How can our office assistant manage our Outlook calendars?
December 6, 2005 2:19 PM   Subscribe

Both my wife and I use separate Microsoft Outlook installations to manage our calendars and to sync our calendars with our cell phones and pdas. Now, we need a way for an assistant to manage our calendars from another computer.

We work in a networked office environment. My wife, myself, and our assistant work at three separate computers. My computer is a desktop, but my wife uses a laptop that she sometimes takes out of the office.

Option 1. Is there a way for our assistant to view and update our calendars so that she can add/modify/and delete appointments on our physical Outlook installations (so that, when we sync our phones/pdas, they get the latest appointments)?

Option 2. Is there another application that I could put on our assistant's computer that would allow her to "see" our two Outlook calendars and update those?

Option 3. Is there a web-based calendar that our assistant could update and that would somehow place appointments on our Outlook calendars automatically?

Option 4: I'm out of luck with the first three options, but there is another option that I should consider...

NOTE: I like Outlook and use it extensively for my task management, calendars, and emails. I would rather not move to another application or to have a separate calendar program. But, I know that my wife's laptop situation may cause problems.
posted by richardhay to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The simple answer to to install Exchange. With Exchange, you can share calendars and even give you assistant delegate privledges to schedule events and send email on your behalf.

Installing Exchange, however, is not simple. Here is a list of companies that offer hosted Exchange service. I have no affiliation with the list or anyone on it. All I know is that you should avoid managing Exchange unless you have a full-time sysadmin on staff who knows how to handle it. Hosting is a much simpler way to go. Aliant, as one example, charges around $17 a month, per user.
posted by GuyZero at 2:25 PM on December 6, 2005

Response by poster: GuyZero and CrayDrygu, thank you so much for your detailed responses. The hosted Exchange servers sound like the best option.

Let me ask a follow-up though. Is there another group calendar application that anyone would recommend that would still allow us to sync to our pdas and cells? We do have managed linux boxes in house, but no Windows servers (nor anyone on staff who could manage them).
posted by richardhay at 3:13 PM on December 6, 2005

Well, the whole point of a hosted Exchange server is that someone else hosts and manages it for you. You pay the application provider money, and they run the thing; you don't need to have Exchange or any windows server boxes installed in your company. Does this make sense?
posted by blindcarboncopy at 3:28 PM on December 6, 2005

Yes, really this is exactly what Exchange was designed for. I've used mi8 for years with various companies and have been very happy with them.

I had a brief look at Airset a while ago - it is web-accessible yet claims to be able to sync well with Outlook. If your PDAs sync via Outlook, this might be a good solution. It also appears to be free, so I guess you've got nothing to lose but your time.
posted by blag at 3:53 PM on December 6, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks so much! I'm off to research and subscribe to a hosted Exchange solution. I appreciate all of the advice!
posted by richardhay at 4:02 PM on December 6, 2005

If you're using BlackBerries, you can interface between BlackBerry Enterprise server and Exchange. You can update wirelessly in real time.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:51 PM on December 6, 2005

If there was a decent open-source alternative to Exchange that was compatible with Outlook, people would be all over it like white on rice.

HP had an Outlook-compatible server available once, but I don't know if it's still available or if it was any good in the first place. AFAIK, there is simply no alternative for Exchange. Someone tell me if I'm wrong!
posted by GuyZero at 4:20 AM on December 7, 2005

Sadly you're not. There's the combination of IMAP+LDAP+iCal but it's nowhere near as slick and integrated as Exchange. And setting up LDAP is, believe it or not, even more of a pig than Exchange. There are plenty of good alternatives to Outlook but I've never found an acceptable alternative to Exchange.
posted by blag at 6:01 AM on December 7, 2005

Actually, some hosted Exchange providers offer Blackberry options as well.

As to syncing your PDA, as long as you can sync with Outlook now, this doesn't change. Depending on your PDA software, you may actually be able to select "public/shared" folders hosted by Exchange and sync common Contacts, Calendars, Notes, Tasks, etc.
posted by jkaczor at 3:04 PM on December 7, 2005

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