Webinar Recap: Microsoft Planner Deep Dive

Please find below a transcription of the audio portion of Ben Howard’s Microsoft Planner Deep Dive webinar being provided by MPUG for the convenience of our members. You may wish to use this transcript for the purposes of self-paced learning, searching for specific information, and/or performing a quick review of webinar content. There may be exclusions, such as those steps included in product demonstrations. You may watch the live recording of this webinar at your convenience.

Kyle: Hello everyone, and welcome to today’s MPUG webinar, Microsoft Planner Deep Dive. My name is Kyle, and I’ll be the moderator today. Today’s session is a 45 minute presentation, eligible for three quarters a PMI PDU in the technical category. The MPUG activity code for claiming that with PMI is on the screen now. Like all MPUG webinars, a recording will be posted to MPUG.com shortly after the live presentation wraps up, and all MPUG members can watch these recordings at any time and still be eligible to earn the PDU credit. All the sessions you watch on demand can be submitted to your webinar history, and the live sessions you attend are automatically submitted. Within your history you can print or download your transcript, and certificates of completion, including the one for today’s event. And you can access this by logging on to MPUG.com, click “My Account”, and then click on the “Webinar Reports” link.

Kyle: If you have any questions during today’s presentation, please send those over to us at any time, using the chat question box on the GoToWebinar control panel, and we do plan to answer those for you at the end of the session today. All right then, we’ll go ahead and begin!

Kyle: We’re very happy to welcome back Ben Howard today. Ben has over 20 years of experience, implementing enterprise solutions including Project Online. He has worked for IBM, Dell, Microsoft, as well as several smaller organizations. He now runs his own EPM consultancy, called Apple Park, providing Project, Project Online, and power BI implementation and training services. Ben has been awarded the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional award for many years as well. So, with that said I’d like to welcome you back, Ben, and, I’ll hand it over to you at this time to get us started with today’s session!

Ben Howard: Hey, thanks Kyle! Thanks very much, welcome everybody! Let me just show my screen… which one we want to see… let’s just have a look… I think… that one will do it! So, Kyle. Just before I start pontificating, can you see my screen? Should see a bit of a PowerPoint up there.

Kyle: Yep, looks great!

Ben Howard: Brilliant! All right. So, welcome everybody! My name’s Ben Howard. I live and reside, I work these days very much in the U.K. Got to say, it’s a stunning day in the U.K. today, so welcome to those of us who are in Europe, and probably having this nice weather. And I know you always get nice weather in the U.S. Anyway, so, Kyle did a superb introduction. That’s me when I had some hair, and I didn’t even have much hair then, I’ve got much less hair now. All right. So, first thing to say is, I hope you’re all safe and well, in these strange times. I’m also working from home, and have been for a long time. I’m on a home Wi-Fi system. It is not a corporate Wi-Fi system. I do drop out. Please stick with us, my router takes 5 to 10 minutes to boot, and I know Kyle will step in and do whatever he needs to do.

Ben Howard: Okay, so that’s enough about me. This is all about Planner, and where does Planner fit in? Well, Planner, as we know, is a Microsoft tool. We’ll talk about that, but this is a bit of the Microsoft ecosystem today, and when I look at this slide, I go, “AHH!” Cause it’s horrendous. Right? I used to draw architecture slides with SQL, and Beanstalk and other servers in there. Looking at this, and looking at the connectivity, this is what Microsoft are building with their modern apps and services, their Common Data Service, power automate, logic apps… So all of those sorts of things are part of this. But Planner very much sits, in this diagram on the right hand side. And Planner is a tool to help us accomplish work, and that’s what it’s for. We can also see, just right of Planner…we’ve got Project…sits in there, and we know there’s a new Project [inaudible 00:04:17] web tool coming along. We’ve got some integration that’s in progress between Project and Planner. We know that we’ve got some longer term interest in Project and Tasks for docs, etc. So there’s lots of things happening. Planner is almost at the center of this.

Ben Howard: Things that have been completed? Of course, it’s that Planner now speaks to Teams, and Teams speaks to To Do. Planner also speaks to To Do, and that’s what we’re going to look at. These three apps, To Do, Teams, and Planner… they’re all about managing work, either personally or within a team, and they all hit a certain sweet spot. I’m very much, today, going to try and look at that sweet spot, and also demo how you can use mobile technology, of the mobile applications within Teams, Planner, and To Do as well for those of you haven’t seen that. Because I expect plenty of people are using Teams. Of course, Microsoft are giving it away for free these days. I logged into Teams everyday, but I had a look at Teams admin today, and there was a post in the Teams admin that said, “Basically Mr. Howard, because we are utilizing Teams so much, that it might take 24 hours for some of this stuff to replicate around.” So I expect a lot of people are also using Teams.

