Microsoft Unveils Office 365 Planner

Yesterday, June 6 2016, Microsoft began rolling out it’s Office 365 Planner edition to existing Office 365 customers.

This update, which is currently available to eligible business and education customers currently using Microsoft Office 365 E1 – E5, Business Essentials, Education, and Premium subscribers. Users currently running these versions will see a Planner tile appear in the 365 Office app launcher which will make it immediately available for them to begin using and experimenting with.


What is Office 365 Planner?

Planner, which was codenamed “Highlander” during development is a tool which allows users to plan and manage projects for a team, whether that means project management, keeping track of assignments and duties, or helping keep your day-to-day life organized and on track. Users can add collaborators and assign them tasks with due dates, share images and files, add comments, and view a visual display of individual people’s progress on the team.

Planner’s interface is similar to that of Trello and Asana, which are both extremely popular project-management apps. However, Planner has an advantage which is that it is already integrated within Office 365, meaning that new users don’t have to worry about downloading a new native app and signing up; their Microsoft email and account is enough to get started.

How Does Office 365 Planner Work?

Planner looks and feels a lot like other management apps, and uses the concept of “Boards” to keep workflows organized and easy to understand. Inside of each Board are “Cards” which can be assigned to specific team members, have their own due dates, categories, and comments. Users can attach relevant information such as files and images, which are helpful when scanning though a large list of to-dos. Cards can be organized into “Buckets” which can be colour-coded and prioritized accordingly.

Additionally, Planner features a “Hub” where users can track the overall progress of their projects, see where various team members are in their assigned tasks, and filter to view their own assignments and tasks.

Why is This Important?

Project management apps may not seem super exciting, but in fact these tools have become invaluable to many businesses and organizations for staying organized, on-track, and communicating goals and progress with one another. Pretty much every modern workplace uses one of these systems to keep track of employee and management tasks and progress.

However, companies who have been slow to adopt new technology may find a great fit with Planner because it is already integrated in with their existing Office 365 system, making late-adopters the perfect adoption  market for the new software.

Microsoft says it’s currently developing Planner apps for Android, iOS and Windows, as well as useful features such as reusable plan templates,the ability to assign a task to multiple users, and an option to allow external users to view your boards.