There are three different types of portal solutions available in the commercial software market: Internet, electronic data interface and data management. A portal solution is a type of software product that is used to manage interaction between a user community and the back-end enterprise resources planning system. This type of software has increased in popularity as software functionality has improved.
The primary purpose of portal solutions is to provide a secure method for users outside a company's network to obtain access to data and to update information in the primary system. These systems have been used since the beginning of computer networks, and the development of portal solutions is a natural evolution of the original method of data transmission between networks.
Internet portal solutions use Web server technology and application software. These tools are used to manage access profiles, control the data that is displayed and limit the information that can be changed or updated. Many companies use these solutions to provide access to the primary systems from a range of physical locations. This is a much easier and more cost-effective solution than the creation and maintenance of multiple secure networks.
A great example of an Internet portal solution is an online expense reimbursement process. In many organizations, employees log into a Website and are provided with access to data and functions based on their role. A series of tools, such as automatic workflow, e-mail notifications and online reports are commonly available in an online portal. Development work for a portal solution is often faster and more cost effective than the alternatives.
Electronic data interfaces (EDI) are a secure way to upload and transmit large amounts of data between systems. This used to be achieved with a series of manually processes. These portal solutions are a great way to automate this process and maximize staff involvement. The external party is provided with a unique network address, user ID and password. Upon successfully logging in, the data can be uploaded and posted directly into the system without requiring manual intervention.
In many companies, a portal solution is used to support a user dashboard. This dashboard can access data from a variety of systems, creating a single system for the user to access while maintaining the separate back-end systems. This is the most effective way to combine new and legacy systems into a single, manageable system.