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Portal Excellence Awards

  Article published in DM Review Magazine
February 2006 Issue
  By Colin White

Editor's note: The article that appeared in the February issue only contained the winning implementation best practices. This article also includes the finalists.

Each year at DCI's Portals, Collaboration and Content Management Conference, customers and their solution providers compete in the Portal Excellence Awards. At the November 2005 event in Miami, winners were announced in four categories: Best Customer or Partner Portal, Best Employee Portal, Best Content Management System and Best Knowledge Management System.

As conference chair, I led the judges' panel. The other judges were Clive Finkelstein of Information Engineering Services, Shawn Shell of Consejo Inc. and Zach Wahl of Project Performance Corporation. The judges evaluated the return on investment, architectural design and innovation of each customer implementation.

Best Customer or Partner Portal

The finalists for the Best Customer or Partner Portal were Lockheed Martin Aeronautics (solution provider was Lockheed Martin Aeronautics) and Exempla Healthcare (solution provider was BroadVision). The winner was Lockheed Martin Aeronautics.

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics (Winner)

Lockheed Martin's Supply Chain Integration (SCI) portal was developed to address the needs for improved visibility and collaboration between buyers and suppliers of manufactured aerospace parts during the procurement-to-delivery process. With thousands of parts ordered and delivered each week, the current status of ordered parts is crucial to maintain aircraft-build flow rates.

The SCI portal helps manage more than 230,000 purchase order line items annually, representing a recurring inventory of approximately $500 million. Suppliers are directly involved in the purchase order management process, and they are contracted to update the delivery information themselves. Instead of several hundred buyers trying to input and manage all of this data themselves each week, they are now supplemented by hundreds of suppliers updating the delivery information at the point where those delivery decisions are made.

With improved visibility for both the buyer and supplier into parts deliveries, reliance on excess inventory is reduced. This inventory management improvement has saved $3.2 million to date. An additional $9 million in inventory is estimated to be removed over the next five years.

There are currently 626 buyers and internal staff, plus 817 supplier employees using the SCI portal. The supplier employees represent 368 separate supplier companies that, in turn, represent 76 percent of the total number of purchase orders being managed at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics.

Lockheed Martin developed its own J2EE-based portal application because no commercial package could fully support its needs. Integration between a state-of-the-art portal application and a 20-year-old legacy mainframe application posed many challenges, and this is one reason why a custom-built portal approach was used.

Exempla Healthcare (Finalist)

Exempla Healthcare is a three-hospital system and a provider network based in Denver, Colorado. The Exempla clinical portal provides caregivers with secure Web access to patient-care applications, including those in existing enterprise systems. Single sign-on (SSO) was a key requirement for the portal, and today the portal delivers 15 applications with SSO.

The portal uses personalization capabilities to tailor content and provide information relevant to each of the physicians using the system. Customized information delivery also allows hospital committees to conduct virtual meetings and notify users of critical or abnormal lab results. The portal makes extensive use of collaboration and supports 42 micro-sites for e-committees and communities of interest. Over 1,400 different policies and procedures are published through the portal.

Each of the clinicians using the system can access patient files while working at other area medical facilities. Also, the electronic sign-off of charts saves travel time and can be accomplished from any location with browser access. The portal provides tracking and audit information for HIPAA compliance requirements and surpasses regulatory requirements for high availability. As a result, the portal has reduced physician workload by 30 hours per month, reduced the time to perform administrative functions by 65 percent and reduced delinquent charts by 25 percent.

The greatest growth was from the new employee portal, which enhances the clinician's portal experience and ties in the extended treatment team. With the integration of email (Microsoft Outlook) and a skills inventory tracking system, the number of employees using the portal grew from 2,280 to 6,000.

Exempla's clinician portal was built using the BroadVision Portal and the BroadVision One-to-One Content for Web content management.

Best Employee Portal

The finalists for the Best Employee Portal were HCR Manor Care (solution provider was HCR Manor Care) and American Airlines (solution provider was Plumtree Software). The winner was HCR Manor Care.

