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Create a Supplier Portal: Best Practices and Instructions

Building a Supplier Portal for your subcontractors will allow these subcontractors to find and download information needed to build your product. You can carefully control exactly which information the suppliers can see, and only expose those parts of Propel that are relevant to them. You can also optionally allow these suppliers to collaborate on Changes or Quality objects, such as ECOs and SCARs.

Time Required to Build Portal: 6+ Hours, plus additional time for testing. If you don't have the time or administrative knowledge to build a portal yourself, please send us a note and we can put you in contact with Propel Implementation Services, who can send you a quote and then build the portal for you.

To build a Supplier Portal you will create a custom application in Salesforce that shows only the tabs that you want your suppliers to see, such as Items and Changes. This article assumes that your suppliers will have read-only access only to Propel objects which you explicitly share with them. For these objects, suppliers will be able to search for and open items, BOMs, and manufacturer parts, and they will be able to download BOMs and download file attachments.

Setting up a supplier portal requires setting up a number of things:

Simple custom application
Sharing settings
Custom profile
Custom permission set
Two public groups
Supplier user accounts

Each supplier user will need a Propel read-only license. This license type allows the supplier to have read access to any object type you specify. Your read-only suppliers can also approve and reject Changes and Quality objects, if you share these objects with them and add them as approvers.


Part A. Create New Application

  1. Go to Setup.
  2. Choose Create, Apps
  3. Click New
  4. Call the application "Acme Supplier Portal", where Acme is your own company name. (If you have multiple suppliers, you only need 1 portal)
    (Next)
  5. Upload your company's logo
    (Next)
  6. Add the following tabs:

Home
Chatter
Items
Manufacturer Parts
Changes (if appropriate)
Quality (if appropriate)
Default landing tab: Item
(Next)

7.  Do not assign to any profiles. You will do this later.

8.  Save.


Part B. Create a Test User Account

  1. Create a user account so that you can log in as a sample supplier user. For now, apply the profile "Standard Platform User" to the account. You will change this later after you create a new profile.
  2. Give the new test user a Propel license. (Search for Installed Packages, locate Propel, click Manage Licenses.)
  3. Do not assign a permission set yet.

 

Part C. Create Two Public Groups

  1. Create a Public Group called "Sam Enterprises Employees", where Sam Enterprises is the name of your supplier.
  2. Add the test supplier user to the group.
  3. Create a Public Group called "Acme Employees", where Acme is the name of your own company.
  4. Add all of your internal employee users to the group.

 

Part D. Turn on Sharing

  1. Search for Sharing Settings.
  2. Open Sharing Settings.
  3. You do not need to click on "Enable External Sharing", because you are not setting up a Community with external users. You are creating a custom app instead.
  4. Click on Edit.
  5. Set the following objects to Private, for both Internal and External access:
Item
Change 
Manufacturer Part
Part Cost
Quality
Attachment

 

Part E. Set up Sharing Rules for Object Types

  1. At the top of the screen, locate the field heading, "Manage Sharing Settings for:"
  2. Start by choosing the Item object.
  3. Go to Item Sharing Rules and click New.

Label: Share with Internal Employees
Description: Share items owned by employees with all other employees
Rule Type: Based on Record Owner
Item owned by members of: Public Groups = Acme Employees (where Acme is the name of your own company)
Share with: Public Groups = Acme Employees
Access Level: Read/Write

4. Repeat the above step for these objects:

Change 
Manufacturer Part
Part Cost
Quality
Attachment

5.  Confirm that you have created sharing rules for Items, Changes, Manufacturer Parts, Part Costs, Quality, and Attachments.

6.  Click Recalculate to make sure all objects are updated.

 

Part F. Set up Criteria-Based Rules for Manufacturer Parts

If desired, set up a rule so that your supplier can see all Manufacturer Parts for which they are the Manufacturer or Distributor, even if you have not explicitly shared the object with them.

  1. You should still be looking at Sharing Settings.
  2. Manage sharing settings for: Manufacturer Part
  3. Go to Manufacturer Part Sharing Rules and click New.

Label: Share Sam Enterprises Mfr Parts
Description: Share Mfr Parts that have Sam Enterprises listed as a Manufacturer or Distributor
Rule Type: Based on criteria

Field Operator Value  
Import Distributor Name starts with Sam Enterprises AND
Import Manufacturer Key starts with sam enterprises  

Note that the AND is temporary. Note also that "Import Manufacturer Key is a lowercase version of the manufacturer name.

4. Click on Add Filter Logic.

5. Specify "1 OR 2"

6. Your criteria should now look like this:

Field Operator Value  
Import Distributor Name starts with Sam Enterprises OR
Import Manufacturer Key starts with sam enterprises

 

7. Continue filling out fields:

Share with: Public Group - Sam Enterprises Employees
Access Level: Read Only

 

Part G. Create a Custom Profile

  1. Search for Profiles.
  2. Locate the profile Standard Platform User
  3. Clone the profile. Call the new profile Sam Enterprises Supplier Portal
  4. Open the new profile. Edit the profile.
  5. Scroll down and make the following settings:

Custom App Settings: Make ONLY the Acme Supplier Portal visible. Make it the Default. Nothing else should be visible.

