PowerApps Portals Project Ramp-Up: Provisioning (Templates)

Sun, Oct 27, 2019

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In this post you will advance your knowledge around considerations for choosing the right template for your customers, so you can ramp-up your PowerApps Portals project with confidence.

PowerApps Portals Project Ramp-Up: Provisioning (Templates)

tl;dr

(1) Recap: If you want to use Portals template, have at least one Dynamics 365 App in your environment

(2) Recap: Templates dictate, which schema & configuration data will be deployed to your environment

(3) Best practice: Choose template wisely - no migration path supported officially

(4) Best practice: Start with Community Portal template

(5) Best Practice: Fit / Gap analysis of features between template & requirements is vital

(6) Best Practice: Triple-check applicability of Partner Portal template

Templates - Provisioning of PowerApps Portals

As of the publishing date of this post, is it generally possible to leverage pre-built Portals templates with dedicated feature. Whenever you wish to apply such template, it is currently necessary to have at least one qualified Dynamics 365 license (i.e. Dynamics 365 first party model-driven App, such as Sales or Customer Service or Field Service etc.) in your Power Platform tenant (reference).

If you do not have such a Dynamics 365 license in your Power Platform tenant, you will not see the templates when creating a new PowerApps Portal. In this case, you will only have the option to create a Starter Portal from scratch (‘from blank’; reference).

The following illustration shall help you to navigate through your options:

Overview of Access to Templates for PowerApps Portals

Let’s assume you want to leverage a template, so you may choose from one of the following:

  1. Customer Self-Service Portal
  2. Partner Portal
  3. Employee Self-Service-Portal
  4. Community Portal

The features of each template are well documented in this link. To recap, the choice of template will dictate the schema (i.e. solutions, incl. entities/forms/views/plugin/workflows/etc.) and data (i.e. configuration) that will be installed by Microsoft.

What the documentation does not suggest is some best practices around templates. I found these considerations useful in customer-facing projects:

Choose your template wisely as there is currently no supported migration path between templates available from Microsoft. There are some undocumented workarounds possible technically, but try to avoid to go down that road whenever possible.

In 80% of the cases, the Community Portal template will do the job and give enough flexibility for future requirements. This template essentially is an extension of the Customer Self-Service template plus useful community features, i.e. blogs and forums. I have been involved in Dynamics 365 Portals projects where the Portal was provisioned with the Customer Self-Service template. After some month and as soon as the users really adopted the Portal, the customer wished to leverage forums, so his user base would be enabled to build communities for troubleshooting on their own in forums.

If you can be certain to never use the community features and only need customer service functionalities, the Customer Self-Service template may be your way to go. Always keep in mind that pages can be hidden and maybe exposed again at a later point in time.

In my experience, the Partner Portal can look like an excellent template in sales projects, but in the long run, there was always one shortcoming: customization of the built-in features. The template gives great value if the requirements do not vary from the standard. But as soon as you aim to customize those features, you could be in trouble as you have no access to the server-side code, i.e. the code to those template-specific functionalities. Want to customize the distribution logic of opportunities?

Computer says no


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Let’s have a closer look at the licensing of Portals in the next blog post - stay tuned.