microsoft planner

What is Microsoft Planner? Benefits, Drawbacks, and Options

Are you struggling with complex planning and inefficient task distribution in your business? Microsoft Planner can solve these issues. It’s a task management application that simplifies team organisation.

The new Planner app will be available in Microsoft Teams this spring. It will offer a unified experience bringing together tasks, to-dos, tasks, projects, and plans.

Keep reading to learn about Microsoft Planner’s features, benefits, and limitations.

What is Microsoft Planner?

Microsoft Planner is task management software with Kanban boards and to-do lists. It is part of Microsoft 365 and, due to its limited features, acts more like a to-do list app rather than full project planning software. The interface uses task cards on a Kanban board. It’s a lightweight app that works on mobile devices and desktops.

What Is Microsoft Planner Used For?

From a project management perspective, Microsoft Planner’s Kanban boards help project managers and teams plan and assign tasks. The chat feature fosters collaboration, and basic task-tracking charts display progress.

Think of it as an organiser for your team and tasks, similar to Slack and Trello. Microsoft designed this tool for casual users with personal projects. For professional project managers, MS Planner is an entry point for Microsoft Project, Teams, and SharePoint.

What are the Features of Microsoft Planner?

Individuals and teams use MS Planner to gain project visibility, stay updated on deadlines, and organize your tasks. Here’s a quick tour of what Microsoft Planner offers:

  • Kanban boards: Assign work, track task completion, and reduce lead time with boards, cards, and columns.
  • To-do lists: Prioritize work and enter task details with simple task lists.
  • Schedule view: View all tasks on a calendar.
  • Group and filter tasks: Filter tasks by deadline to see upcoming work.
  • Collaborative task management: My Tasks shows all tasks, and team members can comment and attach files.
  • Assign a task to several team members: Assign tasks to more than one person.
  • Give users access to the tool: Add vendors, contractors, or stakeholders for external access.
  • Import Microsoft Planner into Outlook: Use the iCalendar feed to integrate with Outlook.
  • Get email notifications: Receive alerts for upcoming deadlines.

These features help plan and execute projects, though they may not offer the control project managers need for resources and budget.

Microsoft Planner and Microsoft 365

Microsoft 365 integrates Planner with Microsoft To Do, SharePoint, Power Automate, and other apps for efficient task management. Users can view and update tasks across different apps and devices. They can also update tasks at any time.

With Microsoft 365 task management, users can:

  • Convert emails to tasks
  • Create and manage tasks in Outlook by flagging emails or dragging them into the Microsoft To-Do pane
  • Track individual tasks in Microsoft To Do
  • Manage team tasks
  • Collaborate on shared Office documents
  • Receive email notifications for tasks assigned and reply from Outlook
  • View document previews

Since Planner is part of Microsoft 365, it includes the same security features as other Microsoft 365 apps.

Microsoft Planner and Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Planner and Microsoft Teams integrate seamlessly. Project managers can create tasks from Microsoft Teams messages and assign them to workers. They can:

  • View all tasks and their details
  • Edit multiple tasks at once
  • Filter tasks

Teams includes a Tasks app that combines personal tasks from To Do and Outlook (“My Tasks”) with team tasks from Planner. This improves visibility, collaboration, and task management. The app includes shared plans, which are Planner plans added to Teams. It allows users to:

  • Create a plan in a Teams channel
  • Edit multiple tasks
  • Send notifications about Planner tasks

Shared plans can be tracked and viewed in Board, Chart, Schedule, or List view, which is unique to the Tasks app.

Android

Microsoft Planner for iOS and Android

The Planner app is compatible with iOS and Android devices. It offers nearly all the features of the web version but with some visual differences. However, you cannot delete a plan in the iOS and Android apps; this can only be done via a browser. The app does allow you to add photos using your device’s camera, a feature not available in the browser.

You need a Microsoft 365 work or school account to use Planner on Android. Planner for Android and iOS does not support Microsoft 365 Personal accounts. Planner for iOS also does not work with government subscriptions.

Benefits of Using Microsoft Planner

Microsoft Planner simplifies task management with user-friendly boards and cards, promoting clarity and organisation. It improves teamwork with real-time discussions, file sharing, and integrated chats.

Microsoft Copilot in Planner

Microsoft Copilot is an AI tool that acts as your personal assistant. It helps you complete daily tasks. It speeds up development by generating ideas, automating repetitive coding, and offering solutions. Integrated into Microsoft 365, Copilot is changing how developers work.

In Planner, Copilot can suggest entire functions or complete blocks of code in your preferred style. This AI tool updates itself by learning from your coding style and provides more accurate and personalised suggestions.

Best Alternatives to Microsoft Planner

Microsoft Planner falls short compared to top project management tools like ClickUp, Airtable, and Jira. It’s more of a task management solution but lacks advanced features found in other apps.

