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What is an Extranet Network - Examples & Applications

06 Jun 2012

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What is an extranet network, and what is its value to the modern organisation?

Extranet definition

n – a privately maintained computer network that uses the internet to allow partial access to authorised partners, suppliers, vendors, on-road sales staff, customers and other organisations for the purpose of sharing operations and information.

Elcom Platform definition

n – a web content management system for easily and cost-effectively implementing an extranet, to seize opportunities and cost reductions afforded by the use of secure, dynamic communications in the B2B and B2C e-commerce environments.

Extranet Applications

E-commerce continually makes new demands on business, but at the same time it also affords greater opportunities for collaboration, cost reduction and economies of scale. Extranets allow businesses to communicate and trade in a secure environment and they lessen the need for transactional paperwork, reduce lead and fulfillment times, allow real time updating of sales figures, and facilitate just-in-time inventory management.

Some examples of extranet applications could include a retail brand wanting to communicate easily with its stockists and sales teams, or a school wanting to be able to easily update parents as well as teaching staff.

Security solution

The Elcom Platform is a leading-edge solution which enables organisations like yours to take full control of their extranet. Folder and document security can be quickly and easily administered and multi-layered permissions granted and revoked in a timely manner. Inventory management is a breeze with The Elcom Platform which provides functionality for cataloguing, maintaining and searching inventory.

Sales cycle control

Managing an itinerant sales force has always been a challenge but now, with The Elcom Platform you will easily be able to monitor the sales cycle by keeping track of proposals, bid submissions and related documents. Payment collection and invoicing will be centralised and more easily managed.

Other extranet applications

Extranets can be used for a variety of purposes in addition to collaboration with partners, inventory management and sales management. An Elcom extranet allows manufacturers to share product manuals and in the case of distributed fabrication to share all steps of the design and build process online. It enables the use of online catalogues, project management, online training, the provision of online customer service tools, sales demonstrations and supply chain management.

Creating and managing business content

The Elcom Platform has the power to systematically capture, create, manage, review, distribute, publish, and store business content from a variety of user interfaces. You have complete visibility with regards to who has made changes and who approved them, who has used the system, when they used it and what they viewed.

With an Elcom extranet you are in full control of your business with information and resources being managed efficiently and with the flexibility to grow as your business grows and delivering a faster return on investment.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Extranets

It’s worth considering the advantages and disadvantages of an extranet before you plan any such project: particularly because your implementation may involve and affect key stakeholders including suppliers, customers or partners. Consider the following pros and cons of extranets:

Advantage #1: Easy communication

The key benefit of a quality extranet is the speed and ease at which you can share data and communications with certain groups of people. Simply add information once, and you can set access permissions to determine who will be able to view and use that information. This information is accessible from any device and any location.

Advantage #2: Improved efficiency & productivity

With greater communication comes greater efficiency and productivity. An extranet helps to reduce frustrations, frictions and miscommunications between your team and those who communicate with them. You can save time on inventory management, workflows and a range of other aspects.

Disadvantage #1: Time to set up

Extranets can be complex to plan and set up because every organisation’s needs are different. However, your choice in provider can make all the difference. Choosing a well-structured extranet CMS and an experienced provider can result in a straightforward process and a successful result.

Disadvantage #1: Potential costs

Extranets can be a costly endeavour, but again your choice of provider can make all the difference between a cost-prohibitive or cost-effective extranet solution. With Elcom, for example, you could even choose to incorporate your intranet, e-learning and website CMS into the same system to minimise costs.

Is Elcom what your organisation needs?

  • Do you want all sections of your organisation to be pulling in the same direction towards the same goal?
  • Do you need an efficient and secure means of managing and auditing company documents and of collaborating with your partners, vendors and customers?
  • Do your employees need an easy-to-use, searchable Knowledge Base?
  • Would you like to manage your salesforce more efficiently and inform your employees of changes to important policy and procedures?
  • Does your organisation need to increase efficiencies in information management, and require information to be secure, searchable, navigable, gatherable and retrieved at any stage of the process in real-time by individual users or groups without waiting for a webmaster or IT staff?

Elcom fulfils all of these requirements and more. What’s more, as your company’s internet usage increases and your online extranet community grows, Elcom can integrate other modules from its suite of business tools to assist you to leverage off your extranet investment.

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