Planner… what a view

Image of people planning at a desk over lots of paperwork

What I totally love about Planner, is the multiple ways to look at the same tasks by just changing how it is grouped. Enabling you to be very efficient with adding, sorting, amending and completing tasks.

There is a bug-bear around the levels of admin needed but if you get your head around this, it can be quick and simple to manage.

This is especially good for project leaders, that have no time to do the admin alongside running the actual project! Or a team of content editors and publishers, with high volume of information and constantly changing status.

Lets use an example of a product launch with a team of 12 people.

With the ‘Board’ view – ‘grouped by bucket’,  we have lots of tasks but can easily see what is progressing and what isn’t. You can visualise what is still to do, on track, at risk and blocked – by adding tasks to those buckets. This is a great way to keep focus on getting a project out the door.

We can clearly see that we need to move the blockers, watch the risky items closely and keep the on track items progressing nicely. As soon as something changes we can drag the task into a different bucket easily.

View of planner, tasks group by bucket

Scenario 1: Lets find out what those blocked items are actually affecting… For example: ‘Finalise Launch PR’ is actually holding up ‘PR’ and the ‘Marketing Collated’ areas – OK,  there is available slack on these tasks. However, ‘Keynote Demo Planning’ affects the ‘Keynote Presentation’ that is a fixed event, very high profile and is very important – this is the task we focus on unblocking first!

Lesson: Use your labels!! These are a really effective way to give you another level to your management view. The buckets track what is happening to the project and the labels give you a more detailed view of how it affects the success of the product launch.

Note: if more than one label is applied to the task it will appear in both label columns in this view

View of planner, tasks group by label

Scenario 2: someone is off long-term sick and we need to reassign tasks between people. What are you going to do, click into each task to remove one person and add another? No!

Look to the top right of your screen, change the ‘Group by‘ from ‘buckets‘ to ‘assigned to’. This gives us the following layout of tasks and all we need to do is drag and drop Lee Gu’s tasks into other people’s column. Simple.

View of planner, tasks group by assigned to. Dragging task to a new person.

Scenario 3: lets take a look at ‘group by progress‘. We are in a project review meeting and lots of tasks are being  ‘completed’ or moved to a different status… don’t waste time by going into each task to change it. Instead, select the ‘Group by Progress’ option and drag tasks into the right status as the actions are agreed; much quicker!

View of planner, tasks group by progress

Scenario 4: ‘Group by due date’ can work really well if you have hard deadlines and events. Some tasks are less time sensitive than others but they are never on-going. Planner is designed to enable you to achieve tasks within a timeframe, if this isn’t right for you then you could consider using Microsoft To-Do or Outlook Tasks. So, back to the scenario, this view should highlight your flexible and fixed tasks, so you can prioritise which ones to put your efforts into first!

We should also mention here that you can change how your tasks are organised in any of the views (Board, Charts, Schedule) by changing the ‘Group by…‘ option in the top right.

View of planner, showing the 'Charts' view

There you go, the same set of tasks, lots of perspectives… each to give greater insight into managing your plans and practical time saving tips.

Hope this helps!


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