HCR Manor Care (Winner)

The goals of the HCR employee portal are to empower employees to do the right thing, at the right time, in the right way. It does this by focusing on continuous process improvement, rather than on just the efficient delivery of information. Three components are used to achieve this. The first is the business process portal, which is used for organizing, indexing and displaying content by business process, subprocess and step. The second component publishes key business indicators (KBIs), and the third component is a continuous process improvement facility that prompts the owners of high-performance KBIs to share their ideas for improving business processes. Underlying these three core components are a content management system and associated topic taxonomy, an enterprise search engine, and a portal security and user interface framework.

One important aspect in the design of the content management system was to support the publishing, viewing, indexing and filtering of content by business process. Users find all the content they need by asking the question, "What do I need to do right now?" instead of, "Where do I find X, Y and Z to support what I am doing?" In addition to organizing all the content by business process, the portal produces KBIs that measure the efficiency and effectiveness of those processes.

The current portal user base extends throughout the company. Several thousand users employ the portal for gathering information and company news, connecting to application resources, executing business processes and locating key documents such as forms, manuals, policies, procedures and reports.

The conceptual design for the portal and content management system was developed using the Microsoft ASP.NET code generator and the Microsoft Portal reference application. This proof of concept became the starting point for actual portal development. Search was implemented using the initial Endeca search engine, which provides a powerful guided navigation facility.

American Airlines (Finalist)

More than 170,000 employees and retirees of AMR Corporation's core business units, American Airlines and American Eagle Airlines, are served by the Jetnet portal, which is a one-stop source for corporate news, benefits, corporate policies and initiatives. In addition, the portal is the gateway to dozens of single sign-on applications, such as flight travel planning, electronic pay statements, online benefits enrollment, knowledge bases, employee chat capabilities and email messaging.

The portal and associated human resources applications achieved 100 percent return on investment within two years by automating and streamlining business processes, reducing the production and distribution of benefits documents, and eliminating company manuals and rosters. Portal personalization enables efficient and effective communications, and reduces duplicate content and communication channels such as printed newsletters and separate Web sites.

One-third of American Airlines and American Eagle Airlines active employees log into the Jetnet portal at least once a day, 75 percent of all employees log in at least once a week, and over 99 percent of active employees log in at least once a month. Once a year, Jetnet fulfills 100 percent online benefits enrollment for domestic employees during a month-long open enrollment period. Other popular Web applications accessible via the portal include electronic pay statements for domestic employees, vacation balance, internal job search and career development tracking.

Plumtree's portal software is the platform for the Jetnet portal. Currently the portal hosts an estimated 18,000 articles as well as an estimated 200 communities on its servers. Components key to optimizing the performance of the Jetnet portal include transaction load balancers (F5 BIGIP) and Cisco's Fineground caching/delta optimization appliance. Portal authentication is handled by Siteminder and single sign-on has been implemented with internal Web-based applications as well as with third-party sites such as WebMD. Other integrated features include Verity search, Key Survey, and the Poll Monkey survey tool.

Best Content Management System

The finalists for the Best Content Management System were Defense Acquisition Regulation System (solution provider was Exceptional Software), Premera Blue Cross (solution provider was Stellent) and Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (solution provider was New Tilt). The winner was Defense Acquisition Regulation System.

Defense Acquisition Regulation System (Winner)

The Shared Transformation Acquisition Regulation System (STARS) provides knowledge management capabilities that enable multiple government agencies to participate in the federal acquisition rule-making process. STARS is a portal solution that provides knowledge management, workflow management, document management, online collaborative tools and records management.

STARS enables federal agencies to more effectively collaborate on and manage changes to Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) and Defense Federal Acquisition Regulations Supplement (DFARS). FAR and DFARS are two individual documents, each totaling roughly 1,400 pages, that dictate the rules and regulations for contracting with the federal government and the Department of Defense.

