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Pilot Portals

Does the organization know what to expect from an e-portal implementation? It's common to produce a pilot portal as a proof of concept. This usually involves identifying the easiest, smallest e-portal (for example, the geographical location with the least number of users) and making development of that e-portal the pilot project that's developed before any of the others. Does the client have any objection to the pilot approach?

When building the pilot, start off with a prototype of each "view" (the interface for the e-portal that the user class will be presented with) to ensure that the requirements have been understood. Use iterative prototyping to move closer and closer to the final system, being careful to timebox developments so that the client knows when there are no more iterations before the pilot goes live.

A phased iterative implementation is a successful approach for all other e-portals once the pilot has been signed off. Get users to buy into this approach and make sure that they understand what it means in terms of dates, deadlines, and costs. Clients often have marketing campaigns to organize around the launch or re-launch of their e-portals, so they need to be informed of the implications of these approaches at an early stage.

It's also important to make sure that the client fully understands the technologies available to enable collaboration, knowledge sharing, and information flow. For example, they must understand the concept of newsfeeds, document flow, workflow, and EAI. Provide demos of how this can work for the client, with real-life examples from their current data, if possible.

Show clients how newsfeeds and content feeds work by setting them up with a Yahoo! account and showing them My Yahoo!. This site demonstrates personalization features, content-selection features, newsfeeds, and content feeds.

To explain how chat rooms, discussion groups, and file-sharing work, set up a Yahoo! group for users to experiment with—better still, give them access to one that you have set up to provide information about your e-portal implementation project, so that they can keep up to date with developments from their own offices!

Clients who fully understand the options available to them and are able to express themselves in the language of e-portals are more likely to be able to convey their requirements accurately. This will make them feel more empowered and result in an e-portal that better suits their needs.

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