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Selection of the Right Portal

Discuss About the Foundations of Information Systems?

In this era, though access to the information is painless but approaching the right information in shortest possible time is a real challenge.  In a pharmaceutical company, below are the points that cover the entire process of a drug manufacturing,

  1. Finding the problem/ disease.

  2. Detecting the cause.

  3. Figuring out the solution.

  4. Testing the drug

  5. Approval of the drug.

  6. Selling the drug in different countries.

According to a study, roughly 8-15 years are required to figure out and test the drug and make this available in the market after approval from several drug approving authorities. To make this process less time taking, effective, efficient and productive, now a days, companies have started seeking help from the technology in the form of enterprise web portals that gather the entire enterprise on one platform. These portals not only help researchers to find out the problem and test the solution but also facilitate to share their research with others and get the timely and productive feedback. As United States Pharma Corp has widely worldwide spread network, the portal will help researchers and scientists in getting up to date with each other’s research, the worth of their research, seeking relevant data and knowing the market worth of their products. The corporate knowledge web portal designed for United States Pharma Corp is based on the vendor supported off-the-shelf product. The structure of portal is a well designed for inner and outer communications like Food and Drug administration (FDA), International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Associations (IFPMA) and World’s Health Organization (WHO) etc. Moreover, the portal is designed keeping in view all the risk factors, security breaches, role based access and disaster recovery etc.    

Initially, in the world of computing, the required information systems were built as a single solution for a particular problem. However, now the inter-link of different systems has been realized and it has become apparent that these systems also have some common characteristics in terms of providing solution. The below picture shows the types of the information systems.

Fig1. (is-types-five-level-pyramid-model, 2013)Shows the types of information system in four layers

As the above image shows, four different types of information systems exist. For a pharmaceutical company, a system should include management information system, intelligent decision support system and executive Information system. Other than this, the portal should include communication facility between different team members working in different countries so, that the researchers will be able to share their work and get feedback. Above that, the system should also allow external sources like FDA and WHO etc. to view the research and provide their timely feedback.

Structure of the Enterprise Portal Framework

  1. Evaluated the business requirements, goals, products and existing infrastructure while deciding the portal framework strategies.

    2. Planned for the ultimate portal framework rather than the immediate. Like, rather than deciding a solution for a particular problem, administrative and departmental both solutions have been considered to be implemented.

    3. In order to avoid systems that are firmly tied to specific applications or information sources, a vendor supported off-the-shelf product has been preferred over custom portal development.

  2. Kept in view the overall structure and the world wide spread of the company.

  3. Evaluated the clients and related companies or food authorities to provide ease in contact.

  4. Figured out the availability of the right data in order to help scientists in research.

The designed enterprise portal contains database for keeping research data, external sources, communication facility, internet tools, daily research data and connections with pharmaceutical forums. Each part of the system is described in detail below.

According to (Collins, 2003), an organizations infrastructure is composed of several layers that collaborate for providing a comprehensive solution in the form of an enterprise knowledge portal. Its architecture layers include internet, firewall or demilitarized zone (DMZ), intranet, application services, portal services and backend systems like databases. The author also says that, the portal server includes below services,

  1. Security Services, for providing the authentication service.

  2. The Rules Server, for managing the content information and workflow from backend systems to the desktop.

  3. The Portal Component Server, for providing the collection of objects for connectivity and application services.

  4. The Personalization Server, helps in providing users the role based access to the system.

Database: While designing any portal, the selection of the database has always remained the critical part. From the variety of databases available in the market, one need to give a serious thought on the pros and cons of the databases and must make comparison with the business requirements. As per the requirements of a pharmaceutical company, a large database is needed to be maintained in order to keep the research data, daily research patterns, popular searches, testing, approval and selling records. The database structure of the company will not be very complicated comparatively so the choice of a structured database like SQL Server or Bizztalk Server will remain the best.

While choosing between SQL Server and Bizztalk Server, the former provides more suitable features to support the enterprise structure. According to (NADE, 2005), BizTalk Server makes the configuration of groups targeted towards a particular application possible. In particular, each single group can have the database acting as shared queue. While, another database one can be used for recording information on the progress of messages. To summarize, the Bizztalk Server provides the enterprise solution, facilitates in integration and provides orchestration services.

Database

The structured database will be able to maintain all the information in a well maintained fashion and the cost of the transaction of the data will not be very costly. Moreover, once the database will be designed the change in the database structure will not be very frequent, so the structure database choice will also benefit in this regard.

External Sources: For a completely designed enterprise system, link with external sources is important like payment systems etc. For a pharmaceutical company, a portal to interlink the companies supplying or researching on chemicals will help in searching the chemical search coming in the marker and using those chemical in producing drugs.

The link with external authoritative companies like food and drug administration (FDA), World’s Health Organization and International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Associations (IFPMA) will enable scientists and researchers to communicate their tests and research in time and take their timely feedback to improve the results and manufacture a productive drug against to cure the disease.