Whenever a change is required to the FAR or DFARS in the STARS system, a case is opened and a case manager is assigned to coordinate the change through a lengthy and complex workflow process. Subject-matter experts get involved at different stages of the case to collaborate and develop drafts of the change. Large volumes of documentation are created in a single case.

The primary objective of STARS was to dramatically improve the productivity of the people involved in the rule-making process by providing the necessary tools and information when they need it. STARS represents a tremendous change to the antiquated paper-based process used previously and significantly speeds up the time required to process changes to the FAR and DFARS.

Approximately 300 core users stemming from several federal agencies will utilize STARS. In the current process, a case takes on average one and a half years to process. It is anticipated that productivity will significantly increase and bring the average process down to less than a year.

BEA's AquaLogic Integration Portal Suite (formerly Plumtree Portal) provides the infrastructure for integrating the collaboration, workflow management, document management, record management and publication modules. STARS also uses HandySoft's BizFlow for workflow management, MDY FileSurf for document record-keeping, Macromedia Breeze for online audio and video conferencing and document-based collaboration, mediaEdge Sidekick for integrated simulation training, and mediaEdge Compare for draft and revision comparison.

Premera Blue Cross (Finalist)

Premera is a nonprofit regional health plan. Operating as Premera Blue Cross in Washington and as Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield in Alaska, the company serves more than 1.5 million members. In addition, Premera provides healthcare coverage and services in Washington, Oregon and Arizona through its LifeWise affiliates.

In 2002, Premera found managing its public Web site, portal and intranet content to be challenging as the company quickly expanded. To solve these problems, P remera implemented a content management system (CMS) from Stellent as the foundation for its three public Web sites, four types of portals, company intranet and HIPAA document repository.

Premera has three public Web sites powered by the CMS, including Premera.com and separate sites for its LifeWise affiliates in Arizona and Oregon. Premera.com serves as the information hub for the company, providing a gateway to the company's member, employer, broker and healthcare provider portals for constituents in Washington and Alaska.

Premera employees create all nontransactional Web and portal content in native formats, such as Microsoft Word. The CMS then automatically publishes this content in Web-viewable formats to Premera.com and its seven portals. To help manage the transactional content found on its Web sites and portals, Premera leverages a Microsoft ASP.NET framework integrated with the CMS.

The CMS also serves as the content foundation for Premera's intranet, iWeb, which serves as a one-stop source for company information. From iWeb, Premera employees can also branch off into any one of the company's approximately 60 departmental micro-sites to access information.

Premera uses the CMS records management capabilities to manage documents outlining the company's approach to meeting HIPAA requirements. A workflow system customized by Premera ensures the appropriate stakeholders within the company have reviewed and signed off on each and every piece of HIPAA-related documentation.

With the CMS, Premera has addressed its content management challenges and experienced a number of tangible business benefits, including reduced costs, increased productivity, greater customer service and compliance with the HIPAA mandate.

Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (Finalist)

The Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (DF/HCC) was launched in 2000 with a five-year grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI). It is now the largest cancer center in the world, consisting of over 800 senior scientists from clinical, basic and population research. DF/HCC is a geographically distributed cancer research consortium whose members are affiliated with seven institutions from the Harvard medical and public health community. DF/HCC was committed to transforming its existing Web sites into a single center where researchers can share information with each other and with the public.

The capability for publishing content needed to be distributed to the researchers in order to keep the content compelling and current. From a technological perspective, a content management system (CMS) that could manage distributed authoring from a hierarchy of contributors was a critical success factor. The CMS had to be easy to use and encourage continuous updating in order to keep the content up to date. Additionally, the technical infrastructure had to enable multiple levels of access and security because each member institution has its own IT departments and security firewalls.

DF/HCC decided to implement an open source CMS solution that would be inexpensive, flexible, very powerful and customizable. The CMS had to be browser-neutral across multiple network and operational environments. TYPO3 met these criteria and was selected because it supported a wide and deep information structure. The CMS has many features but requires major customization.

