1. Avoid Making a Rash Purchase: Portal server technology isn't right for every project. Internal IT and external web teams should work together to evaluate the investment benefits.
  2. Align with Existing Skills: The quantity and skills depth of IT resources required to develop and manage portal servers vary directly with integration complexity.
  3. Understand Application Development Life Cycle Maturity: IT should have experience supporting the full application development life cycle, particularly in portals with custom portlets and application functionality.
  4. Gauge Fit with Existing Applications: Aligning components like portal and WCM from a single vendor can significantly reduce integration headaches.
  5. Evaluate User Group Permissions: Organizations without the need to secure information may be better off skipping the portal server altogether.
  6. Review Integration Requirements: Enterprises with a strong need to integrate third-party apps into a single interface will find a portal product the way to go.
  7. Consider Need for Consistently Branded Interfaces: Project owners with simpler sites — those without complex navigation and branding requirements — may find skipping the portal server a faster option.
  8. Determine Level of User Customization: This can add significant complexity to portal version upgrades.
  9. Weigh the Benefits of Interface Customization: For end users who don't mind switching between different application interfaces, simple links between apps may suffice over a custom-designed unified UI.
  10. Plan for Reuse of Portal Components: IT and technology stakeholders can get significant reuse of portal assets (e.g., portlets and services) across multiple areas of the portal or external apps.

TIM WALTERS, Ph.D., is a senior analyst at Forrester Research, where he serves information and knowledge management professionals. For more information, visit www.forrester.com.