Outlook Scheduling Assistant
Microsoft Outlook's Scheduling Assistant is a tool which allows you to invite groups of people to meetings or events without having to email them individually. You may complete a new meeting request which Outlook emails to the desired recipients in the form of an invitation. When the invitation is sent, a tentative appointment will appear on the invitees' calendars. Potential attendees can then accept or reject the invitation. If an individual accepts, Outlook will automatically mark the time as busy on his or her Calendar. This document covers the process involved in using Outlook's Scheduling Assistant. The information and screenshots below are from Outlook 2013. If you use Outlook 2010 you will be able to follow the same steps, although the icons may look somewhat different.
The Scheduling Assistant is a powerful tool, but like many other tools, the value is determined by how people use it. If individuals actively maintain their Outlook Calendar and have medschl or SLCU email accounts, the Scheduling Assistant can be very useful. However, not all participants for a meeting will have access to Outlook and some will choose not to use the Calendar feature. If one or more of your participants does not maintain their Outlook Calendar, the value of the Scheduling Assistant decreases.
Please note: We suggest that when booking meetings with resources outside your email domain (medschl or SLCU) you follow the steps below and then forward the invite to the external people as required.
Microsoft Outlook 2013
Outlook 2013's Scheduling Assistant is capable of taking a great number of variables into account when helping you to schedule a meeting. This section will explain how to create a new Meeting Request and schedule that request using the Scheduling Assistant.
Creating a New Meeting Request
- In Outlook, at the bottom left of the screen, click Calendar.
- From the Home tab, at the top left of the screen, click New Meeting and select New Meeting from the dropdown menu.
- A new window appears. From the Meeting tab, select Scheduling Assistant.
The Scheduling Assistant view appears, which looks something like a spreadsheet. You will see your name and schedule in the top row.
Note: On the right-hand side, you will see the Suggested Times list. As you add attendees to your meeting, this list will adjust to provide possible meeting times when all required attendees and/or locations are available. The times correspond to the date and meeting duration you have currently selected (more information on this can be found below).
- There are multiple ways to add attendees to your meeting requests:
If you know the name of the person (or people) you wish to add, click in the space under your name that says Click here to add a name, and type in the person's name or CRSID. Click Check Names in the Ribbon and if Outlook recognises the name, it will underline it in the list of attendees. You can type the name in several ways:
Type the name: John Smith
Type the CRSID: js12345
Find in the Address Book: If you wish to look up a person's name instead, click Address Book in the Meeting tab at the top of the screen and use the search box. Click OK to add the person to the scheduling view.
Add Attendees Button: Click Add Attendees near the bottom left of the screen and use the search box to find names. Click OK to add the person to the scheduling view.
Note: By, default, the Name only option is selected. When in this view, you must search by a user's full name. If you wish to search by email address, or CRSid, select More columns.
- You may add as many peoples' names as you wish. Note that every time you add a person's name, you will be able to see when they are free and when they are busy. You may see the following colour indicators:
Blue: The time is marked as busy.
Blue and White Striped: This time is scheduled with tentative appointments.
Purple: This time is marked as out of office.
Black and White Striped: Outlook has no information for this time (the user may not be an Outlook/Exchange user, or does not have an Outlook Calendar set up).
- Optional: To classify attendees, click the arrow to the right of the icon
Organizer: This is the creator of the meeting; it will by default appear to the left of your name (and will not be an option for other attendees). This position is regarded as necessary by the Suggested Times list.
Required Attendee: Invitees to be regarded as necessary by the Suggested Times list. Invitees are by default listed as required.
Optional Attendee: Invitees for whom attendance is optional; separated from Required Attendees in the Suggested Times list.
Resource: This label marks rooms or equipment added to the meeting, and is regarded as necessary by the Suggested Times list next to the attendee's name, and select the desired classification. Attendee classifications are taken into account by the Suggested Times.
- At the bottom of the screen, you can set the start and end dates and times. To change the date you are viewing on the screen (and the date for which times will be suggested in the Suggested Times list), click the calendar icon and select the appropriate date. To change the time, use the dropdown menus.
Note: When you change the time, you are changing the duration of the meeting in the Suggested Times list: it will only suggest openings that fit that duration.