There are three primary user groups for the CMS: internal consumers (intranet), external consumers (internet) and content producers. These three groups break down into subgroups with many unique content and function needs and perspectives.

Best Knowledge Management System

The finalists for the Best Knowledge Management System were Wipro (solution provider was Wipro) and Unisys Corporation (solution provider was Microsoft Corporation). The winner was Unisys Corporation.

Unisys (Winner)

In early 2003, Unisys set out to implement a portal solution to increase knowledge sharing among its senior consultants as well as to establish an extensible, integrated knowledge management, BI and collaboration platform.

The portal solution was implemented and deployed to the financial, public sector and transportation business units (approximately 7,000 employees) in four months. In 2004, additional portal facilities were deployed, collaboration features were enabled and all major functional capabilities were opened to the more than 36,000 Unisys employees worldwide.

Today, the single knowledge management platform and repository serves as a central access point for data from Siebel CRM system, Rational ClearCase, a Unisys configuration management environment, PeopleSoft and other repositories. It supports simple, form-based processes such as ordering software and content publishing.

The primary objectives of the portal solution were to increase sales effectiveness, improve client-delivery efficiency and drive best practices throughout the organization. Key benefits achieved using the portal include improved sales opportunity tracking with virtual war rooms, leveraging company knowledge and experience to win new business, collaboration across geographies and corporate boundaries to sell and deliver business solutions, and applying Unisys intellectual property assets to improve delivery efficiency.

Every Unisys employee has access to the portal, and many use it daily to retrieve company news and resources. More than 9,000 employees have active My Sites, which are designed to help employees share knowledge, find expertise and build networks. At least 1,000 knowledge communities and team rooms are in use today and are focused on knowledge stewardship, business development, project delivery and program/project initiatives.

The Unisys knowledge management system is deployed using Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server running on a Unisys ES7000 server. The system is designed for resiliency using Microsoft Cluster services and EMC CLARiiON storage. To enable knowledge sharing and management across the entire company, a single portal is deployed and managed centrally.

Wipro (Finalist)

Wipro Technologies is an IT services company that created its knowledge management portal to bring together people, processes and technology in order to deliver better value to its customers. The portal is made up of six subportals.

  • Docknet. A document portal containing knowledge relevant to business needs.
  • Konnect. A directory of subject-matter experts across functional and technology segments.
  • Knetworks. A set of discussion forums for employees to discuss or exchange information on a particular topic of business relevance.
  • Komponents. A reusable components repository of code and utilities to expedite project execution.
  • War Room. An invitation-only collaboration portal for workgroup members situated at different locations across the globe.
  • PDB. A project data bank that provides project managers with help in leveraging best practices and avoiding project pitfalls.

Wipro's knowledge management portal and framework has been a key differentiator in Wipro's success in providing IT services to its global customers. The portal has improved access to business-critical knowledge, enhanced collaboration using special interest groups and find-the-expert systems, encouraged a culture of innovation and collaboration by linking knowledge sharing to rewards and performance appraisals, and leveraged Six Sigma quality practices for evaluating the effectiveness of the KM processes. The portal's knowledge sharing and collaboration capabilities have increased employee productivity and provided better time-to-market for customer deliverables.

The portal is used by sales and marketing, sales support and service delivery functions across various industry segments. The portal has subsites for each of the business units to host content relevant to that business unit. Industry trends, news and events, artifacts contributed by members of the business unit and rewards and recognition for significant achievements are part of the team sites. The portal currently services more than 40,000 users.

The portal is built using Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services and Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server.


For more information on related topics visit the following related portals...
Enterprise Information Portal (EIP).

Colin White is the founder of BI Research. White is well known for his in-depth knowledge of leading-edge business intelligence and enterprise business integration technologies and how they can be used to build a smart and agile business. With more than 35 years of IT experience, he has consulted for dozens of companies throughout the world and is a frequent speaker at leading IT events. White is also conference chair for DCI's Portals, Collaboration and Content Management conference. He has written numerous articles on business intelligence and enterprise business integration. White may be reached at info@bi-research.com.

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