I’m part of a great team. Our team has a lot of projects. We are enthusiastic, full of energy, ideas, and different working styles. We work together to develop content, plan events, deliver workshops, build partnerships, inspire learners and do our best not to be overwhelmed by task lists and deadlines and still like each other at the end of the day. Not an easy task – but we do it pretty well. I’ve been looking for a tool to help keep us organized and is SUPER easy to use.
My current task management experimental tool is Microsoft Planner. So far, not bad. We are midway through one major project and I have to say it has helped keep us on track.
Microsoft Planner is available as part of the Office 365 suite. It is one of those undiscovered apps hidden in the Explore All App section of your dashboard. Basically, Planner is a task list tool. You can create task lists by project, assign tasks to team members, track team communication, and manage deadlines. It is easy to use and easy to see if your project is on track or way behind schedule.
Check out this overview video from Microsoft to learn more.
Pros and Cons
What I like about this tool…
- Integrates easily with all my Microsoft applications.
- Easy to set up a new project and new tasks can be added at any time.
- Assign tasks to one or more team members.
- Attach related documents to tasks and add comments to tasks. Ideas and conversations do not get lost in email!! Yay!
- View tasks by due date. There are three ways to view your task lists: in buckets, by progress, and on the calendar. Makes it easy to see project progress.
- Pushes communication through email. You do not have to open the app to see the current discussion around tasks.
- Create and manage multiple projects.
Things I’m not crazy about…
- You cannot add team members who are not part of your organization. At least I have not figured out how to add them yet.
- No Gantt chart. I love me a good Gantt chart. For me, it is the easiest way to view a project. There are some nice charting tools in Planner. You can see an overall view of tasks, coded by progress color. You can also view task progress organized by buckets and by team members. This is helpful. The calendar view is also neat and kind of Gantt chart-like – but, it is not a Ganntt chart.
- The tool is only as good as your team is at using it. Don’t expect miracles here. This tool will not magically keep your team on task and just because you have a planning tool, does not mean that they will use a planning tool. The trick is to find a tool that is not just one more thing to do but instead is actually helpful. Out of all the digital tricks I have tried, Microsoft Planner has been the most successful. I’m hoping that the more we use it, the better we will be at using it.
If you manage projects and are looking for an easy to use tool to keep your team organized, give Microsoft Planner a try. It might just be exactly what your team needs to take them from merely functioning to super-awesome productive!