The Business Scenario
Contoso manufactures medical equipment. It sells its equipment through an extensive partner network. A team of account managers handles partner relationships. A team of customer service representatives provides support when there are problems. Contoso wants to build stronger ties with its partners by improving communications and by allowing partners to work efficiently with Contoso employees. It also wants to reduce the costs.
As part of this effort, Contoso decides to create an extranet site where partners can easily access information and also collaborate with Contoso employees to resolve technical and sales-related issues. This site is named the Partner Portal.
Contoso would like the Partner Portal to fulfill the following objectives:
- Currently, partners must speak to an account manager to get specific pricing information. Pricing calculations are complex and based on individual contracts that each partner has negotiated with Contoso. Partners use a printed catalog to find components and products, which is often out-of-date. The Partner Portal will have an online catalog. Each partner will see a catalog with pricing information that reflects the terms of that partner's contract.
- Contoso wants to market to their partners more effectively. They will use the Partner Portal to target subsets of partners, and to offer different promotional prices to specific partners. Promotions must be approved before they appear on the Partner Portal and they must be created in a secure environment that is inside the Contoso corporate firewall. Because their medical equipment is complex, Contoso wants to take advantage of features such as multimedia presentations to showcase and explain their products.
- Currently, there is no central location where partners and customer service representatives can work together to resolve problems. The most common issues that Contoso encounters are tier three support incidents. These are issues that require close collaboration between a partner and a Contoso representative. An example is when a customer needs help to diagnose an equipment malfunction. Another common problem that requires collaboration is an order exception such as a manufacturing delay or a logistical issue. Managing these issues is labor-intensive and there is no standard process in place. Contoso wants the Partner Portal to automatically create collaboration spaces for incidents that reach tier three. These spaces will integrate information from both the incident management and the order management systems. They will also host discussion threads, keep track of tasks, and store and version documents.
The following stories describe the types of activities that partners can perform with the Partner Portal application.
Note that most, but not all, of the activities are implemented in the application. Areas of the application that are implemented show a particular technique or concept. Areas that do not contribute to an understanding of SharePoint have been left unimplemented. However, the guidance should be sufficient for you to implement them if you want. For example, an actual extranet site would probably show a specification sheet from the catalog to a partner. Because this does not contribute additional guidance about developing a SharePoint application, it is unimplemented.
Partners can use the Partner Portal to perform the following activities:
- View information from Contoso such as news and promotions.
- Navigate the product categories and view products by category.
- View product information.
- View product details and related information such as specification sheets and pricing. The pricing includes discounts that reflect contractual agreements. (This is only partially implemented.)
- See special offers and their details.
- Collaborate with Contoso on high-priority incidents.
- See a summary of the incidents that are currently open and the incidents that are closed.
- See an incident's current status, manage outstanding tasks, and exchange information about the incident with Contoso.
- View historical information about closed incidents.
- See a summary of the order exceptions, such as those that are currently open or closed. (This is only partially implemented.)
- Collaborate with Contoso to resolve order exceptions.
- See an order exception's current status, manage outstanding tasks, and exchange information with Contoso.
Contoso employees can use the Partner Portal to perform the following activities.
- Account managers can use the partner collaboration portal home page to edit content that is intended for specific partners.
- Account managers can view outstanding tasks for all their partners to determine what needs to be done to resolve problems.
- Account managers can navigate to a partner's portal from a central location.
- Employees can use images and video to create promotions that are intended for a specific set of partners. Pricing can be different for different partners.
- Sales managers can review and approve promotions before they are released. (This is not implemented.)
- Customer service representatives can use the standard incident management system client to create a collaboration space. (In the Partner Portal application, this is implemented as a stand-in ASPX page.)
- Customer service representatives and service engineers can collaborate with a partner to exchange information and coordinate tasks in order to resolve open incidents.
- Customer service representatives can close incidents in the incident management system. The partner can see historical information about the incident.
- The ERP/logistics system automatically creates order exception collaboration sites when the order is delayed for more than 48 hours for when the order is worth over $25,000. (This is not implemented.)