Ensuring high adoption of a portal—as with all successful technology solutions—starts with a firm understanding of user needs, and is followed by a design crafted on principals and insights that effectively address those needs. What make portals unique are the user expectations for breadth and integration. This post focuses on enterprise portals—business-to-employee solutions that consolidate communications and transactional software otherwise distributed throughout an organization.
Below are three process-based activities that can improve the chances of broad user adoption for enterprise portals:
Set up strong governance. Not surprisingly, given the typically far-reaching scope of enterprise portals, instituting robust governance tops this list as one of the most important areas of focus for ensuring user adoption. This starts with the identification of an appropriate sponsor and champions, who are motivated to actively promote the importance of the enterprise portal effort. And it includes an active and committed cross-organizational committee to steer the investment effectively. Restricting the sponsorship and oversight of an enterprise wide portal to a supporting organization such as Information Technology or Communications will usually lead to under-committed leadership across the rest of the organization. The result will be lower participation by key audiences in shaping the solution, and ultimately lower adoption and usage by the organization as a whole.
Develop a comprehensive communications plan. Complementing effective oversight is a well-conceived communications plan to provide early and frequent updates about the portal development, and ensuring two-way channels are open for feedback and reaction as the solution evolves. Not to be overlooked, support and training should be developed to ease the transition to the portal. No matter how well-designed and how powerful the portal solution may be, a segment of the employees will be hesitant to give up what they already know and do, and will therefore appreciate aids that reduce the perceived impact of the change.
Track progress towards goals and course-correct. As evidence of the value of a portal implementation, measures of success should be established during the portal planning stages and tracked at rollout and beyond. The measures of success will derive from the goals and objectives for the portal. For example, a portal whose primary goal is to consolidate and centralize technology infrastructure could emphasize costs of technology infrastructure to demonstrate the benefits and success of the effort. On the other hand, where the user experience is central to the objectives of a portal effort, user experience-based metrics should be emphasized.
Stay tuned for my next post, where I will explore some metrics you can use to effectively measure portal design efforts.