Requirements Model
Jorge Gouveia, Paula Oliveira
Department of Engineering, University of trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Quinta de Prados, Vila Real, Portugal
João Varajão
Department of Engineering, University of trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Quinta de Prados, Vila Real, Portugal
Keywords: e-vortal, Internet, Baking industry.
Abstract: Nowadays, Internet is fundamental to the development of the competitive capability of practically any
industry. Web portals, mainly the vertical portals, have in this context a major role, because they are basic
instruments for the dissemination and search of the information. Despite this fact, it is apparent that no such
Web solution is available in Portugal for the baking industry, in spite of the fact that this is one of the major
industrial sectors in the national context. Believing that the lack of a vertical portal for the baking sector is a
deterrent to its growth, in this paper we present the results from a study developed to identify the main
requirements for a system of this kind.
The creation of a web portal for the baking industry
is, for some years now, a reality in several European
countries and other world markets. The reasons
invoked for its creation are most diverse. One of
them is the easiness and comfort with that the portals
supply the access to the information, in a versatile,
customizable and personalized way, based on the
preferences of the users. Another frequent described
reason is the globalization. Globalization causes an
increase of the competition due to bigger integration
of the markets (Gouveia et al., 2007a).
In spite of the fact of the baking industry is one
of the major industries in Portugal, the Portuguese
scenario is somewhat different: up until now there is
no such portal (Gouveia et al., 2008).
The majority of Portuguese food and agriculture
companies have an incipient use of information
technologies when compared to their European
counterparts (SPI, 2001). Though the trend is to
grow, the companies’ use of the Internet to buy and
sell goods and services is relatively negligible (INE,
2001, INE, 2003, INE, 2004, INE, 2005).
The sector’s lag in this domain, together with the
lack of a dedicated e-vortal, is one of the main
motivations to this work: to contribute to the
conception of an Internet solution (vertical portal),
that gathers information, services and other
resources useful to the various intervening parts, by
identifying its main requirements.
Technological innovations may contribute in
numerous ways to a company’s competitive
advantage, by enabling improvements in satisfaction
of demand, cost reduction or quality increase. So,
this kind of portal can act as a basis for new
economies and be a booster in lifting old economies
to the new market realities (Zirpins et al., 2001).
Thus, we propose the creation of an e-vortal for
the Portuguese Baking Industry: a portal that
provides to all the community an access point to the
information and resources, in a way to potentially
increase the business between the suppliers and the
baking industry companies.
In this paper we propose a set of main
requirements for the development of vertical portals
in baking industry. In section 2 we introduce some
fundamental concepts on Internet web portals and
vertical portals and make a brief presentation of the
baking industry in Portugal. Section 3 presents
several requirements that should be considered in the
design of new vertical portals for the baking
industry. The paper ends with some final remarks in
section 4.
Gouveia J., Oliveira P. and Varajão J. (2008).
In Proceedings of the International Conference on e-Business, pages 161-168
DOI: 10.5220/0001908201610168
In the past few years, the Internet and, particularly
the World Wide Web (WWW) has expanded
continuously, in terms of the technology used and in
terms of dimension, becoming an essential way for
business relationships. From this development,
several instruments of research and data
organization appeared, in which the Web portals
have a particular relevance (Gouveia et al., 2007).
2.1 Web Portals
The concept of Internet “portal” is relatively recent
and it is not consensual yet. One can briefly define a
portal as an integrating point of access to relevant
information, a convergence point for different users,
with a wide range of information.
The idea of Internet Portal is comprehensive and
may include everything from a simple online
catalogue to a complex intranet solution. However, a
common characteristic is its role as a starting point,
offering a doorway into using web services (Zirpins
et al., 2001).
The fast growth of the WWW and the recognized
importance of Portal Web, led in few years, to the
incoming of countless portals, many times with
different characteristics among themselves.
Consequently, several authors proposed different
definitions, many times for the same object of
interest (Gouveia et al., 2007).
One of the first classification of portals was
presented in 2002 (Strauss, 2002), dividing portals
into two large groups according to the depth of their
content: horizontal portals and vertical portals.
Horizontal portals are public websites whose goal is
to serve its users with a broad set of services and
resources in an effort to convince them to make the
website their homepage. On the other hand, vertical
portals provide information, application and other
resources targeted to a specific community or
interest group.
In 2003, Clarke and Flaherty added two new
dimensions to this classification: not only the depth
of the portal’s content (vertical/horizontal), but also
its mission (transaction/information) and its target
(public/private). Each dimension should be viewed
as a continuum, with all portals expressing varying
degrees of each element (Clarke and Flaherty, 2003).
