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PLANNING A PO R TAL COM MUNITY

PLANNING A PORTAL COMMUNITY

DYNAMIC COMMUNITIES CAN BE THE KEY to early portal adoption. Bringing employees, partners, and clients together in
group portal pages allows them to work more productively—getting consistent information, pursuing common goals, and
sharing expertise. Portal Communities are having important impacts at hundreds of Plumtree deployments. Reduced travel
and expense costs, improved customer service, and a heightened sense of organizational mission are among the most fre-
quently cited benefits.

This chapter discusses considerations for planning and developing Communities that will draw users to the portal. The
audience for this chapter is Portal Planners, System Administrators, and Portal Administrators. This chapter pertains to the
Discovery phase.

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PO R T A L C OM MU N IT I ES : LI N E- OF - B U S IN E S S C OM MU N IT I ES A N D WO R K S P A C ES

PO R T A L C O M M U N I T I E S : L I N E - O F - B U S I N E S S C O M M U N I T I E S A N D WO R K S P A C E S

For internal audiences, it’s useful to distinguish between line-of-business Communities and project management
workspaces. A line-of-business Community serves a department or enterprise-wide audience, providing a central
channel for communications and bringing together resources from across the business. Examples of line-of-busi-
ness, or vertical, Communities include HR, Finance, Sales and Marketing, IT, Training, and Corporate Communi-
cations. A workspace facilitates cross-functional and cross-divisional collaboration, connecting individuals who
may not work directly with or even near one another but who share a common goal. Examples of workspaces
include Product Development and Recruitment Management.

IDENTIFY PROMISING COMMUNITIES

Business needs should drive the decisions you make about the Communities to deploy first. Engage business
owners from across your organization to identify the best opportunities for near-term value. Target a few Com-
munities that present relatively low barriers to deployment and promise high business impact. For this first phase
of Community development, you may wish to pilot both a vertical Community (that is, for a business area such as
HR, IT, R&D or Sales and Marketing) and a horizontal Community spanning several business areas (for example,
recruitment management, product concept, or proposal development).
Since the cooperation of business leaders is critical to the success of your Communities, some key considerations
should guide planning decisions:
o the leader of the department, business unit, branch, or project for which the Community is planned champi-
ons the portal. Line-of-business leaders must be able to see the link between their Communities and the
benefits demanded by senior management
o content experts within the business area have time to devote to Community development and administra-
tion
o the integration of the business applications used in that area is not overly time-consuming or costly

o the target audience is receptive to new business tools and motivated to change habits. Failure to address the
culture, capabilities, and team roles of prospective members can result in a perfectly good Community
being rejected

RECOMMENDATIONS: LINE-OF-BUSINESS COMMUNITIES

For broad adoption, employee services is an attractive target for integration into a portal Community. HR manag-
ers can be important allies in your portal deployment. Portal self-service eases administrative burden by reducing
handoffs for core processes, such as new hire setup, and simplifying time- and paper-intensive processes, such as
updating and distributing directories. Employees are eager to view pay stubs online, track vacation and flex time,
expedite requests for W-2 statements, make tax status changes, and enroll for benefits. Employee services Com-
munities can quickly reduce paper and postal costs, simplify HR transactions, streamline internal communica-
tions, and increase employee satisfaction—important validation for your portal deployment and a warrant for
additional Communities.

R E C O M M E N D A T I O N S : WO R K S P A C E S

Target a group of users for whom the convenience of sharing data, documents, and ideas easily and securely is
likely to improve work currently hampered by the team’s distribution across different departments and locations.
For example, a product development team, whose membership might include employees from Engineering, Mar-
keting, Quality Assurance, Legal, Operations and other departments, will benefit from the aggregation of project
tools—budgets, specifications, timelines, test results—in a portal Community. Limiting the number of meetings to
which team members must travel produces immediate cost savings, and shorter development cycles speed your

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COMMUNITY GOVERNANCE

products to market. You may want to start with a cross-functional team small enough to manage but large enough
to provide significant feedback, for example, between 50 and 100 users.

