With the preview rolled out initially to a handful of accounts in September and recently expanded to include more plans, Office 365 Planner is a new experience from Microsoft which offers a simple, highly visual way to organize teamwork. If you've used Trello before, it's Microsoft's version of that. As a global Marketing team who run multiple, time conscious campaigns at once which include a variety of people, it's an application that's making a huge impact on us as a team. It's made such an impact on us that we wanted to share 8 reasons that we love Office 365 Planner. Maybe you'll pick up some tips for your own team...
1. Provides Clarity
As a global marketing team of a fast paced tech company, there's a lot going on and multiple campaigns to manage at once. Whether it's content production, event planning website updates or a specific campaign, it's always a challenge to get everyone on the same page and working together across borders. To manage this, we're always going to utilize tools like Skype for Business to talk to each other, brain storm and organize, but Office 365 planner provides a central place for us to ensure that the actions established on those calls are documented and clarified.
Tasks can be added in seconds to a particular plan board. Each task can be assigned, include a due date, show the status, allow you to attach links, documents, images, comments and loads more. It's the go to place to find out who's working on what and to ensure that all actions are outlined.
2. Improves Communication/Collaboration
We all know the pain of multiple email chains with various people copied in which ultimately lead to the point of the message being lost or diluted. Instead of searching back through emails to determine the key takeaways from a conversation, we use Planner to communicate what needs to be done. With description and commenting functionality on each task, we can communicate on particular activities directly, without have to resort to email. It's also stopped us from using excel to attempt to document our pipeline. Despite it being a shared document in Excel, it was another thing to update and maintain that we simply didn't have time to do. Planner provides a completely dynamic way to manage our pipeline.
3. Keep us on track
As well as showing all plans across the Marketing department, Planner also has a section assigned to My Tasks. This means I can quickly see every task that's assigned to me across all campaigns in a way that is visually very clear. My Tasks can be sorted by Status or by Plan giving you the flexibility based on your own requirements. As well as my own Tasks, it allows me to see what progress the rest of the team have made with their own actions, meaning we can take action early if we're slipping behind schedule. If other members of the team complete a task, I get an email notification about it also so I don't need to keep checking to see what progress we've made that day.
4. It's an organized person's dream
If you're a to-do list writer, you'll know the satisfaction of colour-coding tasks and crossing them off a list. Planner fuels an organized personality, allowing you to rapidly document actions in a visual way and mark as completed as you work through them.
5. It's Addictive & Satisfying
There's something about having all your tasks in one unified place that is very satisfying and our team have become quite addicted to it. With the ability to track how you're doing as well as your team, sync up tasks with documents you're working on or graphics you've designed, you see campaigns taking shape and moving along in a way that isn't possible from an Excel list or Outlook task.
6. It Looks Great
As a Marketing team, we're all quite visual and we feel more motivated to work on something that looks good. The UI is clean, not-overcomplicated and colour-coded for organization. Each task is contained within a Card, similar to what we've become used to with Delve. Each task can also have a document preview or a graphic attached, either from OneDrive or your Desktop, making it even easier for the whole team to get a feel for what's being completed.
7. It's Intuitive
There's nothing better than a piece of technology working in the way you would naturally expect it to. Things can be dragged and dropped smoothly, reorganized and re-grouped and our team have picked it up rapidly.
8. It's Streamlined
Being able to connect tasks to OneDrive documents, email notifications through Outlook and syncing with Groups really helps to streamline all your activities – one of the benefits of Office 365 in general. We're hoping this will get even better when some of the kinks are worked out in the preview.
To wrap up, we would recommend this tool to any Marketing team or team who run multiple campaigns that need a lot of organization in order to stay on track. Yes, there's a few things that need working out. Integration with OneDrive is still bumpy and only being able to assign one user to a task feels simplistic, but overall, it's a tool we would be lost without now.