The recently launched Microsoft Planner is the latest project collaboration tool to hit the market and is avaivable to us as an Office 365 subscriber. With Planner we have an intuitive project collaboration tool based on the kanban-management style, popularized by other project collaboration tools
Microsoft appears to have developed Planner as a tool for those who find Microsoft Project to be too complex, and Excel not complex enough.
Microsoft Planner sign-up
We have Office 365 Enterprise and already have access to the Microsoft Planner. They are planning to roll out Planner to other accounts in the future. To access it you don’t need to sign up or do anything fancy with code, you simply go through your apps screen by clicking the top-left corner of your Office 365 home page and then the Microsoft Planner button.
Planner has a native integration with the Office 365 suite, so you don’t have to log in to third-party websites to access your projects.
The Microsoft Planner dashboard
Microsoft Planner has a minimalist design that fits any business or enterprise. It’s great for those who just want the tool to do what it should, rather than wow with quirky features and rad design.
Project creation in Microsoft Planner
To create a new project in Microsoft Planner you create a “plan” and give it a project title, for example “Content Calendar.”
You can then create a plan email address which links to conversation threads about the plan in Outlook (more on this later), decide if the plan it public or private, and add a description. You can also add team members by dragging and dropping their icons into the plan.
“Plans” essentially act as a corkboard and represent the broader project you’ll be working on. Pinned to the plans are to-do lists, or “buckets” as they are known in Microsoft Planner.
Tasks in Microsoft Planner
Tasks allow you to become granular with the projects.
In Planner, you can create tasks to pin to the buckets and assign who will be completing these tasks, then see the status of the tasks – “in progress”, “late”, or “completed”. What’s really cool is you can drag and drop your team members’ icons into the Task to assign them.
Due dates in Microsoft Planner
Microsoft Planner gives you the option of marking the task as complete. The task gets archived once complete by being hidden, and you can check a box to bring it back.
Planner shows you how many tasks have been completed from the checklist on the task or card cover.
Planner goes one step further by allowing task previews on the task cover. If you check the “Set as preview” box on the checklist, you will see the checklist on the task cover on the plan board. This means you can check off tasks without having to open the task card.
Microsoft Planner progress overview
Microsoft Planner gives you two options to get a progress overview. You can get a bird’s eye view on all your favorite plans at the “Planner Hub”, where task status is visualized with color-coded donuts. The yellow indicates tasks that are not yet started, red is for late tasks, blue is for tasks that are in progress, and green for completed tasks.
Or you can get an overview of all your tasks per plan by clicking on the plan and then “Charts” where you will see the donut graph and then a bar graph per individual on the team.
The upside to Microsoft Planner is that you can easily see what progress is being made on tasks and which tasks have been completed. You can also keep an eye on tasks that are overdue, and if similar tasks keep being overdue you can reassess if they should be implemented differently, or assigned to someone else.
You can also see how many tasks are assigned to each individual team member, which means you can ensure even task distribution.
Collaboration in Microsoft Planner
Microsoft Planner has a notifications drop-down menu which let’s you know when you have changes in any of your plans.
It also has native integrations back to the Office 365 suite and you will receive notifications about your plans through Outlook. For example, when you’ve been added to a plan, an email is sent automatically to your Outlook account.
You will also be able to participate in conversations via Outlook about plans that you’re working on. Members will be able to comment on and react to tasks, add links, files and images, or simply “like” a task or plan.
Add Planner to NavBar
Click Office Logo to Open Options
Right Mouse Click on Planner from the menu – You may have to click ALL to locate Planner. Follow links and click Pin to nav bar.
The Planner Icon is now on your Navigation Bar for quick access.
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