Focusing our attention on the “depth of content”
dimension, vertical portals, or “vortals”, offer
contents and services targeted to a specific domain
or community: professional classes, people from
certain locations or with other common interests
(Zirpins et al., 2001).
Given the increasing difficulty of efficiently
searching the web using keywords, a new trend in
the design of website for specific users appeared: a
verticalization phenomenon, i.e., the creation of
portal-like internet websites specially tailored for a
specific subject or area of interest, which allows for
the reduction of portal size without omitting relevant
As opposed to general-purpose search engines,
vertical portals have search tools with adequate
strategies and terminology, focused on the target
market (Medeiros et al., 2000).
A vortal, an abbreviation of “vertical portal”, is a
vertical industry, market or specific group, portal on
the Internet. Vortal refers to a website that
aggregates varied content and services of interest to
a particular industry and makes it available to
industry members. While a portal, such as Yahoo! or
AOL, attracts a large number of “netizens” (Internet
citizens), offering a wide range of contents and links
to other sites, vortals are narrower in focus and
address a specific industry, theme, or interest. The
audience or participants may be smaller, but they
have a higher interest and are highly targeted
(Vortalbuilding, 2005b).
The concept of a vertical portal is based upon the
premise of linking customers and vendors together
within a focused environment. This environment
provides information, services and other resources,
which encourage members to remain within the
boundaries of the vertical portal. Vortals are also
seen as business-to-business communities or
business-to-consumer communities (Vortalbuilding,
A well-designed and well-developed vertical
portal can create a snowball effect. Users visit it
because it has quality information, advertisements,
discussion forums, products, contents, friends, etc. A
higher number of website users, imply more
advertisements, products and participation, which in
turn will attract more users to it. Once the users’
loyalty is ensured, they will keep visiting and using
the portal on a regular basis.
Companies and individuals who share the some
interests may gather to interact, collaborate and
transact on a digital market. In Portugal, such need
clearly exist for certain markets, as one can infer
from the recent appearing of industry specific
portals, like the construction industry.
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2.2 The Portuguese Baking Industry
According to the Portuguese classification of
economic activities (CAE), the Baking and Pastry
Industry is part of group 158 – Manufacturing of
other alimentary products. Group 158 and others
make the Food, Beverages and Tobacco Industry
In terms of gross sales, group 158 is the second
largest in its division, just behind group 159
(Beverages Industry). The Baking and Pastry
Industry alone (CAE’s class 1581) contributed, in
2001, with 49% of group 158’s gross sales (INE,
The relative weight of class 1581 has been
growing since 1998. That year, according to INE
(INE, 1999), this economical sector represented just
28% of group 158’s total gross sales.
If gross sales-wise group 158 is relevant in the
food industry context, in terms of employment it is
even the more so. Group 158 – Manufacturing of
other alimentary products – is by far the most
important, representing approximately 50.000 jobs
in the year 2000.
Thus, the importance of the baking industry in
the context of the Portuguese food industry is
2.3 Portuguese Baking Industry
Internet Portals
Vertical portals design and development is, for some
years now, a concern and a reality in several
countries (Maltz, 2005).
In Portugal the reality is quite different from
other countries. The e-vortal concept is not yet well
established, as we can see by the lack of
implemented e-vortals focused on the Portuguese
Industry. If we focus our attention on the specific
sector of baking industry, then the situation is
extreme. After an exhaustive Internet search we
concluded that currently there is no an e-vortal for
the Portuguese baking and pastry industry (Gouveia,
There are, certainly, a few sites that belong to
industrial associations of the sector which aren’t
more than an institutional presence in the web. We
can, as an example, refer to the site of the FIPA –
Federação das Indústrias Portuguesas Agro-
limentares (Food-Agricultural Federation of
Portuguese Industry), ACIP-Associação do
Comércio e da Indústria de Panificação, Pastelaria e
Similares (Baking Trade and Industry Association)
(Gouveia et al., 2007a).
The FIPA was constituted in 1987 with the aim
to represent and defend the interests of the
Portuguese Food-Agricultural Industry nationwide
and in the European Union. This site is dedicated to
every Portuguese Food-Agricultural industry, as
well as those that work directly with them. In spite
of not being an association of the Bread Makers
sector, it has yet some connection with it. This site
can be classified as an informative portal. In it one
may find, essentially, relevant information for to the
Portuguese Food-Agricultural Industry. Another
case is the official site of the Trade Association
(ACIP). This association presents itself as the largest
Portuguese association of the Bread Making and
Bakery sector. This site can be classified as an
institutional one, once it gathers information about
the ACIP as well as news and data of its activities.
