In an earlier Tips and Techniques column, What is the Outlook Mobile Service account? June 2009, InstantDoc ID 102160, I looked at the Microsoft Outlook Mobile Service (OMS), which allows users to send SMS messages to mobile phones using an SMS Service. Within the OMS configuration settings, if added to an Outlook profile, is the option to send calendar data to an SMS-enabled mobile device. People in the organization who don’t come to the office every morning, and who don’t use an alternative synchronization application or protocol such as ActiveSync, should find this feature particularly useful.

When you install the OMS, it adds commands to the standard Office Outlook 2007 menus. A section labeled Mobile is added to the Preference tab under Tools, Options as shown in Figure 1. Click Notifications to open the Outlook Mobile Notification dialog box shown in Figure 2. At the bottom of this dialog box is a check box you can select to send a copy of the daily calendar to a wireless number using SMS. Note that this feature sends the next day’s calendar. The drop-down box where you select the time isn’t customizable. You can’t enter a time; you must choose from the list which incorporates 30 minute increments on the hour and on the half-hour.

On the receiving end, the user will see by default a single SMS message for each calendar item sent. If there are six meetings, then the user should receive six SMS messages for the day. To send without this separation, uncheck the check box next to Send one single mobile message per appointment or meeting request. This will use up all 160 characters of an SMS message before adding another. Either way, a full daily calendar may be spread over many SMS messages. This is important if your SMS service plan charges per message.

There’s an option to exclude all-day events; these events often don’t have a specific location or requirement for user response. By default, recurring events with instances on the weekend are omitted. Finally, the calendar items sent to the mobile device can be restricted by the time of the appointment. By default, this feature sends only calendar items falling between the common office hours of 9 A.M. through 5 P.M. If you schedule the calendar appointments to be sent at 5 A.M. it will send the next day’s calendar, not the current day’s appointments, to the user. This is the only mistake I’ve seen administrators make with this feature.