Establish customer portals

You can give customers access to important transactions in Manager by establishing customer portals. Customer portals can be established for all, or only some, of your customers. Within them, you can control the types of transactions a customer can view, including:

  • Sales quotes
  • Sales orders
  • Sales invoices
  • Credit notes
  • Delivery notes

Customers cannot be given access to their receipt or payment history, nor to any reports. All access to transactions is in view-only mode. Customers will not be able to add or change any transaction.

Establish a customer portal

To establish a customer portal, go to the Settings tab, click on Customer Portals, and New Customer Portal:

Complete the portal definition:

  • Select a predefined Customer.
  • Check boxes for the transaction types you want the customer to be able to view.

Click Create to activate the portal. It will be included in the Customer Portals listing under Settings, where it can be viewed or edited.

Whether you have the relevant tabs enabled or not, the choices shown in the illustration above will be available. If you select a transaction type for which the tab is not enabled, that tab will not automatically be enabled. However, if you later enable the tab, the customer will have access to transactions you enter, based on the earlier portal definition. Therefore, good practice is not to enable access until a tab is enabled, lest you accidentally provide unintended access to something.

Northwind Traders establishes a customer portal for Brilliant Industries, allowing access to all five transaction types.

Northwind views the portal definition to confirm its accuracy:

Share the portal with the customer

When viewed, the portal definition includes a hyperlink labeled Go to Customer Portal. Copy the link and furnish it to the customer. Or, if Email Settings are defined for the business, an Email link will be available while viewing the portal definition. The definition itself can be emailed directly to the customer. A customer visiting that link will be taken to a portal Summary page.

Northwind establishes another customer portal for Bottom-Dollar Markets. It furnishes the hyperlink to Bottom-Dollar. Bottom-Dollar visits the link and sees the information in its profile and all the transaction types it will be able to view. At present, there are 2 quotes and 24 sales invoices:

By clicking on the various tabs, the customer will be able to view individual transactions. None of your transaction data is exported to anywhere. Through the portal, the customer will be accessing the data in real time from the same business data file in your application data folder as you do. If you add or edit transactions affecting the customer, they will be visible to the customer via the same hyperlink.

In the desktop edition, all features described in this Guide work, but only on your computer. A customer visiting the hyperlink for the portal would not be able to access it.

In the server edition, the hyperlink will direct the customer to your own server. Therefore, in order to function, your server must be online and accessible by the customer.

In the cloud edition, the hyperlink will direct the customer to your Manager cloud server. You do not need to be logged into your account for the customer to access the portal.

The hyperlink is, for all practical purposes, unguessable. Nevertheless, it is the only thing controlling access to the customer’s transactions through the portal, so it must be recorded somewhere by the customer. That means the link is inherently subject to both physical and electronic compromise. Therefore, it would be wise to regard anything included in the portal as public information.

Whether access by unauthorized customer (or other) personnel to a portion of your accounting records is of concern to you depends on many factors. At the same time, unauthorized access may be of concern to your customer’s management, possibly for different reasons. The dissemination of a customer portal is not a step to be taken lightly, and certainly not without careful consideration of the security, marketing, business intelligence, and customer relationship ramifications.

Protection of proprietary information can be a many-layered challenge. While access to customer portals by restricted users of the server or cloud editions can be controlled by permissions on your side, true security is not so simple. A customer might, for example, innocently furnish a portal hyperlink to your employee who is not permitted to see sales quotes. That could give the employee insight into your pricing without your knowledge. Similarly, while the portal does not permit direct printing of transactions, customers cannot be prevented from taking screen shots of their transactions and printing those.

Close a customer portal

To close a customer portal, go the Settings tab, then the Customer Portals page. Click Edit for the portal, then Delete.

Once you delete a customer portal, its hyperlink will no longer be active. The customer will not be able to access the portal or any transactions included in it.

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