COMMUNITY GOVERNANCE

One approach to start one or more Communities is to convert or consolidate intranet home pages into portal Com-
munities. To help prioritize requests and speed development, set clear guidelines for building and governing
Communities.
Set expectations early and avoid costly delays by asking the right questions before you act. Interview business
leaders and content owners to chart a clear action plan for populating portal Communities with relevant data. See
the section, “Questionnaire for Line-of-Business Leaders and Content Owners” on page 4-7, for a sample questionnaire
on Community audiences, objectives, intranet and Internet Data Sources, work schedules, and staff.
To prevent Community overlap, misuse or disuse, formalize procedures for registering, renewing, or retiring
your Communities. Set expiration dates for Communities; these may vary in length and require Community own-
ers to demonstrate a reason to continue the Community, for example, ROI, membership growth rates, visits, con-
tent quality and freshness, and activity on discussion forums.
Consider dedicating a separate site or Community to your governance model. Here, everyone can easily locate
lists of Community owners, definitions of roles, development templates, branding guidelines, Community
requirement worksheets, and request forms.

LINE-OF-BUSINESS COMMUNITY USE CASE: EMPLOYEE SERVICES

Increase productivity and ease administrative burden by creating an employee services Community. A recent por-
tal user study showed that employees do, in fact, value self-service HR features highly. As illustrated by the chart
below, surveyed employees vastly preferred self-service for HR tasks such as tracking vacation time and benefits
enrollment over asking staff for assistance.

DESIGN

Plumtree offers the following recommendations for creating a comprehensive, compelling employee services
Community:

C O M M U N I T Y TA X O N O M Y

Create 12 key Documents directory Folders related to employee services. If you are deploying an employee ser-
vices Community as part of a broader enterprise-wide portal, these folders can be sub-folders within a high-level
folder called Employee Services or Employee Center:
o 401k

o benefits

o company policies

o corporate culture

o expenses

o forms

o hiring/recruiting

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COMMUNITY SUB-PAGES

o IT and Operations

o stock

o travel

o training

o vacation

COMMUNITY SUB-PAGES

Create an intuitive experience by grouping related content and services on separate Community pages. Employ-
ees start on a Community front page for timely corporate communications, features and frequently accessed Gad-
get Web Services (for example, phone directories, calendars). From there, they can enter one of 5 to 7 sub-pages
devoted to specific work/life issues.
Naturally, the particular blend of content and services on each Community page will vary by customer. The list
below contains suggestions for components that might be included in the employee services Community and its
sub-pages.

Company

o company-wide message or announcement

o employee survey or poll

o employee phone book

o employee spotlight

o key Web links

o key documents

o employee newsletter highlights and link

o employee handbook receipt acknowledgement

o anonymous employee suggestions

o expert locator

o company calendar

Benefits

o announcement from the Benefits Department

o link to 401k provider with provider logo

o key 401k documents

o stock tracker with 401k investment performance

o key stock plan documents

o link to stock plan provider with provider logo

o key health benefits documents

o key health benefits links with provider logos (medical, dental, vision)

o key policies and procedures documents

o personal finance news headlines

o general business news highlights

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COMMUNITY SUB-PAGES

T i m e , Tr a v e l a n d E x p e n s e s

o key travel, time and expense documents

o regional travel agent information

o regional weather information

o travel request, approval, e-mail notification workflow

o expense report submission, approval, e-mail notification workflow

o paid time off request, approval, e-mail notification workflow

Career

o announcement from Training Department

o training class posting, sign-up and e-mail notification workflow

o job posting, resume submission workflow

o performance objectives submission, approval, evaluation workflow

o archive of self-paced training materials

Hiring

o announcement from Recruiting Department

o workspace for hiring

o workspace for new hire on-boarding

Play

o local Web sites

o classified ads

o local weather

o employee activity board

Manager

o management tip of the month

o paid time-off calendar for team

o expense approval

o time-off approval

o travel approval

Profile

o personal data

o mailing address

o dependents

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MEET REAL-WORLD WANTS AND NEEDS

o emergency contact

o employee key dates

M E E T R E A L - W O R L D WA N T S A N D N E E D S

To reach broad audiences fast, focus first on the high-value—and often low-tech—services that keep employees
coming back—phone directories, lunch menus, campus maps, classified ads, daily tips, message boards. Before
diving into Community development, interview employees to determine which content and features promise
enterprise-wide adoption.
Opening a dialogue with end users can create a sense of employee ownership in the Community, speeding adop-
tion. Survey users regularly on Community content, ease of use, support, and solicit suggestions for new features.
Community managers can use Plumtree Studio Server to design and deploy new polls and surveys in a matter of
minutes.
You may want to do some analysis to help determine which employee services to deliver first via the Community.

