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The term business portal is used to describe a feature on a company website that allows authorized users to access restricted content or information. This tool is growing in popularity, as it provides a single gateway for staff to access different applications. Some of the most common features of a business portal include customer relationship management, expense submissions, recording of staff time, and requesting vacation days. The technology required to create and maintain a business portal has decreased significantly in price in the past few years, making it much more feasible for both small and medium size enterprises.
There are two primary aspects to the creation of a business portal: hardware and software. The hardware used varies widely, depending on the applications that are going to be distributed via this tool, the target user group, number of users, and reliance on other systems. The greater the number of users and the more robust the services, the more hardware that is required to support them. Many projects begin as a proof of concept, and then quickly expand. Make sure your hardware is sized to meet the needs of your users.
There is a wide range of software products available to support a business portal. The selection of the software is dependent upon a number of factors, such as the size of the company, the services offered through the portal, and the support staff available. For example, a company using SAP® that wants to create a business portal would be better served using SAP® technology. The functionality required is included in the package, along with the connectivity tools required to support this tool.
The skills required to host and maintain a business portal typically include Internet security, web server configuration, software developers, and project managers. In almost all firms, the support is provided by the information technology department. Some companies outsource this service, but there are severe limits on the functions that can be provided to users without a direct connection to the firm's files and applications.
When looking to implement a portal, keep in mind this is a business tool that can save both time and money. However, there is a significant investment of funds required to ramp up this type of project. Keep a close eye on the project budget and make sure the funds spent are justifiable with an excellent return on investment.
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