Use Outlook tasks for help desk operations

Tricks for using Outlook as a task scheduler for help desk operations.

For organizations that have a small IT department, setting up a help desk application can be an expensive venture. However, by using a couple features available from Microsoft Outlook and Exchange Server, this process can be a little less expensive. All that is required are:

  • The Microsoft Outlook 2000/2 Client

  • Microsoft Exchange 5.5/2000

  • And, of course, a Help Desk Operator

Setting up the Outlook task for departmental access

We are going to use Outlook Task as the help desk application that will be accessed by IT department members. To do this you have to perform these tasks:

  1. From Outlook client, create a folder in all public folders (a subfolder to Public Folders) by right clicking on all public folders then selecting new folder. This new folder can be named, for example, "Support."

  2. On the Exchange server, assign permissions to this folder for people in your help desk organization. Each user's permission to this folder will vary, based upon your environment. For a detailed explanation of roles available, you can select the help button in the client permissions dialog box.

Setting up Outlook tasks

You can copy a task to this folder from the Outlook client, simply by right clicking on a task from a personal folder or mailbox, selecting "Copy task," and then selecting the destination folder you created earlier.

Now all the users who were assigned permissions to the folder can access the task list and be updated on what job each member is performing. This is the basis of using Outlook as a help desk scheduler and task program. From this point, the help desk operator or administrator can assign additional categories to any of the tasks. For example, if the IT department has other subdivisions, such as network support, PC support, etc., you can create a category column for each of these divisions. You can create a shortcut in the Outlook menu bar that can be named "Help Desk" on each of the support personnel Outlook client screens, so that it would not be confused with the other tasks shortcuts users may have.


Adesh Rampat has 10 years experience with network and IT administration. He is a member of the Association Of Internet Professionals, the Institute For Network Professionals, and the International Webmasters Association. He has also lectured extensively on a variety of topics.


This was first published in March 2002

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