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New Outlook tool to replace iSchedule for booking rooms

UCOP employees who spend a lot of their time scheduling meetings will especially appreciate the new Outlook feature that, as of Dec. 1, will allow you to book not just meeting attendees, but also meeting rooms, in one easy step.

The new feature eliminates the need for iSchedule, the web interface UCOP now uses to book rooms through a cumbersome, two-step process. Those rooms now will be available through Outlook; you will simply “invite” the room as you would any meeting participant. Invites will automatically update when meetings are canceled or rooms changed.

Leading up to the December launch, staff will have several options to learn how to schedule rooms and transfer existing bookings from iSchedule to Outlook during the three-week transition period, Dec. 1 to 21. These include brown bag demos and a website with both written and video instructions.

Outlook conference-room scheduling will make life much easier for OP staff, especially those admins who spend huge chunks of their days trying to match busy rooms with busier meeting schedules.

The project predates the restructuring of Information Resources & Communications (IR&C) into the new UC Information Technology Services (ITS) announced by EVP for Business Operations Nathan Brostrom in September. But it represents a resourceful team approach — undertaken jointly by ITS and UCOP’s Building and Administrative Services Center (BASC) — to solving operational challenges.

“This project reflects a whole new level of partnership between our two departments,” said Shirley Bittlingmeier, director of IT Infrastructure Services. “It was Karla [Campbell, BASC director] and her team who identified the need for this change to facilitate meeting scheduling, and we’re providing the technical support to make that happen.”

Both units have been meeting with prospective users to get feedback and make the transition as easy as possible. They have also developed the training guidelines and website and will hold brown bags at three UCOP facilities, as follows:

  • Friday, Nov. 18: 12 to 1 p.m., 415 20th St., Room 302
  • Monday, Nov. 21: 12 to 1 p.m., Kaiser Room 512
  • Tuesday, Nov. 22: 12 to 1 p.m., Franklin Lobby One Conference Room

Learning the new tool will be a breeze, but the one time challenge for users will be transferring existing room reservations from iSchedule to Outlook. The two systems are not compatible, so an automated data transfer could not be made; anyone with existing meetings must rebook any rooms already reserved for Dec. 22 or later in the new system.

This requires going through your Outlook calendar, opening each appointment to see which room it is scheduled in, and then “re-inviting” that room to the meeting using the new feature.

“We know this will be an inconvenient and time-consuming process for those who book lots of meetings, so BASC is offering to assist users as needed,” BASC Director Campbell said.

Users will be able to get a complete list of their existing iSchedule reservations to facilitate the process. Guidelines have also been developed for handling any room disputes that may arise during the transition as a result of having two booking systems in use. Note that bookings originally made in iSchedule will be honored if there are disputes.

Once the new Outlook feature is available on Dec. 1, here are the guidelines for booking rooms:

  • For existing meetings Dec. 22 and thereafter: “Re-reserve” or update in Outlook any conference rooms already reserved through iSchedule.
  • For new meetings from Dec. 1 to 21: Continue to use iSchedule to reserve rooms.
  • For new meetings taking place Dec. 22 and thereafter: Check iSchedule to make sure a room is available, then use Outlook to reserve it.
  • When the transition is complete on Dec. 22, book all rooms through Outlook.

For more information, see the BASC website or attend the brown bag demo at your UCOP location.

Comment ( 1 )

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  1. Chris Orr November 16, 2011 Reply

    Thank you BASC and ITS for this improvement to our meeting room reservation system. I am sure the transition will be bumpy and I hope everyone bears with it. The results will be worth it!

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