What Is a Self-Help Portal?
A self-help portal is a specific type of computer software that allows users to access information with little or no help. Many types of software or Internet-based portals exist, from payroll to training to customer service functions. The purpose of a self-help portal is to allow an employee or customer access to a company’s system for a specific purpose. Most portal software allows a company to customize the function and use of portal software. Care must be taken to determine if the advantages of a self-help portal outweigh potential disadvantages.
A few different portal software types include digital dashboard, pure play, application, and infrastructure. A digital dashboard is a starting point for multiple applications in a company’s software package. Pure play portals have more functionality and create interfaces across multiple computing platforms. An application self-help portal includes workgroup software adapted for portal use. Infrastructure portals are often designed specifically for a company’s internal business software; portals can support both Internet or intranet functions.
Technology and its use in business greatly changes standard business operations. In many ways, a company looks to leverage technology in a manner that reduces overhead costs and improves business functionality. A self-help portal removes the use of labor from certain functions by allowing an individual to access a server to gain information. For example, an employee can access a portal in order to train and learn new skills necessary for his or her job. Customers can access a portal to gain knowledge on products or request help for certain activities.
While portal software is not uncommon in business, companies must decide whether to use their own resources for the technology or outsource the function. For example, technology outsourcing allows a company trained and educated in technology to offer the specific portals a company requires. This can save a business time, money, and effort when adapting technology to its operations. Servicing technology and adjusting it for use also fall under the outsourced technology process. A cost-benefit analysis is necessary to determine whether a company should create its own technology portals or outsource the function.
Though a self-help portal can provide many benefits to a business, owners and executives must give careful thought to the process. Portal software can result in tasks in a company, redefining jobs and giving rise to unease about future job stability. Customers may also feel isolated and that dealing with a computer is the result of an uncaring company. Technology is also subject to breakdown and potential lag time form ill-running software systems. Companies must carefully weigh these issues when implementing portal software.
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