Roland Oldengarm - Independent IT Contractor

Living in the coolest little capital Wellington, New Zealand!

A quick overview of the new Office 365 Planner

When the new Office 365 Planner was announced in September 2015, I was very excited. This was one of the key features I think was missing from Office 365. We are using Microsoft products only, e.g. Office 365, SharePoint, Visual Studio Online, etc., but we were still using Trello in certain projects for task boards.

It was supposed to roll out to first release tenants in Q4 2015, but it took until January 2016 before it was available at my demo tenant. And now I’m going to give you a quick overview of what Office 365 Planner is!

Office 365 Planner offers a highly visually appealing experience to organize teamwork.

I think this summarizes Office 365 Planner perfectly. Any team of people working together have tasks they need to organize. Some teams use SharePoint lists to do this, but this is not very visually appealing. For development teams a good solution is Team Foundation Server or Visual Studio Online, which provides e.g. a task board, burndown charts, etc.

But now we have Office 365 Planner, which is the answer from Microsoft to e.g. Trello. I’m going to walk you through the tool to give a high level overview of which features are included!

Let’s get started. Go to Office 365 and verify you have Office Planner by opening the App Launcher:

If you don’t have it, make sure you have “First Release” enabled for your account or your entire tenant.

Click on it, and wait until Planner loads. I’m working on a Microsoft Office Demos (MOD) tenant, so I already have some test content:

What you see here, is an overview of all your Plans. The Office 365 Planner consists of several Plans. E.g. you’d add a plan for a project you’re working on or a team you’re member of. When you click on a Plan, you can add tasks to it:

You also see “Add new bucket”. A Plan consists of one of more vertical slices, called buckets. In this print screen I only have one bucket, To do. You could add multiple buckets, like “To do”, “To be discussed”, “Active”, and so forth.

A Task has a start date and a due date, which become visible in the overview, as well as in reports. I’ve added two tasks, one due yesterday, and the other one due tomorrow:

As you can see, the task due yesterday appears in red.

If I now go back to the Planner Hub, it becomes immediately visible that my Engineering Plan has one overdue task:

This makes it super easy to get an overview of all your projects (Plans) and see which of them require attention.

Charts: Get a detailed report of your Plan

Another cool feature are the Charts. Each plan has a Chart associated that displays a list of team members, the number of tasks assigned, and in which status:

And it integrates perfectly with Office 365!

In the background, every Plan has an associated Office 365 Group, which is technically a SharePoint Site Collection and a shared mailbox. So, every plan comes with:

  • Conversations: A shared mailbox all Plan members have access to;
  • Calendar: A shared calendar in Outlook
  • Members: A list of team members in Outlook
  • Files: A SharePoint Document Library to store files. All files stored in a task item in the Plan, are stored in this document library.
  • Notebook: And of course, a OneNote Notebook accessible to all Plan Members.

It is awesome

I think the Office 365 Planner is one of the coolest features released to Office 365 recently. It really fill a gap, as no other Microsoft product was available to do what Planner is capable of. So, go check it out!

2 Comments

  1. Do you know if planner tasks can be crawled by SharePoint search and under which content type?

    • rolandoldengarm

      April 8, 2016 at 3:05 pm

      Hi Martin, good question. I think I’ve seen this question before and I recall that at this stage they’re not crawled.

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