A Guide to Planning Your Web Portal Projects - Part 1

This article is the first in a three-part series covering the ten essential considerations for planning your web portal development, starting with Identifying Your Needs.

This article is part one in a three-part series on planning a web portal project.

Web portals are an excellent tool for increasing information accessibility and task functionality without weakening your security or control. Whether you plan on building a portal for your customers, employees or any other stakeholder, there are a number of considerations that must be thought through. This blog series covers the core components of all portal projects and breaks them down into three phases - the first of which is Identifying Your Needs.

Diagnose the Root Cause

Illustration of a person standing in front of a large checklist.

In order for your web portal to provide the greatest value, it is imperative that you diagnose the root cause to solve for. While your reason for building or buying your portal may stem from a specific pain point, chances are this is an effect caused by an underlying issue. By addressing this ‘symptom’ in isolation, you end up creating a rigid solution that may have difficulties integrating with related components or processes. 

Drilling down to the source concern helps you evaluate what other parts of your business are being impacted. This enhanced visibility will empower you to design functionality that extends across the entirety of the problem, and it reduces the risk of overlooking any related issues. Framing your project from this perspective is also important for pinpointing areas of measurable improvement, which will be critical to establishing the goals of your solution.

Outline Your Goals

Illustration of a road with numbered checkpoints.

Goal setting is an important aspect of developing an effective web portal. Ideally, the outcomes of your solution should align with your overall business strategy. Similar to how you would define success for your business, you want to be as specific as possible when outlining the goals of your build.  

To start, determine the key metrics for evaluating your project’s success. Using measurable attributes ensures your approach addresses challenges in a direct manner.  

For example, your goal is to decrease sales administration by 30% (i.e. improve task efficiency). With this specific metric in mind, you identify the repetitive, manual data entry parts of your order process and replace these steps with automated field completion. This change not only saves your sales team time but also reduces errors.

An equally useful tactic is to also define anti-goals, which are benchmarks of failure you want to avoid. Creating a set of actions, values and outcomes you don’t want can mentally prepare you against pitfalls, as well as orient your ideas towards goals you want to achieve.

Select a Project Lead

Illustration of a lady standing in front of a bulletin board.

After defining goals based on the root cause of your challenge, the next consideration is selecting a project lead. While the creation of your web portal will involve a number of roles and multiple departments, you want to avoid having too many chefs in the kitchen.  

Centralizing ownership of the project will:

  • Improve task accountability with one delegating source;
  • Streamline communication between stakeholders to decrease confusion;
  • Mitigate and manage internal roadblocks with one individual in charge;
  • Create a single point of contact for your vendor, minimizing unnecessary communication to help keep your project delivered on time and within budget.

In addition to a Project Lead, your internal portal project team will require three other key contributing groups: Users, Stakeholders, and your IT team.

Establish Integration Requirements

The ability to integrate information from disparate sources is a key advantage of using web portals. The best solutions not only leverage required systems but also account for your full data landscape. Mapping all the existing legacy systems, applications, data warehouses, and technologies your company uses will help establish integration requirements.  

An effective internal exercise is to have your IT team generate a comprehensive list, then survey your Users to determine exactly what they actually access and regularly use.  It is important to note that all of your Users may not need the same functionality from your web portal. Take note of these differences to ensure your functionality extends across the full spectrum of your user base.

Aside from the integration requirements, your vendor partner will also need visibility into any hosting and authentication specifications you may have. To help expedite this knowledge transfer, it is helpful to prepare an onboarding session. Involving and collaborating with your vendor earlier in the process helps mitigate unanticipated drawbacks throughout the build.

Identifying these four aspects of your project will be crucial in creating a successful portal. 

The next post in the series, and the second phase of planning, will focus on the considerations that will serve as the building blocks for your portal’s functionality - Ideating the Solution.

To help your business develop a customized web portal solution, visit us today at to start your project. 

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