Office 365 Microsoft has shifted SharePoint from being primarily an internal-facing intranet application to a robust platform for extranet collaboration with partners outside of your organization, such as customers or vendors.  This has paved the way for DynamicPoint to develop its portal application, which enhances a standard SharePoint extranet with integration of the data, reports and documents from within a company’s ERP or CRM system.  More about this topic can be found here.  While the initial desire for such a customer or vendor portal is data collaboration, much more value can be achieved on this platform to ultimately pave the way to automating entire business processes.

Initial Phase

The typical initial desire for any portal is to share data from various sources with the intended users.  This can range from sales orders or invoices for customers to purchase orders and inventory for vendors. The goal being the information is available online, 24-7 on the portal and a customer or vendor will not have to call someone in a service department to get the answer they are looking for.  In addition to data, this can also include the sharing of reports and documents.  Reports can vary from purchase orders for vendors or invoices for customers.  Documents can range from customer contracts, government forms, technical requirements documentation, etc.

Later Phases

As the portal matures such functionality as notifications and workflow review and approval are generally introduced.  This is an important step in moving the portal from just being the sharing of data to a more interactive platform.  For example, as opposed to customers just having access to their contracts, they will receive notification upon expiration.  Or in the case of a vendor portal, if a vendor updates expected deliver dates or shipping information, an approval is generated for the operations team to alert them of this change.

The Finish Line

As the ultimate objective of every portal is to improve customer service and decrease costs, the last and final phase is achieving the automation of entire business processes that used to be managed manually.  Examples may include the entire automation of the vendor onboarding or customer contract renewal process.  Freeing up the resources that were previously dedicated to performing these steps manually allows the focus to shift to more valuable activities.

The Microsoft Office 365 platform. together with DynamicPoint’s portal application, provide the perfect framework to achieve your company’s goal of automating as many business processes as desired. The end solution leveraging these tools will look as follows:

If you are interested in learning more, DynamicPoint held a webinar on this subject which can be found here: https://www.dynamicpoint.com/events/free-webinar-business-automation-using-office-365-and-portals/