6 Things You Need to Know about Office 365 Planner

Officer 365 PlannerOffice 365 Planner is a newly released application that is being included with the Office 365 Enterprise (E1-E5) and Business Suites (Essentials and Premium).  Planner is a lightweight ‘tasks’ or project management application that also includes some other functionality (shared calendars, notebooks, storage and message boards).

Here are 6 things you need to know:

It’s currently in Preview.

Update: Since this was originally written, Planner has come out of preview and is availible on any eleigible Office 365 plans (Office 365 Enterprise E1–E5, Business Essentials, Premium and Education subscription plans). No specific action is needed by admins to add it to your plan. 

Currently, Planner is listed as ‘In Preview’.  This means that the product isn’t completely finished yet, but Microsoft is making it available for you to use if you would like to give it a test drive.  To get Planner, you will need your Office 365 tenant to be enabled for First Release and your Office 365 administrator will need to add Planner to your tenant.  Each user that plans to use Office 365 Planner will need to have the license assigned by your administrator.

Office 365 Planner incorporates Office 365 Groups.

I am not yet a huge fan of Office 365 Groups because it is such a fundamental shift in the way people work and it just feels a little clunky right now (Want to learn more about them? Read this blog post). That said, the concept is good…I am just not warm to it yet. Every Plan that you create automatically creates a Group, which means that each Plan will get its own Calendar, Notebook, File Storage, and even Email Address.  But you don’t have to use Groups to make Planner functional.  One positive impact of this integration: Plans can be public or private – just like Groups.

Get to know Boards and Buckets.  

If you have ever used the popular web-based application Trello, then you are probably already familiar with these concepts.  Planner breaks your to-do items out into boards and buckets.  The Board view shows all of your buckets.  Think of buckets as just that – buckets that hold of your tasks that need to be done.  In our example, we have a Website Redesign Project.  We have three buckets: Photography, Design Tasks, and Contracts.  Each bucket has tasks that need to be completed.

Office 365 Planner Boards and Buckets

The Charts are Awesome.

Planner does a great job of making progress extremely visible.  The charts tab shows unassigned tasks, late tasks, tasks in progress, or completed tasks.  The Charts tab is your one stop shop for getting a snapshot of how your team is performing against your plan.  Grouping the tasks is especially useful.

Office 365 Planner Charts

Currently, there is no mobile application.  

This is a little disappointing, but it's still a reletaviely new app in the Microsoft world.  Microsoft has been putting a lot of emphasis on being able to work from anywhere and put a lot of work into apps, so I wouldn't be surprised to see this change in the near future. In the meantime, you can go to https://tasks.office.com and see your plans.  The page is responsive, so it will scale down to the size of your screen on your device, but it’s very clunky.

To keep the noise down – don’t subscribe.  

Some people really like to know every little detail about their Plans.  For those folks, Microsoft has included a ‘Subscribe’ feature.  If you subscribe you will be notified anytime you are added to a conversation (think: email) or assigned a new task.  I’ve found that I already get enough email, I don’t need Planner sending me more messages every time there is a change to my plan.  But, for those of you who want to get more email, subscribe away!


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