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An enterprise portal is a single website that allows staff to access a range of tools, programs, and functions. The portal is available via the Internet and typically has both a public and private presence. The primary purpose of an enterprise portal is to provide staff with customized access to the information and tools required in his or her position. Many firms also use the enterprise portal to communicate with staff, share documents, and encourage collaboration.
There are several different technologies that can be used to create an enterprise portal: Sun®, Microsoft Sharepoint®, and SAP® are just a few of the more popular software tools. In order to support this type of technology, the organization needs to invest significant resources into computer hardware to host an active website, security certificates to maintain the private section of the portal, and a user management tool. The skills required to support this type of technology are often found in operations support staff or hardware specialists.
In most organizations, the enterprise portal is used to display specific functions or information to the user from the enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. The portal is simply the door used to access these systems. The programming required to make the functionality available via the portal varies, based on the technology of the ERP. For example, an SAP® developer can use either Java® or ABAP® to create web portal functions for users.
Each staff member in the organization is provided with a user name and password to access the portal. Role based authorization is typically used to determine what functions he or she is able to perform. For example, all staff may automatically have access to view their own pay statement, submit expense reimbursement forms, and record vacation requests. Based on the person's position in the organization, he or she may also have access to human resources forms, inventory management, or financial information. All the access is managed by the same group who controls access to the ERP system.
This type of technology is becoming increasingly popular with firms who want to provide staff with access to tools via the Internet, while keeping the same controls currently in place. From a developer perspective, the enterprise portal is the perfect delivery method for users who do not need to access the ERP on a daily basis, but are more occasional users. This functionality also opens the door for analytics dashboards, metrics, and other communication tools.