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City of Burnaby’s Portal of the Year… 2011 & 2012!

We are excited to submit the following entry for the SAP Portal Challenge at this year’s TechEd Las Vegas. Also join us on Thursday, October 18 as Robin Schmidt, Sr. SAP Technical Consultant and I share details of our implementation of an external-facing SAP portal for the public sector during session PMC113.

A bit about us…

Maclean’s Magazine recently named the city of Burnaby the “best-run city in Canada”; we are proud to complement this honor with ASUG’s Portal of the Year title, two consecutive years in a row. The city employs approximately 3,000 employees, comprised of 1,500 permanent and 1,500 seasonal staff. From an operational services perspective, the city’s departments include Planning & Building, Engineering, Fire, RCMP, Parks, Recreation & Cultural Services, Library, Finance, Human Resources, Clerks and Information Technology.

The city went live with their SAP portal on January 1, 2007 with NetWeaver 7.0. Over the last five years, the city has significantly added new functionality to the portal, and recently successfully upgraded to NetWeaver 7.3 (September 2012). Employees have access to the city’s news area, forms & policies, reference & support, links, collaboration and sitemap tabs within the portal. Depending on access rights determined by role security, managers and supervisors may have access to shopping approvals, employee details and reports.

Portal Home Page

The home page provides employees with a feature news section and a news teaser section. Developed using jQuery, the feature news section profiles important time-sensitive city events, making use of screen real-estate with the layering of multiple news items. The bottom half of the content area displays ten news teasers from various departments. Each news teaser expands to a detailed news article; both news teaser and news article templates were developed using the XML Forms Builder included within the Portal Content Administration set of tools.


Discussion Forums

Discussion forums are an important feature of collaboration rooms. Benefits for users include the ability to watch forums and access one central location for questions and answers related to hot topics such as new tax laws and the City’s green initiatives. The intuitive interface encourages users to actively participate in discussion across departments, further enhancing teamwork. The usage of the forums has increased with the introduction of the Jive forums within the portal.


Web Page Composer

The city currently uses Web Page Composer (Area Management in 7.3) to provide departments with independent sites on the portal which can be self-maintained outside of the Portal Team. The HR site forms the largest WPC site on the portal, with child pages using custom web forms, page layouts, iViews and KM content – all presented within a seamless design. The upgrade to NetWeaver 7.3 has resulted in enhanced usability, including easy drag-and-drop functionality and flexible page layouts.



AJAX Framework

With the recent upgrade from NetWeaver 7.0 to 7.3 comes the opportunity to use the AJAX framework which provides a better user experience and visual appeal. We have branded the framework with the city’s theme, carried through from the city’s external website and also accessible via mobile devices.


Mobile Access

The city also uses the SAP Business Objects toolset to meet a diverse range of reporting requirements tailored to business needs as well as to provide ease of use and presentation quality reports. Using data from SAP (FI, CO and FM) and BW as the query foundation, Business Objects displays the data and analytics in a presentable format. The combination of technologies, including SAP BI-IP, BW, Business Objects and Adobe, now contribute to the publication of visually appealing financial reports accessible through mobile devices, such as the iPad.


Lessons Learned

  • Have a comprehensive design and roadmap established for the external portal
  • Establish a representative technical team (Security, Basis, Portal, Network)
  • Allow adequate time for comprehensive security testing and remediation
  • Understand business application requirements to build an appropriate technical architecture
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