I recently attended our first Portal Management Done Right! (PMDR) course in Calgary, and aside from proving to be somewhat therapeutic (we came very close to hugging it out within one hour of starting), the course provided participants with a combination of practices, tools, and knowledge for employee portal success.

I’ve been interested in participating in one of our PMDR sessions for quite some time now. I believe education, awareness, and a bit of evangelism around the difference between the information-heavy corporate intranets of the past and the collaborative and communication-rich employee portals of today are necessary to help organizations get the most out of their portal.

At Habanero, portal management is how we help organizations make the shift from intranets of the past to employee portals of the future. That’s why the course was designed; to help those leading the change within their organization.

Where we started

Most of the participants seemed to share similar challenges. While somewhat of a diverse group (communications, human resources, and IT professionals from the transportation and shipping, resources and energy, and services industries), our differences combined to create a session that was very informative and engaging for all.

Where I think most of us felt most challenged was with communicating the value of the employee portal to the powers above (even though we know there isn’t a single way to do this). We tried to make this an over-arching focus of the course.

Aside from this, all of the participants shared other challenges, including:

  • wanting a starting point, unclear about what portal management meant and how it applied within each of their respective organizations
  • worrying about the level of support they had in their organization, including resourcing, budget, and priority allocations
  • being unsure how to communicate the value of the employee portal to others in their organization

Given these challenges, I think PMDR and my Habanero colleagues/facilitators did a great job of addressing the group’s concerns by sharing relevant frameworks, points of views, skills, techniques, templates and tools.

Going through the course

I really enjoyed being a part of the process, especially because I was there to observe the course and to learn more about the situations people face when managing their organization’s employee portal. I wanted to be able to understand what I could suggest to organizations and people who come to me with questions about getting the most out of their portal.

The course’s activities and workshops helped me position how portals fit within organizations and, like the other participants, I left feeling better equipped to communicate what I learned to various stakeholders. I found the hands-on experience that came from the visioning, planning, and proposing portal solutions parts of the course extremely valuable.


I highly recommend our PMDR course for these reasons:

  • I was very impressed with how my colleagues were able to lead discussions among participants. Everyone seemed so comfortable sharing their struggles, and I think that is directly related to the level of trust established by the facilitators in the first few hours of day one.
  • The best part was seeing how these trials and tribulations were addressed over the rest of the course and noticing how empowered people felt during the final workshop.
  • I walked away with a better understanding of portal management and the role of a portal manager.

I also made some great new connections with people who are passionate about what their employee portal can do for their organization. It was great to see portal managers meeting each other and building a network of people to go to with problems (especially if they feel their organization is not supporting them effectively).

Where to go from here

At the end of the day, know you're not alone. The fact that we’re starting to have more and more conversations around employee engagement and what portals can do to help drive this favorable business outcome (usually in the form of communication, collaboration and knowledge sharing) means traditional corporate cultures are shifting and the opportunity for technology to make an impact is growing. So get excited to be part of all of this!

If you’re interested in learning more about portal management, you might want to check out my colleague’s blog titled Portal management: the key to a successful intranet. Here, Ellisa explains the importance of portal management and its relationship to the success of an employee portal.

Aside from reading, I highly recommend reaching out within your community and starting discussions with peers, thought leaders, and partners about what your organization's employee portal is doing right now and what can be done to improve usability, functionality, and adoption.