Microsoft Planner for Office 365, First Take: Shaping up to be useful

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#SharePoint #Office365Microsoft Planner for Office 365, First Take: Shaping up to be useful : Need to plan something that needs more organisation than a simple to-do list can offer, but don’t want to get into the complexity of proper project management?

Enter Microsoft Planner, an Office 365 service that lets you create cards for your tasks, put them in different ‘buckets’, tag them with half a dozen customisable coloured labels, lay them out in boards, and track them in a simple chart view.

You can use the buckets to organise a plan into topics or stages – if you’re planning an event, for example, you could have buckets for ‘in advance’, ‘on the day’ and ‘after the event’; or if you’re organising a syllabus you could have a bucket for each week of the course.

You can move a task from one bucket to another, so you can alter the way you organise the plan as your needs change. Cards can have checklists, comments, attachments, and links, as well as start and end dates, and you can assign them to specific people.

The board view gives you an overview of all your tasks; the chart view gives you an overview, colour-coded to show what’s in progress, late, completed, or not yet started. You can see just your own tasks, or go up to view all the plans you’re part of in the hub.

Planner integrates with Groups, which are slowly spreading across Office 365 as the way of organising teams that don’t neatly fit into an Active Directory group.

You can convert Exchange distribution groups to a Group, or get a Group by creating a team site in SharePoint 2016. And when you add people to a Plan, that creates a Group, and you get a Plan to go with every Group.

The Groups you’re in automatically appear in OneNote, and notifications arrive as email, whether that’s from a group chat or the tasks in a plan. Plans can be public or private: the main difference is whether they show up when people search for plans; if the Group is public the Plan is public, and vice versa.

Planner doesn’t really compare with Microsoft Project, because even though Project has a friendly web view for tasks it’s really a much more powerful and complex portfolio project management tool.

If you’re building an oilrig or fitting out a new office building, Project has the full set of planning and resource management tools to cope with that. Planner is a much more ad hoc and social tool for planning, and the dashboard interface is more like Pinterest or Facebook than a Gantt chart.

That’s not to say it won’t get more powerful tools down the line, and it’s already far more structured and better for team collaboration than a personal to-do list system like Wunderlist or Outlook tasks.

And yes, it is another addition to Microsoft’s plethora of task systems, but the way Planner integrates with the latest generation of Microsoft cloud tools, like OneNote, Groups, and the new SharePoint document library means that it can be a common task system for many Microsoft services.