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 Office 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.
Who Can Use Microsoft Planner?
The Planner app is included for all users on specific Office 365 subscription plans, including all enterprise plans and education plans, plus Office 365 Business Essentials, and Office 365 Business Premium. If you’re on one of these subscriptions and you’re not using Planner, it’s definitely time to reconsider!