How to Get Started with Dynamics 365 Integrated Web Portals

Web Portal for Dynamics 365

Power Apps web portals enable external users to interact with selective Dynamics 365 data and capabilities within a low code, responsive website.

Web portals increase transparency and offer contacts greater freedom to choose how they interact with an organisation. For example launch your own self-service customer portal, or enable a partner portal, that is accessible across desktop and mobile devices.

Dynamics 365 Portals have transitioned to Power Apps Portals and a new licensing model has been introduced that enables Dynamics 365 customers to deploy multiple portals.

Portal Frequently Asked Questions

Where is my data stored?

Your web portal will be securely housed and maintained within the Common Data Service (CDS) and integrated with your Dynamics 365 environment.

How are Power Apps Portals licensed?

Portals are licensed based on sufficient capacity for external usage. For authenticated portal users these are metered per login. For external anonymous users, licensing is based on pages views...READ MORE

Implementing Portals

Receive expert guidance from our technicians to get up and running with your first web portal. Alternatively, our team will build and configure a portal to your specifications in a fixed price engagement

Contact us to discuss deploying or customising your portal.

Getting Started

Portal Audience

Firstly, you’ll need to define your audience. In many instances, businesses deploy a portal for their customers.

Another audience could be partners where a portal will distribute leads, enable partners to easily provide updates and access sales resources.

There is also an option for employees to use a web portal. This would be a separate interface from the regular Dynamics UI whereby users can create and share knowledge posts and perhaps engage through moderated forums.

A community portal could bring together a mix of customers, prospects, partners and industry contacts who can access blog posts and other resources, and participate in chat forums. Interactive options to solicit feedback include polls and post ratings.

An Event portal template for Dynamics 365 Marketing is also available to handle registration processes and include capabilities for managing sessions, speakers and venues. 

In addition to these pre-built templates, custom portal framework enables bespoke portals to be developed.

Choose your portal audience template carefully! One you’ve selected a template and configured a portal, switching this to another template isn’t recommended as some data loss may occur.

Customising Portals

Each portal template contains several configurable site settings for various styles to modify visual elements within the site. Defining a theme will include background style, text colour and layout width.

In many instances, an organisation will deploy a single portal. These can be managed in Power Apps using the Powers Apps Portal Studio and Power Apps Admin Center. Multiple portal environments can be managed from the Power Platform Admin Center.

Step by step portal customisation instructions and technical detail is shown here.

To support a low-code deployment, a portal can be developed through Portal Studio to create content and include data from the CDS using views, charts, dashboards and other familiar constructs.

Portal Users

An authenticated portal user will be associated with a contact or a system user in an associated Dynamics 365 or Power Apps environment and stored in the Common Data Service. 

To log in, a user must have the appropriate web authentication information configured. In Dynamics 365, role based security permissions control what type of records each user can access. For portal users, a web role is needed to gain access permissions and different roles can be configured to enable varying access levels to portal pages.

For example, with our own customer portal, standard permission enables users to view their own cases, the next tier up will enable users to view cases logged by other individuals at the same company. The highest permission level includes additional usage reports.

Portal authentication allows portal users to sign in with a choice of authentication. Most commercial login providers are supported included Microsoft, LinkedIn, Google, Azure AD and Twitter. Alternative portal content can be browsed anonymously.

Portal Functions

As referenced above, portal functions and data accessible to each user is determined by the web role which enables content to be defined and correctly exposed.

Administrators will determine what entities are shown and which fields are exposed, and if these will be read-only, or enable read / write permissions. Also, which list views will be shown within the portal interface.

For customer portal scenarios, the cases entity is frequently shared with users. A list view will typically include the case title, case number, create date and current status which is pulled through from Dynamics.

Support cases shown in Dynamics 365 web portal

Portal users can open an individual record to access more information which can include a timeline of important actions specific to this record:

Case history

Defining entity forms and custom logic will control what information is shown, and how this record detail is shown in the portal.

In this example, a portal user is able to view and edit essential contact detail via the portal interface. Any updates made via the portal will immediately be written back to the CDS and shown in Dynamics 365.

Portal user profile

To improve service delivery, organisations are increasingly deploying customer portals but these aren't just limited to cases. 

Each portal can be configured to show selective data for any standard or custom entity. This can include contracts or agreements which enables portal users to check renewal dates, service entitlements, utilisation detail and remaining time specific to these services.

Portals will also connect with field service and project service processes. This could include exposing data within the portal from work order records and selective detail from project records. For example, a web portal can be used to capture a digital sign-off following completion of on-site work.

Another tactic to increase engagement could be to include banners that will increase awareness of your events, resources and direct portal users to other appropriate content. 

Self-Service

In a service scenario, knowledge base resources are great tactic to handle frequently asked questions.

Using native knowledge capabilities, a library of articles will be accessible to portal users to find answers.

To deflect potential new support issues, portals can promote suggested knowledge articles based on the keywords entered – even before a case is submitted.

Create new support case in Dynamics 365 portal

Further detail can be shared by attaching documents to knowledge articles.

Through varying content access levels, admins can manage knowledge articles that would enable selected users to gain access to a premium tier of content.

Advanced personalisation

Portals can be started with a no / low code deployment with the Design Studio, or apply more advanced configuration using the portal management app.

Custom scripts can also be applied for controls and behaviours that you may want to put on a web page.

Portals also support the Liquid language enabling data to be queried using fetch XML, and provide tags and objects to implement behaviors specific to portal pages and templates.

Portals also natively integrate with many Microsoft services including Power BI. This supports all forms of report, dashboard and charts which includes embedding publicly available visuals from Power BI.

Integration with SharePoint is also supported, so document libraries stored against entity records including contacts can be natively surfaced from a portal.

Further customisation options include embedding Bing Maps and Calendar controls within portal pages.

Next Steps

Find out more about Power Apps Portals and how Preact can help you get started.

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