BACKGROUND: SCT Educational Services ­ the higher education market leader ­ provides Banner2000 and Plus2000 information and Web-access applications, plus SCT Aspire for distributed learning and breakthrough Internet technology from Campus Pipeline. SCT applications are augmented by rapid business impact services which help clients quickly implement solutions that leverage relationships with students, faculty and alumni. SCT also provides software and services solutions for governments, utilities and manufacturing.

PLATFORMS: Dell PowerEdge 4300 with Windows NT.

PROBLEM SOLVED: With information in many different sources ­ hundreds of Lotus Notes databases, shared folders and the Web ­ it used to be hard to find what you needed to know. With Plumtree Corporate Portal, there is now one place to go.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The Plumtree Corporate Portal provides a searchable directory of content from a variety of sources: Lotus Notes, relational databases, file servers and the Web. Users can set up personalized MyPages that contain information they want, alongside applications and performance monitors that give them an at-a-glance view of their work. We are currently using the search function most frequently, along with some custom Web pages that Plumtree helped us write. These Web pages, which are searchable by Plumtree, query against our internally developed client information database. The response from the users has been very positive. In the future, we will implement the publication feature which enables a user to receive a daily e-mail with a summary and an HTML link to documents that may be of interest to him or her. We also expect to make better use of the MyPage functions so employees will be able to see their HR information and process and productivity measurements on one page.

STRENGTHS: We have found the product to be easy to install and intuitive to use. Users just need a Web browser to use Plumtree & #173; there is no need for any other software to be installed on their PCs. We have not had to provide training as part of the roll out, but we have provided demonstrations. With the MyPage ability, we will be able to show personalized measurement charts and client information from our other systems with proper security provided by Plumtree. On the administrative side, the ability to use Plumtree's filters to automatically classify documents as they are indexed makes it easy to populate a taxonomy for the company.

WEAKNESSES: You can tell the Plumtree Portal to search throughout all its information or within one folder of the taxonomy, but you can't search through more than one folder at a time. It would be helpful if it could highlight the words you searched for in the documents found. It would also be helpful if it had a way for the users to comment on the content of the documents.

SELECTION CRITERIA: When we purchased the earlier release of Plumtree, it met our requirements, was reasonably priced and the company was very responsive. Its ease of use differentiated it from some of the other products we reviewed. We have since purchased a second server and upgraded to version 3.0 which offers greatly enhanced personalization, scalability and content management functionality.

DELIVERABLES: On the MyPage, users can select various Web applications for display. For example, we show clients within the salesperson's region. With a click, the user can view all our information about that client. Plumtree also lets users browse through the taxonomy looking for items of interest. Searches return a Web page that shows the titles and a summary of all documents found that match your search string.

VENDOR SUPPORT: I received very good support from Plumtree. I was able to install the product myself with only a couple of phone calls for clarification. I have been very impressed with the support people that I have dealt with ­ they have the required technical and "people" skills.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation for the installation was very clear, and I was able to follow it step by step. There are a couple of administrative tasks that can be confusing, and the documentation has been improved in these areas. It is organized by function, so I have been able to find the appropriate chapters when needed.

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