Group Calendars - why would we use one?

Contributor

Hi all. I am trying to get my head around the Calendar part of Groups and understand why a team or department would choose to use it. As far as I can see there is no Skype integration, and as 90% of our meetings are Skype meetings we would need to continue scheduling these through Outlook. Am I right in thinking it is then just an alternative to a SharePoint calendar, so it would only be used for things like holidays, detailing which offices team members are visting, away days etc. Does anyone have any scenarios or examples where the Group calendar has been used in a different and beneficial way?

 

Thanks, Laurie

22 Replies

Some of the use cases I've seen for a  Group calendar is for group meetings - you schedule on the group calendar and it automatically invites all subscribed members. Also for events relevant to the entire group - for example a conference, key milestone date, etc.

 

I've also seen some groups where the members put their planned out-of-office (vacations, etc.) on the group calendar so the rest of the group could easily see if they were expected to be away on particular days.

Group calendar is much more than a SharePoint Calendar...it's just a common calendar for all the members of the Group that you can Sync to outlook or see in the Office Groups Apps. Additionally, in a Group calendar you can easily book a room of your organization, something you don't have in a SPO Calendar

In a similar vein I have difficulty when scheduling meetings with everyone in a group.  With distribution lists I could expand the list in order to look at the details of everyone's calendar (by expanding the group) but this is not available with groups and I have to rely on the rollup availability.  Has anyone found a way to look at the availability of individuals users in a group?

 

Thanks, Bruce...

 

Sounds like a good feature request to me, expand membership and Group member free/busy for scheduling assistant. Yes please.

Our particular group (in our organization) uses it for when colleagues are out of office (like vacations), major events, deadlines, milestones.

It's less so of a team meeting / invitation thing, as it is a here is what is going on kind of thing.

 

EDIT: As a note, we are in the process of figuring out how to migrate from the SharePoint calendar we have been using to this Group Calendar.  A big negative we are finding is we don't seem to be able to create an entry without "inviting" everyone else.  So I dont want to invite everyone to my Vacation entry, it just needs to "be there"....

Thanks for all your replies, I think you have confirmed my thinking that it is really just an alternative to a SharePoint calendar.

 

Brent Ellis - that is interesting. Is it because the group members have notifcations turned on? If they turn off notifications presumably they won't get an invite.

 

No, it appears they all get an invite regardless of notification setting. It goes out to all members of the Group (whether subscribed or not), as a meeting request (not an appointment), sent TO the group distro list AND the user that created the meeting entry.

Will have to do some more testing.
FYI, UserVoice entry to fix this calendar behavior: https://office365.uservoice.com/forums/286611-office-365-groups/suggestions/9532698-allow-calendar-a...

Need community support to get this elevated.
Update 2: Maybe wasnt giving everything enough time to propogate to test before, but here is exactly how it works:

User A adds a calendar entry to Group X

If User B is subscribed to receive notifications for that Group X, they will receive a MEETING INVITATION in their personal inbox, as well as a NOTIFICATION in the Group inbox that says a new entry has been created (with the option to add it to their personal calendar).

If User C is NOT subscribed to receive notifications, the will receive a NOTIFICATION only in the Group inbox that says a new entry has been created (with the option to add it to their personal calendar).

Thank you @Brent Ellis for spending the time to test that behaviour!

What happens if User B ignores the invitation? Will the final result be exactly the same as for User C (which has not received at all the invitation) ?

If User B ignores it, it shows up as tentative in their personal calendar, until they accept/reject/delete it. Works the same way regular exchange meeting invite does.

The message inside the group is just a message telling all members something was created. So user C in the scenario never actually receives an invite at all.

Thanks Brent, very clear.

I absolutely agree that such behaviour should be changed.

IMO it is enough to have, as for personal calendars, a difference between appointments and meeting.

Appointments should generate only simple notifications to group members (if they are subscribed), while meetings should generate (also) invites to group members (if they are subscribed).

At the time being, it appeas to me that the only workaround for calendar items that are not real meetings, is that members delete the invite from their personal calendars, correct?

Or just advise users to "subscribe" to a group at your own peril.

Between the group calendar and notifications turned on, 10 calendar entries and 10 planner tasks with 1 comment in each equals 110 unique emails in your inbox if your subscribed.

Agreed.

On the other side, if you are a member of 50 groups (as some of my customers are), how can you stay on top of all groups conversations without subscribing?

If the emails get to be too much, which I agree is a possibility, that's a good use case for creating sub-folders and rules to keep things managable. Just as we often do for external mailing lists.


@Bruce Weatherford wrote:

In a similar vein I have difficulty when scheduling meetings with everyone in a group.  With distribution lists I could expand the list in order to look at the details of everyone's calendar (by expanding the group) but this is not available with groups and I have to rely on the rollup availability.  Has anyone found a way to look at the availability of individuals users in a group?

 

Thanks, Bruce...

 


Totally agree with this comment. You go to the Calendar in Outlook and it shows "Busy" for the consolidation of every person in the group. Has anyone found that useful? If there are 5 or more people in the group, the entire calendar is filled with "Busy". I think Group Calendar needs some refinement, hopefully in the works.

If Planner start/deadline dates were on there I could see a reason, but, like you, I can't quite see how it's of any use to us.
Are you using Groups currently. There is definite value, and every group is technically different for how they could use it, but it is darn near impossible to explain how it "really works" to basic business users.

Here are some of the key things that we are using for our organizational group: Weekly staff meeting, scheduled events like potlucks, out of office / vacation notifications, quarterly or yearly workgroup meetings, major milestone dates.

Where Microsoft slightly missed the point I think is that it should be primarily a Group focused calendar, not just a means to invite users primarily. It would be more ideal to be treated like a Room or Resource calendar in a lot of ways.

The pros are definitely outweighing the cons at this point, especially compared to how we used to do group calendars on SharePoint site lists.

Until we get better invite and appointment options, its just gonna be...wonky
Did I miss something but reading this thread, no one in the replies dealt with the Skype issue - no integration means it is only for location / room based meetings?