Rules to Better Calendars
It's important to use your calendar correctly as it's your main organizational tool and how others view your time.
Avoid putting the date and time into the text field of a meeting since these are often overlooked when changing the meeting time/date metadata.
Figure: Bad Example - The appointment with the date in the text. Figure: Good Example - The appointment without time and date in the text.
Whenever you have to modify the time, attendees or subject of an appointment, always send the updated one with comments at the top to explain why you want make these changes.
This will help to solidify the changes and alleviate confusion.
Figure: The note in brackets explains the change that has been made
When sending an appointment from someone else's calendar, you should always include that person as an attendee so that they also receive the same appointment email that their guests do. It shows them that the invitation has been sent, and also allows them to check for any mistakes or additional information that needs to be added.
Often your conversation flow with someone will go from a phone call, to emails, to an appointment, and then back to emails.
It's nice to be able to look back and see the whole history in 1 thread, so you will need to be able to Reply All to an appointment to continue the email conversation after the meeting.
Outlook makes this easy:
Have you ever needed to send your calendar schedule to someone to figure out the best time to schedule a meeting with them? Figuring out when someone is available within your organization is usually easy, as Outlook can show you automatically. If you're trying to coordinate with someone outside of your organization, this can be more challenging. In Outlook you can easily include a copy of your calendar schedule to make this process easier.
To insert a nice looking calendar and .ics file attachment in to your email in Outlook, do the following:
- New email in Outlook, go to the ribbon and select Insert / Calendar:
- Figure: Ribbon Insert / Calendar
- Select your options to insert the fancy HTML calendar and .ICS file in to the email:
- Figure: Pick your calendar, date range, and amount of detail
- You now have a nice looking calendar showing your availability, ready to send:
- Figure: Pretty calendar ready to send via email
Make sure appointments have address details unless it's obvious for all attendees.
- Figure: Bad Example - Appointment field should have addresses in location when appropriate
- Figure: Good example - Address is clearly identified in the location field, meaning it can be mapped using applications on smartphones
It's important to always add the address information in appointments when a third party is included. i.e.:
- A client meeting at your location
- A meeting at the client location
The exception is for internal meeting appointments:
I would invite Zune to work Saturday @ SSW (but not include the address)
If you wish to organize a meeting that involves some of your colleagues and a client, instead of sending an email, send an appointment. Sending appointments is convenient because all the user has to do is click 'accept' and it is in their calendar.
- Figure: Use Outlook appointments to easily synchronise your calendar with your client's
This way Outlook will remind your colleagues about the appointment and you can update them if any changes are made.
If the appointment is for
3 days or less, send a separate appointment for each day. This is because multiple-day appointments appear at the top in your Outlook Calendar, so you risk missing the appointment (see below).
- Figure: Bad Example - Multiple-day appointments appear hidden at the top of your Outlook calendar, so you might miss it, thinking that the time is free
- Figure: Good Example - Send a separate appointment for each day so you can clearly see it in your Outlook calendar
You should always have calendar on your phone, so we can quickly add a client booking into the calendar, then add a note what to do with CRM (e.g. Uly please set regarding flag).
When sending an appointment, it's a good idea to choose your subject intelligently so that people can see all the information they need to see in the Subject of the Appointment.
For example if the appointment is a meeting request you should include the names of the persons attending that appointment. Another example is flight bookings or hotel bookings. Including the flight number and/or Hotel name in the Appointment Subject so that you can see the information without having to open the item. Think about what the recipient sees in their calendar and try to make it as clear as possible.
Figure: Bad Example - appointment subject with very little information
Figure: Good Example - Appointment subject with all of the relevant information shown
CRM users making bookings should keep their naming standards consistent.
When you would like to propose a new time for an appointment that someone has sent to you, use the Propose New Time button in Outlook instead of simply declining the message. By using the Propose New Time option, the requestor can easily accept your proposed time, rather than having to edit the previous appointment.
