A “Resource” is a “contact” in an Exchange/Outlook Calendar that represents a room or a piece of equipment. In the same way that a person can have an email address and can be assigned to meetings, rooms and equipment can be treated the same way in Exchange.
Equipment can include anything from a mobile phone to a fleet vehicle.
Resources are established by an Exchange administrator by creating a unique name and assigning an email address to the resource. Users who have access to Exchange can access a resource list to create a meeting and they can “invite” the resource to the meeting just like setting up a meeting with a person. Network administrators are needed to create and configure resource accounts because these kinds of accounts are created and managed in Exchange Active Directory, which requires expert knowledge.
If the resource is available for a “meeting”, it can be reserved by the user. That resource is then removed from the list of available resources until its “meeting” is finished. If the resource is already reserved for a meeting, it cannot be used. Values can be attached to resources, too. For instance, a limit can be set so that a room can only accept a maximum number of people at a meeting. Also, equipment limits can be set so that a laptop can only be in use once.
The system is scalable and can cope with large volumes and types of resources including equipment. Universities use Exchange resource accounts to manage their rooms and equipment distribution on campus.
Outlook’s includes a scheduling assistant which graphically charts availability of resources.
There are two kinds of resource mailboxes:
1. Room mailboxes – A room mailbox is a resource mailbox that’s assigned to a physical location, such as a conference room, an auditorium, or a training room. After an administrator creates room mailboxes, users can easily reserve rooms by including room mailboxes in meeting requests.
2. Equipment mailboxes – An equipment mailbox is a resource mailbox assigned to a resource that’s not location specific, such as a portable computer, projector, microphone, or a company car. After an administrator creates an equipment mailbox, users can easily reserve the piece of equipment by including the corresponding equipment mailbox in a meeting request.
Resources can be reserved in a calendar using Outlook Web Access or with desktop installed versions of Outlook. If other users need to see resource usage, consider shared calendars or group calendars. Once you have decided how to organize your calendar, follow these steps for OWA or Outlook client for desktop.
1. Reserving rooms resources using Outlook Web Access (OWA)
– log in to OWA at http://mail.office365 using your email address and password.
– click down the app menu, and then click on Calendar, as this screenshot shows:
– in Calendar, click “new” to create a new event:
– Fill in the form, making sure the event is something that is meaningful when viewed in the calendar. There are two ways to reserve a location or a room. Firstly, you can click the “add room” button to display the room resource available. Secondly, you can click open the Scheduling assistant to find a view of resources that are already committed to meetings. The scheduling assistant is useful because it show what resources might already be reserved when you want to use it. You can add rooms using the scheduling assistant.
You can reserve rooms and equipment for one meeting. To add equipment, you must select it from the “attendees” button which sits behind the dropdown menu in the illustration below. When you have finished creating your event, be sure to click “save”.
2. Reserving equipment resourcing using Outlook Web Access (OWA)
The process for reserving equipment resources differs from the method for reserving rooms. Firstly, there is not a button like the “add room button illustrated above. Instead, equipment is selected from the attendees button which you can see in the illustration below. Lastly, equipment cannot be selected in the scheduling assistant, although the scheduling assistant lists equipment which is being used. Unless you are sure the equipment you want is available for a meeting, you should always check the scheduling assistant to save work.
Note that in this example, a room resource has already been assigned to the meeting. The location reserved is Workshop 1, and the room is included in the “Attendees” field. Also, the “add room” button has changed to “change room”. When you select equipment, it will be added to “Attendees”.
When you have finished creating your event, be sure to click “save”. You will receive an email either accepting or declining the event. Events are usually declined because of conflicts, or because the reservation duration or date falls outside the scope of scheduling.