Document Approval Portal for CRM

Document Approval Workflows are typically based upon a CMS system, with additional database of contacts being managed within it - so not the operational contact directory (such as in the CRM or Outlook) which is maintained via all user groups, but an additional database the needs to be maintained. A Document Approval Portal will typically have multiple teams working on a project, from a customer, their designers, and other third-party agencies. Over time, managing these contacts becomes forgotten, leaving customers Intellectual Property and documents exposed to users that have since moved on from the partner company, even on to competitors. 

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The Challenges of a Document Approval Workflow

  • Present a method for uploading multiple documents in a single process from any device, and to be set against any new or existing projects.
  • Provide a convenient method to rename the documents within the upload interface.
  • Present a fast preview of any image files or file-format icons as placeholders for any other.
  • Provide a security model for hosting multiple teams each with different roles within a project workflow (design > internal approval > customer approval).
  • Provide security on a project-by-project basis, with a default set of roles per extranet or child project.
  • Connect the Portal to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online as the database and user for security.
  • Send email notifications and tasks to the relevant roles on how to set-up and use their project extranets, be it an Extranet Manager, Internal User, Customer, or Partner.
  • Provide a commenting system for each document or collection of documents, tracking read.
  • Provide a document revision system.
  • Provide a project Archive.
  • Filtering the views using multiple filters  such as date/time and display quantity.
  • Provide an extranet contact directory.
  • Provide a calendering system that sends internet standard requests to invitees, and submits to the CRM service calendar.

Commenting, Version Control and Status

Documents were reviewed online and commented upon with certain user groups having the ability to move the approval process on by updating the status - to either a single document or a set of documents. Documents are easily revised with version tracking enabled. Different views enabled the users to quickly identify which documents needed their attention to progress the approval. As a new project was created as a child of a larger project, all the security settings were applied. If an Extranet Manager set a user or organisation as deactivated, this users profile was made inactive across all new an historic projects - immediately removing their ability to access the documents.

Security and Retaining IP

A fundamental requirement that seemed to be overlooked was the management of users. With over 200 affiliates across their network, it was easy to see the Global Administration team had too much to manage, and, over time, would not know which third-party agencies had been working on which project or customer. So each customer portal created had a set of Managers assigned to managed the security - typically, the account manager, and any project managers, that knew the customer and project teams well enough to maintain access. As projects were added, the key managers and customer project team were automatically added to the project and an outlook task create for the internal manager to assign the additional customer, affiliates and third party agencies. Different roles allowed access to the Approval Workflow at certain stages - be it Internal Review, External Review, Approved. 

Contact List and Profiles

A contact directory provided a simple list of users who were working on each extranet, so users were able to contact each other quickly - all information again being stored in the Dynamics CRM contacts that were securely sync'd to the mailbox of all the key managers.

Quick Upload and Security Form

Documents are quickly uploaded using our standard web technologies that worked across all browsers and devices. So a user was able to upload documents to the a new or existing project (or set of projects) using a single upload and form settings. 


Calendar Appointments were set for each project sending invitations to each user via internet standards.