Portal Management: Powerful, Easy-to-use Site & User Administration
CloudStreet Portal provides site administrators with a suite of easy-to-use management tools that simplify site and user administration. User management is a particularly powerful and flexible component of CloudStreet Portal as responsibility for user registration is placed in the hands of the users themselves, thereby reducing the burden on IT staff without compromising system security.
User subscription system
CloudStreet Portal utilizes a unique, user-initiated subscription request component that encourages users to manage themselves! Based on the Facebook “friending” model, the self-service subscription system is familiar to users and allows access privileges to be requested by document type.
Users register with CloudStreet Portal, obtain their own logins, manage their own passwords, and make personal subscription requests. The site administrator can review and approve subscription requests or can appoint managers at the customer site to authorize subscriptions. The flexibility of the subscription system also allows for a single login to be associated with multiple customers (e.g., create one login for a customer sales rep with responsibility for all customers in the northeast region).
Figure 1: List of site-wide subscriptions available to site administrator.
CloudStreet Portal’s unique, low maintenance user subscription system was designed with input from IT professionals. We call it the anti-nagging model of user management! Approval of user subscriptions is fast and simple, and doesn’t require involvement from technical staff.
While users manage most of their own needs, CloudStreet Portal does provide tools allowing site administrators to create and delete users, change user passwords and privileges, block and enable passwords, and log users off the portal. The administration tools also include a control panel that lists users who are currently logged into the system.
Figure 2: User manager and administration tool.
User roles and security
Adding power to the user subscription system, the User Roles Manager provides site administrators with the ability to view and edit user roles. Roles, in the simplest terms, are a way for companies to categorize different types of users. Depending on the user group associated with a particular role, a user will have access to specific document types and portal resources. For example, a client employee might have access to the most basic documents only because they are not authorized to access more sensitive company data, whereas a site administrator would have access to all document types.
Figure 3: Management of user roles.
CloudStreet Portal is a web-based content delivery system that is integrated with the popular Joomla Content Management System (CMS). Joomla is an open-source tool that allows developers to build web sites and powerful online applications and CloudStreet Portal has inherited a rich set of functional capabilities and user management options from the CMS.
CloudStreet Portal allows organizations to deliver business documents (such as invoices and statements) to their customers and employees, along with associated transactional data. As a result, it is crucial that administrators have the ability to control who can access the data provided by the portal. Providing flexibility and security, CloudStreet Portal’s user management system extends the Joomla CMS hierarchical user permission system.
The Joomla user permission system includes a set of predefined, hierarchical user groups such as public, author and publisher. These user group definitions allow Joomla to control user access to application resources, such as menus and web pages (aka articles). Explaining the concept of Joomla user groups is beyond the scope of this article; however, you can find detailed documentation about user group definition at docs.joomla.org (the Joomla documentation website). Within the Joomla user group hierarchy, CloudStreet Portal has created four application-specific user groups (i.e., client_employee, client_admin, customer_service_rep, and site_admin). A CloudStreet Portal user group definition inherits capabilities from its parent Joomla user group based on its position within the Joomla user group hierarchy.
For example, the Joomla publisher user group is the parent of the CloudStreet Portal user group customer_service_rep. As a result, customer_service_rep inherits user permission attributes from publisher. Specifically, a customer_service_rep or a publisher can create articles but cannot delete them.
CloudStreet Portal user groups were intended to be used as follows:
- client_employee: A customer employee who has permission to view specific document types (e.g., invoices and statements); only has access to My Documents menu.
- client_admin: A customer employee who is authorized to approve (or deny) subscription requests for other employees within the customer organization or a person within your organization who is authorized to approve (or deny) subscription requests for one or more customers; has permission to view specific document types (e.g., invoices and statements); has access to My Documents and My Company menus. customer_service_rep: A person within your organization who is authorized to approve (or deny) all subscription requests; has permission to view all documents; has access to My Documents, My Company and Customer Service Rep menus.
- site_admin: An employee or consultant of the organization that licenses the CloudStreet Portal service; has the authority and technical skills to act as the CloudStreet Portal administrator; has access to the back-end administrative console of CloudStreet Portal to manage users, define document templates, and create articles; authorized to approve (or deny) all subscription requests and has permission to view all documents; has access to My Documents, My Company, Customer Service Rep, and Site Administration menus.
Linking new user roles to user groups is powerful when properly used, but it also can be dangerous if you do not understand the different access permissions availables. While we do not recommend “experimenting” with user roles, Blue Prairie can assist you with the creation of new user groups and user roles if the CloudStreet Portal predefined user groups do not serve your organizations’ needs.
Document type manager
Document types reference the specific documents that you will make available to users on the Document Delivery Cloud. These might include invoices, statements and reports. In addition, subscriptions are considered document types within CloudStreet Portal. Site Administrators have the ability to add, view, edit, and delete the document types that might be utilized by an organization. When a document type is defined, a document template is associated with the definition. This template will determine how the document appears visually to the user within the browser.
Figure 4: Management of document types.
The event manager logs generation and delivery of documents on a user-by-user basis. The ability to log activities related to documents is a useful feature of CloudStreet Portal. Event logs allow site administrators to understand general system usage trends (i.e., number of documents viewed in a specific period of time or number of times a certain document was viewed). For each document available on the site, an event counter is maintained, making it easy for a customer service representative or site administrator to pinpoint highly active documents or documents with no activity.
Figure 5: Portal event manager.
When you email a document to a customer, you know that it was sent but not if it was received or read. By contrast, when portal users view documents the activity is recorded in the Event Manager. So, you can easily determine whether a customer has viewed an invoice or statement.
The event manager feature is useful, for example, when you want to know if a specific customer employee (e.g., the Accounts Payable manager) has reviewed a certain document (e.g., the most recent monthly statement). The event log will tell you which customers have not yet viewed their published statements. A prudent use of event logs could help the Accounts Receivable department manage collections, reduce aging receivables, and expedite cash flow.
CloudStreet Portal has security features that stop one user from manipulating a URL and viewing another user’s documents. In addition, attempts to “hack” or manually alter the URL associated with a document are logged as document events so you will be alerted when a variety of security breach types are detected.
The mass email feature allows site administrators to send an email blast to all portal users, to users within a specific user group, or to a selected set of to users. Mass email can be used to make general announcements to portal users or to notify them when a new set of documents have been published.
Content creation and document template management
CloudStreet Portal is built upon the popular Joomla Content Management System, an open-source tool that allows developers to build feature-rich web pages. CloudStreet Portal has inherited these content management capabilities, so site administrators are able to create and maintain content, including articles, categories (containers that organize articles), and document templates.
The article manager provides both WYSIWYG and HTML/CSS editors, allowing site administrators to create custom web pages and document templates. For example, you can design different invoice and statement templates, ranging from simple black-and-white table formats to multi-color documents that include a company logo and images – all from your web browser!
Figure 6: Editing of an Invoice template.
A significant advantage of CloudStreet Portal is that customers don’t need access to your backend system in order to interact with the data available in their invoices and statements. So, you can ensure that the data in your business application remains safe and secure. And CloudStreet Portal is available even when your backend server is down for maintenance! Implementation of CloudStreet Portal is under your control, so you determine whether users work with staged or real-time data and how frequently your backend application feeds data to the Document Delivery Cloud.