PBTWEB

These are some criteria to use in selecting
a candidate for an “Intranet” Web project.

It contains material which can take good advantage of hyperlinks.

This might be a manual of procedures, an employee manual, or a large text-only database which doesn’t require the reading of large numbers of pages at one sitting. Some printed pieces, because of their structure, become more useful with the addition of hyperlinks—see the Northwestern University Medical School’s Integrated Graduate Program website.

Material which is more valuable if it can be easily and frequently updated.

Calendars, minutes of meetings, schedules and job postings are some possibilities. A calendar application we are designing will allow members of an organization to post information to a temporary private database where it will be reviewed by a third party, after which it will be written to a public database. Browsers will be able to query that database and see a calendar sorted by their own preferences, i.e., by date, department, area of interest, etc.

Another type of calendar application is a meeting scheduler. If you want to schedule a meeting you specify the people you want in attendance and the ideal time frame. A database is queried that contains a list of all people‘s schedules and possible dates and times are returned for which everyone is available.

Material which can completely substitute for a printed piece.

Significant amounts of money can be saved by not paying for printing and the associated administrative costs associated with handling printing.
The best candidates
a) have low graphics requirements (high quality photos, charts, or illustrations are not required for proper presentation).
b) are not currently sent to anyone who would not have access via the Internet to the electronic version of the document.
c) again, don’t require the reading of large numbers of pages at one sitting.

Material which requires the delivery and/or exchange of information in electronic form.

The equivalent of the printed piece in this area is the CD-ROM. Management Information Systems which include the posting and retrieval of electronic files, such as Excel or Word files, might be good candidates. Browsers are starting to include the ability to present and discuss documents online.

Another project might be one that needs to use many embedded e-mail addresses. We created an application to improve strategic planning for a large organization. Long term goals were presented along with their short term implementations. Embedded e-mail addresses of the implementors allowed managers to query implementors and receive status reports.

A document which is worked on communally could be an interesting application. Similar to version control in software development, a site could contain the latest versions of all parts of one document, for example, an annual report. The authors could check out the sections for which they have responsibility and check them back in after they have been revised. Everyone would have access to the most current version of the entire document and could make comments on sections for which others have responsibility. This concept could also be used in an MIS context when group decisions need to be made quickly and common discussion documents are necessary to make those decisions.

An exciting project is the online graphic identity. This would contain both the text describing proper use of graphic objects such as logos, forms, stationery, etc. and also the electronic forms of these objects (vector and bitmap files). Word-processing files with prototypes of proper forms for letters, faxes, requisitions, etc. could be stored here for easy downloading. One of the chief weaknesses of current graphic identity programs is that implementing them throughout an organization is very difficult and expensive. Considerable expertise and elaborate, complex printed pieces are necessary. We believe that the electronic form would be much more effective and much less expensive.

Postscript

These are a few things to think about when selecting an Intranet project. The more of the above criteria that a project meets, the better.

As the interaction of database systems with html-based browsers becomes more sophisticated, a whole new world of applications will become possible, limited only by our imaginations.

Revised 8/26/96

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