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CHIPS Articles: KM and the Navy Enterprise Portal

KM and the Navy Enterprise Portal
By Darlene Shaw - October-December 2009
The Navy Enterprise Portal (NEP) initiative presents a rare opportunity for knowledge managers across the Navy to work together to seek out and integrate user requirements during the design and build out of the enterprise portal.

The knowledge managers' contribution will result in a cohesive, user-friendly interface that integrates the knowledge sharing power of a portal with the necessary knowledge technologies to meet Navy collaboration and content management needs well into the future.

As anticipated, Navy knowledge managers are excited to participate in this effort, and weekly teleconferences boast regular attendance of 20 or more participants.

For those unfamiliar with the Navy Enterprise Portal, it will serve the entire Navy, similar to the services the popular Army Knowledge Online portal provides for Army personnel. This effort is an outcome of the Chief of Naval Operations-mandated portal consolidation and integration process, as well as recognition that the existing ad hoc approach to Navy portals would jeopardize, if not preclude, achieving the goals of the Defense Department netcentric strategy.

Director, Navy Networks, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, Communication Networks (N6) Rear Adm. David Simpson, in July 2009, cited these major capability gaps as to why the Navy needs an enterprise portal strategy:

• Existing portals are organization-focused and not designed for information sharing among Navy mission partners;
• Hosted information in these separate systems is not visible or accessible outside each portal;
• Navy portals are inefficient with suboptimal capabilities;
• Multiple designs and acquisition of services across commands;
• Very little netcentric access to information, no inter-portal interoperability;
• Inconsistent system performance, reliability, functionality and security; and
• Cost management inefficiency: no leveraging of licenses, consolidation of servers and administration or reuse of solutions.

The NEP design addresses these gaps and will include a public face, an internal face for common access card (CAC) users, and also private sites for individual organizations and teams. The tool suite includes SharePoint, Oracle WebCenter Interaction and Autonomy functionalities, to name just a few of the capabilities to be incorporated into the portal. When all is said and done, the portal will have CAC single sign-on between all components creating maximum efficiency for users. Figure 1 illustrates the NEP configuration.

Needless to say, Navy knowledge managers have their work cut out for them. However, the depth and breadth of the Navy Enterprise Portal KM Working Group's knowledge and experience will serve them well in meeting this challenge.

To ensure that the diverse needs of all users across the Navy are met, participants hail from a cross section of Navy communities (shown above). While the majority of participants are knowledge managers, there are some members from other disciplines and all are welcome.

With Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command's KM team facilitating, Navy knowledge managers are engaged in many areas of NEP planning. These areas include content, information architecture, governance, and the “look and feel” of the portal in respect to the graphical user interface and aspects of its design, including elements such as colors, shapes, layout and typefaces (the "look"), as well as the behavior of dynamic elements such as buttons, boxes and menus (the "feel").

Look and feel in user interfaces serve two general purposes. An appealing design is important, first to ensure that the best and most useful applications are hosted on the NEP, and second, to enhance ease of use and provide a productive user experience.

Portal elements under review are:
• Media guidelines, i.e., file types and maximum size allowed, data tagging
• Best practice and case studies
• Training
• Content migration strategies
• Search enhancement strategy
• Quality control methodology

Information Architecture
• Meta tag schemes
• Naming conventions
• Full exploitation of software functionality, including Web 2.0 capabilities
• Integration strategies for electronic Navy records – Total Records and Information Management (TRIM)

Look and Feel
• Style Guide
• Branding guidelines
• User interface standards
• Standardized templates for various types of pages
• User interface testing and results
• Section 508 compliance

• Governance for ongoing maintenance and configuration control
• Process for enhancement approvals
• Business rules for joint content management

• Portal role identification and standardization of names and functions

The art and science of knowledge management enable appropriate guidance for the design elements to be integrated into the requirements of the project, and as you can see, they are very important to the success of the Navy Enterprise Portal.

Navy knowledge managers plan to divide and conquer the tasks. To do this, we are currently identifying subgroups to work on particular tasks in parallel. This strategy allows us to leverage the variety of the knowledge managers’ skill sets and interests to develop quality deliverables on time.

Initial operational capability (IOC) is estimated for Oct. 15 to support Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) migration activities and Dec. 1 to support a subset of Navy users.

The work is voluminous, but the satisfaction for knowledge managers for a job well-done is priceless. We invite any and all to join our efforts to make the Navy Enterprise Portal an amazing success for the Navy!

For future project notifications, please send your e-mail address to For more information about Navy enterprise planning, go to the Department of the Navy Chief Information Officer Web site at

Darlene Shaw is the chief knowledge officer for Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command.

Figure 1
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