30 November 2011

Group Resources For Easier Booking With New Calendar Browser

The resource booking tool Calendar Browser for Outlook will soon come in a new version that will make it even easier to book a resource directly in the Outlook calendar. In Calendar Browser each resource has its own calendar, and users book a resource by making an appointment in the calendar of that resource.

Without calendar groups
Say that you wish to use Calendar Browser for booking rooms, vehicles and experts to held lectures. If you add all of these resources to one folder, the users have to see all the resource calendars when they want to book something. For organizations with just a few resources this works well, and for ten years satisfied customers have used Calendar Browser this way. However, for big companies with many bookable resources the new possibility to group the resource calendars in different Outlook folders will be very useful.

Group resources in multiple Outlook folders
If you make three calendar groups instead of one ‒ one Outlook folder for rooms, one for cars and one for teachers ‒ the people who book with Calendar Browser can choose calendar group depending of which kind of resource they wish to book. They of course know if they want to book a room or a car, so they just select the relevant Calendar Browser group in their Outlook calendar, search for the best alternative among the resource calendars in that group and make the appointment. Also, if they wish to see an Overview of future bookings and maybe book directly from the Overview, only one group has to be loaded ‒ which of course is quicker.

Admin does the work
To group resource calendars the administrator needs to make a multiple installation of Calendar Browser. In the example above there will be three installations in three separate network folders. The installation process also includes the creation of an Outlook folder.Just give each Outlook folder an appropriate name, like “Rooms” “Cars” and “Teachers”, and the users can easily add the calendar groups they need to their own Outlook. They just have to press an “Add CB Folder” button in the Outlook toolbar and choose among the calendar groups in a dropdown.

Calendar Browser
buttons in Outlook

The Calendar Browser description button works like before: select a resource calendar and press the button to see a description of that resource. If you have several Calendar Browser folders in your Outlook, the Search and Overview buttons (and the Manage button if not hidden by the admin) will give you a choice among these folders. Select folder, and then the buttons will work for the calendar group of that folder.

Grouping calendars may also be useful even if you have only one kind of resource. Maybe you want to separate rooms on different locations or cars of different sizes? I believe the new version of Calendar Browser will be useful to many organizations, and we all look forward to the release. It should come before the end of this year, and as usual upgrades are free for Members of Community. I will come back and tell you when it is time!