Connected App Access: Check the box next to PLM_Heroku_Connected_App (this depends on the Salesforce release and may not be applicable in your org)

Tab Settings: All tabs should be "Tab Hidden" EXCEPT for Home, Chatter, Items, and Manufacturer Parts, which should be "Default On". If desired, set Changes and Quality to "Default On".

System Permissions:

API Enabled
Chatter Internal User
Create and Customize List Views
Create and Own New Chatter Groups
Edit My Own Posts
Lightning Experience User
Send Outbound Messages
View Help Link

General User Permissions:

Access Custom Mobile Apps
Edit Tasks
Export Reports
Run Reports
Create and Customize Reports

Standard Object Permissions:

Accounts (Check "Read" Only; do not check "View All")

Custom Object Permissions:

Assign Read access to every custom object. Users will be able to see only objects which are shared with them.

Use the default settings for the rest of the sections.

6. Save.

 

Part H. Create a Custom Permission Set

1.  Search for Permission Sets.

2.  Locate the permission set Propel Everyone (Read Only)

3.  Clone the permission set.

Label: Propel Sam Enterprises Supplier Portal
Description: Read-Only permissions for Sam Enterprises users

4.   Edit the new permission set.

5.   Click on Assigned Apps.

6.   Click Edit.

7.   Choose PDLM.Propel.

8.   Save.

9.   Go back to Permission Set Overview.

10.  Click on Object Settings.

11.  Click on an individual Object Name to edit its properties. All objects should be "No Access" except for the following, which should have Read access. Be sure to also give Read access to every field in the object. Remember, users will be able to see only those objects that you explicitly share with them.

Objects that should have Read Access for both object and all fields:

Assemblies
Attachments (Read & Create)
Attribute Groups
Attribute Labels
Attributes
Categories
Change Audit Trail (Read & Create)
Change 
Dimension Definitions
Item Audit Trail (Read & Create)
Item Revisions
Items
Manufacturer Parts
Part Costs
Quality
Quality Audit Trail (Read & Create)
SKUs
Value Set Definitions
 

 12.  Now you need to hide tabs that you don't want your supplier users to see. You should still be looking at the permission set "Sam Enterprises Supplier Portal". If you are not already in the Object settings, go there now.

13. Look on the right side of the screen at the column Tab Settings. The following tabs should have a setting of Visible:

Changes (if appropriate)
Items
Manufacturer Parts (if appropriate)
Quality (if appropriate)

14. Confirm that the rest of the tabs are neither Available nor Visible.

Activities
Affected Items
Assemblies
Attachments
Autonumbers
Categories
Change Phases
Changes (allow if appropriate)
Dependencies
Fields
Item Revisions
Lifecycles
Manufacturer Items
Manufacturer Parts (allow if appropriate)
Part Costs
Phases
Projects
Quality (allow if appropriate)
Relationship
Where Used

 

Part I. Assign Profile to Custom App

  1. Go to Create, Apps
  2. Click on your custom app, Sam Enterprises Supplier Portal.
  3. Click Edit
  4. Scroll down to "Assign to Profiles"
  5. Assign to only one profile, and make it the default: Sam Enterprises Supplier Portal
  6. Save

 

Part J. Assign Profile and Permission Set to Users

  1. Go to Manage Users, Users
  2. Open your test supplier user account.
  3. Change the profile to: Sam Enterprises Supplier Portal
  4. Assign only one permission set: Sam Enterprises Supplier Portal

 

Part K. Create a Home Page Layout

Salesforce requires each custom app to have a "Home" tab. Therefore, you need to create a Home Page Layout for the Supplier Portal users.

1.  Go to Setup.

2.  Search for and open Home Page Layout.

3.  Create New

Existing Home Page Layout: Home Page Default

Custom Home Page: Supplier Portal Home Page Layout

Select Wide Components to Show: Calendar (check only this option)

(Next)

4.  Click Save & Assign.

5.  Modify only one of the profile options:

Propel Supplier Portal User:  Supplier Portal Home Page Layout

6. Save.

 

Part L. Perform a First-Pass Test of the Supplier Portal

1.  Log in as the test supplier user.

2.  Confirm that only the following tabs are present:

Home
Chatter
Items
Manufacturer Parts (if appropriate)
Changes (if appropriate)
Quality (if appropriate)

3.  Confirm that the Item tab is highlighted (default landing tab)

4.  Confirm that no unwanted tabs are present.

Salesforce Lightning: Click on the App Launcher (3x3 dots, left-hand corner) to view additional, available tabs.

Salesforce Classic: Click on the plus (+) sign to view additional, available tabs.

5.  Search for all Items. The search should return no records.

6.  Search for all Manufacturer Parts. The search should return only those manufacturer parts for which the supplier is listed as a Manufacturer or Distributor.

