How to Connect Outlook Automatic Replies with Jira

How to Connect Outlook Automatic Replies with Jira

Jira lacks a calendar where you can log your status and report you're out of office. But you can always connect to Outlook via Zapier!

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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…

Calendar gadget in Jira Software
The calendar gadget in Jira has room for improvement

Or activate the calendar view in Jira Work Management (if that’s your Jira application), which is excellent for tracking campaigns.

Jira Work Management calendar
The calendar view in Jira Work Management is optimized for tracking campaigns and deadlines. However, I wouldn’t recommend it for logging leaves and team vacations!

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!

Team Calendars for Confluence Premium
Team Calendars is available in Confluence Cloud Premium… but has no public API, so you’ll have to content yourself with using it in isolation.


Keep reading about Out Of Office

The PTO problem in Jira

racoon meme - PTO
Snarky as it might be, this racoon has a point!

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.

Visibility

The User View shows every user in the instance, whether they are out of office, and who will be covering for them

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.

automatic replies option in the Office365 settings
Out of Office Messages in Outlook are called Automatic replies

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
The configuration of automatic replies in Outlook
The setup window for Out of Office Messages in Office365 has everything you can wish for.

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.

Zap connecting Automatic Replies from Outlook into Jira
We like to manually run our Outlook to Out of Office Assistant zaps for testing

Step 9: Now, you should have your first Out of Office rule in Jira that comes from Outlook!

And there you go! The source of this rule is the Zapier integration. We’ll be adding a visual cue soon!

Conclusion

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.

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