By: Nicholas Hayduck
Now available in preview, the next major release of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Portals will soon be generally available. Major releases are ones that include new features and are generally done every six months. This is the first major release since the initial launch of CRM Portals in May 2016.
For the new version, Microsoft has put significant investment into both improving the stability of the existing features and adding new capabilities. As part of their monthly maintenance updates (typically released during the last week of the month), they have also been hard at work squashing hundreds of bugs, including those related to synchronization issues between the CRM and the portals.
There is a broad range of updates and enhancements due in the next release, so let’s examine some of the most important ones.
Since there is no such thing as a finish line when it comes to website accessibility, Microsoft has continued to make improvements in this respect to CRM Portals. Over 300 bugs have been resolved to make the portals more accessible to people with disabilities, and they will now support Section 508 (accessibility standards for US federal agencies).
Faceted portal search
The built-in search of portal content will now support further filtering of the search results, including by the type of documents, and the publication date.
Partner relationship management
The newest portal is Partner Relationship Management, and it includes the following features:
- Management of your partner lifecycle, including recruitment, onboarding and the ongoing relationship;
- Deal registration; and,
- Ability for multiple partners to work together on a single opportunity.
Dashboard and charts
Possibly the most exciting new feature is the ability to include dashboards and charts created in CRM. Built for the new Partner Relationship Management portal, but available for use on any of the portals, this feature allows you to expose visually engaging data to your users. Common scenarios may include displaying case resolution statistics, or opportunity closure rates for a specific partner.
Entity action filters
Previous versions of CRM Portals did allow users to perform actions such as closing an opportunity won or resolving a case; however, all actions were always available, regardless of the state of the record. With this feature, it will be possible to define which actions should be available depending on the state of the record. For example, it will be possible to configure the Resolve Case action so that it will only be possible on open cases, and not cases that are already resolved.
It will now be possible to serve content in multiple languages from a single portal. Also, support for multi-byte character East Asian languages such as Japanese, Chinese (Hong Kong, PRC, Taiwan) and Korean has been added. On the roadmap is support for right-to-left languages such as Arabic and Hebrew.
Currently companies can expose articles contained in the CRM knowledge base to their portal users, typically containing documentation or help materials. Articles were either public, meaning they were available on the portal, or private. The next release includes more configuration ability to determine which articles are available to which user. First, you will be able to filter knowledge base articles based on the products users are associated with, so that users only see content applicable to them. Secondly, you’ll be able to restrict articles based on permissions given to users, allowing you to offer premium content for specific users, or to restrict sensitive articles to only those who need to see them.
CRM Portals will soon be available within the Government Cloud offered within CRM Online.
Soon to be in preview will be the new Events portal, supporting simple scenarios like webinars, and more complex scenarios like multi-day conferences with management of registrations, facilities, staff, speakers and sponsors. Also, with recent Microsoft acquisitions of field service and project service applications for CRM, these will be integrated into the Partner Relationship Management portal as they become available.