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Technologies Review | July 21, 2017

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The Divine Mystery of Employee Portals

The Divine Mystery of Employee Portals

Employee portals are nothing new. In fact, well over 10 years ago, they were being touted as the next big thing in enterprise tech. Since then many companies have adopted portal development strategies that often have included online timesheets, internal wiki systems for keeping company tech documents up to date and rich analytics solutions that can be accessed by multiple employees throughout a large corporation.

Whatever the use of employee portals, the big idea has always been to use enterprise information portals (EIPs) to distribute massive sets of business-specific information to as many employees possible. But by the end of the 2000s, the idea of employee portals seemed archaic on the surface. Then cloud computing and social media arrived on the scene, which some are saying might have breathed some life back into enterprise-level portal systems or “portlets.”

Cloud Security and Employee Portals

As cloud computing becomes overhyped, the cloud security debate gets even more heated as the cloud industry comes under fire. This limited perception of the cloud affects companies like SAP and IBM who are actively developing cloud-based portal solutions for enterprise-level companies.

Are Employee Portals Practical?

Every company goes into the employee portal game with the best intentions – that the system would provide an easy way to handle internal tasks like payroll, bookkeeping and company-wide document management. But these lofty ideals tend to fall short once the rubber meets the road. As a result, there are several problems that developers run into when developing highly functional employee portals. But the biggest hurdle is often closely tied to design.

Portal Design: Why is it so complicated?

It’s not rocket science, but it can be complicated trying to design a portal with the end-user in mind. After all, they’re your employees and you’ve spent enough time to know their work habits, and they’d be looking for in an employee portal, right? The main problem that arises design-wise is in trying to make navigation through the app more complicated than it needs to be.

On the other side of the coin, developing a portal can quickly turn into a headache on the development side of things. Managing servers to ensure the portal environment doesn’t experience any downtime is a whole other ballgame.

Either way, a good employee portal design will strike a healthy balance of security, administration and integration. Getting to this point takes a lot of time, resources and testing, which are luxuries that many enterprise-level companies don’t have.

Collaboration Nation: The New Age of the Employee Portal

One significant way cloud computing has changed the workplace is through collaboration. It’s now easier than ever for employees to come together and work on projects together online. Pre-designed software provides employee portals with human resources and payroll capabilities pre-designed. In the enterprise environment, employees are likely to expect the same type of experience with employee portals. They will need to mirror the social media and cloud-based interfaces to gain traction with today’s working professionals. Fortunately, those in the cloud-based enterprise portal space are actively looking for ways to make employee portal design more effective than ever.