Customization: Basically, customization is the procedure of the portal configuration. It defines the overall appearance of portal including look and feel like layout and color scheme etc. declaring roles, integration of the external and internal data sources and defining a security policy. So, the choice of off-the shelf application is made instead of customized one. The choice follows keeping in mind the complexity of the portal. As the portal will be accessible in different countries and role based access will be provided, so the complexity of the users will increase and development of such a system which covers such a huge well settled company required a very strict and competent team of professionals which will add cost to the company. So, the company will customize an off-the shelf application and on turning the portal towards the users they will be able to personalize their experience by making changes in the content or layout to fulfill their particular business requirements.

Content delivery: requires the capturing of external and internal content and providing it to the workers who need it. On the other hand, some portals provide the system administrators to declare a series of options or categories in the form of lists term taxonomy is also referred for this purpose. Users check the entire category list or tree to find the required information. On the other hand, a second approach includes publishing the content to the channel, which may become available to the subscribed users of the channel who will automatically be notified about the updates or the content availability. Thus, a knowledge base repository is essential for information sharing especially in a dynamic organization like Pharma Corp.

External Sources


Search: is the key in the research companies like Parma Corp. It is essential, especially when the researchers could not find their required information just by navigating through the portal. In most of the cases, it is assumed that people will try to search down maximum one or two category lists and will surrender if they could not reach nearest to their desired search category. To cope up with these situations, a context-sensitive search engine is preferred that can help locating the right and required information easily and quickly. The enterprise solution for Pharma Corp will also include this search engine to optimize the sear results in minimum possible time. The portal will also help providing the top most searched categories of employees to check the popularity of issues and interests of the scientists.

Date or Application Integration: is critical for the rise of an Enterprise Information Portal (EIP). Users prefer integrated access to entire data and applications that they are required to complete their research in timely and well defined fashion. This Enterprise Information Portal (EIP) will be capable to access data from all available databases of Pharma Corp, including foregoing and previous sources. The portal would also be able to reach into the uncategorized file systems and will allow users to get access to Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Exchange, and other data files. Moreover, this should provide an easy access to all the sites that publish the latest researches on drug manufacturing. In addition, users will be able to run applications ranging from plain desktop tools e.g. contact managers or e-mail etc. to enterprise applications e.g. ERP, CRM or supply chain, through the portal user interface(UI).

Information Sharing: emphasize on participation, collaboration, publication, chat, threaded discussions and conferencing. Mostly, the companies manage their collaborative activities like workgroups and projects through their Enterprise Information System (EIP). For a company like Pharma Corp, sharing of information like tests is very important. Just in case, a team working on some drug in Australia performs some tests and meanwhile the same tests have been performed in United states, the sharing of information will help both teams, physically sitting far away, to compare their results or give feedback. This sharing will help reduce the testing time, getting valuable feedback in smart amount of time. The impact of this portal will be huge. This may provide edge to the scientists to share their knowledge with external food approving authorities and get timely approval.

Customization

Communication Facility: The Enterprise Information System (EIB) for Pharma Corp facilitates in communication with both internal and external teams and companies. Modern IT environments are being challenged to make information timely accessible to a variety of internal or external user while preserving the contractual level service agreements.

In order to harbor these requirements, the enterprise information portals are transforming as the primary tools for the IT organizations to share information and communicate not only within their organizations but also with their customers or partner companies. Today’s advanced technology support the deployment and development of EIB by influencing industry standards and best of tech tools. Through EIB, the workers will be able to approach each other smartly. They will also be able to arrange conferences or individual meetings for seeking any help, suggestions and feedback. This approach will add a significant impact on the overall improvement in research drug and business.

Intranet and Internet Tools: Now days, enterprises are thinking more about their customers, market, suppliers, product and their quality. An intranet is a network based architecture which serves the internal information requirements of an organization using Web-Internet. In detail, intranet is termed as a private network that works on TCP/IP protocols and internet for communication. Technically, intranets are the application of internet technology and specifically the World Wide Web (WWW) service for an authorized community of end users. In other words, intranet is a network that is especially designed for providing ease in fulfilling organizations internal requirements using Internet concepts.

According to (Waghmode, S. S., & Giri, V. V., 2010), Intranets are similar to the digital warehouses for storage & retrieval of organization’s Information, which contains significant importance for enterprises and organizations. The basic purpose of the intranet is to share information within the computing resources and organization among employees.

  • Easier to install

  • Simplicity of operation

  • .Saves money

  • .Reusability

  • Save time of workers by sharing common and new resources.

Sources for Relevant News: Keeping up-to-date makes businesses even more successful. Just to keep the workers up-to-date of all the latest news, technology and inventions in the market, another feature of relevant news is also included in the portal. As described above, the portal will be interlinked with external sources for getting access to all the latest news.  

