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Exchange Calendaring Best Practices

Microsoft Exchange email and calendaring applications are widely used at many corporations, as well as educational and research institutions. You may notice, under certain circumstances, that your Exchange calendar does not work as expected, or scheduled meetings disappear. Because Exchange is an integrated email and calendaring system, all calendar invitations, changes, deletions, etc. are delivered via email message. With the increased use of mobile devices, coupled with the use of multiple computers by one individual, this has created unique challenges because of the different methods various email applications and mobile devices use to process calendar-generated emails. Note that this behavior is exacerbated when there is an Outlook "delegate" assigned to help manage one's calendar.

ITS continues to look for ways to offer the best level of performance, while minimizing known issues. But, it is equally important that you follow good practices when using Exchange email and calendar applications. Many problems can be avoided by following a few simple practices. Below are some strongly recommended practices that will help you have a better experience with Exchange:

Working with Calendar-Generated Email

  • Exchange is an integrated email and calendaring system; all calendar invitations, changes, deletions, etc. are delivered via email message. The email message is the calendar meeting.
  • Only accept or decline meetings from the Inbox, not directly from the calendar. This will avoid missed updates or mistakenly scheduled meetings.
  • Only use your computer to accept, decline, or modify meeting requests. You can use your mobile device (iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry, etc) to create and view meetings.
  • If you accept a meeting, don't delete the meeting request if you receive it on another computer or device. Deleting a request after accepting it on another computer can cause the meeting to disappear from your calendar. If the request is still in the Inbox of another computer, just accept it again.

When Invited to a Meeting, Send Your Response

  • Make sure to respond to meeting requests from your Inbox using the buttons in the email message – Accept, Tentative, Decline.
  • Once you respond to a meeting request, the invite email will automatically be moved to your Trash. If you delete the meeting invite email before you respond, the meeting will be deleted from your calendar.
  • When you accept or decline a meeting, be sure to send the response so the Meeting Organizer will know your attendance status.

Managing Meeting Requests

  • Be aware that if you forward a meeting request to someone, you are inviting that person to the meeting.

Do Not Rely on Notes in the Body of a Meeting for Record Keeping

  • If you are an attendee of a meeting, your notes will be lost if a meeting update is received.
  • If you are the organizer, your personal notes will be sent to everyone on the attendee list.
  • There is a known issue that sometimes these notes are lost.

Important Information about Recurring Meetings

  • Schedule recurring meetings only 3-6 months in advance so as to minimize the need to make changes.
  • Do not frequently change recurring meetings. Due to the way various email applications process meeting requests, meetings can easily become lost, mis-scheduled, or duplicated within an email application after repeated updates. If a recurring meeting regularly changes time or location, cancel the meeting for all attendees and create a new meeting per occasion.
  • Do not modify an individual instance of a recurring meeting. Instead, delete the instance that needs to be modified and create a new individual meeting.

Important Information about Shared Calendars (Delegates)

  • Have as few delegates as possible. Having multiple people access the same calendar increases the probability of missing appointments, duplicated meetings, unseen invitations, and conflicting attendance responses.
  • Calendar owner and their delegates must all be using the same platform (Mac or Windows) and also have the same version of Outlook. On Windows, both should use Outlook 2007 Service Pack 2 or Outlook 2010. On Macs, both should use Outlook 2011.
  • For each calendar, only one person should process meeting requests. Multiple interactions with a meeting invitation can result in various calendar problems, including lost meetings. The calendar owner and delegate(s) should decide who will process all meeting requests.
  • Do not auto-accept meeting requests. Make sure the "automatic acceptance" option is turned off for calendar owner and delegates.