So far, this site isn’t providing any further service to
the user (Gouveia et al., 2007a).
A well-conceived e-portal may create a snowball
effect: having good contents, forums of discussion,
products and advertising, people will visit the portal.
As many people visit the portal, the larger will be
the number of advertisers, the participations in the
discussion forums, the production of contents and
the possibilities of cooperation and data sharing,
therefore contributing to the development of
The bakery sector is one of the most
representative sectors in the Portuguese industry as a
whole (INE, 2002a).
The lack of Web vertical portal hinders the
chances of a bigger development for the baking and
pastry industry. So, we propose a new e-vortal for
the Portuguese baking industry.
When one considers the creation of an industry-
specific portal for a sector such as the baking
industry, the processes involving the identification,
analysis, negotiation, description, validation and
requirements management assume a paramount
importance. These processes are decisive in the
system development and assume a great relevance as
a factor of success in its construction (Gomes and
Soares, 2004).
In this section first we discuss the fundamental
concepts that should be considered in the
development of an e-vortal for the Portuguese
baking industry. Next, we present the requirements
that a system of this kind should support.
3.1 Fundamental Concepts
An e-vortal solution for the industrial sector should
be based on five fundamental concepts, as depicted
in Figure 1 (Gouveia et al., 2008):
Figure 1: Fundamental concepts for an e-vortal solution.
Source: (Gouveia et al., 2008).
3.1.1 Community
The main aim of an industry vertical portal is to
encourage companies and individuals with interests
in a specific industry to interact, collaborate and do
business within a digital market. This virtual
community will allow actors with a common interest
to meet, to share ideas and information, and to know
each other better, so they can strengthen their
3.1.2 Collaboration
It is important to distinguish the words
“collaboration” and “cooperation”. Usually we don’t
make a distinction between them (Dillenbourg and
Schneider, 1995). However, there is a difference in
the way the activity is performed by the ensemble.
Cooperation consists in dividing tasks among the
participants, each person or organization being
individually responsible by part of the problem
solution. Collaboration is characterised by the
mutual contract of the participants, who work in a
coordinated effort to solve the problem all together
(Dillenbourg and Schneider, 1995). Sharing
experiences, searching for new solutions and
products in partnership, are examples of possible
collaboration in the baking sector of industry.
3.1.3 Interactivity
Internet websites and portals in particular, offer lots
of communication opportunities in both directions:
they offer interactivity. Stuart Brand defines it as a
“Mutual and simultaneous activity on the part of
both participants, usually working towards some
goal, but not necessarily” (Brand, 1987). With an e-
vortal, the user should be able to interact with the
system and find the information she or he needs.
3.1.4 Contents
The content of a vertical portal is very important.
The existence of e-vortals is in part due to a huge
need to reduce the size of portals, making search
easier, while no omitting relevant contents. The
search tools can (and should be) improved and they
must provide the specific terminology and strategies
of searching for a sector or subject (Vortalbuilding,
2005a). The users’ fidelity is one of the greatest
challenges that an e-vortal brings up. The quantity
and quality of its contents is an important item to
achieve that fidelity. If we keep the contents always
up-to-date with a high level of quality, existing users
will remain faithful to the portal and more new users
will visit it, which in turn will make the portal even
more attractive to the participation of different
agents – partners, announcer and collaborators. The
increase of participation will allow a higher degree
of information sharing and higher possibility of
collaboration among partners.
3.1.5 e-Commerce
e-Commerce is the purchasing or sale of goods
and/or services through electronic networks such as
the Internet. A platform which will make
relationships and business transactions easier
between partners should be provided in an e-vortal
for the baking industry. This will improve a number
of aspects of a business, both for sellers and buyers.
Being one of the most complex sides of a vertical
industrial portal, we can consider two phases of its
development. In a first phase it can promote the
relationships and transactions among business
partners. So, an e-vortal will allow several aspects of
the business process, for the one who sells, as well
as for the one who buys. The promotion of new
products, the small effort demanded by the support
of catalogues, the quick answer to the customers and
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the possible increase of sales due to the increase of
the market base, are some of the advantages foreseen
for the sellers.
