28 April 2013

Microsoft Dynamics CRM and CRM Portal website

Why do you need a CRM Portal?

The CRM system is usually an "internal" system, that is, the content in CRM can only be accessed and managed by internal CRM users. It all makes perfect sense until you want something more, here's some business cases that you might want to consider as a CRM Portal solution.

Business Case 1 - Reduce the license cost (where the portal user is the CRM user)

The ESS(Employee Self Service) CAL is 1/3 license cost of the Limited CAL; is 1/10 license cost of the Full CAL. If a company has a big amount of CRM "light users", then the ESS CAL would fit for purpose, so a CRM portal or a helpdesk application is required  in this case (access through Microsoft Dynamics CRM clients is not allowed in ESS CAL)

Obviously, in such scenario, you will have to balance the ROI(Return On Investment) of building a CRM Portal and the license cost.

The Employee Self Service (ESS) CAL provides a user with limited API access and limited read-write access to “Microsoft Dynamics CRM functionality” through any application/graphical user interface (GUI), other than the Microsoft Dynamics CRM client. The ESS CAL addresses the licensing requirements for light user scenarios of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011. ESS CAL isn't available in Dynamics CRM Online. 
Refer to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 pricing and licensing guide for a complete list of use rights.

Business Case 2 - Interactive with business relations (where the portal user is not the CRM user, but map to another CRM entity, i.e. Account, Contact etc.)

That's it! Non-CRM users can also contribute to your CRM system, like your business partners and/or customers. They exist in your CRM system as Account or Contact (or other entities but not the User entity) records, with some development work, they can register (or be given) an unique UserId and Password to login to CRM Portal, then they can perform some by-design actions, for examples:
  • Creating/Updating their own data  in CRM, like personal profile, support case etc.
  • Booking/Amending a service appointment with available resources/facilities.
  • Making/Managing online orders, manage invoice etc.
The beauty of it is all their inputs will be synced using the agreed format into CRM without CRM user intervention. For instance: 

  1. Your customer login to the CRM portal, select a few products and make an order.
  2. Your CRM user will see a new order has been created in CRM (via Portal) by one of your customers (also in CRM). 
  3. The CRM user can fulfill the order and create an invoice in CRM; 
  4. The customer will see the order status changed to "Fulfiled" and the invoice for that order.
The external connector license (for non-employee access) is required for this scenario.


Business Case 3 - Interactive with the public (where the portal user is anonymous Internet user, who has nothing to do with the CRM system)

CRM data can be pushed or pulled to the Internet to allow public Read-Only access. 
With some development work, the CRM KB Article and Sales Literature can be published to a public website to allow Internet users to access and download. The idea is, you can now use CRM as a "CMS" system, that you can manage contents within CRM.

About the technologies used in CRM Portal

CRM Portal can be built with all major web technologies, i.e.: .Net, Java, PHP, Ruby. It doesn't matter how you design the user front end, on the back end they call CRM references to perform actions.
CRM Portal can be stand along, or integrate with your existing company website. 
Here's a demo (but real) CRM Portal website (http://www.orchardcrm.com/) I built for clients demo.


Some highlights:
  • Support CRM Online, Azure Hosted VM, On-Premise etc.
  • Multi-Devices support, like: Desktop/Laptop, Mobile Phone, iPad etc.
  • Create/Update your CRM profile (update your Contact record in CRM)
  • Create/Update/View CRM cases
  • Create/Update/View CRM orders for yourself and your sub-customer (sub-contacts in CRM)
  • Book a service appointment activity in CRM.
  • View CRM published articles.
The website is built on top of my favorite Orchard CMS project (LIKE)!

Hopefully this article gives some ideas about what CRM Portal can do!

Cheers,
Jim Wang
MVP Dynamics CRM
04. 2013

11 comments:

mscygnet said...

Great post. Thanks for sharing this blog. It gives interesting information about CRM portal.

Girish Raja said...

Hey Jim,
Are you planning on publishing the portal as an open-source or commercial product?

Thanks,
-Girish.

Jim Wang said...

Hi Girish,

Open-source is the answer - I'm going to package it up and release to the community.

Thanks,
Jim

Jim Wang said...

Thanks mscygnet.

tom cadman said...

Jim
Do you know what the licensing position is where we want to use a Portal for our internal users accessing CRM Online i.e. we do not have the ESS CAL.

Thanks

Tom

Jim Wang said...

Tom,

CRM Online doesn't support ESS license - it will require the normal online user CAL. By all means check the license expert in Microsoft.

Julian said...

Hi Jim

Looking forward to seeing your integration released to the community - struggling with getting the Microsoft Portal Accelerator to play nicely with an MVC4 portal...

Samuel Adams said...

@Jim Wang: Well done for being introduced it as open-source!

Microsoft Dynamics Florida

AmAlAn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AmAlAn said...

Hi Jim,

When we can expect the release?

EVS said...

I also has the same question, when we can expect the release?

Microsoft Dynamics CRM