A User-Centric Enterprise Portal

KM TOOLS – The Portal

KM in the leadIt’s time for KM to take the lead on enterprise portals. Too often portal content and governance is managed by the IT department. As a result, portals are often designed to be technically efficient. If you think “What’s wrong with that”, remember why you have a portal in the first place. Presumably it was because you wanted a centralized location to collaborate, share information, capture discussion and such, so employees can find information and learn from each other. These things are all human activities. Your portal is simply one tool you’ll use to accomplish these activities, much like traveling is a human activity and your car is the tool you use. Your mechanic doesn’t plan your trip or drive your car. Your mechanic might make recommendations on how to get the best performance during your trip, but in the end you decide on your route, departure time, how far you’ll drive each day, etc, not your mechanic. Planning your portal should be the same. The IT department plays a key role, advising you and maintaining the equipment, but a knowledge manager should take the lead over the content, the user interface and the governance of any knowledge or information sharing tool.

To do this well I recommend a KM understand the technology. When I saw how much of my day was spent managing SharePoint I went out and got my Microsoft SharePoint certifications. Ideally I don’t need it, ideally I’ll be working with a systems administrator who understands the system and the organization’s mission, but sometimes they don’t, and knowing what SharePoint can and can’t do allows me to more effectively manage our portal projects, and to gain the respect of the IT team I’m working with.

Your portal is there for its users. Never forget that.

Please next week’s post for the do’s and don’t for your portal

About John Donahue

I'm a practicing Knowledge Manager, providing KM consulting for organizations from small businesses to large governmental agencies. I've organized and participated in KM and IKM Working Groups at a US Embassy overseas, with the US DoD, and with deployed NATO headquarter staffs. I served 20-years as an Air Force officer and aviator, during which time I was an award-winning instructor at the US Air Force Academy and logged nearly 100 combat missions over Iraq and Afghanistan. Now a seasoned Knowledge Manager and certified Project Management Professional I'm applying my organizational, leadership, teaching and technical skill to the knowledge management profession.

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