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Task Manager: Help for helpers

How to use Task Manager to manage a help desk.

Many people use Outlook Task Manager for tracking progress on projects. However, there's another use for Outlook Task Manager: You can also use it to assist in small- to medium-sized help desk operations. Here's an example of how this can work.

When a user places a problem call, the help desk operator creates a new task for the call, listing a general description of the problem in the subject field along with the user name, contact number and detailed problem description in the body of the new task. At this point, the help desk operator can send a status report to the user who reported the problem by clicking on the "Send status report button."

In Outlook 2000, when you assign a task to someone else, that support person may not have all the technical knowledge they need to manage the tast on his own. For cases like this, it can be helpful for the help desk operator to keep a copy of an assigned task, so that he can work on it along with the support personnel to whom the task was originally assigned. Here's how this can be done:

  1. In the Tasks folder, double-click on the assigned task to open it.

  2. Once the task is open, click on the Details tab and then click Create Unassigned Copy.

  3. Outlook displays a warning that you will no longer receive updates for the assigned task.

  4. Click OK to create the copy.

Now the task will appear in the operator's task list with the subject indicating "copy."

If you are a help desk supervisor and you wish to be informed whenever a status report on a problem goes out to a user, you can create a rule using the Rules Wizard on the help desk operator's workstation to send status reports to you automatically. Configure the rule to say:

"Apply after I send message with "Task Status Report" as subject CC your mailbox name."

Adesh Rampat has 10 years experience with network and IT administration. He is a member of the Association of Internet Professionals, the Institute for Network Professionals and the International Webmasters Association. He has also lectured extensively on a variety of topics.

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