ClickUp

If you sign up for a business version of Microsoft 365 to use Microsoft Planner, you’ll pay more monthly than for ClickUp, which offers more functionality. A Microsoft 365 subscription at $6 per user per month (billed annually) includes many browser-based apps useful for office and work management that ClickUp lacks. ClickUp costs $5 per user per month (billed annually) and offers comprehensive project management features.

Microsoft Project

Launched nearly 40 years ago, thousands of companies worldwide use Microsoft Project. Many people have mixed feelings about it, but if your organisation already uses Microsoft products, it might be a good alternative to Asana. Microsoft Project for the web is more complex than Asana and may not be ideal for simple tasks. However, it effectively manages large, intricate projects with multiple stakeholders.

Nuclino

Nuclino’s clean, user-friendly interface makes it easy to get started with no learning curve. Despite its simplicity, Nuclino offers robust project management and collaboration tools. You can organise projects using Kanban boards, nested lists, tables, and mindmap-style graphs. Track details like due dates, assignees, and priorities with custom fields.

Nuclino combines structured data and long-form content. Each card on your board is a document where you can collaborate in real-time, document project goals, add sub-tasks, embed files, and maintain context. Exchange feedback using comments and mentions. It’s both a project management app and a document collaboration tool.

Nuclino can also serve as your company wiki, internal knowledge base, and note-taking tool, bringing all your team’s knowledge, documents, and projects together in one place.

Jira

Jira is a top project management tool for product and software development. It supports Agile development with Scrum boards, customisable templates, Gantt charts, and budgeting features. Microsoft Planner is cheaper but only matches Jira in its Kanban board view.

Trello

Trello is a popular alternative to Microsoft Planner. It is known for its simplicity and visual task management. If Planner feels too complicated, Trello is worth a try.

Trello offers more flexibility in organising tasks. Users can customise boards, lists, and cards to fit different workflows. It also supports numerous third-party integrations with tools like Slack, Google Drive, and GitHub. Power-Ups add features like time tracking and task automation.

Zoho Projects

Zoho Projects is part of the Zoho suite of productivity and business apps. It is a popular alternative to Microsoft Planner, offering project management and collaboration tools. Zoho Projects supports task dependencies and subtasks, making it suitable for complex projects. It also tracks time spent on tasks, aiding in project billing and resource management.

Compared to Microsoft Planner, Zoho Projects offers advanced reporting and analytics features for deeper insights into project performance.

Basecamp

Basecamp is an alternative to Microsoft Planner that offers a full suite of collaboration tools, such as to-do lists, file sharing, messaging, and document storage. It centralises project-related files, making it user-friendly. Unlike Microsoft Planner, which integrates with SharePoint, Basecamp offers a more streamlined approach to document management.

The pricing model for Basecamp includes a fixed monthly fee, which can be cost-effective for large teams. Microsoft Planner’s pricing varies based on the Microsoft 365 subscription.

Asana

This collaboration app is easy to navigate with a user-friendly UI and simple task management features. A key difference between Microsoft Planner and Asana is Asana’s excellent integration list, including tools like Dropbox, Slack, and Salesforce.

You can create and select project sections, similar to Planner’s buckets. Asana also has a personalised inbox to help manage activities and collaborate with coworkers on your task calendar. However, Asana does not allow assigning tasks to multiple teammates.

Wrike

If your manager prefers Microsoft Project but you need something more robust than Planner, consider Wrike. Wrike is a powerful project management software with desktop apps for Windows and Mac. It offers folder hierarchies, dashboards, Gantt charts, and drag-and-drop features.

The folder structure adapts to the size and complexity of your project. Using Wrike to organise and schedule your work breakdown structure is a smart choice. It also has strong integration options and dashboard reporting to help with planning. Note that Wrike does not have built-in note-taking functionality.

Microsoft Excel

Many people use Microsoft Excel for task management, but it’s not the best choice. It has rows and columns for collaboration, where you can list tasks, describe them, and add due dates. Sounds perfect for a team project, but that’s not the case. Here’s why: Group collaboration is difficult, the mobile app lacks key features, and importing data into a calendar is very hard.

FAQs

Is Microsoft Planner free?

After signing into Planner with an E3 or E5 license, you can use all the standard features for free. To access advanced features like task history, dependencies, custom fields, and timeline view, you can try a premium license free for 30 days.

Is Microsoft Planner a project management tool?

The Planner is a lightweight project management tool for task management and team collaboration. It features a Kanban Board for easy task management. Integrated with MS Teams, team members can update tasks and work together on the board.

Is Microsoft Planner the same as Microsoft Project?

Microsoft Project is a more comprehensive collaboration suite than Microsoft Planner. It includes planning, resource management, team communication, and bug tracking. Microsoft Planner has many basic features but lacks the depth of Microsoft Project. It may not appeal to all teams.

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