The fastest answer for the search of the best
solutions, the quick access to new suppliers, and
consequently to better prices are, among others,
some of the advantages for the buyer.
In a first stage of the portal for the Baking
Industry, one can say that it will improve the
communication among several agents. The partners
will be able to decide more easily as they share a
common platform.
For a second stage, it will be reserved the b2b
transactional platform. The implementation of
automatic processes of proposal requests, the
submission of proposals and the closure of deals are
the aspects taken cared by the platform.
3.2 Requirements
The design of a new Baking Industry e-Vortal
should take in account all the concepts referred in
previous section. In this section we identify and
describe some of the function/components such e-
vortal should support.
A study has been made with the purpose of
investigating different aspects of vertical Internet
portals. It was an interpretative and exploratory
study and consisted, in a first phase, on the
development of a conceptual framework and, in a
second phase, on the identification and analysis of
currently existing vertical portals, trying to
understand their objectives, characteristics and
functionalities. The needs of the baking industry
were particularly studied.
Thus, four dedicated e-vortals to the bakery
industry had been analyzed: Bakery-Net
(; Bakery Online Market
Place (; Federation of
Bakers (; e Portal da
Padaria (
This research made possible the identification of
various critical elements that were systemized in the
form of a set of requirements that are presented in
table 1.
The display of the main characteristics/functions
for an e-vortal solution for the bakery sector comes
from a conjunction of characteristics found in other
portals, as in portal, with other
completely new, as a result of the analysis of the
sector needs.
Table 1: E-vortal main requirements.
Function Brief description
Bakers’ Guide
(Buyers’ Guide)
This is an area where all companies
registered should be listed. Some groups
can be: Equipment vendors,
Ingredients, Maintenance & Sanitation,
Packaging, Shipping, Services and
Documents Publishing and browsing documents and
papers related with the bakery sector
Legislation Browsing important legislation for the
baking industry sector
Useful information like weather and
stock market information
News News about the industry
Event Scheduler Browsing and searching on event
Training Courses Here it should be possible to browse all
the training courses available. It should
be also possible to do the registration in
a course available
Recipes Recipes browsing and sharing
Classified ads Browsing and creation of small
classified ads
Products browsing and online catalogue
B2B platform This platform act as a promoter of the
relationships and transactions between
partners. Thus, several aspects of the
business processes will be made easier
(for buyers and sellers).
Requests for additional information
about equipment, products or services,
delivery or terms of payment, are some
As already referred, web portals can be classified
according to three dimensions (Clarke and Flaherty,
2003): ): the portal purpose, contents and the level of
access provided. The portal one proposes presents
these characteristics in several levels, as in Figure 2.
Figure 2: The Bakery e-vortal dimension characteristics.
The e-vortal main requirements presented on
table 1 will be detailed and classified according to
these dimensions in the following sub-sections.
3.2.1 Portal Purpose
According to their purposes, the portals can be
divided in transactional and informational. The
solution presented cannot be classified, exclusively,
as an informational e-vortal. It will contain
characteristics mainly of an informational portal
with updated news of the sector, newsletter, events
and training courses, updated legislation, among
others. It will also have transactional portal
characteristics. This portal will allow costumers
gathering data of products (characteristics, prices,
conditions of delivery, availability, etc.), comparing
prices and, mainly, promote business transactions. In
Table 2 one can see the main characteristics of the
proposed e-vortal according to its purpose.
Table 2: E-vortal main requirements: purpose.
Transactional Informational
Online Catalogues News
Products and prices
B2B platform Legislation
Training courses - browsing
and registration
Event scheduler
Training courses Agenda
Weather information
Stock Market information
Articles and other documents
Classified Ads
Baker’ Guide
3.2.2 Content
The horizontal portals are those whose contents are
wide. This kind of portals don’t give access to
specific community services contents, but on the
contrary, they dispose information, applications and
other resources, through multiple category of users,
representing every member of a community.
The vertical portals can display contents and
services directed to a domain or specific community.
They can be centered in specific professional
communities, people from certain places or
communities with common interests.
This portal is clearly a vertical one, due to the
particular content and the fact that it is dedicated to a
well defined community.
The classification of the proposed solution is, in
this dimension, simpler. The bakery portal is mainly
a vertical one, because it focused content and
services, and the fact that it is dedicated to a specific
community with a common interest – The Bread and
Bakery Industry. In table 3 one can see the main
characteristics of the proposed e-vortal, classified
according to the contents.
Table 3: E-vortal main requirements: content.
