How Timewatch makes Outlook even better for your business
Microsoft 365 Outlook is a common choice for organization-wide calendaring and resource scheduling. Outlook is an excellent calendar / scheduling resource for individuals, but there are many enhancements that can be added to improve its collaborative calendar, resource scheduling, analytics and reporting features which make Outlook even better for businesses.
Improving Outlook Appointment Information
Improving upon Outlook calendars with more collaborative calendar features starts with enhancing the visibility of information in the calendar. Outlook provides just five appointment types: Busy, Free, Tentative, Out of Office or Working elsewhere, which for a company calendar are not particularly helpful.
Managers, schedulers and employees ideally want to be able to gain as much information as possible from looking at the calendar without having to mouseover each item to read its details and notes. What type of work are people doing? Is it productive work? Is it chargeable? Is it time off? Which customer or project are employees are working on? Outlook’s five appointment types don’t really help answer these questions.
How useful are Outlook appointment types?
Lets take a good look at these 5 Outlook appointment types and see how they help employees, management and schedulers understand what people are doing:
- Busy? We can all agree this means busy, but busy doing what? Is it internal or customer work?
- Free? This is free time – whitespace, work can be scheduled here, but why have an appointment for free time when blank space means free time?
- Tentative? Is that busy or free? and doing what? Is it productive work or not? Can customer work be scheduled here? We are not sure as it is not clear.
- Out of Office? Okay out of the office, but doing what? Productive or not? At home or with a customer? Can customer work be scheduled here? It’s not clear.
- Working elsewhere? Working where and on what? Internal or Customer work? Productive or not? Can customer work be scheduled here. Again, it’s not clear.
Enhancing Outlook Appointment types to improve calendar clarity
Allowing companies to create their own appointment types and color code them makes it easy to see what people are doing, customer, internal or other work, vacation, personal time off etc. This makes it clear to everyone what people are doing, whether work is productive or not, chargeable or not, and whether they can be moved or overridden with paid work for customers. Following are some examples of appointment types our customers use with their appointments – note that in each case you can clearly tell what people are doing:
- Customer Meeting
- Internal Meeting
Color coding in Outlook
Color coding appointments like this is not possible in Outlook as appointment types are fixed, however it is with Whitespace® for Outlook.
The example to the right of how Outlook calendars enhanced with Whitespace® appointment types demonstrates this. Knowing that consultancy is Blue, Green is customer meetings, Orange is vacation, you can quickly and easily see who is on vacation this week and next, who has Customer work etc.
Being able to define the appointment types for your company as well as their colors makes for instant comprehension who is working on what and whether the work is productive or not.
Why customizing appointment types, color, and data captured pays off
Being able to create appointment types specifically for your business allows schedulers to view schedules more clearly, and make better, more informed scheduling decisions, but it doesn’t stop here.
Companies often want to add more information that Outlook allows, information such as employees and resources needed, customer, project or other important data the organization needs to capture.
Enhancing Outlook with this type of important employee scheduling information is exactly what Timewatch’s Whitespace® achieves. Whitespace® enhances Outlook to make it possible to better understand what is happening within your business for both management and employees. Your business will be more productive when every member of your team can understand what is happening within the company just by looking at a color coded employee schedule view.
How Whitespace® adds collaborative calendar scheduling to Outlook
Schedulers often need to see or search for resources with particular skills, in specific locations or regions, by availability or other important attributes. This is a very time consuming task in Outlook because of the lack of collaborative calendar such as employee skills, location or availability searching.
Whitespace® also adds an employee skills matrix, and skills and availability searching to Outlook.
With this, schedulers can quickly find resources with the skills and availability needed, and make appointments directly in their Outlook calendar – something which isn’t possible in Outlook alone. Best of all, Whitespace® for Outlook adds these facilities without changing the way users use Outlook.
How Whitespace® enhances searching Outlook calendars
Outlook organizes calendars by the person’s name, it does not hold any information relating to employee skills, location, office, team or other tags companies might use. As a result, there is no way to search Outlook for someone with a certain skill, combination of skills or even for availability. Outlook can show employee availability, but you need open an employee’s calendar to see their availability. If you have 100 employees and one has availability, you need to open everyone’s calendar until you find the person who is free, which isn’t helpful.
In contrast, Whitespace® does all the hard work for you – just specify the skill(s), location and date/time and the system locates people that have the necessary skills and availability for you. Again, Whitespace® brings all of this advanced functionality to Outlook.
Other enhancements Whitespace® brings to Outlook
Timewatch’s Whitespace ® resource scheduling system cancels stress, puts you in control, and brings accuracy and calm to the scheduling process. Trusting the schedule is important for schedulers. They need to know that whitespace in a resource’s calendar means they are truly free for scheduling.
Whitespace® Integrates with Outlook and offers an advanced, two-way, Outlook sync system that allows end users to see bookings that schedulers make for them on all of their devices and syncs appointments that end users make so schedulers are fully aware of what people enter into their own calendars.
Whitespace® also adds security to Outlook, allowing important bookings to be “locked” so end users can’t edit or delete appointments, and privacy controls allow people to also use Outlook for personal appointments. Schedulers can see that people are busy with personal items but see no information of what it is.
If you’d like to see Whitespace® in action, why not book a test drive? Click here to begin the short journey to speeding up your productivity.
Who is Timewatch?
Timewatch are specialists professional services solutions including resource scheduling, time tracking and professional services automation software. We are experts in Outlook and Outlook integration as we develop our tools to work closely with Outlook. For example, our Whitespace® for Outlook system has one or two-way sync with Outlook to ensure workers see work scheduled for them and schedulers can see what people schedule in their calendars creating a truly collaborative calendar system based on Outlook. We also sync with Outlook and use calendar data in people’s timesheet – which saves them several hours each month. As we work closely with Outlook, we track developments and pre-releases to ensure our products remain compatible with new releases from Microsoft.
To see how Whitespace® can help your organization, book a free call or live product walk through with a product specialist using the form to the right.
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