Vancouver Coastal Health is gearing up to make sure that no one has problems with meetings scheduled in Outlook when we switch back to standard time from daylight savings time. In the leadership group for Pharmacy, about eight senior managers, the executive assistants have spent at least a full person-day, if not more, changing the subject line of meetings to include the intended meeting time, as recommended by Microsoft.

This is an office productivity tool?

I know DST changes and calendaring applications aren’t easy. You can find lots of discussion on the web about the challenges. In this case, we seem to have put the responsibility for dealing with the complexity on the users, rather than figuring it out and giving the users a solution. But do we really think we can expect our users to put up with this twice a year forever?

I believe if you handled the DST rule change in March 2007, you shouldn’t have to do anything else. However, IT organizations seem to think otherwise. Are they just covering their butts?

In one sense I don’t blame the IT staff at an organization for being a bit reluctant to try to optimize the process. Take a look at the Microsoft knowledge base topic on the DST change and Outlook. The table of contents fills my entire screen top to bottom, and I use a small font.

So what should IT departments do? One thing you can do is be brave and don’t tell the users to do anything special. Then, when the complaints come in about meetings being wrong, go out and fix the computers that didn’t get the timezone update, or that didn’t run the Outlook timezone fix tool. Sure, your the affected users will think you’re a jerk because their calendars were wrong once. But you know what? All your users already think you’re a jerk twice a year because you expect them to do all sorts of manual work-arounds.