Scheduler for Microsoft 365

Scheduler is an intelligent meeting scheduling service which sits on top of Office 365 and uses AI to help find suitable meeting times.  The process is quite similar to what we as humans do when we try to agree a time to meet and can be summarised as:

  • Agree that a meeting is needed
  • Suggest a time, day & location
  • Negotiate date & time until a mutually convenient time is reached for all participants
  • Send meeting invite

Except with Scheduler, the tool will do all the suggesting and negotiating without input from the participants if they are in the same organisation.  If the meeting invitees are in a different organisation to the organiser, then Scheduler will make suggestions and take their feedback.  You can find out more at Scheduler, a new Microsoft 365 service, makes scheduling meetings easier and faster – Microsoft Tech Community

For such a seemingly simple service the licences seem quite expensive at $10 (£7.50) user/month (see Buy Scheduler for Microsoft 365) plus you need an Exchange Online licence for the Scheduler mailbox, however when you consider that many of us now have complex diaries and no assistant to handle the diary for us, this tool could end up saving you a lot of time.  It’s also worth considering that the meeting scheduled by Cortana Scheduler sets the original email sender as the meeting organiser and this could be very helpful in avoiding issues with delegated meeting creation (see my blog on delegated meetings)

I’ve been exploring using Bookings and Find Time (see my blog on FindTime), but still find myself spending several hours each week trying to wrangle my diary.  Booking a meeting with scheduler gave a significant time saving in comparison to even those two.  The meeting recipients did not need any input from me to use the tool and for internal meetings, scheduler did everything and just invited us.  Is it worth the licensing cost?  For me, not really as I just don’t schedule enough meetings, but I can see how it easily would be for a busy executive even one with an assistant.

The rest of this article is split into 2 sections:

  1. Using Scheduler
  2. Setting up Scheduler

Scheduling a Meeting with Scheduler

Internal

To arrange a meeting with an internal colleague, send a message to the colleague and the Scheduler mailbox (which we have called Cortana Scheduler).  Be sure to include the instruction to schedule a meeting , how long the meeting should be for and within what timeframe the meeting should take place.

The recipient will receive this email so bear that in mind when composing your message.

As the meeting organiser, the Scheduler mailbox will email you and let you know that it is looking to schedule a meeting for you.

Once the Scheduler has found a suitable slot it will create a meeting invite from you and invite all other participants, and notify you with an email.

External

If you want to invite external participants to your meeting then the process is the same for you, but slightly different experience for those invited to the meeting as the Scheduler in your tenant cannot see their calendars even if the service is enabled in the other tenant.

Compose and send your email, being sure to include the instruction to schedule a meeting , how long the meeting should be for and within what timeframe the meeting should take place.

The  Scheduler mailbox will acknowledge your request via email, as shown:

And once the service has selected some times, you will receive an email to notify you which times have been offered.

The invited meeting attendees will receive an email offering the times and also quick response buttons.

Selecting one of the quick response buttons will compose a response email which can be edited and sent. 

With that response the Scheduler picks a time and informs you as organiser that the meeting has been scheduled and sends the invite to the other attendees

The meeting invite for the attendee

Setting up Scheduler

Step 1: Scheduler Mailbox

To set up scheduler for your organisation the first step is to create a mailbox for the scheduler.  This actually needs to be a standard user mailbox with a licence assigned that includes Exchange Online.  So it’s easiest to set up a standard user for this purpose.

IMPORTANT! If your exchange is configured in hybrid you will need to ensure that the Scheduler mailbox is homed in Exchange Online. 

VITAL! The mailbox must include the word Cortana in the name. Suggested names for this are mailbox are Cortana@, CortanaScheduler@ or Contanta.Scheduler@

Step 2: Purchase & Assign Scheduler Licences

You will need a Scheduler licence for each person who want to organise meetings using the service.  Meeting invitees do NOT need a Scheduler licence.  Licences can be added via purchase services from the Mcirosoft 365 Admin Center under Billing or by contacting your Microsoft Partner.  Note: Scheduler can be added to most Office 365 licences which include Exchange Online but not all but is only available in English. Check licencing guidance before purchasing the addon

Once purchases, assign the licences to the meeting organisers who will user the service.

Step 3: Designate mailbox as the Scheduler mailbox

This step can only be done using PowerShell. You need to be running Exchange Online PowerShell V2 installed and Exchange Admin permissions.  For details about using EXO V2 see Connect to Exchange Online PowerShell | Microsoft Docs.

Remember to always check any PowerShell scripts before running, you are responsible for the actions they carry out.  In these steps replace  <> with the relevant information (you do NOT need to keep the <>)

To Install EXO V2 & connect to Exchange Online run:

Import-Module ExchangeOnlineManagement

Connect-ExchangeOnline

To check your new mailbox can be seen run:

Get-EXOMailbox -Identity <Scheduler Mailbox Email>

To set Mailbox as designated Scheduler mailbox

Set-mailbox <Scheduler Mailbox Email> -SchedulerAssistant:$true

To check which Mailbox is configured as the Scheduler mailbox run:

Get-mailbox | where {$_.PersistedCapabilities -Match "SchedulerAssistant"}

Official Guide

See also the official guide Setting up Scheduler for Microsoft 365. | Microsoft Docs

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s