Most of us have played with a (probably) free Kanban style tool for managing shared work and activities that need an eye kept on them but without the level of structure or discipline that projects demand.

Since Kanban boards have become popular, Microsoft Planner has been a welcome addition to many people who need to manage activities within a group or team that doesn’t fall under their organisational ‘Project’ definition.

It is included under all levels of Office 365 licensing which makes it a very accessible tool that is connected to the rest of the Microsoft and Office 365 suite of apps.

What is Microsoft Planner?

Example of To-do Task in Microsoft PlannerScreenshot of To do list in Microsoft Planner

 

 

 

Planner is a central hub that allows team members to create, share and work on activities together using the concept of ‘buckets’ (also called a Plan) and ‘cards’. A group of activities equals a bucket, and one activity equals one card.

Information can be stored on each card such as:

  • Responsible owner
  • Start and due dates
  • Activity checklist
  • Update notes

Items can be checked to be shown on the card itself to ensure that progress is visible to all from the central hub directly.

Statistical View of Each Plan in Microsoft Planner

Microsoft Planner also provides a statistical view of each of the ‘Plans’ so that team performance can be reviewed at a glance.

So, as a tool to manage non-complex activities, Microsoft Planner is a perfect addition to the toolbox.

However, we all know that sometimes projects have tasks that need to be passed to non-project workers. The traditional approach to this is to provide team members with a small amount of familiarisation and ask them to provide updated checkpoint reports or updates to Microsoft project.

The latest addition

A new link in Microsoft Project now allows Project Managers to link project tasks to Microsoft Planner (assuming you have a Office 365 subscription). Once the Planner Bucket (plan) has been selected, the owners of the MS Project plans will be added automatically to each card.

It is important that in this first release, it is noted that the link does not work two ways – updates in Planner will not be synced to the plan. It is designed to be purely a link for visibility in order that the Project Manager can update the plan accordingly without the need for everyone to have access to Project Online.

Microsoft have release a step by step instruction guide on how to use this link HERE