Manage Group Projects with Microsoft Planner

December 2, 2016 by Lore Marketing Team

In a recent study by SharePoint, employees in corporate environments report the biggest challenge is project management. To overcome this challenge, Microsoft went on a mission to help alleviate the stress that often comes along with group projects, which is how Microsoft Planner was developed.

Planner – Simple and Visual Project Management

The driving force behind Planner was to bring in project management capabilities while minimizing complexity. Microsoft designed a platform that is simple to use and visually appealing. This platform helps users:

  • Create new plans
  • Organize project goals and tasks
  • Assign tasks
  • Collaborate on tasks
  • Set deadline
  • Track progress

With boards and charts, users can easily see what tasks they must complete and which ones have been completed.

More About Workflow Management with Planner

Effective workflow is crucial to reach project goals. This workflow consists of the steps towards the goals and who will be responsible for each step. This can become confusing when determining who has the skills and experience to take on each part of the project.

It’s nearly impossible to do this on a whiteboard or paper. Even outlining it on a document can turn into a huge headache. That’s why Office 365 Planner is now available for businesses and enterprises.

With Planner, groups not only identify goals and steps towards those goals on a platform, but they can create an effective workflow. This workflow is broken up into tasks (parts of the steps). You can also break things down into buckets. For example if you had tasks that were specific to a timeline of a product launch, you could have task buckets that were organized by “Pre-launch” “Day of Launch” and “Post-Launch Follow-Up”.

The tasks created can be assigned to different people in the group. They can then see what they are responsible for and be able to get to work as soon as possible, which increases productivity. In addition, if anything comes up with the tasks as they are being performed, notes can be inputted to help others in the group who may be affected by the task that was performed.

Once tasks are complete, the cards can be simply moved to a “Complete” category. This feature allows managers to go back through tasks to ensure everything was done correctly. Closing tasks also helps management see what tasks are being completed on time, and which ones need to be followed up on to ensure they get completed.

Group Collaboration

In addition to having an easy to use workflow, there’s also opportunities for group collaboration. Users can chat in real time with one another, or they can leave notes about progress being made on the project. This not only helps managers answer questions as they come, but it also helps employees work with each other, as some tasks must be completed by more than one person.

With Office 365 residing on the cloud, groups can collaborate on documents, files, etc. More than one person can go in and make changes, suggestions, etc. It’s as close as you can get to having employees sitting in an office working on a project. This is one of the most exciting parts of Planner because it allows employees to be flexible on where they work and how much they work. They don’t have to quit working on a project at 5:00 PM. They can continue on it when they get home that evening.

Customer Testimonials for Office 365 and Planner

What’s most surprising, perhaps, is how quickly and eagerly this new platform is being adopted. Office 365 and Planner has been extremely well received by all levels of businesses. Most users are surprised by the increase in productivity and the ease of use. These are just a few excerpts of what Office 365 users are saying:

“We expected to be more productive but were astounded to learn that not having to coordinate schedules via multiple emails makes us 80% more productive.” – Daniel Soh, Managing Director, SD Group

“Using technology to collaborate didn’t exist at this company until we started this process. With the connectivity and seamless interaction of the Office 365 services, we made it easy for employees to access the people and information that they need to get to, which makes it easier for them to do the things they need to do.” – Chief Information Officer, Fortescue Metals Group

Cost of Microsoft Office 365’s Planner

The project management is free with your Office 365 subscription, so there’s no additional charge for this and many other applications to complete the Office 365 Suite. With dozens of alternative third-party applications available many of which are less feature rich and can range over $50/month for even smaller companies managing only a few projects, Microsoft wants to ensure all of their users continue to only need one platform for all of their project management needs.

The real bonus for Office 365 users, though, is the seamless integration with all of 365’s existing cloud features. If you have meeting notes saved in OneNote Notebooks, you can share them in Planner, too. Planner’s shared calendar is Outlook’s Calendar. Your project files are hosted on Sharepoint. Planner becomes a visual display of the organization of any current project currently being developed and fostered through your existing 365 tools.

Are you ready to adopt Office 365, so you can take advantage of Planner? Contact us today for a thorough consultation on how your organization can take advantage of one of the most powerful cloud-based technologies available right now. We use a strategic, client-centric approach for much easier, friendlier and more reliable IT management services.