Web Portal solution is better than having only distributed applications using intranet

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2006-12-09
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Madison University
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During the past several years nearly every new application and idea created by the software industry has made the jobs of employees more complex and difficult, rather than simplifying their responsibilities. Often the users have to access several applications to do their assigned tasks. For example, enterprise resource planning (ERP) system allows the user to review inventory and backlog information. However, for checking inventory status of a particular part, it is necessary to open the ERP system and navigate through numerous screens. Then a second application or system has to be launched to enter the purchase order. Any problems or issues that may be encountered may require access to customer information that is housed in the customer resource management (CRM) system. Thus employees or users responsible for making strategic decisions have even more difficulty trying to do their jobs effectively.Many Organizations use custom made distributed applications running on the intranet to full fill their local needs. These applications are either desktop applications or web applications. These applications are made up of distinct components running in separate runtime environments, usually on different platforms connected via a network. Typical distributed applications are two-tier (client-server), three-tier (client-middleware-server), and multi-tier (client-multiple middleware-multiple servers). In spite of having these custom made solutions, there are still a huge number of multiple information files being used and transferred among different departments. These files are in the shape of Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, Power Point presentations, Pictures etc. scattered over the Intranet owned by different departments or users. These files or scattered information can be centralized under one umbrella, for that we need a better content management solution. In many cases the data sources, systems, and applications located throughout the organization need to be combined to present the summarized information or desired report format that executives expect to review. The IT department likely has several initiatives and activities associated with taking the information available from transactional systems and converting it to a format needed to maintain an enterprise information system (EIS) or decision support system (DSS), or the systems that provide the summarized information this group of employees needs to make strategic decisions. To find an answer to a question, make a decision, or take some action, employees spend an enormous amount of time traversing the maze of these disconnected applications and systems.This is only part of the problem. Corporate wide systems are complex and designed for a specific purpose and function, so the IT department is required to deploy many different and often unrelated applications and modules to fill the information and processing needs of the entire organization. In addition, an incredible amount of training time is needed for an employee to learn how to effectively use such a complex suite of applications and all of the processes and steps involved to complete their assigned responsibilities. Only a small fraction of the organization's employees know how to use all of the functions of one system, much less all of the systems and databases that affect their job.

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