With new technological innovations and harsher business realities, it is imperative that companies forge closer partnerships with external parties up and down the value chain. Hence extranets. An extranet is a private central online location where companies can securely work together, share information or integrate operations with remote teams, suppliers, vendors, partners, customers or other external parties.
A company typically has dedicated extranets for different, which differs from other extranets based on specific information needs and nature of relationship.
Benefits of Extranets
The following are a few examples of how extranets can improve working and contribute to your organizations bottom line.
- A secure repository where you can share and collaborate on important documents with external parties – proposals, specifications, training materials.
- A joint project management system where task dependencies, responsibilities, deadlines are laid out, tracked and updated.
- A central location to have discussions, and store those discussions for future reference.
- Manage schedules but providing a central area where everyone can inform everyone else of their schedule.
- Provide timely and reliable information to clients and partners by publishing latest announcements and news.
- Cross selling to customers by publishing information about new products and offerings.
How Do You Create an Extranet?
The following approaches could be used to build extranets
Custom Built Extranets
This is the most costly approach and used when highly customized extranets are needed. An IT firm is hired to build extranets from scratch according to exact specifications. Servers have to be set up, programming is done from ground zero, and dedicated staff is recruited to maintain it.
Enterprise Extranet Tools
Some solutions like MS SharePoint offer specialized tools which allow enterprises to publish extranets without having to program everything from ground zero. Although less cumbersome than the above approach, such tools are still very complex and costly, and more suited to the needs and budgets of large organizations. Servers have to be set up, IT staff hired, and the solution maintained on an ongoing basis. New extranets need experts to do the implementation.
Out of the Box Extranets. The HyperOffice Approach
In recent years, the software-as-a-service approach has enabled providers like HyperOffice to provide growing companies access to extranet technologies available only to enterprises. There’s no need to set up hardware servers or download software. Companies can simply sign up online and start creating extranet spaces. Rather than a complex, IT oriented solution, it is targeted and packaged for non expert end users. End users simply need to use an intutitive, fun, “point and click” environment, where they can create unlimited dedicated extranets. Learn more about our Extranet Publisher.
”Simple to use, doesn't require a lot of training, and noone needs to know FTP programmingJason KellyIT Manager. IMCO Construction
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