ACCEPTANCE

You've built a beautiful employee services Community, but how do you keep users coming? Deployment success
depends, in part, on persuading users to change work habits and take ownership of their Community experience.
Coaching, coaxing, cash rewards—visit the Plumtree Deployment Drivers Program site to see how Plumtree cus-
tomers are raising awareness and increasing adoption rate. See “Plumtree Resources that Can Help” on page 21-3 of
Chapter 21, “Rolling Out the Portal.”

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QUESTIONNAIRE FOR LINE-OF-BUSINESS LEADERS AND CONTENT OWNERS

QUESTIONNAIRE FOR LINE-OF-BUSINESS LEADERS AND CONTENT OWNERS

Before beginning portal Community development, engage business leaders and content experts to establish needs
and expectations clearly.

KEY Q U E S T I O N S FO R S T R A T E G I ST S A N D D E C I S I O N - M A KE R S

WHO?

o What audience(s) will the Community serve?

o internal

o external

o both

o What common purposes, interests, or other characteristics define this audience?

o What goals will the Community help accomplish?

o What hard and soft returns do you expect the Community to produce?

o How many people are in the audience for this Community?

o Has the person responsible for this unit or team’s existing intranet sites been involved in the planning of the
portal Community? If not, who must be engaged to ensure that this unit’s intranet and portal initiatives
align?
o Who must approve the design and allocation of resources for this Community?

WHEN?

o What is the optimal time frame for deploying this Community to a pilot audience?

o What is the optimal time frame for deploying this Community to the entire intended audience?

o Are there other projects or initiatives in this unit that conflict with the Community-building schedule?

WHAT?

Business Objectives

o What business objectives over the next six months will this Community serve?

o What business objectives over the next 12 months will this Community serve?

o What metrics will you use to measure Community impact on near- and long-term objectives?

To p i c s

o Around what topics are directory taxonomy and Gadget design organized?

o Who are the content experts who will manage the crawl and approval of documents targeted for this Com-
munity?
o Names

o Availability for interview, training, ongoing maintenance

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KEY QUESTIONS FOR CONTENT EXPER TS

Data Sources

o What data sources are most important to your team?

o Web sites

o File servers

o Databases

o Groupware systems

o Document management systems

o Other (for example, ERP, CRM, BI)

o Content from which of these data sources should be crawled into the directory for Community use?

Applications and Services

o What applications or services does this unit most use?

o Groupware: electronic mail

o Groupware: calendar

o Groupware: contacts

o Business intelligence: which reports?

o CRM: which reports?

o Proprietary systems

o Which applications or services should be integrated as Gadget Web Services?

o What functionality from each system integrated via Gadget Web Services is most essential for Community
members?
o To which applications or services is it preferable to link?

o Which applications or services should be integrated first? Why?

KEY Q U E S T I O N S FO R C O N T E N T E X P E R T S

INTERNAL DATA SOURCES

o Which file servers house the documents most important to your unit’s work?

o In what formats are documents published (e.g. Word, Excel, PDF, HTML)?

o To where do unit members currently publish content?

o Does your unit own secure space on a file system for storing and crawling portal-ready content into the
directory?
o What is the approximate volume of documents relevant to your Community that require crawling into the
directory?
o Do you rely on any database reports or spreadsheets for regular performance metrics? What system houses
this data?

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EXTERNAL DATA SOURCES

EXTERNAL DATA SOURCES

o What Internet sites, if any, are important to your unit’s work?

o How frequently is content updated on these sites?

o What pages on these sites are most relevant to the work of Community members?

o To which Internet services do Community members subscribe (e.g. newsfeeds, XML feeds)?

PUBLICATIONS

o What content do you want to push to Community members?

o News from which other units is most relevant to Community members?

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PUBLICATIONS

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