The physical separation of your staff makes it much more difficult to collaborate on complex and long-term projects.
Break room conversations, such as “Have you gotten an answer to that yet?” “Oh that’s right, almost forgot!, that’s all right now and we can move on to the next step. Good that you reminded me,” no longer take place or only very rarely.
So in order to manage tasks effectively in a virtual team, Microsoft Planner is a perfect choice. It allows you to divide tasks into smaller work steps and different subject areas. Through simple collaboration with the help of schedules, even extensive projects can be easily organized and processed.
When you open Microsoft Planner, you reach the Planner Hub. Here you can switch between the last plans and all accessible plans. “All Plans” consists of plans created in Office 365 groups that you are a member of, and public groups you have joined are displayed here, even if no plan has been created there yet.
In the left navigation area, you can switch between the Planner Hub and your own tasks. Favorites and recently used plans are also displayed here.
If you switch to the ‘My Tasks’ view, only the tasks that are assigned to you will be displayed. Group your tasks by plan, status, due date or priority.
Microsoft Planner also allows you to easily connect to Outlook, Microsoft Teams, Microsoft To-Do and other Office 365 applications.
Plan > Bucket > Task
Within plans, tasks can be sorted into different subgroups, or buckets. If you have opened the ‘My Tasks’ view, you can select your preferred sort order in the top right-hand corner under ‘Group by’, namely by plan, status, due date or priority.
When you select a task, a window with further information opens. Here you can set details such as responsibility, start and end date, processing status and priority. You can also add notes, checklists, attachments, or comments.
You can also create ‘markers’ within a plan. These are displayed like sticky notes at the margin of your task, and the different colors allow for easy visual subdivision, into subject areas for example.
If you want to move your task to another bucket, you can do this easily within the task window. It is also possible to transfer a task to a completely different plan. To do this, use the “Move” or “Copy” function, under ‘More options’.
Planner is a very helpful tool, but with a few small tricks you can use it even more effectively according to your needs.
Each task should have at least one responsible person assigned to it so that a sense of ownership is created and the task does not get lost.
If someone makes a change to the task, they should post the reason for it as a comment so that everyone can understand the change and it is not changed back by someone else.
Setting an end date has proven to be very helpful, as it creates a clear timeframe and expectation for the task in question.
If several colleagues are involved in a task, it is advisable to create a checklist with the individual steps. If you are working on a subtask, write your abbreviation behind the item and tick the item when you are finished. In this way, everyone knows who is currently working on what, what is still open and what has already been completed.
Setting the display view
In the left navigation area, you can display plans that you have previously marked as favorites. We recommend that you add plans that you use often here.
The navigation area can also be hidden completely, which is handy if you open a comprehensive plan and need more viewing space for the different buckets.
It has become common practice to group tasks by their due date. This makes it easier to estimate the urgency and you always know what’s next.
Integration with Microsoft To-Do
Another best practice is the integration of Planner tasks in Microsoft To-Do. This way you have all tasks to be completed in one place. Simply select ‘Assigned to you’ in Microsoft To-Do and activate the tracking of the tasks assigned to you.
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