How to Use Microsoft Planner (office 365 Planner) Effectively

Microsoft Planner can be an amazing tool for all-size businesses. It provides opportunities for an organization from small businesses to big corporate companies. To fully benefit from this tool, it’s important to understand how to use Microsoft Planner.

What is Microsoft Planner (Office 365 Planner)?

Something important to remember is that this tool is not a project management tool. It is, however, a task management tool that can be used within a project management process. A Planner is a tool utilized within Microsoft Teams.  It allows you to create and assign tasks to team members (and guests within teams), as well as track the progress of the tasks.

How does it help you manage your tasks in your team?

Microsoft Planner allows you to create, organize, and track tasks within individual plans. You can bring your team together on one plan while allowing them to own their parts. As a result, it helps you keep momentum and visibility across your organization.

The planner can be managed across multiple devices via both web access and apps on both desktop and mobile so you are always in touch with what’s happening.

By integrating Microsoft Planner with SharePoint and Teams, you can keep necessary documents, links, and other content with associated tasks so they are just a click away making your organization more efficient.  When planned strategically, this ecosystem helps your organization thrive by streamlining collaboration and accountability.

How to Set Up Your Plan in Microsoft Teams:

The first thing you need to do is to add the tab. At the top menu within your team, click the plus button. Then chose Planner to add it.

Next, you will title and set up your planner.

Just like any other tool, to see success in using the tool, you have to use it as intended. I mentioned earlier that this is not a project management tool but rather a task management tool. Therefore, it should be utilized as such.

There are three ways to view your Microsoft Planner. View as a board, charts, and schedule. We’ll break each one down and what the best way is to use each one.

First, utilize the board view to create and assign your tasks.

You can create what is referenced to buckets. These are like columns. You can set these up to suit your specific plan. For example, “Launch, “Structure and Housekeeping”, etc.

Once you have your buckets titled, you will then start adding your tasks in. Assign high-level tasks with due dates to specific team members. You can also add sub-tasks within the main task. Below is an example of a task with sub-tasks within a bucket.

If priorities are important in your plan, next would be to set those up. There are color-coded flags available for you to label your needs. You can also use them to label them as active, upcoming, etc. These can be used however you see fit to help you organize your tasks.

After you have your tasks all entered, assigned, and have due dates determined, switch to the schedule view. This allows you to have a big-picture view of all of the tasks within the plan. It shows you the tasks laid out on a calendar that you can filter to see all or specific buckets, team members, etc.

The third way to view your planner is in chart format. This will show you the progress of your plan. It shows you overall as well as by chart. In this view, you can also break down progress by a person.

More Tips and Tricks

  • Attach relevant links and files to specific tasks so they can found and used easily.
  • When you add a plan, check the box to notify team members of its creation.
  • Consider organizing your tasks (using the flags) by the amount of effort instead of by priority, such as minimal, high, etc.
  • If you’re able to, utilize the desktop app version of Microsoft Teams so that you can access your Planner tab quickly.
  • Encourage team members to set their status accurately marking the task in the process when started and so on.

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