When is the Right Time for Businesses to Invest in a Dynamics 365 Portal?

Where there are other financial* and IT** considerations which may impact the decision, there are 2 main situations which can be used to identify if the Organization is ready for/ needs a Portal.  

 1) When Dynamics data/ documents need to be regularly be viewed/ shared with external users – customers or partners.  

Client and partner engagements at every step need the information to be exchanged in the form of data and documents. Sharing these over emails or shared locations very often results in duplication and redundancy. Furthermore, the team is losing productive time maintaining this update. 

Sharing controlled data right from its source in Dynamics to secure external Roles can easily remedy the situation. 

Activities to look out for when identifying that the Organization should surface information via Portals 

  • When you see that the CRM users are frequently having to share reports, request data, send alerts, expose status’, etc.,
  • Where you want to ensure that the external user always has the most updated information residing in Dynamics
  • Provide access to KBs, Blogs and access Discussion forums, ensuring that the partner/ customer is engaged and enabled

2) When external users need to create or update data/ documents which are maintained by the Organization in Dynamics 

While any license impact based on the user and the kind of activity performed must be clearly understood and adhered to before investing in the portal, the Portal is a great tool to allow Partners and customers restricted and secure access to add/ update specific sections of the Organization Dynamics 365 apps. 

Some simple use cases where Dynamics may need such updates – 

  1. When Partners, Distributors and sales channels need to share new/update their sales opportunities 
  2. When Appointments need to be booked 
  3. Cases – create and updates 
  4. Moderated Discussion Channels re needed Questions and Common Update and need to be,  
  5. update time and expenses on Projects. 

Some thoughts on the “How”

The Dynamics Organization can provide a seamless experience to external users,  by linking it from its corporate site, replicating the branding and using Azure AD authentication. Roles defined can showcase targeted content to different roles within the same client organization.  Keeping the Portal content and forms simple but relevant will help in increasing footfalls on the portal. 

While the Internal users need to be cognizant of their actions on Dynamics and the fact that some of it will be visible to the customer, per se, the Portal need not have all the data saved and managed on Dynamics surfaced.

* while 1 instance of the CRM portal is available for free to all Dynamics 365 Organizations, provided they fit in [ check the previous blog “Dynamics 365 Portal – Introduction”], any UAT and Test environments have a cost attached 

** Portal development needs some development skills on HTML, JavaScript and “Liquid” apart from having a good handle on Administration of Administration and Security on Dynamics. The Portal developer will need System Customizer, Portal Admin and in some cases, Global Admin credentials on Dynamics.