In this blog post, Shoeb Memon, Power Platform subject matter expert, will highlight the features and benefits of using Power Apps Portal Templates.
Power Apps Portal Templates are available as a part of the Microsoft Power Platform, enabling organizations to develop low-code, responsive, and customized public-facing websites by leveraging Microsoft . Low code techniques have completely changed the way modern applications are developed. Programming practices previously reserved for expert developers have now been simplified into drag-and-drop functionality that empowers businesses to quickly add new applications and features to their web portals that serve a variety of audiences.
Power Apps Portals may stand out to you because of these capabilities:
Highlighted below are a few of the key benefits to using Power Apps Portals:
Portal templates are portal solutions that are preconfigured to accelerate deployment for specific scenarios. With the Microsoft Dataverse solution already in place, businesses can quickly build fully functional and secure websites using Portal templates. Important considerations when provisioning a Power Apps portal are the type of audience it will serve, the kind of user interactions it will handle, and the portal template that best aligns with specific business requirements. Power Apps portal provisioned for a Microsoft Dataverse environment consists of three main components:
Various portal templates are available that can accelerate the configuration of a Power Apps portal. For custom business applications built in an environment without Dynamics 365 apps, the only available option is to create a portal from a blank template, which is known as the Custom Portal.
The blank template offers a portal with core features like security, content management and can interact with Microsoft Dataverse. The Custom Portal template does not fit any specific requirements of an organization but is an ideal starting point for businesses looking to extend the abilities of their custom applications to external audiences. It can be configured to meet the organization’s specific requirements by adding custom pages, weblinks and extending the portal to display Microsoft Dataverse records through table forms, table lists, web forms, etc.
Features of other Portal templates can also be applied to the custom template if the portal is configured for an environment that has Dynamics 365 apps enabled. The Custom Portal appears to be different when configured for environments with and without the Dynamics 365 applications. For environments with Dynamics 365 apps enabled, the custom portal includes a Contact Us page that allows portal visitors to be recorded as Leads in Microsoft Dataverse.
For environments with existing Dynamics 365 apps such as Dynamics 365 Sales or Dynamics 365 Customer Service, additional portal templates are available to choose from. The creators can select from the following portal templates depending on the intended audience.
The Community portal template is used for online communities where members benefit from the resources and services of the host organization. Members of the community can interact with the portal features utilizing the organization’s self-service or assisted service capabilities.
When using Self-Service, community members can access the organization’s knowledge base to search for specific materials or read articles and blog posts highlighting relevant information. With Assisted service, community members can participate in the discussions on the community forum, submit ideas, and take advantage of the case management abilities of the portal.
Organizations can create a Dynamics 365 support channel using configurable webforms where community members can submit new support cases or review and edit existing ones.
The Customer self-service portal template is explicitly used when organizations extend Dynamics 365 Customer Service features to the portal. Publishing knowledge articles on the portal and providing online customer support allow organizations to manage their service cases effectively.
Customers can find solutions to the most common problems by browsing the existing knowledge articles. Eliminating the need to open new support tickets for fundamental issues reduces the number of cases logged and improves overall customer satisfaction. The Customer self-service portal can only be used within environments that have Dynamics 365 apps enabled.
The Employee self-service portal template is used when organizations provide a common platform to handle employee-specific problems. Employee self-service portal helps employees find specific information about the company from the knowledge articles published on the portal or get assistance from human resources by creating support cases through the portal.
For a single sign-on experience, the Employee self-service portal is configured to authenticate with Microsoft Azure AD (Active Directory) by default.
The Partner portal template provides organizations with the ability to set up an online channel to collaborate with partners to manage customers and opportunities. It offers the same functionalities as the Community or the Customer self-service portals with the key difference in the target audience. The self-service and assisted service features of the Partner Portal are configured to serve partners and not customers. The Partner Portal also extends the portal features to other Dynamics 365 applications like Project service and Field service if they are enabled for the organization.
Partner Management features of the Partner Portal allow portal visitors to register as partners. The partner program organization can review these applications directly in the Partner Recruitment Dashboard in Dynamics 365. After the application is approved, new partners can sign into the portal and view their dashboards for revenue and opportunities. Partner contacts can manage their information like name, phone number, address, etc. and control employee access to the Partner portal.
One of the core features of the Partner portal is the ability for partners to manage their opportunities. A Partner can be assigned an opportunity, or they can create new opportunities in the portal that will appear in the overall pipeline and the dashboard for the partner organization. The partner organization can also distribute opportunities to specific partners that are perfect candidates for closing the deal. The identified partner can then review the opportunity in the portal and decide to accept or reject it
Partners can manage their accounts and contacts stored in the partner organization’s Dynamics 365 service directly from the partner portal. Partners can add, remove, and update contact information and associate contacts with different customer accounts. The Partner portal maintains confidentiality and does not allow partners to see customer accounts for other partners.
There are many components included in Power Apps Portals.
Forums are available for the Community, Customer self-service, Employee self-service, and Partner portals. Configured through the Portal Management app, Forums allow members of the organization to interact and look for help by posting questions or starting discussions with other members that share a common interest. Members of the community can use Forums to create new topics, respond to existing ones, and even subscribe to threads, so they stay up-to-date and receive responses on specific discussions.
