The Microsoft Office lineup is getting a new addition , Microsoft Planner, which lets you visually organize plans, assign tasks, share files, chat and more. The new app, first introduced into testing last fall, enters a competitive space which includes pro software like Atlassian’s JIRA Core, as well as other easy-to-use tools from startups like Trello and Asana.
Very much like Trello, Planner also utilizes the concept of “Boards” to keep work organized. Within each Board are individual Cards that can have their own due dates, attachments, categories and conversations. These Cards can have documents or photos attached to make it easier to see – at a glance – what that Card is about, and the cards can be organized into columns called “Buckets” which can also be color-coded and prioritized.
Another key aspect to the software is the “Hub” where you can track the overall progress of the plans, see who’s on time and who’s behind, and filter down to see your own tasks and assignments.
What makes Microsoft’s offering compelling versus the competition is its integration with other Microsoft products – something that will appeal to organizations that are already invested in Microsoft’s Office suite and related services. For example, Planner is integrated into Office 365 Groups, which means that the conversations in Planner are also available in Outlook 2016, Outlook on the web, and the Outlook Groups Mobile Apps. Planner is integrated with OneNote, as well – every plan has a OneNote Notebook created for it, the company says. And the software works with Office, as users can attach Word, Excel and PowerPoint files to a Card. This document, then, is stored in SharePoint Online document library, which makes it available offline, too.