This article covers how to build or modify a custom application process for membership and certification using Cobalt’s dynamics 365 customer portal.

Many out-of-the-box association management software (AMS) solutions only cover the basics of membership management. If you want more functionality or a more unique solution, you might find yourself in a familiar predicament: either pay huge fees for custom development or stick with the generic out-of-the-box functionality. 

The reality is you don’t actually have to choose.

In our recent webinar, Using Microsoft’s Power Platform: A Real World Example for Associations, we presented a solution that was created from scratch (i.e. the process is not included in our base product) using Cobalt’s flexible product configuration options and Microsoft’s Power Platform.

The solution addresses a problem many associations struggle with: fostering vibrant relationships between members in a virtual environment. The solution aims to do this via a professional matching service.

The idea is a contact would log into the portal and enroll in the matching service by answering a couple of questions and paying a one-time fee. Once the contact is enrolled in the program, they submit specific match requests to get matched with profiles that meet the request criteria.

Let’s take a look at how Cobalt’s product configuration options made this possible. If you are interested in the Power Platform part of the webinar, please see our blog post on Querying and Matching Records Using Power Automate.

Cobalt’s Dynamics 365 Customer Portal, Explained

Below you can see an example of Cobalt’s portal, which is available to all our clients. All the tabs at the top of the page: Events, Committees, My Orders—those all appear out of the box. However, the Membership Match tab is a web element. This tab was created to accommodate the matching service process. Web Elements are the way Cobalt’s solution accommodates organization-specific processes without any custom development.

Cobalts Dynamics 365 Customer Portal - Member Home Page

How did we set up the application form and corresponding fee? How did we determine where this information would appear on the staff end?

All of this is configured on the staff side via Web Element Types. Again, organization staff can set up a web element type without any help from Cobalt. It is as easy as following three easy steps:

  1. Specify where you want the information submitted on the portal to appear on the staff side
  2. Specify any fees associated with the process
    1. Note: You can set up multiple fees so certain people see one price, but others see a different one
  3. Specify the application or submission form you want to use
    1. Note: For more information on Cobalt’s Form Designer, please see Configuring Certification Application Forms Using Cobalt’s Form Designer

How did the configured Web Element Type become the Membership Match tab on the portal?

Once you’ve configured your Web Element Type, you need to use Cobalt’s Web Element Designer to enable the process on the portal. The great thing about the Web Element Designer is it provides a way for organizations to set up custom processes without any help from Cobalt. You simply launch the Web Element Designer and drop down the Custom Elements tab:

Dynamics 365 Customer Portal - creating custom web elements

You choose the Web Element Type you want to use and then you configure any additional changes you want to make via the Web Element Generator (including where you want the process to appear in the portal navigation):

Dynamics 365 Customer Portal - creating custom application process

Once you’ve set up a web element type and configured it to appear on the portal via the web element designer, contacts can start enrolling in the program: