Getting On Track with Microsoft Planner

Aug 11 2017

Staying organised is crucial to the success of any individual or team. It is no surprise, therefore, that many software options have been created to help us achieve this goal. In this blog post, we wanted to look at a relatively new option that Microsoft have introduced, called Microsoft Planner. Planner is available with the Office 365 suite, and we have been fortunate enough at Comunet to have a closer look at this platform. From the outset, we realised that Microsoft have taken a very different approach to how tasks and plans can be structured and organised, hence the reason why we were keen to share some of our insights with you in this blog post today.

Boards and Buckets

We should emphasise upfront that Microsoft Planner offers more than online to-do lists. The platform instead revolves around Boards and Buckets. Probably the best way to explain how these Boards and Buckets work is to consider a pin board made up of individual tasks written on post-it notes. The benefit of this physical board is that you can move around the post-it notes so that all your tasks can be ordered and categorised as you see fit. In essence, Microsoft Planner is a digital version of this post-it note pin board.

When you start a new plan in Microsoft Planner, you are presented with an associated Board. You are then given the option to pin Buckets onto this Board. Buckets are essentially a group of tasks that are collated together on the Board. For example, if you are developing an event plan, you can create Buckets for catering, invitations and venue hire, with associated tasks grouped underneath each Bucket. These Bucket/task lists are then automatically displayed in columns across your Board.

Moving Buckets and Tasks

Already, this Bucket and task approach allows you to easily map out a new plan with your tasks grouped into appropriate categories. What is great about Microsoft Planner though, is the fluidity in shifting these Buckets and tasks across a Board. Simply by clicking and dragging, you can change the vertical order in which your tasks appear in a particular Bucket. Alternatively, you can shift your Buckets on the screen horizontally to change the column order. Even if you wanted to take a task out of a particular Bucket and shift it into another one on your Board, this can be done easily. This intuitive and efficient approach allows you to easily change the priority, categorisation and display of your tasks.

Planner Charts

One of the very interesting features about Microsoft Planner is that it does not just let you organise task lists, but it also provides a dashboard to help you track your progress. The Charts window lets you view the number of tasks that are completed or still in progress. If you have assigned tasks to particular team members in your Office 365 account, you can also see a breakdown of how many tasks each team member has. What is very useful is that on the right-hand-side of the Charts screen, there is the option to add and edit your tasks, in addition to assigning them to other team members. All the data on the Charts screen is then updated in real-time.

In summary, Microsoft Planner presents quite an alternative to other solutions in this field. Particularly for teams within an organisation, this software can serve as a centralised means for project planning and monitoring progress. Given that Microsoft Planner was only introduced last year, we imagine that more features will be added to it in the months ahead. In its current form, however, it provides quite a solid and intuitive approach to help you and your team stay organised. If you would like to learn more about Microsoft Planner, or Office 365 in general, please do not hesitate to contact Comunet today.