Best Practices for Using Microsoft Outlook from a Sales Perspective

Arrow-Tip #44 Outlook vs SharePoint: Where to Put What? – Part II

In Arrow-Tip #43 I discussed how my newest client Gulf Coast Welding is using Outlook/Exchange and SharePoint to manage their shared documents, calendar and email.  In this post, I’d like to tackle tasks which proposed a real dilemma when trying to decide between posting on Outlook or SharePoint.

To be perfectly honest, the jury is still out on which is the best environment for housing tasks that originate from our regular weekly production meetings.  The real benefit to using SharePoint to record and track tasks associated with regular meetings is that all participants can see where they stand in terms of status and can discuss issues that need to be resolved in order to complete the tasks.  And, once I figured out how to update tasks more efficiently in SharePoint (select the Edit in Datasheet option off of the Tasks Actions menu) I found maintenance relatively easy. 

My biggest problem with using SharePoint for task assignment is that assignees have to keep up with tasks in two different places i.e. personal or individual tasks in their Outlook Tasks folder and group meeting tasks on SharePoint.  Keeping multiple task lists is usually a recipe for disaster – more on that later.  Another huge advantage to tracking tasks in Outlook is the ability to synchronize them with smart phones and PDA devices.  And there are some other real advantages to managing tasks in your Outlook mailbox tied to how they integrate with other folders like your Inbox.  I love being able to create tasks from emails using the SimplyFile TaskIt button which removes an item out of my inbox and at the same time carries over all the pertinent information I need to complete a task from the email into the task body.

Back to my biggest issue with SharePoint tasks – maintaining two task lists.  You do have the ability to download tasks off of SharePoint and transfer them into a task folder in Outlook.  Unfortunately this Task folder is not your main Tasks folder and so far it doesn’t look like task ownership is also transferred.  Plus there is the synchronization issue of having to update and maintain tasks in two different places. 

Given the pros for managing tasks in Outlook as opposed to SharePoint, my inclination right now is to go with Outlook for task management.  I would love to hear some of my SharePoint gurus weigh in on how their organizations use SharePoint for Task management.

This post was written by MistyKhan and published on March 3, 2009 in the following categories: Arrow Tips, Front Page, SharePoint, Tasks. You can leave trackbacks on this post at this address. To follow the comments on this post subscribe to the RSS feed.


MistyKhan, I’m currently in the same boat as you. Our Project Manager Office (PMO) has developed their SharePoint to send out the task as an email to the Assigned Engineer, the problem that I have is that I’m not always in SharePoint to track these things. So, what I decided to manage both Outlook Task and SharePoint, it’s a bit of work, but I have to make it work for me.

* Receive task through email
* Add task to my Outlook Task
* Update my task with notes, etc
* Update SharePoint.

I totally agree with going with Outlook for task management as you can actually assign the task and actually send status reports right from within Outlook. I don’t like SharePoint Tasks and I wish the PMO office would stop using it.. Hope this helped.

Thanks, Ray, it actually is a big help just to have confirmation that I didn’t miss something obvious and others are struggling with the same issue. Also, if you feel this way about your PMO office then I’m sure I’ve got folks here that feel the same way about me. Thanks again! Misty


Are you using Outlook 2007? In a SharePoint task list under the ‘Actions’ menu you can select ‘Connect to Outlook’ and that task list will now be synchronised with Outlook. In Outlook you will see a separate task folder for each SharePoint task list you connect to, however the ‘To-Do List’ view shows you a consolidated view of all your tasks (SharePoint tasks, Exchange tasks, personal Outlook tasks, etc.). When updating SharePoint tasks from within Outlook, the changes are automatically synchronised back to the server.

Is this the sort thing you were after? It does require Outlook 2007 though.

Kristian, thank you so much for your comment – I knew there had to be a way to synchronize Outlook and Sharepoint more effectively. I will definitely give this a try and blog about my results. Thanks so much! Misty

Try this blog it might answer your questions

Michael, this blog looks like a great resource – thanks so much! Misty

  • Michael B
  • 23:41
  • March 3, 2009
  • 3.

The one drawback to the “connect to outlook” option is that when you drag-and-drop a task, it’s automatically assigned to your personal tasks, so then you have to step into your tasks pane, and drag and drop it a second time into the Sharepoint task. I think sometimes this creates a new, second task with the same name… so now you’ve got a personal to-do-list task and you’ve got a sharepoint synched task.

I’m looking into how to update this. In outlook, under tools, there’s a greyed out option to change the default tasks for drag and drop. I can’t figure out how to un-grey that and make my sharepoint tasks the default (which would be best).

Another thing I’m looking into is to find some way to update the sharepoint tasks via an email. 3 of the 4 people in my dept are on Macs. Outlook on the Mac — is that even supported still? Entourage doesn’t play nice with sharepoint. So if there was just a way to send your email to everybody with an update, and copy the sharepoint server in your email with some kind of suffix or something, that would be best. But I think I’m reaching for the stars at this point.

thanks for your comments, Beau! The only solution I can think of for your last problem is for the Mac users to just update tasks straight to sharepoint, but I know sharepoint access via Safari is not the same as access using Explorer. Keep us posted on what you end up doing and if anyone has some ideas for Beau, please post a comment! Misty

  • Beau
  • 14:16
  • April 21, 2009
  • 4.

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