By Anthony Baratta
How do you keep everyone on the same page when calendar items are scattered across two platforms?
SharePoint is, among other things, a productivity platform. It's a place where your teams can collaborate, create and edit files, and store their information. Of course, no productivity platform would be complete without a calendar function, and unsurprisingly, SharePoint has one built-in. Using SharePoint's customizable calendar, your team can schedule and share events. From in-office meetings to project deadlines, this calendar function does precisely what a productivity calendar should do: it keeps everyone on the same page.
But what if you want to integrate your SharePoint calendars with another source? In particular, many companies migrate to SharePoint after years of storing and accessing their team calendar information in their personal Outlook Calendars. Some enterprises even continue using personal Outlook calendars after they start using SharePoint for its team collaboration functions. Needless to say, this dual usage can lead to some confusion. Some events are scheduled on a SharePoint team site calendar, while others are on your personal Outlook calendar. How can you keep everyone on the same page when your team or project calendar items are scattered across two platforms?
Integrating SharePoint Calendars with Outlook
The good news is that SharePoint's calendar feature has Outlook integration built in. Indeed, you can use SharePoint and Outlook's respective calendar functions together in a variety of different ways. Read on as we outline each of these integration techniques, as well as the benefits of using them for your enterprise.
Load your SharePoint calendar(s) into Outlook
This feature is useful if you just want to be able to access all of your calendars from one place. Enabling your Outlook account to access your SharePoint calendars is straightforward. All you have to do is open a SharePoint calendar, select the "Calendar" tab, and click "Connect to Outlook." Once you've confirmed that you want to link the two, your SharePoint catalog will be accessible (and editable) in the "Other Calendars" category of Outlook's calendar navigation interface.
View multiple calendars as one
One of the cooler features of calendar integration between Outlook and SharePoint is the ability to "overlay" multiple calendars so that you can view them as one. Once you've added a SharePoint calendar to Outlook, you will be able to access it under "Other Calendars." When you open the calendar, it will present you with a side-by-side view, where you can see your default Outlook calendar and your SharePoint calendar at the same time.
Each calendar in the "Other Calendars" category has a check box, which you can either select or clear based on what you want to see in an overlay." Select all the calendars you want to view and then click the left-facing arrow button on the calendars tab. The extra calendars will be overlaid with your default Outlook calendar so that you can see all of their information together. This technique is perfect for building a master calendar from multiple different sources or comparing the schedules of more that one team.
Add events to a SharePoint calendar using Outlook
There are various ways to add events to a SharePoint calendar using Outlook. Perhaps you are using the side-by-side view feature in Outlook to view your Outlook and SharePoint calendars together, and now you want to add events to the latter. To do this, you can add events exactly as you would add them to a traditional Outlook calendar, by clicking the "Home" tab, selecting the "New" group, and then choosing a type of event to add. Alternatively, you can drag events from the Outlook calendar to the SharePoint calendar (and vice versa), or use a simple copy and paste to get the job done. Any events you add to the SharePoint calendar in Outlook will transfer back to SharePoint, since the calendars are linked and integrated.
Microsoft has also made it possible to add events to On-Premise SharePoint calendars by sending emails in Outlook. To use this feature, you will have to configure your SharePoint calendar to accept email messages. Once you have done so, you will be able to add events to the calendar simply by sending meeting or appointment requests via Outlook. Click here to read Microsoft's more in-depth tutorial on precisely how to configure SharePoint to accept these messages. If you are using SharePoint Online there are several 3rd Party App Store options that will assist you in enabling email to calendar connections.
Since SharePoint and Outlook are both Microsoft products, integrating their calendar functions is mostly a matter of knowing which tabs to select and which buttons to click. If you have a calendar stored in another platform and are trying to integrate with SharePoint, the process will be a bit more complicated—though not necessarily impossible.
For instance, if you use Google Calendar and SharePoint and want to integrate them, you probably already know that Microsoft has provided nothing in the way of out-of-the-box solutions to get the job done. Please do not hesitate to connect with us for help with these Google/SharePoint integrations. And, if you use another calendar platform, just do a quick Google search to see if there are any tricks you can do to integrate with SharePoint.
Having all of your calendar information in one place is a must for maximum productivity and efficiency. With SharePoint's built-in Outlook integration, it's easier than ever before for everyone in your organization to be on the same page. Learn to use these features to improve communication enterprise-wide. If you have any SharePoint calendar integration questions please contact us at 510 652-7700 or complete our Free Consultation request form to learn more.