Vertical Horizontal
News Weather information
Newsletter Stock market information
Event Scheduler
Courses Agenda
Online Catalogues
Products and prices
B2B platform
Classified Adds
Articles and other
Baker’ Guide
Training courses - browsing
and registration
3.2.3 Level of Access
A public portal is a portal of which information
and/or services are available for any Internet user
and have no access restrictions. Opposite to these,
the Private Portals have restricted access to a group
of users.
The bakery e-vortal will give free access of some
contents for every Internet users. As an example
there will be the news, legislation and scheduled
events, for example. The Table 4 presents the e-
vortal characteristics according to its users
Table 4: E-vortal main requirements: level of access
Public Private
News -> Registred users
Legislation Newsletter
Event Scheduler Recipes
Stock market information Browse Articles and other
Weather information
Classified Ads -> Partners
Training Courses browsing Browse and maintenance of
online catalogues
Baker’ Guide – List of
Products and prices
B2B platform
Training courses Agenda
Training Courses –
Baker’ Guide – companies
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Some of the contents will be of restricted access
to registered users. This restriction will become it
two distinct levels: registered user and partner. The
distinction between these two types of users is the
following one: a registered user will have access the
preferential content, such as Recipes and
Newsletters; a partner, for its side, will not only have
access to the previously described preferential
content, but also to all the services related with the
e-vortal b2b functionalities. We can highlight: on-
line catalogue browsing and maintenance, products
and prices comparison, buy or sell on-line, training
courses, agenda and registration, among others.
3.3 Discussion
The expected impact after the implementation, in
Portugal, of an e-vortal for the baking industry can
be analyzed according two complementary aspects.
The first aspect is about the competition, it will
allow, among others things, a bigger integration of
the markets, the multiplication of commercial
exchanges and the increase of agreements and
partnerships between companies. It will help the
various actors of the baking industry to create new
commercial relations, as well as fortifying the
existing relations. In the “new economy”, the
information, the knowledge and know-making
becomes raw material, and the possibility of being
able to access it, in useful time, will be one of the
main strategically weapons of the competitiveness.
The companies of the baking sector will have at it
disposal a tool that will allow them to face these new
requirements. Thus, we contribute for the
satisfaction of the necessity of modernization of the
sector. One another aspect is the resultant advantage
of the business growth, as much for who sell as for
who purchase. Reduction of administrative costs,
increase of productivity and modernization of the
market are some of the testimonials given to the
press by company CEOs and company owners when
they are mentioned to the impact of the adoption of
an e-vortal tool in its company. One of the reasons
pointed in practically all the testimonials is the
increase of the business opportunities. The chance to
negotiate with new companies is an immediate
more-value of the electronic platforms. As much for
the suppliers as for the customers, this kind of
platform, increases the option as much of purchase
as of sale. The suppliers see the number of potential
customers to increase - the prospection of new
customers is facilitated. Customers can easily to
compare prices of some suppliers and, because these
are normally more competitive of what the ones that
are not in the platform, can thus buy the lowest cost
or in more advantageous conditions.
The technological advances of the last decades gave
origin to an atmosphere where the organizations are
forced to search new options to reduce costs, while
at the same time to compete within their markets.
This atmosphere needs flexible, capable and
competitive organizations, able to make radical
changes in the way they do business, employ people
and use technologies (Varajão, 2001).
To be more competitive or, as we saw, to
survive, companies, whatever is sector is - and the
baking industry is not an exception -, they will have
to anticipate, or at least to follow, the technological
changes that happen everyday, in the national and
international markets.
The Internet allows any company, big or small,
to easily enter new markets, to conquer new clients,
to establish relationships with new suppliers, and to
establish new partnerships, without the material,
geographical and time constraints of the
conventional way to do business (Varajão, 2003).
The difficulty to find references about the baking
industry in Portugal through an Internet search, for
example using Google, suggests the need for the
development of an Internet solution for this sector
with vertical portal characteristics.
This kind of initiative, when it is well done,
allows companies with a wider publicity and
expansion of their markets, the keeping and
attraction of new clients thought different and
innovative ways, a better response to partners and
clients, better services, new services available, and a
cost reduction (in products, services and support).
An e-vortal for the balking sector can have a
direct consequence on the growing of IT integration
in business processes, making companies and
organizations more in sync with current times and
We intended with this work to give a
contribution and to promote the development of this
important industrial sector. The requirements
presented in this paper should help the design and
development of vertical portals for this sector.
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ICE-B 2008 - International Conference on e-Business