It’s time to master projects with Microsoft Planner

Wouldn’t it be brilliant to have a tool that allowed you to create plans, allocate tasks and organise staff, all in one place? What about all of that, with immediate access to project files and progress statistics? Now add in cross-department cloud communication. It does seem far too good to be true, but no, we’re not making this up, that’s all included as standard in Office 365’s Planner App.

If you’ve ever seen Trello, a board based project management system, Microsoft Planner will be familiar territory. It uses a simple yet powerful board system to plan projects from small campaigns to multi-national, multi-departmental strategies.

What does Planner actually do?

At its most basic level, Microsoft Planner allows you to create a project plan (a board) and add in micro and macro milestone tasks (cards). Each card can hold content, files, staff allocation, deadlines and more.

On an individual team member level, they can manage their own tasks, update, track progress and view their input into the larger project plan. On a team manager level, they have a full-scale view of the project from the top down, with intuitive calendar views and project portfolio management across the app.

Each plan can be split into “buckets”. A bucket in Microsoft Planner is similar to a Stack in Trello or a vertical swimlane in a traditional horizontal Gantt chart. Essentially, it’s your major sections of a project if you had to split it into 3-6 sections. These, for an application launch, for example, could be:

  • Initial scoping
  • Core development
  • UI development
  • Pre-launch testing
  • Launch
  • Post-launch

Within each bucket, you then add your tasks as “cards”. So, for the “Launch” bucket in the example above, you could have a card for gather marketing data and you could then assign that to your marketing team. You can assign a due date for gathering the marketing data and a start date too. This card would then appear in your assignee’s to-do list within the planner app.

Pretty simple, pretty effective.

How does it compare with other project management apps?

This is hard to call due to the vast array of PM apps on the market, each with their own focus client group and their own strengths and weaknesses. We’ve already mentioned Trello, and with several of Team64 having used that tool in the past, we can safely say that it is incredibly similar, but it does come out on top for a few specific reasons.

Firstly, it fully integrates with the whole of the Office 365 suite. You can’t really beat that if your business is currently running on this powerful cloud platform!

Secondly, it’s task level tools are much more intuitive than those seen in Trello and the interface is much more professional. Where you need to ensure you look the part as well as act it, Microsoft Planner comes out top for sure.

Thirdly, visualising progress has never been easier. The graphs and charts to show project progression make seeing what’s done and what isn’t incredibly simple. Team members can also see progress, so the accountability for tasks goes back to an individual level, fostering higher levels of productivity within your teams.

So in summary, if you have access to Microsoft Planner, we’d suggest you try it out before discounting it for a third party alternative, it will probably surprise you!

Do I already have Planner?

Great question – we can confirm that the following Office 365 subscriptions have Planner packaged in for free and ready to go when you’re ready:

  • Office 365 Business Premium
  • Office 365 Business Essentials
  • Office 365 Enterprise E1
  • Office 365 Essentials E3
  • Office 365 E5

Need your projects on Planner?

If you don’t have an Office subscription yet, or have one that isn’t listed above and want the Planner app and many more, drop Team64 a message here and we’ll get you set up faster than you can say “get my plans on Planner”.

It’s time to collaborate – join the 365 revolution with Team64