When Alliance Franchise Brands made the decision to implement the newly released Dynamics 365 Portals, their implementation partner NexTec leveraged Engineered Code’s experience with the platform to help fill the gaps from the previous version of the product.
Alliance Franchise Brands provides franchise training, technology and implementation for the marketing, print, sign and graphics communications markets. It’s two divisions are the Marketing & Print Division, which supports six brands in the United States and Canada, and the Signs & Graphics Division, which supports three brands in North America and the United Kingdom.
AFB was transitioning to the Dynamics 365 platform (known as Dynamics CRM at the time) with the assistance of their Microsoft partner NexTec Group. One of their requirements was a portal for their franchisees, so NexTec reached out to Engineered Code for assistance. In addition to standard help desk capabilities, AFB has a large repository of documentation that needs to be shared with their members. Importantly, access to documents needed to be restricted both by the division of the member, and the role of that user within their organization.
At the time of the project, the Portals situation for Dynamics 365 was evolving. While still technically supported, the Adxstudio Portals v7 was no longer the recommended solution; instead, Microsoft preferred that new projects leverage the recently released Dynamics 365 Portals. While this was the platform of the future, the ability to include custom code on the Portals server, as was possible with v7, presented some unique challenges. While originally SharePoint was considered to be a solution to the document management requirements, the lack of out-of-the-box support from Dynamics 365 Portals meant that other solutions needed to be proposed.
In order to solve the document library challenge, Engineered Code implemented a solution that used the existing Web File capabilities. This allowed for the use of Web Page Access Control Rules to satisfy the requirements for a granular permissions model. Also, since the document library itself was quite large, storing all of these documents as notes in Dynamics 365 was not desirable; therefore it was determined that the out-of-the-box integration with Azure Storage would be used. This meant that while the Web File structure would still be used, the documents themselves would be hosted in the Azure cloud, where storage is significantly cheaper. However, the standard process for uploading documents to Azure Storage, linking them to a Web File, and creating the necessary permissions was too cumbersome for day-to-day use, so Engineered Code created a custom web resource where users could upload files to Azure Storage and have all the necessary CRM records created in one simple screen, all directly in Dynamics 365.
With these custom solutions in place, Engineered Code was able to use Dynamics 365 Portals to meet the business requirements of Alliance Franchise Brands for a searchable and secured document library.