Ben Howard: To Do though? Well, To Do, where did that come from? To Do came from Wunderlist. Let’s just have a look at where we might position To Do, Teams, Planners, and the greater products such as Project. Okay, so To Do is very much a personal task list management system. Okay? It’s now part of, and we’ll look at this later, Outlook. Okay? So Outlook tasks are now To Do tasks. They’re all part of Common Data Service. The nice thing about To Do actually is, you can share your lists with people. So just from a personal perspective, in our house, we have a shopping list that if anybody needs anything from the shops, they stick it on the shopping list and whoever goes to the shops, gets ahold of everybody’s shopping list. You know, we don’t have post it notes on the fridge anymore. Well at least not for shopping. So To Do is personal task lists, as I say, came from Wunderlist but Microsoft bought it, and I used Wunderlist for many years.

Ben Howard: Planner, is if you’d like the next step up from that, so its about managing tasks. It’s a bit like a Kanban board, again we’ll try and come onto that and show you what I mean by that, but it’s a collaborative tool. So, To Do, you have to be collaborative in there, you have to invite people but it’s mainly for your use, on your phone, etc. Planner is very much a collaborative, small, teams, business unit type application for managing tasks. It’s also pretty much, not necessarily free, but I think if you have an E3 license, you certainly get Planner. And it may be even part of a cheaper license than that. I’m not a licensing expert so I hold my hands up to that.

Ben Howard: Teams? Teams is a bit bigger. So, Teams is, if you like, the wonder application that everybody is deploying, using, playing… It’s the new SharePoint in some respects. Teams, of course, is a collaboration, communications tool, where we can include lots of other apps. The most popular app that’s added to Teams is actually Planner. Okay? So there is a massive symbiosis there… a a symbiotic relationship… I did swallow a dictionary once. I’ll show you a little bit of the future stuff, where these two tools are going to get much closer together.

Ben Howard: Moving up then, the order, if you like, of magnitude of using some sort of project management tool, we get Microsoft Project. And you could include Project for the Web in that now. That’s, again, an individual project. And, I put under there, it’s about Schedule Management and Resource Management, of course. When I talk about Schedule Management, and Resource Management in particular, I’m starting to think about, not just the volume of tasks I’m assigning to somebody, but how much work is involved in those tasks. And for me, that’s the delineator between should I be using Planner or should I be using Project. Okay? Or one of the delineator, two really. One is Project will schedule everything, it does critical path analysis, management, if a task slips by two weeks, then any tasks which are dependent upon that task also shift by two weeks. So it allows me to schedule complex project applications, if you like, or project plans.

Ben Howard: Again, moving further up the line, which is where I spend a lot of my time, is with a tool called Project Online, which is basically Project’s server put in the cloud. And that’s for organizations that want to perform that work and schedule management across a… might be a large organization, might be a business unit managing 20 or 30 projects at once. But the key thing with Project Online is, people generally care about, “Are my resources busy? How much work are they doing at the moment?” So that’s the relationship between the, at least what I feel, of the key project management applications that Microsoft deliver today. I’m not going to talk about Excel, cause obviously that’s a massive one.

Ben Howard: All of these ones that I’ve circled at the moment, well not circled but put a ring around, that’s all about Task Management. So with managing a number of tasks, and it’s kind of, it’s a lower level of project management maturity, and nothing wrong with that.

Ben Howard: These two on the right, Project and Project Online are all about schedule management, and therefore, typically people have to have a higher level of PPM maturity, project management…project and program management maturity. People have got to learn how to use Project. You don’t really have to learn how to use Planner. It should be intuitive.

