Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

The Business Value of Employee Portals


Early intranet solutions made it difficult for organisations to realise business potential. In their rush to bring business processes online, and often influenced by the seemingly low costs of creating simple web sites, various lines of business developed multiple, disjointed information sources without considering the needs of the enterprise as a whole. Portals, if implemented correctly, enable organisations to create significant value with both strategic intangible benefits and quantifiable tangible benefits.

The increasing complexity of the business landscape mandates organisations define new objectives such as provide real-time access to information, increase employee productivity levels, reduce administrative and operating expenses, increase collaboration between customers, partners, suppliers and employees, enhance knowledge exchange, and improve communications.

Organisations can deliver significant business value from next generation workplace portals. Using benchmark data from independent research, looking at only a handful of the potential quantifiable benefits, demonstrates a cost saving of 9,945,900 over 3 years for an organisation with 10,000 employees. To realise the true potential for improving employee productivity and reducing operational costs, an employee portal must deliver in four key areas:

Unify the Enterprise - unify and expedite corporate communication regardless of geographical location, thereby improving consistency of internal branding and messaging. This enables employees to work together and share knowledge by building communities, exchanging documents and by unifying disparate information sources, even external content sources such as business news. The result - increased business process efficiency and consolidation of redundant departmental web sites, thus reducing system maintenance costs.

Extend the Enterprise - provide secure, role-based access control, which enables organisations to give extended employees and partners access to corporate information and applications that they need. Restrict access to sensitive internal information and extend content publishing capability beyond a handful of web site administrators.

Personalise - enable organisations to target specialised information based on a userís role, personal preferences, past usage, behaviour, expressed interest and even the time and location of the interaction.

Let employees help themselves - give them access to services from anywhere, at any time and let them initiate those services at their convenience thus automating routine processes and saving administrative costs.

Business Value can be derived from both intangible strategic benefits and quantifiable benefits and process improvement is where the greatest business value can be derived. The benefits of an Employee Portal can be aggregated into key solution areas Workplace Portal Capabilities, Knowledge Exchange, Employee Transactions and Employee Care.
Workplace Portal Capabilities
Workplace Portals today enable organisations to save costs from site consolidation and through personalisation deliver the right content to the right employee at the right time. They facilitate integration into one central access point, enabling enterprise-wide content management, distributed information management and access and the ability to dynamically moderate the navigation flow based on user action.

Operational Costs are reduced due to the ability of business users to manage changes to the site, the number of IT staff required to maintain and monitor the site is reduced and content modification and editorial costs can be lowered by as much as 25-30%.

Knowledge Exchange
Early intranet solutions were primarily limited to exchanging email messages and uploading documents into shared directories. Now an employee portal facilitates the sharing of information through real-time collaboration, such as online chat or closed-loop processing, to help employees better meet organisational objectives . This increases collaboration and internal communications, improves decision-making and decreases search time.
Employee Transactions
Initially, employee solutions defined personalisation as merely a way to modify the look and feel of the user interface and to provide simple access control. But personalisation makes it easier for the company to target information to its employees or for them to define how, when and what information they would like to receive. This decreases employee time commitment to complete simple tasks, decreases reliance on paper-based processes and increases procurement speed.
Employee Care
KPMG estimates that organisations typically spend $15-25 per expense report. Online the equivalent transaction is reduced to $8-10 per report. But the real value for many organisations are the employees. Increased satisfaction of employees is difficult to quantify but the costs associated with dissatisfied staff can reduce a companyís competitive advantage. Portals implemented correctly have proven to improve employee satisfaction and retention and decrease support personnel involvement. A recent survey asked 387 companies about results of their self-service efforts. 74% of the responding companies believed that employee satisfaction increased and 81% have realised benefits from streamlined administrative processes (Online Benefits and Communications Survey, World atWork: November 2000).

Research based on BroadVision customers and independent industry research shows that there is significant value in implementing an employee portal in the form of cost savings, increased revenue and increased productivity and efficiency, but the value to the organisation must be assessed both in terms of intangible strategic benefits and tangible quantifiable benefits.

Ian Turner, VP - Field Operations Northern Europe, BroadVision.