One of the lesser known tools in Office 365 is Planner.  Like everything else in O365, it can be found by clicking on the “waffle” in the top left corner of your screen.  Welcome to Day 7 of 365 Ideas for Office 365.

The "waffle", or app launcher in OneDrive

Finding Planner

It probably won’t appear in the auto-populated list of apps, so just click on “All apps”.

The lists of apps in the app launcher in Office 365

This brings up an alphabetical list of all apps.  Scroll down and click on Planner.

Finding Planner under "All apps"

Planner is pretty straight forward.  There is a small sidebar menu, consisting of New plan, Planner hub and My tasks.  You start in the hub.

Planner's menu- New plan, Planner hub and My tasks

Planner, the App

Before we jump in, notice that there is also a Planner app for both iPhones and Android phones to collaboratively plan on the go.

The Planner app is available for iPhone and Android

Click on New Plan to get started.  That will create one column, which are called buckets in Planner.

Simply click on Add new bucket button to add more columns. 

The Add new bucket button

Choosing your Planner Buckets

You can name buckets To Do, unassigned tasks, assigned tasks, in process, completed, verified- what ever you need for your project.  Another idea is to name buckets for individuals, if you have a small group that each have individual tasks to complete over time.  If you use the steps in the process approach to naming, then tasks can be moved from one bucket to the next when they are at that stage.  If you decide to name buckets after individuals then they will just mark tasks completed.

Adding Tasks in Planner

To add a task just click on the plus sign at the top of the column.  A window is added in that column to name the task, and add an optional due date.  You can also assign the task to one or more individuals at this point.  If not, it can be assigned any time after you create it. Because Planner and Outlook are integrated components of Office 365, when you assign a Task an email is sent to the person(s) you assigned it to through Outlook.

Adding Members to the Plan

You can add members to the Plan as a separate step, but if you assign a task to someone that is not yet a member of the Plan, that will also add them as a member.

Add a new Member field

This is what a Plan can look like in process.

An actual plan with several tasks in the To do bucket and several more tasks in the Assigned bucket, and no tasks yet in the In Progress bucket

Consider making Plans for Professional Development events, Back to School Night, Parent Conferences, and even unit plans and lesson plans.

Planner can also be used within Microsoft Teams, which adds another dimension to both apps.