Deploying a Customer Extranet Solution with SharePoint
The primary purpose of the customer extranet portal is to service the needs of customers. The customer extranet enables customers to find information about products and services, and place help desk calls. In some customer extranets, client access is provided for things such as invoice payment and viewing account status and payment history. The customer extranet can also be used for document collaboration and managing joint projects with the customer. The content for this type of portal can originate from internal and/or external sources.
Meeting the Business Needs of the Customer Extranet Solution
The business needs of this
Working on joint projects:
Implementing the Customer Extranet Solution
The customer extranet site is implemented using Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server 2003 and includes Windows SharePoint Services sites. Depending on the specific implementation, Microsoft BizTalk can be used to exchange business application information and provide integration with business applications, while customized Web Parts provide the link to SharePoint. In addition, integration for SharePoint-compatible applications can be provided using
Features available on the extranet portal home page include a Links list, announcements, discussion board, and search. The Quick Launch area can contain links to lists such as a "limited" corporate directory (with the listings for the salespeople and other people who customers typically deal with, such as Accounting personnel) and frequently accessed shared libraries such as newsletters, training documents, and product information. Areas can be configured for Support, Product/Service Information, and Billing Information. A content source group can be created for the content in each area to make searches more
Document workspaces can be used to collaborate on documents. Team sites can be used when working with the customer on a joint project. Content sources can be created for product/service documentation and historical accounting information.
Security needs to be tight to ensure the integrity of customer-specific information. Restrictions need to be in place to prevent one customer from obtaining access to another customer's data.
Outlining Ideas for Using the Corporate Extranet Solution
This section includes some ideas to
In addition to providing standard content, use audiences to target specific content to an individual or group of users.
Use the Support area for linking to an Issues list as well as a document library containing technical information. Links to supporting
Include a shared library with documents relating to products and services
Use applications such as Microsoft BizTalk Server 2002 and/or develop custom Web Parts for the Billing Information area to enable customers to access their invoice/payment information. Alternatively, provide links in this area to a site where invoice or payment information can be provided. There could also be Web Parts or links to applications or sites where customers can submit payments and/or orders.
Use team sites when working on projects with the customer. Include a Tasks list to document division of responsibility, a "Contacts" list for maintaining the contact information for