Welcome to part 8 of my series Mastering common challenges in Office 365. This time we are taking a look at Microsoft Planner. This article will guide you through the basics, views, integrations options, mobile app and more.

You find PowerShell, OneDrive, Microsoft Forms, SharePoint and Microsoft Teams in my Mastering common challenges in Office 365 series. Go give it a shot.

Here as always the sections from this article to jump directly to it:

What is Microsoft Planner?

Microsoft Planner is as a lightweight, collaborative and highly visual task management tool. You all probably know solutions out there. Trello, Asana or even JIRA just to name a few. To be fair Asana and JIRA are alternatives to more complex project management.

Microsoft Planner as the name implies allows people to create plans!!!

Microsoft Planner has plans...
Microsoft Planner has plans…

Crazy, right? 🙂 But it also allows to organize, assign, and collaborate on tasks. You can set start and end dates, update the tasks via comments and share files. You can filter and switch between different views, and you’ll get updates via email notifications. Of course it all comes with your Office 365 group and therefore you have incredible integrations options.

You probably don’t know it, but Microsoft Planner is not an “old” product. In all the spotlight of Microsoft Teams, Microsoft Planner moved a little bit in the shadow. But from my point of view, Planner deserves it’s place in the spotlight as well.

Basics

If you start your planner application via the Office 365 Dashboard you will see your Planner hub where you can navigate to the plan you want to.

Welcome to the Planner hub
Welcome to the Planner hub

You can favorite a plan so it will be… in your favorites 🙂 like my editorial calendar or my “Planner” plan. (I know super great name 🙂 ) You will also get your favorites on the left side menu. Just hover over a plan and check or uncheck the star icon.

Favorite a plan from your Planner hub
Favorite a plan from your Planner hub

To create a new plan you click just on the the top left + New plan and you can set a name, set the privacy options of the plan and you can enter an optional plan description.

Create a new plan
Create a new plan

After that your plan is ready to be filled. You will see your Board view and you can start adding tasks to your board. You can also rename your buckets and add new ones.

Microsoft Planner - Empty plan
Microsoft Planner – Empty plan

Board view

The main way to interact with Planner is through the Board view, which contains task cards, each organized into lists or “buckets”. In the picture below my buckets are called “ideas”, “to do” and “in progress”. Each card can contain information such as task description, start and due date, files, comments, people working on this task and more.

Editorial calendar - Board view
Editorial calendar – Board view

Buckets are used to represent the status of a specific project, but to be clear, there is probably another way for you to organize your things. This may mean a task is dragged and dropped from a “To Do” bucket to “On Hold” as work is currently stopped. Those who’ve used Trello or similar tools already will find the way Planner functions familiar.

Charts view

There is also a Charts view that provides a higher level overview of your tasks in a plan. This empowers your team members to see the status and progress of the different tasks. To me this view helps a lot in bigger projects to see if a project falls behind schedule or when a team member has much more to do than others. The Charts view also shows if you have tasks unassigned, so you can then check on those tasks and assign it to a member of your plan.

Microsoft Planner - Charts view
Microsoft Planner – Charts view

Schedule view

Next there is my favorite view for my editorial calendar plan. The Schedule view. This view is available since early February this year and allows you to simply drag and drop tasks into your calendar. In addition you can switch between a weekly and monthly task view. Be aware that only tasks that don’t have a start or due date are listed on the right of the calendar in the Unscheduled tasks list. This was a little confusing to me in the beginning.

Microsoft Planner - Schedule view
Microsoft Planner – Schedule view

Group and Filter options

You probably saw the Member, Filter and Group by section on the top right already. The Group and Filter options in Planner give you deeper insights into your tasks to help you meet deadlines. For example, filter your tasks by due date to better understand approaching deadlines.

Filter by Due date - this week
Filter by Due date – this week

You can also Group by for example “Assigned to”. So you can see instantly who has maybe to many tasks and who can take a few things over to meet the deadline.

Microsoft Planner Group by - Assigned to
Microsoft Planner Group by – Assigned to

On the Microsoft Planner road map we already see a future timeline view. So check the Office 365 road map once in a while and also give feedback at the Microsoft Planner UserVoice. Microsoft really takes that serious. Well, at least most of the time 😉

Mobile

Nowadays almost every Office 365 application has it’s own mobile app. This is also valid for Microsoft Planner. When you start your Planner app the first time you get a few quick welcome screens to get you started.

Microsoft Planner welcome on iOS
Microsoft Planner welcome on iOS

Within the app you have first your already known Planner Hub, but you also have a quick view to My Tasks and your Settings. Of course you can also go into a plan to edit a task, create a task and much more.

Microsoft Planner - Inside the app
Microsoft Planner – Inside the app

There is also an iPad version available which gives you an even more ways to work with Microsoft Planner. To be honest, I don’t use the iPad app that often, simply because the iPhone app is a great solution for me and it also shows everything nicely on my screen.

One thing which is super monster mega cool, is the drag and drop option on your iPad.

Microsoft Planner drag and drop on you iPad
Microsoft Planner drag and drop on you iPad

Of course this is probably also pretty cool on a Surface Hub, a Surface Studio, a Surface Book, the Surface Laptop, a Surface Pro or on the new Surface Go, but currently I don’t own a Surface device 🙁 Maybe someone will send me one for my upcoming articles? 🙂

In case you missed out on the Surface Go. Here a short promo video. #NotSponsored

Integration

Microsoft Planner has great integrations. For me Microsoft SharePoint and Microsoft Teams are the best in case of integrations. You can easily modify your navigation in SharePoint and add directly a link to your plan. Be careful, because if you do it like in the picture below, it is “just” a link which will open Microsoft Planner in a new tab.

Add Planner to your SharePoint site
Add Planner to your SharePoint site

Personally I am more a fan of the web part integration. I can even choose the different views to directly embed to my SharePoint page. That’s really cool!

Choose the Planner view in SharePoint
Choose the Planner view in SharePoint

Of course Microsoft Teams has also great integration options. Just add a new plan to your team or choose from an existing plan and add it to your channel. You have almost the full capabilities from Microsoft Planner. Go try out these to options as an integration.

#HappyCatDay
#HappyCatDay 🙂

You will most likely keep them and you know it is true if Nyan Cat is also pumped about it 🙂

Planner integration in Microsoft Teams
Planner integration in Microsoft Teams

There is so much potential for Microsoft Planner. It uses Office Groups and therefore it has an seamless integration. It maybe has not seen that much spotlight as Microsoft Teams, but it deserves more for sure.

So come together and plan together with Microsoft Planner.

The best plan - the A-Team :)
The best plan – the A-Team 🙂

This is it for my article on Microsoft Planner in the series Mastering common challenges in Office 365. If you want to check out the whole series feel free and take a look at it. If you are more into Digital Transformation you can check that out in my series, or if you are just here to have a good time and smile, check out my article about How to use 7 tools to create 1 simple survey. (Available in English and German)

Until the next time, don’t be afraIT!

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