Last Updated on 9th October 2020
Looking for a way to help you employees up their organisational expertise? Microsoft Planner might be the ideal choice to make it happen. It’s a versatile app that makes it easy for users to organise their workday, and helps them collaborate more effectively too.
What is Microsoft Planner?
Planner is part of Microsoft Teams, the versatile communication environment that allows people to form into teams to work on collaborative tasks as needed. Teams is fully integrated with Microsoft 365, SharePoint, and OneDrive for Business, and works within a secure cloud-based environment.
Where apps such as OneNote are great for organising daily workflow and prioritising tasks, Microsoft Planner is more about the big picture: it’s designed to help people plan individual tasks and projects, including large and complicated projects, as well as smaller and simpler ones. Since Planner is specifically designed to be useful at the project management level, your team leaders will find it particularly useful.
Not surprisingly, Planner also integrates well with Microsoft Teams, and allows users to transition seamlessly from one app to the other. This solid integration means that team members have even more ways to communicate, plan their work, and manage the information they generate and use.
How Microsoft Planner Works
Once Planner is installed, it can be launched from the Microsoft 365 app launcher with just one click. Once you’re up and running, you can use Planner to create new plans, assemble teams, assign tasks to team members, and more.
Each plan—or project—you create within Planner has its own separate board. Here, tasks are organised into columns called buckets. Within each bucket you can further subdivide the project by creating cards for each single task. Each card can include details such as a brief task description, who’s working on it, and what the deadline is. In addition, tasks can be further broken down using checklists, so that every step of the project, bucket, and task can be itemised. And each time you assign a task to a team member, they receive an email notification to let them know.
Simple, quick, and visual
Microsoft Planner can vastly simplify how you organise teams and projects, and it has a clean and simple interface to match. Once you create a task, it can be moved to any bucket in its associated plan. By dragging tasks into the relevant bucket, you can quickly and easily create a visual map of what a project looks like. And as tasks are completed and checked off, that visual map will update to give you an accurate view of how the project is progressing.
One of the simplest—but most useful—things about Planner is that as tasks are completed, they can be checked off by the appropriate team member. And then, that task is archived, so it’s no longer on the active project board. This makes it easy to see at a glance what tasks are still active, who’s working to schedule, and who might be falling behind.
Another useful Planner feature is that it works on desktop and laptop computers, and mobile devices. Planner syncs in real time, so no matter what device you’re using, you’re always up-to-date.
In addition to board view, where you can view the buckets and tasks associated with a plan, there’s also a chart view. In chart view, you can get an overview of your team’s progress, with graphs that are auto-created when you switch to this mode. You can also view progress charts for each team member, so you can quickly see if any team members are struggling to complete their work.
Planner for project managers
- Add documents and links to task cards, so that team members have all the resources they need to complete the task.
- Track the progress for each member of a team, to make sure everyone is sticking to the schedule.
- Help to prevent miscommunication, so that everyone’s on the same page right from the start, and at each stage of the project.
- Ensures that everyone knows what they’re doing, and what each other team member is doing too.
Planner for team members
- Use the My Tasks feature to see a list of all assigned tanks, and their status, across all teams and plans an individual is part of.
- Attach files to tasks, and collaborate seamlessly on those files with other team members.
- All discussions, files, and other items stay within the project and aren’t scattered across multiple different apps.
Benefits of Microsoft Planner
See projects in a new light: The app is the hub of your project work. It allows you to create plans, build teams and then assign tasks within those teams. You are even able to update statuses within the app so that everyone is always up to date with what is going on rather than relying on emails that can go missing or be ignored. If you have assigned too many tasks to one person you can review that and move them to someone else. Planner is all about collaboration, allowing you to share files and have conversations without switching apps. All discussion can stay in one place rather than being trapped within disparate apps that some people may not be able to see. Planner allows for everyone to be on the same page.
Visual Organisation: One of the great things about Planner is that you are able to see everything that you need to at once. It’s a very visual application giving you clear diagrams and charts that illustrate progress and time commitments. For example, you are able to have a donut chart showing you which tasks are completed, late, in progress or yet to be started. You will always be able to know where you are with Planner and how much is left to be done. Individuals are also able to see their tasks across multiple plans so that they know exactly where they are and what needs to be made a priority.
Planner Across Multiple Devices: Naturally, as a Microsoft 365 product, Planner is accessible across multiple devices. You can access Planner from the app launcher in the Office 365 browser. You can even receive email notifications whenever an update is made to a plan. The flexibility of the app makes sure that you are always in the loop when it comes to what is going on with a project. Planner orchestrates the real collaborative power and flexibility of Microsoft 365. It brings teams together and ensures that projects are organised effectively with efficiency.
Who Can Use Microsoft Planner?
The Planner app is included for all users on specific Microsoft 365 subscription plans, including all enterprise plans and education plans, plus Microsoft 365 Business Basic, and Microsoft 365 Business Standard. If you’re on one of these subscriptions and you’re not using Planner, it’s definitely time to reconsider!