Using the Portals Feature in Dynamics 365

The Summit 2016 Dynamics User Group Conference held in Tampa, Florida last October revealed a lot of interesting features for the new Dynamics 365, including the new portal features that were released at the same time.  Since the feature is so new, Microsoft doesn’t have a lot of marketing materials out yet so what I have pieced together below was derived from Summit as well as various partner discussions with Microsoft.

Portals in Dynamics 365 is being referred to as Portals 8.0 and is only available inside Dynamics 365.  Adxstudio Portals 7.0 is the latest on-premise option, with the most recent support release being November 29, 2016 (version 7.0.0023). You can deploy version 7.0 in the cloud by using Microsoft Azure or keep it on-premise.

During the Portal 8.0 website enablement process, you get three choices for the type of portal you wish to install. They are Community Portal, Partner Portal or Employee and Customer Self-Service Portal. Each of these selections includes the base features that are required to run your website. Some of these features include secured content access, multilingual capabilities, configuration-based portal applications and much more.  Below I provide a high-level description of each of the portal offerings.

Community Portal

The Community Portal has several self-service features including Forums, User Profile Management, Ideas with voting buttons, Knowledge Base, User Profile Management and Case Management (this is your external “Help Desk” functionality that your users can use to open tickets for a variety of issues).

Microsoft uses the Community Portal themselves for their CRM Ideas site. In fact, it would be a great idea to go to that website, create an account and vote up ideas to get new features inside portals for their next release.  If you don’t see a feature you want, create the idea yourself and have others vote it up so that you can get your idea on their consideration list!

Partner Portal

The Partner Portal has some great features for collaborating with your company’s partners to help drive sales.  Partner self-service options are:

  • Knowledge Base
  • Forums
  • Profile Management
  • Customer management
  • Opportunity Registration
  • Opportunity Distribution
  • Employee Access Management
  • Help Desk/Case Management

Employee and Customer Self-Service

If you are looking for the most basic portal to get information out there and provide help with issue resolution, then the Employee and Customer Self-Service portal is the one you want. The feature set installed is:

  • Knowledge Base
  • Help Desk/Case Management and Forums.

Of course you can add more to these features by adding your own configurations and making a custom portal.

Customizing Your Own

If you decide you don’t need or want any of the features that are installed with the portal options above, you can install the basic feature set that gives you what you need to start a completely custom application.  It is important to note that at this time you cannot extend the portal with custom development, but you can configure it to your hearts content.  If you need to customize with development because CRM Portals 8.x does not offer what you are looking for, you will need to use Adxstudio Portals 7.0 as mentioned earlier.

What is next for Portals?

Microsoft has been very quiet about what they are doing with CRM Portals for future releases, at least right up until they release a new feature that is!  Take a look at the Dynamics 365 Roadmap to see what is happening with anything Dynamics 365/CRM and Portals.

If you are thinking of doing a website and have Dynamics 365, Portal is an excellent choice. Contact us at Encore and we would be happy to show you a demo and help you with your portal project.

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