Forum Threads are stored as metadata in the Power Apps portal and contain at least one post record. Organizations control who interacts with threads and posts by forum access permissions that link to specific web roles for the portal. Depending on the Forum access permissions, members can read and respond to threads. Responses to forum threads create additional posts, and the collection of these posts together represents a complete discussion in the Forum.
The Blog feature is generally available in the Community portal but can also be configured for other portal types. Blogs help promote the organization’s products and services through related content. Blogs allow authenticated and unauthenticated users to submit comments in response to the blog articles to ensure engagement with the community. These responses can be moderated or unmoderated depending on how the blog was configured. Blogs are configured through the Portal Management app in Dynamics 365. Users with a dedicated Blog Author web role can then use the portal to create new blog articles and update existing ones.
Ideas are an extension of the Forums feature and allow community members to submit specific suggestions related to new features, products, services, and even policies of an organization. Available for the Community, Customer self-service, and the Employee self-service portal, Ideas offer an easy feedback mechanism for organizations allowing them to serve the best interests of their customers.
Visitors to the portal can vote on existing ideas and add their feedback or comments. The policies governing the votes and comments on an idea are configured through the Portal management app in Dynamics 365.
Knowledge Article features of the Power Apps portals are available for the Community, Customer self-service, Employee self-service, and Partner portals. Dynamics 365 Customer Service knowledge articles used for internal customer service management can be published directly on the Power Apps portal.
Portal visitors can maximize the use of available content and effectively navigate through the categories to search for specific knowledge articles on the Power Apps portal. Users can also be redirected to related knowledge articles when creating support cases through the portal to provide an immediate response against requested support.
Support cases are an everyday use case of the Power Apps portal available for the Community, Customer self-service, Employee self-service, and Partner portals. Organizations can allow customers to create support requests by signing into the portal with authenticated web roles to create a corresponding case record in Dynamics 365 Customer Service.
Support representatives can follow the same business processes and procedures defined for Dynamics 365 Customer Service when resolving support requests on the portal. They can refer users to existing knowledge articles or provide further support through conventional channels like email or phone. Support representatives can also associate portal comments to specific case records, which will be visible on the case timeline in Dynamics 365 Customer service.
Dataverse workflows can be configured to notify customers about updates to support cases via email. Customers can respond to updates by commenting on the portal and update the case details when logged in with authenticated web roles. Customers can also reopen a resolved case from the portal if the issue persists.
Power Apps Portals offer the following features and capabilities:
Power Apps portals allow portal visitors to authenticate themselves using the built-in authentication method or through external authentication providers such as Microsoft, Azure, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google, etc. For controlling access to specific web pages and sensitive information in Dataverse, portal users can be assigned web roles that provide related table permissions.
Authenticated portal users can manage their profile information on the portal that updates the corresponding record in Dynamics 365. This allows portal users to always keep their contact information up to date.
Using the Power Apps portals Studio, portal developers can quickly create and add text, media, webpages, and other types of content like Dataverse lists and forms to the portal.
Additional languages can be provisioned for Microsoft Dataverse to offer multi-language capabilities. Power Apps Portals can support up to 43 different languages and users can switch between these languages with ease.
One of the prime features of Power Apps portals is the ability to communicate with Microsoft Dataverse. Table lists, Web Forms, and templates allow organizations to display Dataverse records from Dynamics 365 applications directly on the portal. Portal users can interact with Dataverse records and seamlessly create new or edit existing ones. Web roles and table permissions in Dynamics 365 applications ingeniously protect data from exploitation via unauthorized access.
The search functionality on the portal can be configured to search across Dataverse tables. This allows users to locate and view specific data from Dynamics 365 applications directly on the portal. Table permissions configured in Dynamics 365 are relevant on the portal and prevent sensitive information from being displayed on the portal unintentionally.
With Power Apps portals organizations can provide external users access to the company’s knowledge base that allows users to resolve their issues quickly and without assistance from support representatives. Knowledge articles are created and published in Dynamics 365 Customer Service and then made visible on the web portal. Users can browse these articles and search for specific information as needed. When attempting to create a new support case from the portal, users can also be presented with a list of related knowledge articles that could potentially answer their questions.
Power Apps portals can be extended to provide Project Service Automation features to portal users that will allow them to look up project information, approve quotes, review contracts, view invoices, and orders, etc. The Project Service Automation feature is only available for the Partner portal template and requires the Dynamics 365 Project Service app to be installed in the environment for which the portal is being provisioned.
The Dynamics 365 Field Service module can be integrated with the Power Apps portal if it was provisioned using the Partner portal template. The Dynamics 365 Field Service app must be installed in the organization’s environment to extend its features to the web portal. With Dynamics 365 Field Service integration customers can create or view work orders and the stakeholders can examine customer assets directly from the portal.
Consider Power Apps portals as one of the foundation pillars in the overall web strategy of the organization for creating a powerful end-to-end experience on external-facing websites. Empower customers to receive self-service support from anywhere and on any device, protect organizational data from unauthorized access, enrich your portal with dashboards, charts, and forms, provide an interactive and engaging platform for internal and external applications while reducing the development lifecycle significantly.
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