Special Report: What Makes a Successful SAP Portal?
August 12, 2010
Curious about what makes a successful SAP Portal and how you can make yours better? This is a frequent question in our business and we thought it was about time to give a brief article on what it takes to have a successful SAP Portal. So here you go…
What Makes a Successful SAP Portal?
Business 101: Take a look at your business or the business down the street. Ask yourself, “What makes any business successful?” Customers – you gotta have people buying what you’re selling. And the more people buying, the more profitable your business!
Your SAP Portal is no different. What it really boils down to… your SAP Portal is all about your SAP Portal users. Without users, you don’t have a successful portal (and of course you don’t have a job). Give your users what they want and need and you’ve got the makings of a winner. This is, in a nutshell called, “relevance.”
Relevance is the reason for Google’s popularity on the internet – simply giving people what they are looking for. And Google accomplishes this mighty task by processing user feedback via complex algorithms.
And for the SAP Portal, relevance is portal usage. Broken down, the two key pieces of information needed to establish a thriving SAP Portal are:
- What your users are doing?
- What content is most relevant to your users?
And you get this information by analyzing usage feedback. Yes, you can gather user opinions with tools such as Pretty Poll or surveys, but you need to know what your users are actually doing on a daily basis, not what they think they want to do. Just so we are on the same page, this measuring of behavior from the user visiting the portal can be defined as SAP Portal analytics.
You can’t manage what you can’t measure, but you don’t have to go to the extremes like Google does to analyze your data. The least you need to know is how many people have logged in, when they log in, what pages they visited, what pages they don’t visit, and the list goes on.
Content is King
So what is the problem? The majority of IT departments are focused on content that doesn’t matter. They are simply not listening to their users and evaluating usage data. They get caught up in design, layout and technology rather than the content that really connects with what their end users want. Or they get caught up in content that just doesn’t serve a purpose in the portal at all!
“Yeah, but if it doesn’t look good, no one will use it,” is an all too familiar remark. Take a look at the top sites in the world – Amazon, Facebook, Craigslist and the list goes on. These sites are not all that pretty (especially Craigslist), but millions of people go to these sites every day. They thrive because of the value they offer to their users and their relevancy to what the users are doing and want.
Your IT department is the face behind the portal. What is their focus? Are they working on the most relevant content for your users?
Active Pages vs Total Pages
Typically when we set up our analytics application (Click Stream) in a portal for the first time, the client is always quite surprised at the results. One report in particular, the dashboard overview displays Active PCD pages (pages being used) vs Total PCD pages (total pages in portal). At many clients, this report typically shows only 12-15% of pages are active within their portal.
The highest we have ever seen this is 25%. This means that 75-85% and more of the pages in the majority of portals are not utilized. And to make matters worse, more pages are continually being added thinking this will fix the problem of increasing usability. These pages then get buried, creating a ton of overhead. A never-ending battle unless you know and can process what is happening in your portal!
Two Main Reasons for a Struggling Portal
Below here are the two main issues we witness first hand every day in the SAP Portal space on why this content excess and wasted pages happen:
1) Information under load
Information under load is not having enough information to make good quality decisions. According to CIO magazine, 40% of major decisions are based on gut. Why?
“…no good data was available on which to make decisions.”
Thomas Wailgum, CIO.com
“Most portals teams don’t collect solid numbers to estimate the return on investment from their project. As an exception, Dell computed annual productivity gains of $36 million from its portal. Dell’s ROI number comes from its standard process improvement methodology, based on Six Sigma.”
Nielsen Norman Group, Usability of Intranet Portals 3rd Edition
Which leads us to the second problem:
2) Not having the proper tools to do the job
Not all tools are created equal and not every tool is right for the job. Chances are you know portal usage information is available within your SAP Portal. SAP already offers both the Portal Activity Report (PAR) and the Activity Data Collector (ADC). Each may take a bit to dig up the facts and figures through unscrambling flat files, but the main numbers are there. It just may not be all that much fun and require ongoing work if you can handle it.
Google Analytics, Omniture, WebTrends or other web based solutions are exactly that, web based solutions. These may work for some, but you really have to weigh the cost of development time and maintenance efforts? Not to mention, these web based tools are still quite limiting in what data can be extracted from the SAP Portal. They don’t live in the SAP Portal space and hence cannot use the API’s.
Sweetlets does offer an alternative, Click Stream which simplifies the whole process from start to finish. With this SAP certified business package you can really get to the depths of your SAP Portal usage. Click Stream does this by leveraging the User Management Engine (UME) and Portal Content Directory (PCD) API’s as well as any LDAP attributes from your Active Directory.
But regardless how you get your information, just get it. Explore your options and do what is right for you and your company so that you can analyze the data in your portal on a regular basis (if you are not already).
And don’t forget, without the right information at people’s fingertips, they won’t do it – either too lazy or too busy. You know the feeling. Set yourself up with easy access to the right information you need to make the right decisions on your SAP Portal roadmap.
Your SAP Portal is about your users and you must have them in mind at all times. A simplified process for a successful SAP Portal is essentially this:
- Gather data on your portal usage
- Analyze this recorded data
- Evaluate results
- Make educated decisions…based on proof!
- Repeat steps 1-4 again and again…
And by analyzing this data within your SAP NetWeaver Portal, here are your main breakthroughs which you will, without a doubt uncover along the way:
- Discovery of what really matters to your end users
- No more wasted efforts on unrelated content
- Less dollars spent on irrelevant content
- Higher portal ROI
- Dedicated content for casual and advanced users
- A leaner portal with relevant content
- Optimized use of real estate
- Uncover sweet spots for portal maintenance
- Portal monitoring can be achieved with virtually no footprint
- Higher user satisfaction
We hope this article helped.
For additional resources, see Simon Kemp’s white paper on SAP Enterprise Portal Usage Analytics or visit the Click Stream SAP Portal analytics website.