EXCEL question - importing dates to Outlook

As part of my new job, I have been handed an EXCEL spreadsheet containing a list of our company’s products, and the dates when new versions of these products, or fixes to the existing ones will be released.

I am meant to chase responsible parties to ensure that documentation for new versions or fixes is sent out in good time prior to release.

This is something new for me, and I want to make sure I stay on top of it.

So: is there any way of automatically importing the dates into my Outlook and setting reminders for each product version or fix say, two weeks prior to the release date?

I know I could do it manually, but I wondered if there was an elegant (and time saving) way of doing it automatically?

You can send an online meeting request to yourself and then accept it to yourself.

It is under tools, Online Collaboration, Schedule Meeting.

In that way there would be an appointment on your Outlook Calender.

OP: Yes and it’s easy, at least assuming you have Outlook 2003 or later. It might even work in Outlook 2000; I just don’t have one of those laying around to test.

First off, decide whether you want to import these as Calendar items or Tasks. My advice is Tasks, since you won’t really be doing them at the the instant they become due. It’s easy to forget that you didn’t really accomplish last Wednesday’s calendar item, while overdue Tasks just sit there in your to-do pile until you check them off.

You’ll want to set up a spreadsheet (“SS”) with columns for product, date, who you need to contact, and any other info that you’d like to have included in your task/calendar item. You can work directly with the SS they gave you, or create a fresh one copying over just the info you need. The order of columns & any extra columns don’t matter. You must also have a row above your data with column headings.

Then create a “named range” in the SS. Hightlight the rectangle that includes your header row & all data rows by all the columns you need. Then in 2003 menu to Insert -> Name -> Define… then type in a name, e.g. “TaskImport” & click OK. In 2007 you can right-click the selected area & choose “Name a Range” or choose “Define Name” from the “Defined Names” section of the Formula ribbon.

Save the spreadsheet. For 2007, you MUST save the spreadsheet in the old (97-2003) format.

Close the spreadsheet. It can’t be open in Excel while Outlook is working on it.

Switch to Outlook. From here on 2003 vs 2007 doesn’t matter; the steps are the same.

From the menu select “File” -> “Import and Export …” & that’ll start a wizard.

Select “Import from another program or file” & click [Next>].

Select your SS file & decide how you want to handle dupes. SInce you probably don’t have dupes, this choice won’t much matter.

Select “Tasks” from the destination folder tree and click [Next >]. (If you wanted to import these as Calendar items, choose “Calendar”. As a completely separate project, if you have a SS of contact info, choosing Contacts here is an easy way to get them all into your Outlook Contacts.)

On the next page you’ll see a list of all the named ranges in the SS, including the one you created. Check the checkbox next to it.

A new box will pop up so you can tell it which columns in the SS should be copied to which fields in the Tasks. Read the directions, but it’s easy, just drag the column names onto the desired field names. When done, click [OK].

Finally, click [Finish].

Viola!! You have tasks with due date & reminders & everything.
Took me about 3 minutes total to make up a dummy spreadsheet & do the import. It took a lot longer to write these instructions.

Suggestion: Try making a test import involving just 2 or 3 rows of data. You’ll probably have to do it once or twice before you get all the data in the right fields and it’s a lot easier to delete 2 mistakes than 200. Outlook remembers your import settings from last time, so each experiment will be starting with the settings from the last attempt.

SomeUserName, for some reason I don’t seem to be able to schedule meetings with anyone. That option is unclickable on my menu.

LSLGuy, thanks for taking the time to write the instructions out. I will try this and report back.