Monday, March 2, 2009

Create a resource account for booking and scheduling in Outlook

If you have conference rooms and rely on your Exchange-based calendar, odds are you already have, or need, resources set up. It will allow people to book resources such as conference rooms, and also help avoid meeting conflicts with those booking. It's actually pretty simple to set up as well.

1. First, set up a user account on your Exchange server for the resource. For this example, I'll use "Main Conference Room". Make sure to create a mailbox for this account, since it will need that to hold its calendar
2. Once the user has been created, you will need to set up a profile in Outlook for that user account.
3. Go into the Control Panel, then into the Mail settings.
4. Click on "Show Profiles...", then click Add. Here you can set up the resource account as a second profile on your machine. If you don't know how to setup the account you'll have to talk to your email administrator because it varies and I'm not going to cover it here. One thing to note is that you can clear the "Cached Exchange mode" box during the setup because you won't need to use that.
5. Once the profile has been created it should show up as an option in "The following profiles are set up on this computer:". Be sure to change the options at the bottom to "Prompt for a profile to be used", or else Outlook will just continue using your personal profile.
6. Open Outlook and when prompted, choose the new profile you created for the resource's account.
7. After the Outlook account for the resource finishes loading, go into Tools->Options...
8. On the Preferences tab, click on Calendar Options...
9. At the bottom, click on Resource Scheduling...
10. Check the boxes you want. The typical configuration is to check the first two so the resource will automatically accept requests if the time is available, and automatically reject any requests that conflict with existing meeting. If you don't want anyone to create recurring meeting requests on the resource, check the third box too.
11. Click OK, which should prompt you with a box that talks about standard permissions. Leave "Set standard resource permissions for all users" checked and click OK. You can uncheck that box and set custom permissions if you want, but that's beyond the scope of this walkthrough.
12. Click OK a few more times to get back to your Outlook window
13. That's it, your resource is set up.

If you want, at this point you can go back into Control Panel->Mail->Show Profiles and change the settings back to the way they were. Delete the resource profile you created, and also set it to always use the default profile.

Now the most important thing to do is make sure your users not how to schedule the resource. To help you with that, I put together a separate post just focused on how to add a resource to a meeting correctly.

I'm currently setting up a resource account to accept everything, and it will be used as a time-off calendar for everyone to view so they know who is in and out of the office. We have plenty of others set up for conference rooms, and also for checking out items such as a projector. However you use them is up to you, but it's definitely useful to know how to create and utilize resources in an Exchange environment.

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