Simplify Management Responsibilities with Office 365 Planner

Posted by Dave Fisher on 11.02.16
Dave Fisher
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Are you a pretty good manager that only gets to work with employees a few hours a day?

Let me guess: The rest of the time you are a professional meeting attender, email responder, and paperwork mover. Am I close to being right?

Every manager wishes he or she had more time to spend with employees, but our other responsibilities always get in the way. That’s why it’s important to make the most of the limited time we have to spend with our people and manage projects as efficiently as possible. Office 365 Planner can help you do that.

One of the newest additions to the Office 365 product suite, Planner enables you to organize and delegate tasks, share documents, communicate with team members, and receive updates about various projects throughout the day.

This is a more “lightweight” project management solution than Microsoft Project and it’s important not to confuse the two, although, like all collaboration software, Planner offers the best results when teams focus on process rather than the functions of the tool itself.

Starting a Team and Assigning Work

Office 365 Planner allows you to build a plan and manage teams quickly and easily. You can start a project, add staff members, assign tasks, create deadlines, and stay updated every step of the way. You will get an automatic notification with each completed task as the results are passed on to the rest of the group. Throughout the plan, everyone stays in the loop with a clear picture of what their role is and what is expected of them.

A Transparent View of Progress

From their personalized dashboards, the team has all the information, documents, and instructions they need to succeed.

Each person has a “Board” representing each plan he or she is working on, and every Board is comprised of visual “Cards” that make up individual tasks. Cards may contain due dates, attached documents, conversations, and a file or image that visually represents the task.

The visual layout makes it easy for team members – and you, the manager – to monitor progress across all plans or drill down into a single one to see what lies ahead. When certain stages of a project are falling behind schedule, everyone will know it. The “Charts” view includes interactive graphs that flag the team about looming deadlines.   

Easy Collaboration

 Office 365 Planner allows your team to collaborate on any plan assigned to them. They can attach files and documents directly to the tasks themselves, which all team members can access. This ensures everyone is working on the same files without having to waste time jumping to other apps to get things done.

Work From Anywhere 

As with all other Office 365 apps, Planner is built for a mobile workforce. It doesn’t matter if your group works in the same building, or even the same country. When everyone is working on the same Board, they are on the same page. You can also set up email notifications to go out to individual workers when you add them to a plan, assign a task, comment on their work, or mark an task as completed.

With interactive cloud-based control panels, planning screens and reporting functions, managers and employees can use any device to move their projects forward.

Integration With Other Office 365 Tools 

Planner is linked to other crucial Microsoft collaboration apps, like Office 365 Groups. When group members are assigned to a plan, their conversations on Planner will also be accessible in Outlook 2016, Outlook on the Web, and Groups Mobile Apps.

In addition, employees can organize and edit their Excel, Word and PowerPoint files on their Planner Cards, and once that file is attached to a Card, they can edit it offline in a SharePoint Online document library. With full tracking, transparency, and accountability, Planner makes it easier for you to manage projects and teams across the company. It will also significantly reduce email chatter, since team members know exactly what their responsibilities are all times.

We may not always get to do what we love most about our jobs. But if managing teams is your gig, Planner will help you stay on top of things while you attend that three-day seminar about managing employees better.   

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Topics: Office 365 Planner

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