How do I make Outlook autocomplete addresses from a list of recognised <full_names> only?

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NessieNoo

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This is a little complicated so I'll try to explain as best I can, but maybe it isn't possible in Outlook.

Problem context: My partner works for a large public sector organisation. Mailing lists exist for different staff groups (e.g. "call handlers", "team leaders", "managers"), but these contain several hundred names because it is a 24/7 operation. In any given 24 hour period, only a RANDOM subset of these staff groups are working (approximately 40-50 people). Consequently, several hundred members of staff are being spammed with shift information on days when they are not working.

Data: The list of staff for any given shift is extracted from a rostering system and dumped into an Excel workbook so break times can be scheduled and shared. The data extracted from the rostering system is concatenated in Excel to make it display as <first name> <last name> in a single column for each member of staff (with subsequent columns containing their short and long break times).

Question: As we have a list of full names in Excel, how do we get Outlook (O365) to recognise these as recipients in the "To:" field so only those staff on the shift are emailed?

I've already tried...:
  • Creating a plain text string of comma separated values. Outlook understands these are separate names i.e. "Joe Bloggs, Mickey Mouse" but it cannot match them to autocomplete the email addresses. They keep showing up in red as [Joe Bloggs]X [Mickey Mouse]X etc., even though all of these names as exactly displayed in the spreadsheet are recognised when typed individually into the "To:" field.
  • Creating/editing a Contact Group. There seems little point in building out a new Contact Group in Outlook for each shift when it takes just as long to start typing each individual's name in the "To:" field and Outlook autocomplete it, especially when you recall from the above that every shift contains a RANDOM subset of staff so no two shifts are the same. (I know this sounds weird, but there is a small core team of full-time staff supplemented by a very large number of bank/occasional workers and part-time workers who work very different patterns.)
Will the matching have to be done in Excel instead (and, if so, how)? Thanks in advance.
 
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"Joe Bloggs, Mickey Mouse" but it cannot match them to autocomplete the email addresses.
>>
Are those the names on their email accounts? If you are using Exchange and the GAL is set as the address book to check first***, it should resolve them - as long as the name matches the GAL entry. You could also add them to the contacts folder, but that can pollute the contacts, making it hard to find your personal contacts.

Does the company use standardized address formatting? j.bloggs@, m.mouse@ - if so, you can use Excel to generate the addresses.

Another option is getting a list of all names and addresses and cross reference them in excel. (if exchange, you can use a macro to get the addresses -as long as its not a huge company as it is slow.)


*** not 100% required, but if the name is not unique, checking the gal first is better.

2021-04-08_21-48-29-0000.png
 
Thanks ever so much for your guidance. Unfortunately, my partner is a recipient of the spam rather than an IT administrator so has no ability or authority to make changes to system settings, and some staff are firstname.surname@, while others are firstname.surname#@ with this number appearing to be fairly random so it isn't a standardised address format.

I think your last suggestion is probably most feasible i.e. for us to build a simple cross-reference system in Excel. Unfortunately, it is a big organisation with several thousand staff so we won't have the luxury of a macro option with Exchange, but appreciate the insight nonetheless (I'm sure it will help others who check out this thread). Thanks again for your help.
 
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