One of the areas that most of our clients have hugely benefited from SharePoint 2013 is the capability to build extranet portals that allow them to closely and collaboratively work with external entities. These range from a customer portal for an investment consulting firm to a vendor portal for a tool management company in the auto industry to a partner portal for a captive, specialty insurance company providing medical professional and general liability coverage.
A portal is not just a SharePoint site or repository of enterprise content. A good SharePoint based portal provides deep integration between diverse group of users, resources and content with rich user experience. Portals employ visually rich dashboards that present enterprise information that help users with their priority tasks.
The top SharePoint functionalities leveraged for portals are:
- Personalized & targeted content delivery – using publishing and document libraries
- Collaboration among internal and external users with workflows
- Social community using Newsfeeds, Yammer and Profiles
- Dashboards that bring content from diverse enterprise sources using Business Connectivity Services (BCS)
Personalized Content Delivery: Our client, an investment consulting firm uses a well-designed publishing mechanism to publish valuable research content to their clients. Outdated content are automatically removed from the portal. Clients get up-to-date contact information of all their client servicing teams.
Collaboration with Workflows: A specialty insurance firm uses workflows and task assignments to enable a number of people to efficiently work on medical malpractice insurance claims. The workflows along with secure documents associated with each step, speeds up the process and makes needed information readily available. Each user is presented with the tasks that they are assigned to and may act based on priority.
Social Community / Communication: Most businesses strongly agree that use of social tools within internal users and partners stimulate innovations. Community sites allow open exchange of thoughts and ideas with network of users – leading to transformation and increased business values. SharePoint social tools promote 2-way communications such as ask-an-expert within a peer community and 1-way communication such as corporate news and targeted announcements. Yammer brings the best in class social service to users in SharePoint 2013.
Dashboards: Rich dashboards can be presented using simple Power BI tools or with deep integration with LOB applications. Real-time dashboards help present metrics that requires immediate attention and action.