blog-asset-crm-perf-18500-016a-pros-cons
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Portals – Pros and Cons
Ryan Plourde
9/25/2017
blog-asset-crm-perf-18500-016a-pros-cons

What types of data do your customers need in order to do business with your company?

Online access to frequently asked questions, company information, support cases, knowledge base literature, community forums, product information – and more – can provide the information that can lead to satisfying customer experiences and subsequent customer loyalty. You can accomplish this with Microsoft Dynamics 365™ portals.

Portals make information stored in your CRM system available to qualified users outside of the system. Many types of portals exist and the ones most useful to you will be dictated by the specific needs of your organization. For example, your industry might require that your portal tools be government-regulation compliant.

A portal tool comes with Dynamics 365 software. Let’s review the tool’s various features – as well as its pros and cons – so you can judge whether it could be a beneficial tool for your company.

Quick Recap

In 2015, Microsoft purchased the application, then known as Adxstudio Portals. Today, it is available only as an add-on subscription for Microsoft Dynamics 365. The former Adxstudio Portals operated as an on-premise asp.net website that was hosted on the business’s internal server. Now, with Microsoft’s “go mobile, go cloud” emphasis, the portal is part of the Dynamics 365 online application. The portal website is completely managed by Microsoft and has no provision for adding customized asp.net code. Additionally, portals are only available in a CRM system that is using the licensed Microsoft Office 365 subscription.

Five Templates

The Dynamics 365 application has five preconfigured portal templates. You can begin with one that makes sense for your industry and then personalize it by adding your own pages and business logic.

  • Customer portal. Use the customer portal template as a basis for your own customer applications. Strength of this template: feedback.
  • Customer self-service portal. Use a customer self-service portal to improve service by enabling customers to submit and monitor support cases, view and update their customer account information, and resolve issues through the use of a knowledge base. Strengths of this template: feedback, knowledge base, forums, support, and case management.
  • Employee service portal. Use an employee service portal to deliver corporate and human resources information as well as to enable employees to update their personal information, view company policies, watch training videos, and submit HR-related questions. Strengths of this template: feedback, knowledge base, forums, support, case management, and Microsoft Azure™ AD authentication.
  • Community portal. Use the community portal to encourage cooperation and collaboration among your various team members, vendors, and customers. Strengths of this template: feedback, blogs, forums, ideas, knowledge base, support, and case management.
  • Partner portal. Use the partner portal to connect with sales team members and assign sales opportunities. It is intended to empower your sales teams and provide them with information to help close sales. Strengths of this template: feedback, forums, partner pipeline, case management, knowledge base, badges, opportunity management

Each portal is designed for a specific audience, and more portal options are planned for future updates of Dynamics 365.

To help you understand the structure, think of the portal as a content management system (CMS) that uses Dynamics 365 to store the content. Ideally, all your content and the configurations should be stored in the CRM facet of your Dynamics 365 system. The web portal then makes that information available outside of the system.

Add-Ons and Configurations

When the portal add-on application is enabled in your Dynamics 365 system, you are ready to configure and manage it. A new portals tab will be included on your CRM menu.

Initially, only the preconfigured portal you selected will be installed. However, you can use the “Manage Your Solutions” feature to add other portal types.

After the portal site is active, you will be able to manage your portal(s) on the “Manage Portal” page. On that page, you will be able to add information such as domain names and SSL certifications. You will also be able to switch the portal site to another preconfigured portal solution or connect the portal site to another CRM instance within the same Office 365 subscription.

A support page within the employee self-service portal allows employees to open a new case, view an existing case, or search the knowledge base. See the Microsoft Administrator’s Guide to Portal Capabilities for Microsoft Dynamics 365 for complete, step-by-step instructions.

Licensing

The Dynamics 365 Enterprise Edition Plan 1 subscription includes just one portal. Licensing for additional portals may be purchased for use as nonproduction or production portals. The primary portal that comes with every Dynamics 365 Business Edition Plan 1 subscription is per tenant, shared across all Business Edition Plan 1 applications. A Business Edition Plan 1 subscription is required to administer and configure the portal. Each portal may only be associated with one instance of Dynamics 365. Internal users indirectly accessing Dynamics 365 application data via a portal will be required to have the appropriate Dynamics 365 licensing.


Page Views

The Dynamics 365 portal has page view capacity requirements. For each portal, the first 1 million page views per month are covered under the plan. Increased capacity is available for purchase in units of 500,000 page views or page accesses each month. Unused page views cannot be carried over at month’s end.

The Pros and Cons

All in all, the Dynamics 365 portal can be a useful tool for providing better service to your customers, partners, and employees. Future upgrades will likely address the portal’s initial drawbacks.

Pros

  • Better for nontechnical administrators.
  • Includes preconfigured templates.
  • Integrates with Azure AD.
  • Included with your Dynamics 365 subscription, and it is easily activated.

Cons

  • No support for on-premise deployment is available and no server code adjustments are allowed.
  • Additional portals will incur increased cost.
  • No client application program interface (API) is available.
  • Needs more extensions – such as Microsoft SharePoint™ – as solutions in Microsoft AppSource.

Additional Considerations

  • Uses software as a service (SaaS) hosting with an add-on subscription to the Dynamics CRM 365 online application.
  • Stores portal configuration in your CRM system.
  • Allows content editing on portal and custom HTML pages.
  • Stores your customer service and knowledge bases.
  • Supports custom code such as JavaScript and Liquid templates.
  • More sample portals likely will be added for e-commerce and events registration.
  • Integration with the SharePoint platform is expected to be available in future releases.

Get more information about Crowe CRM services for Microsoft Dynamics 365. Have a question or interested in evaluating the CRM functionality in Microsoft Dynamics 365? Contact us today.

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