With an increasing size of global workforce residing in different parts of the world, collaboration has become a key feature of intranet portals. While an intranet portal is the engine that integrates access to enterprise information and applications on an intranet, collaboration is the fuel that runs the engine.
Corporate intranets gained popularity in the 1990s quickly growing more complex resulting in the concept of intranet portals. As their size grew, intranets became unwieldy and highly fragmented with a confusing user experience, no consistency and little navigational support. Portals corrected this deficiency by presenting a single gateway to all corporate information and services, thereby helping employees find information easily and perform their jobs efficiently in spite of the fact that few portal designs are optimal in an out-of-the-box deployment.
Modern day intranet portals are capable of providing a better collaborative environment between work groups, managing workflows, and allowing content creators to self-publish information. Some portal solutions even have the ability to unify legacy applications, objects from other portals, and handle multitudes of user requests resulting in an uninhibited flow of information between work groups. This collaborative environment provided by intranet portals helps employees make better, informed decisions while reducing costs, saving time, increasing productivity and effectiveness. In order to deliver on promises and ensuring smooth collaboration between employees, collaboration portals need to adhere to certain feature sets to achieve that.
Provide links to applications for easy access to employees. It cuts down the time spent in hunting for applications on the intranet.
Remote access to information is the cornerstone of collaboration portals. Users should have the freedom to access content while away from the office from any network.
A collaboration portal must have the ability to store and retrieve document information and maintain regular backups to prevent data loss.
Security features are essential to safeguard documents and sites throughout the intranet portal. Collaboration portals should have user or group-based security solutions to secure data flow and repositories.
It is the ability of the portal to unify with existing tools or the possibility of adding new tools. For example, most organizations have calendar and email integrated within intranet, allowing better time management by sharing schedules between employees.
Workflows and document template automation can reduce the workload of employees, allowing them to enhance productivity. Alerts can be created to help learn of changes and new additions to the intranet.
Flexible software that caters to organizational needs is essential for development of collaboration portals. Web Parts can be used to create custom modules that make interactions with the site easier, and allow users to customize tools and resources.
The learning curve of the collaboration portal should accommodate a wide range of technical abilities and aptitudes. It must be easy to understand and use for a vast majority of the workforce.
Internal communications are integral to promoting corporate culture. It allows organizations to present and share information in a more interactive way with employees and reduces the time taken in reaching out to global workforces.
As part of the internal communications discipline, use blogs as a tool to provide timely information to employees. These blogs need not be restricted for internal consumption and should be used to communicate with customers, and business partners in a judicious manner.
Collaboration depends on the ability to locate collaborators based on expertise and specialties. Enterprise wide search for employee information such as contact information, specialty areas, group membership, personal interest, etc. is an essential capability for a portal.