Connections with Pharmaceutical Forums: For adding an effective contribution to the health and well-being of the human beings, the pharmaceutical industry’s internal strategies must be according to the community’s needs. For example, according to (Growth, 2017) the European Commission organized the ‘Process on Corporate Responsibility in the Field of Pharmaceuticals’ (2010-2103) in order to promote discussions on transparency and non-regularity conditions for smart access to drug production after getting the market authorization. Similarly, plenty of forums are which needed to be attended for seeking information and taking part in the discussion. This will purify scientist’s thoughts and approach toward their research.

Decision Making: is of significant importance in the design of an enterprise information system. Decisions involve many aspects that need to be traded off. Enterprise information systems can help an organization in making productive decisions by facilitating with accurate and up to date information after applying analytic functions. EIP would be able to organize the basic available data collected from the entire company’s branches including internal and external information and records. After, the data will be converted into reports for guidance in making the valid and right decisions.

A company’s decisions are projected in company results and require changes in the business strategy and overall aims. Addition of this feature in the Enterprise Information System can either provide built in trend analysis or the information that leads towards such analysis. In general, a typical business strategy includes projections for all basic analytical results. The trend analysis of these operations allows showing their outcomes and how they can be changed once you have implemented the necessary decisions.

For example, the proposed enterprise system will contain the Pharma Corp’s employee’s popular searches, updates, successful tests and feedbacks. So, the existences of the entire information on one platform wills enable the company to make clever decisions that would benefit both the employee and the company.

Role Based Security: The idea of a role comes out of the need to provide relevant functionality which is authorized as a single unit later. According to (Nyanchama, M., & Osborn, S. L., 1994), a role can be taken as a job, a collection of functions and responsibility or a bunch of privileges pertaining to some duty requirements. Further, a role exists as an entity of the role holder or role administrator. It should be accommodated with functionality to enable only the authorized users to achieve the duty associated with the role. Hence, in EIP a certain role will be given the sufficient access rights to enable an authorized user or group to perform their duties. (Baldwin,1990) termed these as Named Protection Domains (NPDs).

The portal will include role based access to distinguish the usage of each employee according to their designation and need. The feature will help securing the system and redistrict the access if overall information of the portal among employees.

According to (Stoneburner, G., Goguen, A. Y., & Feringa, A. 2002), risk management consists of three processes,

  • Risk Assessment

  • Evaluation

  • Risk Mitigation

Risk assessment process includes evaluation and identification of risks and its impacts including the recommendation of risk reducing measures. While risk mitigation refers to implementing and prioritizing the appropriate risk minimizing measures which are also recommended in the risk assessment process. The author proposes the DAA system authorizing official that is responsible for determining whether the remaining risk is at an acceptable level or the additional security controls should be implemented for further reduction or elimination in residual risk.

In case of a pharmaceutical company which relies so deeply on an information system, risk assessment is essential to minimize the risk of loss in business. After the entire enterprise will shift on technology the redundancy of the data will be of equal importance as the security of the data. In this situation, keeping separate servers on different locations and migrating data, daily, for adding redundancy, in data, will be beneficial. The scheme will help in case of disasters. In case of any uncertain situation, one place will be affected the company would be able to recover the entire records from a different location.

In the current era of rising technology, each organization wants to shift towards advanced online portals for maintaining their data and enhancing their business. The proposed Enterprise portal strategy is well designed keeping in mind all the essential factors that could give raise to the business and provide benefits to employees.  The proposed system includes suitable and well developed database in addition of features like access to external forums, communication facility, decision making and role based security etc. All the proposed features will help the Pharma Corp to give more challenging products to the society.

References:

NADE, A. (2005). Enterprise integration

Collins, H. (2003). Enterprise knowledge portals: next-generation portal solutions for dynamic information access, better decision making, and maximum results. AMACOM Div American Mgmt Assn

Waghmode, S. S., & Giri, V. V. (2010). INTRANET AND INTERNET

Nyanchama, M., & Osborn, S. L. (1994, August). Access Rights Administration in Role-Based Security Systems. In DBSec (pp. 37-56)W. Baldwin (May 1990). Naming & Grouping Privileges to Simplify Security Management in Large Databases. In Proc. 1990 IEEE Symposium on Research in Security and Privacy (pp 116-132)

Stoneburner, G., Goguen, A. Y., & Feringa, A. (2002). Sp 800-30. risk management guide for information technology systems.

is-types-five-level-pyramid-model 2013, url: https://eternalsunshineoftheismind.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/is-types-five-level-pyramid-model.png

Corporate responsibility in the pharmaceutical industry - Growth - European Commission. (n.d.). Retrieved May 18, 2017, from https://ec.europa.eu/growth/sectors/healthcare/competitiveness/corporate-responsibility_en

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