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Company Portal – Building one with Microsoft SharePoint

Every company needs a company portal. There, we said it!

Having a desktop chock full of company resources like software launchers, file systems, databases, etc. is not only a pain for your employees – no matter how comfortable they are at the process – it’s also just one of those systems that can lead to manual errors and wasting time, i.e. using the wrong resource, or spending valuable time trying to hunt down the right system to use.

Today we both introduce company portals and how to build them for your business.

What’s a company portal?

A company portal is your employees’ jump off point for accessing restricted company content – be it documents, databases, software, or any other digital resources.

A portal is generally accessed through a webpage, which can be an on-site only system, or available for remote access through identification verification. If your company portal requires remote access there will be some security measures you’ll need to put in place to make sure all your company data and resources are kept safe and secure.

How is a company portal different from an intranet?

Your intranet is all those company digital resources, connected via an internal networking structure. The portal is just the entryway to access it. These days, an intranet is often not just an internal network on site, though, it can be a virtual intranet provided by the cloud, or a hybrid cloud/on-premise solution.

Customer portals

Conversely, you can also create customer portals too – for your clients to access restricted resources from your business relevant to their accounts. These customer portals will obviously always require remote access. Customers can then perform self-service tasks quickly and easily from anywhere, without having to go through traditional (slow) customer service channels such as call centres or shopfronts.

These customer portals can also be hosted on-premise, via the cloud, or as a hybrid solution.

Building a company portal

In the past, building company portals was a highly specialised technical area that required sophisticated software developers to build out the infrastructure.

In some cases, where the systems are highly complex, have unique requirements, or require extremely strict security regulations (perhaps governmental systems where Secret clearance is required), this may still be the case.

However, for the majority of small to medium businesses, there are software products that can help build company portals either completely DIY or with a little bit of professional help.

How does Microsoft SharePoint come into the picture?

Microsoft SharePoint is a product any company can purchase that can help them to build their very own company portal by connecting up their company’s digital infrastructure (intranet). It can also be used to help create customer portals, too.

SharePoint Online

The Microsoft platform has gone through an astronomical overhaul in the past few years, switching over to an online, cloud-service offering. This might sound scary to businesses who are used to an on-premise setup, however, we’re happy to tell you that it really is the opposite.

The O365 platform, of which SharePoint online is an optional suite component, offers businesses the power of deeply connected systems, unlocking data from traditionally separate silos, and allowing you to do more with the resources you already have.

Using SharePoint as a company portal

Setting up SharePoint isn’t exactly a few clicks and you’re done the type of process. There’s a lot that goes into the process which will either need to be configured by your internal IT team, superusers, or an external provider – like us.

The key components that are involved in building out your SharePoint portal are:

  • Information architecture
  • Navigation
  • Content aggregation
  • Performance
  • Branding
  • Deployment

Perhaps the most important three of these tasks will be your information architecture, navigation, and content aggregation. These will take some time to really nail down, and you may need a few iterations – or ongoing iterations – to get something that really works for your business.

Microsoft offers many out-of-the-box SharePoint configurations, although you might require something more customised after testing out their templates.

You can find Microsoft’s introduction to building SharePoint online portals via their best practices here.

Where to next?

If you already have O365 setup within in your business, you can get your superusers to start playing around with setting up a SharePoint portal. You can start exploring SharePoint for as little as $5/user/month – it’s not expensive to get started.

Once you’ve started exploring the capabilities of SharePoint, you’ll probably want to start getting serious about building out your company portal more comprehensively with high-usability among your team.

If you don’t have people on your team with the skills to do this effectively, or even if they simply don’t have the time due to other project time restraints, that’s where we can come in to help out.

A1 Technologies can help design and build your ideal SharePoint company portal, ensuring high usability and intuitive setup. By involving your team along the way, it gives you insight in how to continue making changes to it yourself in the future should you wish – or we can continue along as your technology partner and change things up as your requirements change, infrastructure or team grows.

If you’d like to learn more about how we can get involved in helping create your company portal with SharePoint, make sure to get in touch.

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