- From the Suggested Times list, choose the desired time. Conflict-free times appear at the top of the list.
- Click Appointment in the Meeting tab at the top of the screen. This will return you to the Appointment screen. You will see the details for the date and time you selected. Add a subject and location in the appropriate text boxes. If desired, enter text to appear in the body of the message.
- Click Send.
Webmail (Outlook Web App)
You can also use the Scheduling Assistant in Webmail. The Scheduling Assistant is capable of taking a great number of variables into account when helping you to schedule a meeting. This section will explain how to create a new Meeting Request and schedule that request using the Scheduling Assistant.
Creating a New Meeting Request
- Once you have logged in to webmail (available via https://webmail.medschl.cam.ac.uk), at the top right of the screen, click Calendar.
- Near the top left of the screen, click New event. The event pane will snap in to view from the right and occupy most of the screen.
- In the new snap-in pane, Select the Scheduling Assistant button.
- The Scheduling Assistant view appears. You will see your name on the left side, with your schedule for the selected day on the right. Any blue highlighted areas indicate busy periods, or times out of normal office hours (categorised as 0800-1700 currently), while white areas are free.
- The first step should be to configure your date/time parameters, which can be done by selecting from the When and Duration fields on the left.
- You will notice that your status in the list of attendees will indicate if you have any scheduling conflicts. If it states anything other than 'Free' then you have something booked at that time already, this should also be visible in the calendar grid. Your entry will be highlighted blue if you are busy and it should state the title of the conflicting calendar item. The Required/Conflict counter above the list of attendees will also change to reflect that an attendee has a conflict.
- To add attendees to your list of required individuals, begin typing their name, email address or CRSid in the Attendees field, then press enter or click the search button that appears. A drop down list will appear of all potential matches. Select the one you wish to add to your attendees list.
- You may add as many peoples' names as you wish. Note that every time you add a person's name their calendar will appear in the grid to the right, you will be able to see when they are free and when they are busy. You may see the following color indicators:
Grey: The time is marked as busy.
Grey with purple bar: This time is marked as away.
As with your own attendee entry, if one of your newly added attendees is busy at the time selected then their name will update to reflect this and the conflict counter will increase. This will also be visible in the calendar grid, in that attendee's column. You may need to select a new time to hold your meeting if this is the case.
- Optional: Attendees can be classified as optional or required by right-clicking on their name and selecting the appropriate option. Their entry will move between the required/optional lists depending on what you classify them as.
- To add a room resource to your meeting, select the Add room button at the bottom left of the meeting request.
- A list of rooms that are available to be booked via Outlook or webmail will appear. These are categorised in groups first, so select the room type that is most suitable.
- The rooms within that category will now appear for your selection. By default, only rooms that are free for your selected meeting time and length will appear, which makes the selection process easier. If you wish to go back and select a different room or room category, select the Choose new room list option at the bottom of the room list.
- Select the room you wish to use and it will enter your meeting request as a room resource. The calendar for that room will also appear in the calendar grid.
- At this point, your meeting request should be appropriately scheduled for your requirements. If not then add, edit or remove attendees and rooms as required. When you are ready to proceed, select the OK button from the top left. This will close the scheduling assistant and return you to the original event creation screen.
- All of your scheduling assistant configurations will be carried over into the event, including your attendees, room and timings. At this point you should name your event and add any comments to it. The event name will be used as the title for the calendar entry and the comments will be included, which may be useful for extra information on the meeting. There are extra options available, such as requesting that attendees respond to you, repeating options (for recurrent meetings), how you wish to be reminded, etc.
- When you are ready to send the meeting request, press the Send button at the top left.
- The meeting request will be sent immediately and will enter your calendar. Your selected attendees will also receive the meeting request and be able to respond (depending on the settings you specified).
I would like more information
- If you would like more information on Clinical School Room Bookings, this is available here: https://confluence.medschl.cam.ac.uk/x/wwEqAg
- If you would like more help on scheduling or events in webmail, the context-sensitive Help button can be used in the top right of the screen. This will open a help window with information on the screen you currently have open (i.e. if you are in the scheduling assistant, you will receive information on this when you press for help).