Despite the rapid growth and success of enterprise portals, some companies still have no plans to implement portal applications. One of the main reasons given is the inability of the organization to build an adequate business case. In a recent Intelligent Business Strategies survey of 133 portal installations, 36 percent of respondents listed building the business case as their most significant portal implementation challenge.

The difficulty in building a portal business case is exacerbated by the absence of hard ROI numbers. Although vendors can articulate the business benefits obtained from existing portal implementations in general terms, they often have difficulty obtaining hard ROI figures from their customers. There are several reasons for this. Many portal users base their business cases on ROI estimates, but rarely implement a management system to measure the real ROI of a deployed portal. Even estimating ROI can be difficult. A portal, for example, improves employee productivity, but this productivity is difficult to define and measure in absolute terms. Analysis of existing portal implementations shows that many companies base their portal business cases on somewhat superficial ROI estimates. In the aforementioned portal survey, 67 percent of respondents said they don't know the ROI of their portal, even though 76 percent deemed the portal to be a success.

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