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SharePoint Apps: Teams Use Office365 Planner to collaborate

By Cathy Dew on May 23, 2017

SharePoint Apps: Planner & Tasks

Many businesses that use SharePoint as a CMS or an intranet also rely on it as a collaboration suite. Teams can use SharePoint sites to share files, comment on projects, and otherwise plan and execute a collaborative strategy. Regarding SharePoint apps that assist with this type of collaboration and productivity, few are more invaluable than Microsoft Planner (or Office 365 Planner, as it is also commonly labeled).

What Is Microsoft Planner?

The term “planner” is often used to refer to personal calendars that people use to keep track of their schedules. Microsoft Planner, though, is much more than just a calendar app that exists within SharePoint. Indeed, Planner is an app that your teams can use to create meticulously detailed project plans that span multiple people. Once you create a plan, you can add people, assign tasks, keep track of status updates, and more—all right there in Office 365.

Using Planner to Organize a Collaborative Project

Microsoft unveiled Planner as a new Office 365 app in early 2016. It is now widely available, and you can find it in the Office 365 app launcher. By default, when you sign into Planner, you will see plans for all your existing Office 365 groups. You can select one of these plans and use the Planner app to tailor it to your needs, or you can create a new plan. Which option is most convenient for you will probably depend on who is involved in the project at hand and whether that team aligns with an existing Office 365 group.

When you are creating a plan, Office 365 will let you assign a name and description to the plan, as well as choose the users who will be able to see it. Once you create a plan, Planner will automatically create a new Office 365 group. This automated action makes it easier to integrate your collaborative process across other Microsoft apps—including OneNote, Outlook and OneDrive.

Office 365 Planner has a Charts view, giving a widescreen perspective on project progress.

With your plan created, you can move on to using Microsoft Planner to add value to your organization in the form of productivity and streamlined communication. Office 365 makes it easy to add as many tasks as you want to a plan so you can get as granular as you want when sketching out the “To Do” list for your team.

You can also get as detailed as you want with each task. For instance, you can sort your tasks into “buckets,” which can represent different work categories, project phases, sub-teams, and so forth. Buckets allow you to split up your project in the way that makes the most sense for your team and the work that needs to be done. You can also give tasks colored labels (perhaps to dictate what types of approvals are necessary for their completion), add checklists to tasks (useful if a task has multiple steps or “sub-tasks”), or attach vital resources to each task (such as photos, links, and documents).

Perhaps the most important details to add to each task you create in your SharePoint Planner integration concern dates and people. When you create a task, you can set both start dates and due dates for that part of the project. If this task can’t begin until another task is complete, you can set a start date sometime a few days or weeks in the future, to tell members of your team to leave that task be for now. Setting the due date, meanwhile, lets you convey the urgency of the task and organize tasks based on which you need to do first.

You can also assign tasks to individual members of your group, which is one of the most significant facets of Microsoft Planner. Simply dragging a person’s photo from the plan members section into the task will assign the task to that person. You can assign a single task to as many as 11 people. Those people then receive notifications about the task, the responsibilities involved, the start date and due date, and any other details you provided.

Getting the Most out of Task Assignments

Being able to assign tasks to individual members of your project team is great because it delivers need-to-know information directly to each team member. Collaborative projects often run the risk of inefficiency, because full in-person team meetings must cover a lot of ground and very little of it ever applies to everyone. With Planner and task assignments, you could feasibly skip the meeting step by curating the information that each person receives.

Task assignments also provide an easy way to keep track of what is going on in your plan. Each plan in Office 365 Planner has what is called a Charts view, which gives you a widescreen perspective on the progress of your project. You can instantly see the status of each task and which are running behind, as well as which team members have the most tasks on their plate. You can then use this information to reallocate resources so that the project keeps moving forward.

Incorporate Microsoft Planner into Your Office 365 and SharePoint Intranet Experience

Are you interested in integrating Microsoft Planner into your enterprise’s SharePoint intranet or Office 365 experience? If so, 2Plus2 can coach you on how to build plans, assign tasks, and get the most out of the Planner app. Go online to schedule a free consultation with our team or call 510-652-7700 today.

For a deep dive into all that SharePoint has to offer and how we can assist you with any functions and capabilities, check out our topic page SharePoint Consulting: Experts reveal SharePoint mysteries, eliminate confusion.

Learn how to use SharePoint Apps at your organization:
Cathy Dew
Cathy Dew – CEO + Information Architect
Cathy focuses the company on our mission – Real results. Every time. Information architect and strategist, Cathy is passionate about making software work well – the function, the feel, the result.