Can the web client be your answer to a portal?

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Can the web client be your answer to a portal?

With Microsoft’s announcement to discontinue support of the Dynamics GP Portal and more recently, the Dynamics AX Enterprise Portal, it quickly brings up the question of “What is a viable replacement?” But this response does shock me, “a web client is now available so there is no need for a portal.” I simply don’t feel it is that cut and dry.

Imagine saying to a customer or a vendor, “Here is your login to Dynamics?”

Yes the addition of the web client in the Dynamics products is an impactful release, it does not preclude the need for a portal. As we engage prospects at DynamicPoint regarding their needs for a customer or vendor portal they clearly want a simple user interface with a subset of information from Dynamics, not the replication of a Dynamics screen. Wait, we have heard once or twice, “can you please recreate this exact Dynamics screen in the portal?” Yikes! We would get hammered by Microsoft for multiplexing and when you really think it thru the organization wants to foster a simplified user experience for the customer/vendor in comparison to an internal employees interaction with the ERP.

Why is placing this sales order so complex?
It really can’t be as easy as publishing the web client to a customer’s extranet site? Because if you think about it Microsoft Dynamics is an ERP application that is designed around the needs of the internal organization, aka, the “users” of the application.  In a customer or vendor portal application the users are entirely different and want a simple purchase process.  Can you imagine giving your customer access to your sale order entry screen and saying “have at it”?  Or better yet, granting your vendors permission to access the Purchase Order you created for them? First there will be tons of details captured in Dynamics that are irrelevant to the portal user and second you may want to capture additional information or supply additional functionality that is not available via Dynamics.

The practical alternative

To illustrate these differences let’s look at some examples.  A vendor logging into your PO transaction screen and having at it of course will never do.  But a vendor authenticating to a portal, viewing or printing a filtered list of Purchase Orders that are applicable to them, maybe updating an acknowledgement or expected ship date, does sound like a decent process.  On the customer side, the Sale Order screen is complicated enough that outside of your order fulfillment team it is a mess of information that sends eyes rolling back in heads. However the idea of giving a customer a streamlined order request screen that is routed for review and upon approval creates a quote in Dynamics sounds a little more feasible.  Maybe combine these scenarios with some document sharing, reporting, self-service, etc. and you’ve got yourself a real SharePoint Customer & Vendor Portal.

So please don’t confuse the web client for a portal! Or if you have more questions register for our 15 minute Customer Portal Webinar or contact us for more information.

By DynamicPoint | SharePoint PurchaseInvoiceExpense Portal applications built exclusively for Dynamics ERP & CRM Solutions.

2 thoughts on “Can the web client be your answer to a portal?”

  1. With web client you can do ANYTHING. I am not sure about GP but with Dynamics 365 for operations (say AX) it is possible to survive well without any portal. You can control information access to vendors and customers suing security so that they would see only their content. To me, it sounds peaceful, one application having everything.

    1. Thank you for your comment and perspective. Yes we absolutely agree that using the web client and with custom development there most certainly is the opportunity to meet any need. The advantage of using SharePoint and our portal application is that this functionality already exists and there is no need to create it using custom development. Actually, a lot is already provided for us as well and we just provide the bridge between a SharePoint portal and Dynamics. Such things as OneDrive integration, uploading documents/contracts/invoices using the mobile app, versioning, workflow, Azure Authentication, easy to create forms and surveys using Microsoft Forms, configurable notifications using Flow, Email enabled libraries, webparts, etc. are all functions that come standard with Office 365 that we get to utilize at no additional cost to the customer. So although it most certain could all be build, we find it more efficient to leverage the rich functionality that already exists.

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