Best Practices for Using Microsoft Outlook from a Sales Perspective

Arrow-Tip #43 Outlook vs SharePoint: Where to Put What? – Part I

As promised, I wanted to give you all an update on how things are going with our Outlook/Exchange and SharePoint implementations at Gulf Coast Welding Corp. (a company that previously did not have email – see Arrow-Tip #42 Top 5 Things We Take for Granted About Outlook).  Its taken me a while to get this post out to you because quite frankly, getting to know SharePoint a little better has forced me to think twice about some of my old tried and true practices.  Intrigued?  Read on to learn where we are drawing the line between managing Outlook tasks and meetings in Outlook versus SharePoint.

We decided to roll out SharePoint shortly after our Outlook/Exchange implementation as an alternative to purchasing an on-site server for file sharing.  So far, other than some learning curve issues, that solution has worked well for storing shared documents such as our production schedule, time sheets, project man hour projections and various company forms. 

We also find the SharePoint Team Discussion board helpful for getting feedback from multiple team members on things like our latest web site design or new business process forms.  We find that it is useful for everyone to review the documents in private at their leisure and then express their opinions where everyone else can see and discuss them.

The SharePoint calendar has allowed us to capture events such as company holidays and vacation schedules that everyone needs access to.  However, for meeting invitations we are still finding that Outlook/Exchange works best since it allows us to store meetings on our individual Outlook calendars where alerts and meeting reply functionality add a lot more value than a central calendar.  I do believe that in a larger organization where resources such as conference rooms need to be managed, the SharePoint calendar can be a good alternative to public folders (see Arrow-Tip #20 Best Practices for Coordinating Vacation Schedules in Microsoft Outlook)

We do, however, use the Workspace area for recurring team meeting information and related documents such as meeting minutes, agendas, or other documents we may need before, during or after the meeting.  I prefer posting minutes on SharePoint as opposed to sending them to everyone via email where they clog up our mailbox (see Arrow-Tip #8 How Can You Speek Up Microsoft Outlook) and may or may not be easily found later when we need to refer back to them.  Maintaining these documents in a controlled area also offers the added benefit of keeping our historical document intact in their original form.

Task functionality is one of the areas that I’ve spent a little more time experimenting with and I don’t mind admitting I’ve gone back and forth a little.  In fact, I’ve spend enough time on this particular issue to inspire its own post so please check back soon for Part II on this topic where I will discuss what we decided to do about tracking Tasks.  And in the mean time, please share your thoughts on SharePoint vs Outlook/Exchange in the comments section – can’t wait to hear your ideas!

This post was written by MistyKhan and published on February 26, 2009 in the following categories: Arrow Tips, Calendar, Front Page, Inbox, SharePoint, Tasks. You can leave trackbacks on this post at this address. To follow the comments on this post subscribe to the RSS feed.


SharePoint lets you have institutional knowledge, which is really important as your team grows. When new folks join or in the future, when new folks go to work on a similar project, they can refer to this site and catch up or learn from your experience.

If information is stored in user’s mailboxes, it’s only available to those people. And trying to pull it all together to give to someone new is sketchy at best. And down the road, if your mail is purged for legal or other reasons or if everyone who was involved in the project from soup to nuts is no longer at the company, that information is no longer available for future reference.

Thus, my belief that anything that’s shared and associated with the project should be posted in SharePoint rather than email. (Just me $.02 though!)

Awesome input, Amy – thanks so much! Misty


Interesting to read your experiences. The SharePoint versus Outlook/Exchange puzzle can at times be tricky. One main point to emphasise though is that the two products complement each other and are increasingly designed to do so. Outlook is first of all for personal productivity and communication whereas SharePoint is more of a team/department/organsation-level solution.
Another aspect to keep in mind is that Outlook is also an offline client for SharePoint. By connecting SharePoint lists and libraries to Outlook you can take that content with you offline in a managed environment.

Thanks for your comment, Kiristian – great insights! Misty


re – calendaring

We have recently been moved onto our institution’s exchange server and are finally able to utilize the outlook-sharepoint power.

We previously used oracle for calendaring, which automatically placed an event/appt on any invited participant regardless of their acceptance of the meeting or not (if not accepted – a red “x” was shown). This was helpful, because if the participant’s schedule changed, they could then revert to accepting. Is there a way to do this within the sharepoint-outlook system?

Also, I have not figured out how to merge sharepoint calendars into one on the “home-page” sharepoint site. Best scenario – automatic updating occurs when a sharepoint calendar is changed.

Wow – great questions, Robin! I haven’t used the calendar in quite the way you are suggesting above, although I have sent meeting requests from the calendar to users that hits their Outlook inbox. Depending on how they have configured their inbox to respond to meeting requests, these invitations are going to automatically show up on their Outlook calendar even if they have not accepted.

Regarding your second question, I’m not quite sure what you mean. Do you want a calendar web part on the site webpage the consolidates several other calendars for the entire site?


  • robin
  • 11:43
  • October 30, 2010
  • 3.

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