Portals: Why do we need them?

This post is the second in a series about building portals for teams and groups to interact with customers. If you’re interested in reading more please follow us on twitter or subscribe in the right-hand margin of this blog —>

Whenever I see a problem or hear a solution I love working it backward. I think it’s why I loved consulting. I think it’s the inner 3-year-old in me who just loves to ask “why” until someone goes bonkers.

So why do we have web portals to teams, departments and companies?

Easy! So our customers and partners can connect with us.

Why?

So that they can get what they want, how they want to get it!

Why?

To make it easier to deliver it to them!

Why?

So they can be happy and we can be happy.

And that’s good enough for me – don’t get me started on the four types of happiness, but this basically is the goal. Keep people happy. There are a multitude of other benefits. Revenue, cost savings, scalability, governance etc etc. However, to achieve these goals faster than your competitors you need teams that can operate, innovate and move quickly.

This brings me to the most overlooked part of every technology project: the people.

You basically have three main customer groups for every portal. The user, the provider and the provider’s partners. And each of these three categories have a TON unique characteristics. From competency to goals there are many misconceptions and assumptions that can be made of the user. There are also universal givens that can be applied since they are people and they are using the portal.

Now’s where the general basics kick in. Most people want (in all three groups):

  1. Easy
  2. Clear
  3. Fast
  4. Powerful
  5. Freedom

These universal desires were stolen from an article I read about libraries. LOL. But they are fundamental elements of humans search for solutions and information; things that will make them happy in the moment they are using your portal.

Since your team is unique and provides a unique service or product – I can’t provide much more advice than these very general keys.

For instance, if you’re a hospital exposing self-service check ins #3 is probably more important than #5. And if you’re an IT shop numbers 1 and 2 are probably more important than 5.

And this is where your challenge starts. Understanding the users – ALL the users. From the customer, to the people on the queues to the people they pass the work to. Each of them wants to be heard and influence the design and execution of the portal.

This doesn’t mean you can take each person’s input into consideration. Group consensus doesn’t really work that way. Instead, you must use this information as research into the design.

If you’re not into design or have experience with this – it’s bigger than a blog post. I can’t give you all that with some words. It really comes from understanding design. If you’re not ready to learn about user research and design – I highly recommend hiring someone with the experience. It is invaluably successful.

Building IT Portals – what have we learned?

I was honored to lead a roundtable discussion at HDI Minnesota yesterday. Topics ranged from hiring practices to career paths for agents. Very involved discussion with a ton of experience and leaders in the room.

I loved being there and listening.

The topic I was ‘leading’ (which means asking questions) was on IT portals. Mostly every support team had a portal along with the challenges exist that have always existed.

However, I think our industry and software in general has come a long way to understanding the shortcomings of portals, adoption and experience.

I started off the session by asking who had a portal. And some hands flopped around uncomfortably. Maybe they don’t think their portals are good enough to call them portals.

One leader offered up his story about using Sharepoint as a portal and what that meant to the sharepoint service (when we upgrade we have some issues with our portal).

Several people noted that posting critical information on the portal was a huge win for both communication and contact avoidance.

Someone else noted that Knowledgebase access was a great feature to have (totally agree) – and went on to shock me that they even allow a forum feature for people to simply discuss anything (very innovative IMHO).

Then I asked the difficult question “what do your customers think about it?”  – – crickets.

“I don’t want another password” is what one end user cited for not using the portal.

Over the next weeks I will outline some of the heavy topics involved in department portals. I’m not going to focus on IT though, because I believe this is a challenge that all many-to-one relationships have. Meaning that any department, team, group, organization, or organization can learn from other groups’ failures and challenges to build an app to improve interaction, collaboration, service, and experience.

Subscribe in the right-hand margin to follow along ->

Or follow us on twitter to read as they are posted.

Accepting credit cards

We’ve been getting questions about training and when the next event will be held. This is pretty cool to us, and something we wanted to offer to customers.

So we setup a simple page to explain the event, got a space reserved and started with a simple form to accept registrations:

simple form

 

Soon after, we needed this front-end to send registrations to a list of people. So obviously we hooked it up to our product Kinetic Task – and started sending signups to our CRM solution “SalesForce” using a pre-built handler.

The form had an option for people to “bill later” but we really wanted to start taking credit cards. So then we downloaded and added the Stripe handler.

Then, after creating a stripe account, all we needed to do was add some Javascript to the front-end form and send the charges to checkout with stripe! The end-result is quite striking – and a great experience:

Checkout screen

 

Need to start taking credit cards easily? Sign up to try Kinetic Task today!

To read all the details of this integration, there is an article on Kinetic Community.

Training coming in September

It’s gorgeous in Minnesota. Come join us at one of the newest hotels near the Mall of America for a three day training event.

It’s difficult to plan training. Who will come? What do they need?

So we’ve setup a couple different tracks focused on Forms and Workflow development along with a day of time to apply what you’ve learned and work with our teams directly.

Sound like your kind of gig?

Register and read details here.

Release Roundup Q2

Release Roundup Q2 – 2017

We’re proud to announce that we released Kinetic Request CE 2.0 and Kinetic Task 4.2 all while supporting major go-live activities and the maintenance and support of kinops.

New Features in Kinetic Request CE 2.0

  • Teams enable better management permissions and groups
  • Submission handles help quickly identify submissions
  • Submission activities simplify the visibility of tasks, approvals and other activities associated to a submission
  • Submission support facilitates a secure summary of submissions and their related activities

New Features in Kinetic Task 4.2

  • Ability to be used and secured based upon Kinetic Request CE users and teams, without duplicating user information

And as always, these changes come with a myriad of performance enhancements and bug fixes. For a complete listing – check out our community site: https://community.kineticdata.com

Got questions? Suggestions? We’re always listening – especially wally@kineticdata.com and sales@kineticdata.com – drop us a line!

Release Roundup

Release Roundup

We’ve got a lot of software. It’s what we do. If you haven’t been trackingpexels-photo-89845 every single detail, here’s an update for each title.  Got questions? Suggestions? We’re always listening – especially wally@kineticdata.com and sales@kineticdata.com – drop us a line!

Task 4.1

  • Navigation – easily navigate between runs and routines
  • Tree recovery – for those times when your tree gets out of hand
  • Run Again – making testing routines and trees simpler

Request Core Edition 1.1 (current)

User profile attributes, request-based variable bindings, and improved support for client side bundles.

Request Remedy Edition 5.2.7 (current)

No updates

Releasing CE 2.0 soon (no date set)

  • Stability improvements
  • Performance improvements
  • Teams (promoted to platform level)
  • Handler for friendly ID’s
  • Submission Activity to store the request’s activity in CE instead of Task
  • Bug fixes

For a complete listing of changes for each of our software titles, please visit http://community.kineticdata.com