What is Microsoft Planner, and Do You Need to Use It?

Teams working on a project

Microsoft offers a long list of ways to stay organized. So many ways, in fact, that you may end up feeling disorganized about how you use your organizational tools. The "tasks" feature in Microsoft Outlook reminds you to follow up on calendar events, and Microsoft Project lets you manage large-scale budgets and project management. While these programs may be helpful, they have limitations — and Microsoft Project requires its own license.

Microsoft Planner aims to meet you somewhere in the middle of Outlook and Project. Instead of logging into different software programs every day, you can conduct many project management and communication activities in a single screen. Its ease of use and comprehensive nature makes it an asset to your office. Better yet, we’ve found it’s pretty simple to get the hang of Microsoft Planner. Here are some of our favorite things about the lightweight tool.

Understanding Microsoft Planner’s Features

The task management of Outlook and team transparency of Project come together in one user-friendly package in Planner. While it might not work for C-suite level planning, it’s excellent at helping small teams centralize their plans and distribute assignments. Each team will have its own uses for the software, but here are the feature highlights that we think stand out the most:

  • Ability to create separate "Plans" (such as an email campaign or infographic project) and build out specific tasks
  • Easy assignment of tasks to colleagues and due date setting
  • Links and attachments can be added to any task
  • Each Plan has a board where you can see the status of all tasks visually (Not Started, In Progress, etc.)
  • Tasks can be categorized on a board by the team member responsible, the current status, or other criteria
  • Team discussions can take place within the Plan, eliminating the need to send tons of emails
  • Microsoft Planner is accessible across all types of devices, including smartphones and tablets
  • An Insights screen can show in graph form what percentage of tasks for a plan are complete

Using Microsoft Planner From Day to Day

With so many ways to help you connect with your colleagues, Microsoft Planner makes it simple to organize your day. From the moment you check your email for new client requests until you log off, you can use Microsoft Planner to navigate your way through your agenda. Some ways we recommend for you to use Microsoft Planner in your daily routine include:

  • Check your email for new assignment or deliverable requests and transfer them to Microsoft Planner
  • Add a description for the new Plan or task
  • Break down any sub-tasks or deliverables within each new task
  • Add the links for documents or resources needed to complete each task
  • Assign the new tasks and sub-tasks to the appropriate team member
  • Update your Microsoft Planner throughout the day as you make progress on or complete tasks
  • Use the Insights screen to update your manager on the status of the overall project
  • Before you leave for the day, check the Planner board and recategorize tasks into different buckets as needed based on the day’s progress

If you think Microsoft Planner could help you organize your team, contact Knack Training. Along with Microsoft SharePoint training classes and Excel training in Orlando, we offer helpful guidance for how to make the most of Microsoft Planner.

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