How A Two-Way Outlook Sync Delivers Better Resource Scheduling
In some organizations, employees schedule themselves, in others, schedulers plan their employees’ customer commitments, and employees have somehow reconcile the calendars they manage, and one schedulers manage. You could use Outlook shared calendar (or Outlook group calendar), but there is a better way.
How do you synchronize schedules in Outlook? With a two-way Outlook sync, organizations can have scheduling perfection.
- Where employees schedule themselves, their appointments seamlessly sync with our Whitespace® resource scheduling software, allowing schedulers and planners to have full visibility of workforce commitments.
- Where schedulers plan employee activity centrally, these schedules are seamlessly synced with Outlook, so everyone sees the exact same information.
- And both systems remain in sync as changes are made in the other – a two way Outlook sync.
A two-way Outlook sync ensures everyone sees the same information, and allows organizations to review, analyze and report upon employee commitments, availability, capacity, and utilization accurately.
Now, bookings made in Outlook, or in our Whitespace® or Time&Space® products, seamlessly sync with each other and remain in sync as changes and updates are made in either system. Another key benefit is the addition of Appointment Security which ensures employees can only edit appointments that their security profile allows – something which cannot be done in Outlook alone.
If you wonder ‘how can I force my Outlook calendar to sync?’, the new two-way Outlook Calendar Sync Service (OCSS) makes organizing your staff easier and more efficient, and is particularly helpful when managing remote workers and employees working from home. No more juggling calendars, no more emailing employees to advise them of changes or tell them to edit, move, add or delete dates, our system does it all for you. Centrally, schedulers create or edit employee schedules via our WhiteSpace® or Time&Space® products, and our real-time, two-way Outlook sync looks after updating everyones’ Outlook calendars and keeps them in sync.
Now, you may be thinking you’ve heard this before. Sure, many systems have Outlook iCal links, but they are one-way. Doctors & dentists for example send appointments to your calendar, but if the appointment changes you need to delete the old date and add the new appointment. This might be OK if you receive one or two appointments each year but organizations striving to meet the needs of its employees and customers will struggle as a high number of appointments and updates will be needed every day, which increases the changes of scheduling problems.
One mistake can cost your business money. A lot of money. Not to mention your reputation.
A Two-Way Outlook Calendar Sync Provides A Company-Wide Calendar Tool
“OCSS revolutionizes the Outlook platform and transforms it into a company wide calendar tool that perfectly syncs with Outlook,” explains Senior Timewatch Product Specialist Anthony Vaccaro.
“OCSS allows companies schedule work for people centrally and be 100% confident any bookings are also in the employees’ Outlook calendars. It also works the other way, presenting a view centrally of all employees calendars that combines what was scheduled for each employee, and what employees have entered into Outlook. All party’s see the full picture, all the time.”
OCSS publishes bookings made in Whitespace® in Outlook and makes appointments made in Outlook visible to schedulers, team leaders, and managers.
Seamless, real-time integration delivers a complete and accurate, organization-wide understanding of employee workload, capacity, availability, and utilization.
Why Timewatch Added Security to Outlook Bookings / Appointments
In Outlook, anyone can edit, move or delete any appointment in their calendar, and so they should, it’s their calendar right?. But what if the booking was an important one made for them by a scheduler? If it was a client meeting or a team meeting for example, moving or deleting it would be a big problem. It happens, which is why we added security to bookings.
Timewatch’s two-way Outlook sync allows bookings to be secured, which stops people editing those bookings in their Outlook calendar – only the someone with permissions to edit the appointment can alter it.
Being able to specify certain appointments / bookings to be read-only is a practical and important feature that most customers don’t realize they need, but can’t do without it once they start using it
How does Timewatch’s OCSS allow reporting on Outlook Calendars?
OCSS publishes bookings made in Whitespace® into the relevant employee’s Outlook calendar, and keeps them in sync should there be any changes or updates in either system. It also makes Outlook appointments available for reporting in Whitespace®. As the integration is bi-directional, it consolidates employee’s Outlook bookings, which allows organizations to report upon them centrally – something that Outlook itself cannot do.
As an organization-wide resource scheduling solution, Whitespace® allows customers to capture important additional information on bookings and appointments. Examples include; type of work, customer name, project, work order number, etc. OCSS can also publish this additional data into Outlook. OCSS can protect certain appointments from being modified by the user, again, something Outlook itself cannot do.
OCSS has been invaluable to customers through Covid-19, allowing managers to see employee workloads so that they can be managed efficiently. Instant availability analysis has also helped when people become sick. Schedulers can instantly view the sick person’s workload and distribute their work to others with the same skills and with the availability to complete the work, ensuring that customers remain as unaffected as possible.
OCSS is the tool that allows this all to happen. A customer can implement OCSS and be reporting on all future and past work on the same day. It gives companies instant access to crucial employee workload and future availability information that could affect their survival.
OCSS Takes The Guesswork Out Of Scheduling
“OCSS takes the guesswork out of customers searching for ways and ideas on how to turn Outlook into a global calendar tool to track availability, capacity and utilization for their employees,” explains Vaccaro.
Our previous sync product – Timewatch Exchange Sync Server – was a server system that monitored everyone’s Outlook and Whitespace calendars and kept them in sync. It worked with Exchange and Office 365, but Microsoft has evolved its technology which has allowed Timewatch to create OCSS and deliver improved Outlook scheduling on the back of this latest Microsoft tech.
For existing Timewatch customers – OCSS replaces Timewatch Exchange Sync Server, a move that means customers no longer need to purchase a separate server for TESS to run on. OCS is now part of our efficient cloud service.
For new customers – OCSS is a seamless sync with Outlook. TESS was previously only available to our corporate customers with private servers, but with OCSS Outlook calendar reporting is available to all customers.
“Outlook is the global standard for individual calendars but it has always lacked the tools required to search for availability and capacity across teams, groups, skill sets, and date ranges,” says Vaccaro. “OCS transforms Outlook within minutes to easily consolidate calendars and begin reporting on the data captured inside Outlook”.
OCSS is available with Timewatch’s latest Version X6 system which will be available to new customers starting March 2020 and will be rolled out to existing customers as an upgrade to our older Timewatch Exchange Sync Server (TESS) customers upon request.
Better use of your existing human capital means your business does not necessarily need to make new hires to successfully meet your current and future business demands. By increasing ‘bookability’ of resources through better scheduling, customers have increased utilization between five to 10 percent. That’s like getting a free new hire for every 10-20 employees.
WhiteSpace® is available as a cloud product (which we recommend for all our software) or on-premises. It can be fully and seamlessly integrated with Office 365 to synchronize with Microsoft Outlook calendars.
WhiteSpace® also forms the scheduling engine of Time&Space®, our complete professional services automation solution.
If you would like to speak with someone about our resource capacity planning systems can help your organization, please contact us using the form to the right.
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Outlook Calendar Reporting