Overview of Portals
In its default state, Zengine allows you to input or import data internally and collect and manage data along with other members of your workspace. However, you may desire to collect data from external users in a variety of manners. This is where portals come into play. This article summarizes the types of portals, each of which has an article dedicated to setup.
A webform allows you to collect a brief amount information from individuals through a URL that you can embed in your website or link to in communications or a website. The form is not linked to log in credentials and thus a person can submit the form as many times as they want. The information can be anonymous. It also does not have the ability to save a draft, and thus must be submitted in one sitting. An example would be a contest entry form.
Application forms are similar to webforms in that they collect data from external users through a URL, but differ in that they require a login. Because you log in, you can create a session where you save a draft and return to the form later. An applicant can only submit one form per email address but you can configure the form to accept reapplications in subsequent cycles. An example would be a scholarship application.
In some scenarios, you may have external judges or reviewers outside of your workspace that would review data that is being collected through a webform or application form. For these scenarios, you can create a review portal, which will exist on its own URL and be accessible by designated external users. These users will have a different role than other members and administrators of your workspace, and you will be able to control which applications they can review using the Assignments feature.
While webforms and application forms may suffice for simpler processes, there are instances where you may wish to collect multiple stages of information from your applicants, including supporting documentation from other individuals as well, such as recommenders. In these situations, a submission portal must be created. When an applicant accesses a submission portal, they will be able to see different stages of a the process and status updates for each. An example may be a grant application, where an organization might submit not only the grant application itself but supporting financial documentation, budgets, and letters of support from others.
Once you have created a Submission Portal, a feature you may want to utilize is Requests. Through this feature, your applicants can request supporting documentation from third parties, such as letters of recommendation for a scholarship or letters of support for a grant. Zengine will send an email to the recommender, who will access a unique URL that is linked back to the original application. The process allows anonymous information collected about an application to be attached to their application package.