By Mitchell Palski, Oracle WebCenter Sales Consultant
Must-Have Features for Self-Service Portals
Whether intended for employees, customers, partners or citizens, a Portal is most often intended to be a web site that is developed to aggregate information and services to users. Effective web portals present information to users based on their roles and interests so as to avoid users depending on the web site’s search bar to find information. At Oracle, we often times refer to developing that presentation layer as “delivering high-value user experiences” because of the efficiency and effectiveness it brings to users. Ultimately, these are our goals as a software development team:
- Enhance the user’s satisfaction with using the web portal
- Enable users to accomplish more in less time spent on the portal
- Improves the efficacy of users through new capabilities
Although the design of a web portal’s presentation layer is critical to providing a satisfying and efficient user experience, the services that the portal provides are what will drive its success. Much like cooking a meal, the best dishes are made from the best ingredients. The services that your web portal provides are the basis for creating high-value user experiences – ultimately giving your product a higher return on investment.
As an organization, you are looking for ways to cut costs, to get your users the information they need when they need it, to improve user awareness, and to reduce overhead. This can best be accomplished by developing a self-service web portal. In this blog post, I want to describe a few features that a self-service web portal must have to be successful.
User Authentication, Role-Based Access
A self-service Portal must incorporate some form of Identity Management. Users must be able to register a profile with your web application so that users’ attributes can be captured and roles can be associated to them. Role-based access is critical to implementing a successful self-service Portal:
- Users can inherit immediate access to key tools and applications based on their role(s) rather than having to submit manual requests
- Mass updates can be made to all users that have been granted a role, reducing maintenance effort and costs
- Provide the foundation for other self-service portal features (see below!)
Automated Access Requests
How do users currently gain access to new applications in your organization? Do they call the help desk? Do they email an IT administrator and explain what their roles are? How does the IT administrator know what rights to grant them? Without self-service access requests, your users and your organization are subject to the weaknesses and risks of manual access request processes.
- Lack of visibility and awareness for requestors
- Lost or deleted request that never get fulfilled
- Incorrect access provisioning that can lead to security breaches
You can solve these issues for your organization by implementing automated access requests. An automated access request is a user-initiated automated process that includes at least one (system or human) validation step. The benefits to your enterprise include:
- Allowing users to gain access to sensitive applications in a timely manner
- Reducing IT costs through efficient, business friendly self-service and platform-based architecture
- Minimizing risk by granting access based on standard sets of rules and policies rather than human discretion
- Providing complete audit trails
Web-Based Form Service Requests
Your web portal is the perfect platform to provide your users with fast, efficient, and accurate services. Automated service requests transform complex manual procedures into streamlined simplified processes. Rather than having employees indirectly initiate service requests via fax, email, phone, or snail-mail, allow users to complete web-based forms. The advantages of web-based forms include:
- Ensuring that users provide all required information prior to submission
- Provide a layer of data validation prior to submission
- Immediate digital transmission of information and case creation
Leverage these web-based forms to kick-off automated processes. These processes remove the human elements from key decision points in your organization’s procedures. Instead they make key determinations based off of business rules and policies. Human intervention only becomes necessary for validation steps and exception handling.
- Removes process gaps between applications that are prone to errors
- Simplifies architecture and streamlines processes to lower costs
- Improves your organization’s throughput and efficiency
- Allows your workforce to stop performing administrative work and focus on innovative tasks!
Advanced Self-Service Portals
Self-Service portals are an essential element of an organization’s ability to successfully conduct business with customers, partners, employees and citizens. Modern users expect to interact with an organization through a web-based interface that can be delivered through any type of computing device – mobile or otherwise.
Oracle WebCenter Portal provides IT with a comprehensive and flexible platform which can be used to quickly build self-service portals and composite applications. Furthermore, Oracle WebCenter’s ease of integration with other Oracle Fusion Middleware products (i.e. Identity Management, Business Process Management, and Business Intelligence) strengthens its capability to provide am enterprise-ready self-service portal that can meet all of your organization’s business needs.