7.  If applicable, search for all Changes. The search should return no records.

8.  If applicable, search for all Quality objects. The search should return no records.

 

Part M. Share Items with Supplier

1. Log in under your own user account.

2. Open an item that has a small BOM. ("Small" is the key here. Sharing is easy; un-sharing is not.)

3. Go to the menu on the right and choose Sharing.

Share with Individuals or Groups: Choose the group Sam Enterprises Employees
Share Related Items: (checked)

Select Read Only. (If you accidentally select Can Edit, the supplier user still won't be able to edit because their Profile and Permission Set don't allow it.)

Choose Share, and then choose Confirm.

4.  Go to the menu on the right and choose Sharing again. Confirm that the settings are correct.

 

Part N. Login as Supplier User and Test

1. Log in as the supplier user.

2. Search for all Items.

3. Confirm that the supplier user can see only those items that were shared with them.

4. Open an item and confirm that all fields are present.

5. Go to the BOM tab. Confirm that all BOM fields are readable.

6. Change the BOM view to "With Manufacturers". Confirm that you can see all Manufacturer/Distributor information.

7. Open an item that has Manufacturers. Go to the Manufacturers tab. Confirm that all fields are present and readable.

8. Open an individual Manufacturer Part. Confirm that all fields are present and readable.

9. Open an item that has a file attachment. Confirm that the user can download the attachment.

10. Open an item that has a BOM. Go to the menu on the right and choose "Export CSV". Confirm that the export was successful and that the data is complete.

11. Repeat the sharing and testing instructions for other applicable object types, such as Changes and Quality.

 

Part O. Hiding Cost Fields

Most companies don't want their supplier users to see competitive suppliers in Propel, and they do not want supplier users to see cost information.

If your supplier users will have access to manufacturer parts for which they are not the Manufacturer or Distributor, and if you don't want them to see manufacturer part costs or rolled-up costs for BOMs, you should consider hiding all cost fields.

1. Open the profile Sam Enterprises Supplier Portal. Do not click Edit.

2. Go to the section Field Level Security.

3. For each of the objects below, click View and then Edit. Remove access to the fields listed below.

Object: Manufacturer Part
Fields (remove access):
       Cost
       (Any other custom cost fields that are present)

Object: Manufacturer Item (*for Propel 1.92, leave these fields Read-Only)
Fields (remove access): 
      
% Allocation
       Cost (Allocated)
       Include in Cost Roll-Up
       Use Cost
       Use Cost % Allocation
       (Any other custom cost fields that are present)

Object: Assembly
Fields (remove access):
       Cost (*for Propel 1.92, leave field Read-Only)
       Distributor Part Prefer %Allocation 1 (*for Propel 1.92, leave field Read-Only)
       Distributor Part Prefer %Allocation 2 (*for Propel 1.92, leave field Read-Only)
       Ext. Cost
       Part for Cost Roll-up

Object: Item Revision
Fields (remove access): 
       Cost Roll-Up
       Distributor

4.  Now you need to go through a similar process with the permission set. Find and open the permission set Sam Enterprises Supplier Portal.

5. Click on Object Settings.

6. Remove field access for these objects and fields:

Object: Assemblies
Fields (remove access):
       Cost
       Distributor Part Prefer %Allocation 1
       Distributor Part Prefer %Allocation 2
       Ext. Cost
       Part for Cost Roll-up

Object: Item Revisions
Fields (remove access): 
       Cost Roll-Up

       Distributor

Object: Manufacturer Items
Fields (remove access): 
       % Allocation
       Cost (Allocated)
       Include in Cost Roll-Up
       Use Cost
       Use Cost % Allocation
       (Any other custom cost fields that are present)

Object: Manufacturer Parts
Fields (remove access): 
       Cost
       (Any other custom cost fields that are present)

 

Part P. Testing Access to Cost Fields

1. Log in as the test supplier user. Confirm that you cannot see cost information in the following locations:

  • On an Item, in the Cost Roll-Up field in the header
  • On an Item, on the Manufacturers tab.
  • On an Item, on the BOM tab while using the "With Manufacturers" view.
  • On a Manufacturer Part

2. Open an item that has a BOM. Go to the menu on the right and choose "Export to CSV". Confirm that the cost information is not present.

 

Part Q. Deploying the Supplier Portal

To deploy the supplier portal, you simply need to create real user accounts for your supplier users. For each user account be sure to:

    1. Assign the profile Sam Enterprises Supplier Portal.
    2. Assign the permission set Sam Enterprises Supplier Portal.
    3. Assign a Propel license to the user.
    4. Add the new user to the Public Group "Sam Enterprises Employees"

Of course, you will also want to train your supplier users. These training sessions can be remote and usually need to last only an hour. Be sure to train the portal users to:

1. Log into the supplier portal.
2. Find information.
3. Download file attachments.
4. Download BOMs to CSV format.
5. If appropriate, approve or reject Changes and Quality objects.

Training sessions with suppliers, especially if there is a language barrier, are best followed up with written instructions with screen shots, in the form of a Work Instruction, Standard Operating Procedure, or short User Guide.

 

Part R. Wrap-Up

Congratulations on following these long and detailed instructions! We at PropelPLM are very excited when customers use the power of the Salesforce platform to develop supplier portals and allow external users to access information. Please let us know if we can answer any additional questions, and then we'd love to hear your stories about how supplier access is working for you!

 

 

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