- Figure: Bad Example: The person who sent the appointment has to interpret your message, then go back in and edit the appointment
Instead of simply declining the message and typing your proposed time in the message body, propose a new time as follows:
- Figure: Good Example: The new time is proposed, and the person who sent the original appointment can easily accept your proposal, or view all proposals from multiple recipients
Imagine someone wants an appointment with a team member who has shared their calendar with you. Offer to look up the calendar and book in time straightaway.
- Try calling him.
Sure, I'll just look up Adam's calendar and see when he's free. Obviously it's not a good idea to call Adam now as he is on a plane.
There are occasions that you are not able to access your computer to send sick emails, or you get a call from your client on the way to the office that you have to drive to client site straight away; when such things happen, you need someone else to update your calendar when you call in, so others are aware of your availabilities.
There are 3 ways of sharing and seeing others' calendars.
You should always set your working hours in your outlook calendar so others knows when you are working, this will help us to do resource scheduling. This is especially important for people who are not working as full time, e.g. part-time, contractors etc.
You can find this setting in File | Options | Calendar Options, it looks like below:
- Figure: Outlook Calendar options for working hours settings
Once you set this up, you will be able to see the grey area in "Scheduling assistant" so you know what's the best time to book that person.
- Figure: Working hours will be shown in Scheduling Assistant
People take leave all the time, and it can be frustrating to find out that someone is not in the office after you've already sent an email to book them for a meeting.
You should have a centralized system to check for everyone's availability.
The easiest way to do this is to use a shared calendar which is just used for leave. At SSW, we have the SSWAbsence calendar for this. This requires people to send their leave request as an appointment to SSWAbsence.
Since this is just a calendar, you should also have these leave requests automatically forwarded to your admin managers, so they are always notified of what's going on, although normally these managers will decline the notification rather than add it to their own calendar by accepting it. At SSW, we use the SSWAdmin group alias for this.
- Figure - Good Example: You can see everyone's leave in one place
One of the great things about email is that as a conversation progresses, you always have the thread history that you can refer to for context. Calendar appointments, on the other hand, don’t have this. Therefore, if you make plans via email, and that email conversation includes details like times, agendas, locations, etc., it’s a good idea to copy the email thread into the body of the calendar appointment.
That way you’ve got the history and context right there, so the attendees don’t have to go searching for it in their inbox.
With calendar appointments, there’s also the risk that people will accept the appointment without reading the content – people don’t do this with email. By duplicating the content from an email, you know that you are not proposing anything that the attendees have not already discussed and agreed upon in the email thread.
If you have a date for any event appearing on your site, you should make it as easy
as possible for the user to add it to their Outlook calendar. This is why we use
ICS links for all dates on our site
Next User Group Meeting:
Wednesday, 15 February 2006 5:45 PM
- Figure: Bad Example - User cannot add reminder
Next User Group Meeting:
Wednesday, 15 February 2006 5:45 PM
Add Outlook reminder
- Figure: Good Example - Showing use of Calendar icon
By clicking the calendar icon you can easily add reminder to remind you about particular event out of your busy schedule.
You have 2 options - VCS and ICS. Both let you add appointments to your calendar. We use ICS because it allows
collaborating information between personal information management programs like Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla Calendar, Mac
OS etc. over the Internet, independently of differences between program vendors or operating systems, which is not allowed with VCS.
It is always preferred to use
standard icons to give user a proper idea about the file. User can quickly get the idea by just looking at the icon.
When creating an appointment email for an initial meeting, make sure you include the words "initial
" and "meeting
" on the subject.
Subject: Northwind project with SSW and Bob
- Figure: Bad subject - not clear it is an initial meeting
Subject: Initial meeting with SSW and Bob from Northwind
Subject: Initial phone meeting with SSW and Bob from Northwind
- Figure: Good subjects - Make clear it is an initial meeting by having both words
The idea behind it is that Power BI can then track and show this.
- Figure: It's clear to see that there is no yellow in the past couple of months, which may indicate work drying up for Stephen's area