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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

How To: Achieve Compliance with Microsoft Outlook Part 5

Since this session relies heavily on customizing appointment forms in Outlook, we figure it's worth while giving a refresher course on forms (just in case some of y'all out there aren't really sure what an appointment form in Outlook really is anyway).

The window shown here is the standard appointment form in Outlook 2007. It's really pretty basic: it shows the Subject, Location, Start time and End Time (the data fields) of the appointment; all of the information you need to define the basics of an appointment. Once you've entered data into some or all of these fields, a simple click of "Save & Close" will save the appointment in your calendar and close the window (duh).

Appointments can be a little more complicated than this if they are recurring (regularly repeating) appointments. Let's say you go to church every Sunday and you want to see that on your Outlook calendar. This is a simple example of a recurring task; but how do you make a task recurring, you might ask?

Simply click on the Recurrence button in the "ribbon" menu on the top of the Appointment window (somewhat near the middle horizontally).

You'll then be shown the Appointment Recurrence window, which allows you to define how frequently and how long the appointment will recur (repeat). In this scenario, you'd be planning to go to church from 9:00 AM to 12:30 PM on a Weekly basis every 1 week on Sundays, beginning on July 20th of 2008 and continuing forever.

If you wanted to only go ever other week, you'd simply change the recurrence pattern to "Recur every 2 week(s) on: Sunday." Similarly, if you wanted to only go once a month for ten months in a row, you could add that condition by clicking on Monthly and selecting "End after: 10 occurences."

Once you've selected your recurrence pattern, click "OK" to close the Appointment Recurrence window and return to the Appointment form.

Notice now that the Start time and End time fields are gone and have ben replaced with the Recurrence pattern information. If you want to change the start time or end time, you must again click on the Recurrence button and change the information in the Appointment Recurrence window.

Click "Save & Close" and you'll see your recurring church appointment on your calendar.

But what if you want to go to church Saturday night this week, but you still want to go on Sundays ever other week. To change that, simply drag that appointment from a Sunday to the prior Saturday. Outlook will have a coniption fit and ask you if you only want to change this occurence. Click Yes; you plan to continue going to church on Sundays most weeks.

If however you want to change to Saturdays from here on out, you'll need to double-click on the appointment in your calendar. Outlook will tell you the appointment is recuring and ask you if you want to "Open this occurence." or "Open the series." If you want to change all future appointments, you'll want to "Open the series" and change the recurrence.

So that's about it for the standard Appointment form. Hopefully you can appreciate how even a standard appointment form could be used to track recurring compliance tasks. By customizing the form, we can keep tabs on a lot more compliance information. We'll go over the basics of this next time.

P.S. The standard Task form in Outlook can keep track of recurring tasks too, but we feel that customizing the Appointment task is better. Here's why: with recurring Outlook Tasks, only the next scheduled task appears in the calendar. With recurring Outlook Appointments, all scheduled appointments appear in the calendar. If I have a task that occurs every month, to do a good job of scheduling I want to see it on my calendar every month, not just this month, even if I haven't completed the task yet this month.

Thanks for reading. Join us next time as we discuss setting up new calendars to track compliance tasks and keep them separate from your personal calendar.

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