As a Google search suggests, I didn’t make up the word, but I like the terminology, so I am going to use the phrase for this article. A “FrankenPortal” is a way to describe a bunch of technologies cobbled and hacked together to the point where a server should really have bolts strapped to the side of it, meant to resemble the Frankenstein monster.
For those who haven’t read the book by Mary Shelley, summarized in a few sentences, it is a story of a scientist who reanimates a dead body then feels remorse for creating the creature. The creature itself comes to life and faces rejection from society, so he seeks revenge.
I have seen instances of companies hating SharePoint so much, that they refuse to use it, and pay fees for software developers to build almost the exact same thing using open source platforms, duct tape, a couple of codeplex downloads and a dash of third party plug-ins and frameworks. Then they make it interactive with jQuery. It becomes difficult to maintain, and impossible to find others to help to maintain it.
Does your portal happen to already be in SharePoint? The most common scenario I am faced with is an internal computer guy, who knows quite a bit about networking and servers, performing the install, then placing the application into the hands of users, and a few years later, it grows into something where nobody can do or find anything. They face frustration and then decide it is time to do it right.
Do either of these scenarios sound awesome? Does this resemble the implementation of your portal? If so, fear not.
Whether you choose to enlist the services of outside experts or set out to perform all actions on your own, you only need to start your implementation by challenging management to answer a few questions:
Why do you feel that a portal is needed? What do you want to accomplish? For whom? Where do they sit? What is the information being shared?
In many cases, SharePoint is not the answer. In many cases, it is. In all cases, starting with a deep dive to answer these questions, a business can quickly realize where they are and where they need to go, all while mitigating risk and investing their resources intelligently.
I want to hear your horror stories. Please leave a comment below and collectively we can rid the world of FrankenPortals.