Jira Lacks a Calendar for scheduling automatic replies
It’s commonly known that Jira lacks one crucial feature: a built-in calendar.
Sure, you can build a gadget that feeds from a date field in your issues…
Or activate the calendar view in Jira Work Management (if that’s your Jira application), which is excellent for tracking campaigns.
There’s also the option of connecting Confluence’s Team Calendars, if you are on Confluence Cloud Premium!
However, none of these options are a good solution for tracking team vacations and out of office notifications. Specifically, integrating any specific workflows is pretty hard, because the Team Calendars API is not public nor documented. Ouch!
The PTO problem in Jira
The lack of a native calendar leads to several common problems. One of them is that team members who are on Paid Time Off (PTO) still get assigned to Jira issues. And, as we’ve already explained somewhere else, this breaks up any interesting assignment automation.
This is where the integration of an external calendar with Jira becomes an essential requirement.
And of course, when we’re talking about a calendar and an out of office message, the first association is usually Outlook.
2. Benefits of Connecting the Outlook Calendar with Jira using Out of Office Assistant
Connecting the Outlook Calendar with Jira is a fantastic productivity hack that will help you have a quick and efficient process for reporting your absences in one place only.
To realize these benefits, you’ll just have to install the Out of Office Assistant for Jira Cloud.
Remove double entries
When you mark yourself as absent in your Outlook Calendar, there is no need to go to Jira to do the exact same thing.
This integration is also a great way to communicate your time off with your fellow Jira users. Instead of looking you up in Outlook, they can just check the Out of office User View from any Jira Project.
Automated Task Assignments
If you have someone to back you up during your leaves, wouldn’t it be silly to let the plan fail because you forgot to active your Out of Office rule in Jira? Reassignments to coverers work far better when the scheduling is accurate. And that’s the entire point of connecting to Outlook.
3. Integrating Outlook to Jira through Zapier
The Outlook → Out of Office for Jira → Jira automation has to go through Zapier. You can just click here and get started.
By creating a ‘Zap’ that triggers when a new event is created in Outlook and then creates an absence in Jira, you can automate the process of reassigning tasks.
Each Zap consists of two parts: a trigger (the new event in Outlook) and an action (creating an absence in Jira).
But what’s very unique to this workflow is that you can set up a Zap in such a way that it’s triggered with your Outlook Out of Office messages, also called Auto Replies.
Let’s have a look.
Keep reading the docs: How our Zapier integration works
4. How to Connect Outlook Auto Replies aka Out of Office Messages with Jira
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to connect your Outlook auto replies, also known as Out of Office messages, with Jira:
You can also watch the video tutorial:
Step 1: Follow the instructions in this full technical guide to set up a working Zap. Pay special attention to what you set as an Event Filter, since we’ll be using that later.
Step 2: Access the connected Outlook account in Outlook 365.
Step 3: Search for “out of office” or “automatic replies” in the Settings search bar.
Step 4: You will then land on the Automatic Replies screen, where you have to enable the following options:
- Automatic replies on
- Send replies only during a time period
- Block my calendar for this period
Step 5: Name the event. Make sure to include the Event Filter Description that you used when setting up the Zap. In the example above, it’s “OoO“.
Step 6: Define a Start Time and End Time.
Step 7: Click Save.
Step 8: Give it a minute to make sure the database has the right data, then go to Zapier and manually run the Zap.
Step 9: Now, you should have your first Out of Office rule in Jira that comes from Outlook!
And there you have it! With these steps, you can integrate your Outlook Calendar with Jira, ensuring that work assignments are still handled by your team while you enjoy your well deserved time off!
Have a look at Out of Office Assistant for Jira Cloud with a free evaluation for 30 days.