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Last week, Microsoft released Planner for Office 365. If you have any of the following licences: Office 365 Enterprise E1-E5, Business Essentials, Premium and Education subscriptions, you should have seen the following tile appear in your portal.
Office 365’s newest tool is introduced by Microsoft as ‘a new and improved way for businesses, schools and organizations to structure teamwork easily and get more done. With Planner, teams can create new plans; organize, assign and collaborate on tasks; set due dates; update statuses and share files, while visual dashboards and email notifications keep everyone informed on progress’.
We noticed that the tile appeared in our portal last week, so we thought we would have a look around, and see what the latest Office 365 addition could do. Below is the Planner hub, the main area where an overview of all plans, and any favourite plans are listed. Down the left-hand navigation menu, you can add new plans and review your tasks quickly.
To create a new plan, click ‘New Plan’ in the top left corner, and fill in the details below.
As you can see above, my new plan is called ‘Getting Organised’, and it gives me the option to make it public or private. You can also add any extra details into the description field.
Once created, you should see something like this.
Once you’ve created a plan you can add a task, assign it to team members, and set deadlines for each element of your plan. I have added a task to my plan below, given it a title, assigned it to myself and set a deadline of June 29th.
As you can see, it is possible to add further description to your task, as well as any useful links, attachments, and a checklist to break down the task into clear actions – there’s even colour coded labels on the right-hand side.
You can mark each task as ‘Not started’, ‘In progress’ or ‘Completed’ depending on its status, and if you need to make any amendments to the due dates, it is possible to do this at the top of the page.
Tasks can be organised into columns called ‘Buckets’ as shown below. This feature allows users to work on complex or interconnected projects or workstreams in a way that remains clear and can be navigated by your team. You could even manage multiple mini-projects or a portfolio of work in one plan at a glance to keep track of your team’s workload and progress.
Each new plan created in Planner automatically creates a new Office 365 group as well, enabling the two solutions to integrate fully. The group will then support the collaboration features by providing storage for attachments and a mailbox to facilitate group discussions.
Microsoft Planner works across desktops, smartphones and other devices, enabling users to collaborate seamlessly, even if they are on the move. Further development is also planned, as Microsoft explain: ‘Some of the new features we plan to introduce over the next few months include the ability to assign a task to multiple users, external user access, plan templates, customisable boards and apps for iOS, Android and Windows’.
Is Planner included with your Office 365 licence? Why not give it a try?
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