmental task force or team to manage the process. Building a portal is an enterprise initiative and it requires enterprise resources. Representatives from different departments -- HR, finance, IT, and marketing -- must collaborate and communicate in order to build a product. And if the portal will incorporate extranet links to benefits providers and other third parties, it’s essential to keep them in the loop, too, particularly when it comes to design and functionality issues.
Build a solid foundation. Organizations that buy a commercial package, plug it in, and expect outstanding results are in for a huge shock. A portal is merely a way to manage communication, information, and work flow online. By conducting surveys, usability studies, and extensive testing, it’s possible to build a successful portal from the start. Another key aspect is mapping business processes and then using the portal to streamline and simplify them. "Focusing carefully on the business requirements rather than the bells and whistles goes a long way in helping a project team to select the proper solution," says Alan Goldstein, executive VP of development for Ultimate Software.
Design a portal to be employee-centric and not employer-centric. According to Michael Rudnick, national enterprise portal leader for consulting firm Watson Wyatt Worldwide, a common mistake is building a portal from the enterprise perspective and then offering content based on functional categories. For example, an employee might have to click through "Human Resources," "Benefits," and then "Retirement" to find a 401(k) balance. That’s fine as long as everyone knows where everything is on the portal, but that’s almost never the case. It’s better to create tabs or sections like "My Benefits" or "My Travel" to allow workers more intuitive access to key data.
Use analytics and metrics. Intuition and informed opinion have their place, but hard data doesn’t lie. If employees aren’t clicking to an important service on a portal, it’s essential to recognize the fact and take steps to address the problem. Likewise, if they’re clicking to a spot and then leaving transactions uncompleted, it’s a clue that something is wrong. Using Web tracking and analytics tools, HR or an enterprise can learn what works, what doesn’t, and how to adapt features and content on an ongoing basis.
Communicate, educate, and inform. A portal is one of the few places where HR can actually have a direct impact on business results. One of the most important tasks HR can address is getting workers up to Internet speed. Too often, employees don’t know about a new feature or process that’s available through a portal. Other times, resistance to change is a factor. By educating employees about the advantages of a portal and teaching them how to use it effectively, it’s possible to drive adoption and the gains that come with it.
Workforce, April 2002, p. 38 -- Subscribe Now!