What's New in CRM Portals

CRM Portals, the new release of Adxstudio Portals from Microsoft is now available for CRM Online 2016 Spring Wave customers. The launch of CRM Portals brings with it a number of updates to the default portal templates that help provide a quick start for some of the most popular Adxstudio Portal scenarios. When enabling a portal add-on you will have the choice of the following default portal templates - Custom Portal (Starter/Basic), Community Portal, Customer Portal, Partner Portal, and the new Employee Self-Service Portal.

We have provided a summary of some of the major changes in CRM Portals from Adxstudio Portals native experience.

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The current release is limited to those customers using the latest CRM Online update and those looking to implement CRM Portals using the Software as a Service model. To learn more about the general availability of CRM Portals, the benefits and limitations read our CRM Portals General Availability blog post.

 

Default Portal Design

The first major change that can be noticed with every portal template is a new default design called 'Electric Blue' that has been applied. This design includes a stylized home page including a number of graphics, a sticky header navigation, as well as overrides to the default Bootstrap design to provide a more 'pretty' portal out of the box. The underlying framework of Bootstrap remains the same, just as it is with the latest version of Adxstudio Portals. All the Bootstrap responsive design elements can still be customized with your own corporate brand or theme.

With the flexibility of the theming in CRM Portals as in Adxstudio Portals, you can decide if this is a design you want to use or if you want your own brand design or theme applied. To learn more about branding portals, how to remove the default 'Electric Blue' design and restore the standard Bootstrap design read our upcoming post, Branding and Theming CRM Portals.

 

Knowledge Management

CRM 2016 includes a new Integrated Service Hub (ISH) with a new robust Knowledge Management platform. CRM Portals has updated the knowledge base functionality in the portals to now use this new Knowledge Management platform for the display of articles including all the enhanced capability for approvals, versioning, and rich text formatting with images and videos.

Depending on when you invested in using CRM as a knowledge platform you might either be using the older Knowledge Base or the new Integrated Service Hub Knowledge Management or even Parature. Be aware that if you intend to use the knowledge functionality in CRM Portals you will need to utilize the ISH Knowledge Management articles, potentially migrating your content from one of the older platforms.

All current versions of Adxstudio Portals out of the box use the previous CRM Knowledge Base which has been a feature of since early versions of CRM or the Parature capabilities introduced in CRM 2015. Adoxio continues to help support clients using any of the knowledge platforms available across CRM Online and On Premise with their the Adxstudio Portals implementations.

 

Case and Help Desk

Within the help desk, case security is now managed with entity permissions utilizing CRM relationships to control access instead of the legacy Case Access Permissions that Adxstudio Portals currently uses. This has allowed for the case listing now be built using standard Entity List functionality of CRM Portals for displaying a case listing on the portal.

Case submission remains similar in process with the same level of customization. Case notes are now utilizing a new Portal Comment CRM Activity instead of CRM Notes. This helps provide a greater degree of flexibility in the configuration and workflow of case notes in the system. The case deflection also now uses the Integrated Service Hub Knowledge Management as its source as covered above and has been integrated into the case submission..

 

Partner Portal

The Partner Portal has undergone an overhaul to make use of all the out of box features like Entity Lists, Entity Forms, and Entity Permissions. If you are a current Adxstudio Partner Portal customer this is a little different than the existing Opportunity/Channel Permissions that were used to configure access to opportunities. This change makes the configuration and customization of the features of this portal more accessible to customers providing the flexibility for organizations to modify the default configuration.

One of the new pieces of functionality that can be found within CRM Portals and is utilized in the Partner Portal is a new sub grid metadata configuration type of "Timeline". This configuration type allows for entity record related activities to be shown as part of the form. This can include activity types that are related to the signed in CRM contact as you can see in the screenshot below.

 

Employee Self-Service Portal Template

The Employee Self-Service Portal is a brand new template but one that Adoxio is very familiar with providing to CRM customers as a solution. The Employee portal is similar in feature set to the existing Customer Portal but the target audience is for internal company employees rather than customers. The Employee Self-Service Portal is setup by default to use your Office 365 Active Directory authentication instead of the standard local CRM Contact authentication for portal sign in.  This allows for all your existing Office 365 users easy access to internal Help Desk, Knowledge Articles, and Forums without needing direct access to the CRM system.

This helps removing the barrier of having to train employees on Dynamics CRM and instead giving them a simple to use web portal that works on any device.  This web portal functional as with all CRM Portals can make use of the rich functionality of the same business processes that your Dynamics CRM users utilize from the full CRM experience. An important thing to remember is that this does not remove the requirement for employees to obtain CRM licenses.  However they can be assigned to use the new ESS user access license specifically designed to be used with the services like the Employee Self-Service Portal.

To learn more about the ESS license review the Microsoft Dynamics CRM online pricing and licensing guide [PDF Download]

 

Unfortunately there are a number of features from Adxstudio Portals that are just not yet available in CRM Portals Spring Wave release, these include:

  • Event and Conference Management
  • e-Commerce and Shopping Carts
  • Government/311 Service Requests and Permits

This is the first release of CRM Portals and if Adxstudio's history is any indication we will see the portal team ramp back up to regular fixes, enhancements and new features over the coming months. Adxstudio Portals v7 continues to be available to all CRM customers and includes all features with the same rich feature set of CRM Portals but also includes the full platform customization capabilities. With the full platform customization capabilities Adoxio is able to bring the latest features discussed in this post to self-hosted portals and these type of changes are easily possible while including additional enhancements related to your own business processes. To learn more about the differences in CRM Portals and Adxstudio Portals, view our feature comparison chart.


CRM Portals blog series posts:

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