Vacation Calendar in Exchange/Outlook

We have Microsoft Server 2008R2 and Exchange 2010.  We want to have a vacation calendar where employees would 1) email the boss with a vacation request and the boss would be notified, and if he approved, it would insert their vacation days into the calendar, or 2) enter it into the Vacation calendar, the boss gets notified, he approves, and then they get notified.  We tried and couldn't make it work, then someone told us about Sharepoint, but I just watched a video and that seemed like overkill to set up just for vacations?  Any suggestions?  What is the usual practice?
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rvfowler2Asked:
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AnuroopsunddCommented:
Sharepoint will require more resources for this.

simple and best way will be to you send mail to manager and if he approves
 users set out of office.
In outlook you can have team calendar where you can see team member who is available and who is not.
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amenezes0617Commented:
Perhaps you can try something with the Resource Scheduling feature of the calendar where it automatically adds the "invitation" to the calendar. Like a conference room scheduling.
You might want to test something with the delegates feature for approval... I haven't done this exact thing but seems like Outlook offers a few features that you may be able to combine and make it work.
For the resource scheduling, when you login to Outlook as the calendar user account, go to Options>Calendar>Resource Scheduling and set it to automatically accept meeting requests.
Then you could try setting the boss as the delegate to the calendar account...
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Greg BurnsSQL / SharePoint EngineerCommented:
Overkill is relative.  You have a complex business process you'd like to automate.  SharePoint can help you automate it.

SharePoint Standard Edition has a built in "Approval" workflow that you can attach to almost any document or process, including a calendar.  But I'd go for something a little more customized, like a workflow that accomplishes the following:

1. User fills out VacationRequestForm.docx to a SharePoint library (http://SharePoint/vacationRequests).
1. The document library also has a couple of required fields, like StartDate, EndDate, and EmployeeName.
2. The Approval workflow is kicked off.  The document's status is changed to Pending.
3. The manager receives an email saying click here to view request.
4. The manager quits playing Sodoku at his desk and clicks the link.  The document opens up and at the top of the screen is a button he can click to view his approval options.  He can Approve, Reject, Cancel, Request a Change, or Reassign the task.  
5. He is feeling generous, so he clicks Approve.
6.  The document's status changes to "Approved"
7.  This kicks off a second workflow which will trigger if a document's status is changed to Approved.  This would be a custom workflow created in the free SharePoint Designer 2010 application.
7. An "Event" is created in the calendar, using StartDate and EndDate for the dates requested, and EmployeeName populating the employee's name, for example.

This way you have a paper trail for the vacation approval, and an actual shared calendar (which employees can synchronize to their own Outlook profiles) to manage scheduling.  You can then lock down the calendar so only managers can update it.

Overkill?  Depends on what problem you're trying to solve.
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rvfowler2Author Commented:
OK, so it seems you are saying that the free SharePoint Designer 2010 can do all the above, which is just about what we wanted to accomplish.  1) Is this already part of windows and I just need to activate it or is there a reliable download somewhere.  2) I clicked on your link above, but received IE's typical error, "Internet Explorer cannot display the webpage."
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Greg BurnsSQL / SharePoint EngineerCommented:
1. My scenario above assumes you have sharepoint 2010 standard, which is not free. It comes with some built in workflows, including one called "approval".
2.  The hyperlink was an example.
3.  Sharepoint desIgner is free, but it does not do everything. That's why I recommended Standard Edition.
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rvfowler2Author Commented:
Great information.  Will try Outlook/Exchange solution first and see if it provides the full functionality I want, then try Sharepoint, if it doesn't.  Not making you wait until I implement this, but giving credit now for good info, which is what I wanted.  Thank you.
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