Ben Howard: Okay, so that’s Planner, or rather that’s the relationship between Planner. What is Planner itself? Well, it’s ultimately a task board, or a Kanban board. For Kanban, think Trello because that is the best known tool within this space. But basically, it’s a board where you move tasks, or cards left and right between buckets. The first bucket is called To Do, or something along those lines and the last bucket is called Done. Okay? And you might have 5 buckets in between. So it gives you a visual indication of how busy you are depending upon how many tasks are in each bucket. So that’s really what it is. It’s not a schedule management tool, it’s a task board tool. It’s not a sprints tool, it’s a task board tool. Okay? It’s mobile friendly, as we’re going to see, and tablet friendly. So there’s an app, there’s an iOS app, there’s an Android app… I don’t even know if there’s a Windows app anymore, cause I don’t know if anybody does Windows phones. The android apps and the iOS apps keep getting updated, there’s been some recent updates. They’re not in feature parity, because of course the phones aren’t in feature parity.

Ben Howard: It’s supposed to be intuitive, and we’ll have a look at that. It’s feature rich… -ish, but again they keep adding more features on there, and again you can go to UserVoice and look at that. It does provide for easy collaboration. You can @ mention people in here, you can email people easily. So all of these things are quite nice. As I said, it’s just out of the box Teams integration, but on top of that, we can also publish our… we don’t really publish a plan, but we can host our Planner app in SharePoint, so Planner is one of these modern apps which can be hosted anywhere. And, as I said, there’s integration between Planner and To Do, and therefore To Do and Planner, as well. So I can have my Planner tasks appearing in To Do and I can say that they’re completed in To Do and they’ll get completed in Planner.

Ben Howard: Okay, so that’s kind of what it is. I haven’t let an angel on this side, because, of course I always say if I have an angel, I have a devil slide. I looked at the devil slide and I didn’t really think it was worth putting up there. There’s not too much that I haven’t articulated already.

Ben Howard: As with any tool, you’ll get out of it a proportionate amount to what you put back in. So, its worth understanding this because, it wasn’t until I wrote them down a few years ago, that I thought, “Oh it makes sense now.” So each task, or card, in Planner, can be assigned to a single bucket. So we can just say, each task is in a bucket. Now the default bucket is To Do, but buckets could be by function, e.g. sales, marketing, facilities, etc. You’ll see later on, I’m going to create a plan and it’s going to have some slightly different buckets. Each task, so it can belong to one bucket. It’s either sales or marketing. It’s not sales and marketing. Each task can also be assigned to multiple resources, and they’re known as assignees. So if you come from the Project world, that kind of makes sense, so two people can work on one task at the same time.

Ben Howard: We can assign a task to multiple labels. Now, at the moment, six labels are available. And I know there’s a question for Microsoft as to, how many labels would we want? And somebody went, “an infinite number”, and of course somebody will use an infinite number. But six are available at the moment, so if you’re going to use labels think about those. So that could be Customer Type, Market Segment… if we’re reopening an infant school in the U.K. we might have reception, year one, year two… I think that’s it for infants, so I might have the labels as being the year groups, etc.

Ben Howard: [inaudible 00:15:10] can have one four priorities- low, medium, high, or important. Again, this is a fairly recent addition. Those priorities, again, link up to the priorities in Outlook To Do tasks effectively. And so, Microsoft were always thinking about, what are the common data elements between here? We know have one of three progress values- not started, in progress, or completed. So don’t create buckets of To Do, started, and complete, because you’re just wasting some time there. We can have a start date, we can have a due date, and I’ll show you some things around there. And we can have notes, checklists, attachments, and comments for a Planner. For a planner plan too, you can create a lot of stuff for a planner plan.

Ben Howard: So, that’s for each particular task. If we think about groups, or planning for planner… Let’s just think about groups. All of this stuff is predicated on Office365 group structure. Okay? And that really, for me, should be when you start to roll out Teams and Planner, etc. That’s where you should begin to spend some initial time. So, does one group have multiple plans? You might have a senior leadership team, if they’re running multiple plans, etc. Do we have Teams installed? Are we rolling out the Teams at the same time? If we do, and we’re creating a new group, or a new plan, does the group already exist in Teams? Where do we create the plan from? Do we create it from within Teams or do we create it in Planner? SharePoint. Do I use SharePoint? Shall I use SharePoint to host the Planner app and some of the charting controls in Planner as well? To Do? Are people using To Do? Do we want to sync To Do, etc. And lastly, mobile devices. We got apps for To Do, Teams, and Planner, and I’ve shown you all of that, and it works. But, when you begin to roll this stuff out, please, please, please, provide some training around these mobile apps, yeah? Nobody was born knowing how to use Teams. We all had to learn it, and in truth, for me, it wasn’t as easy as it should have been. So, training is important.

Ben Howard: All right. So, I’m going to take a quick swig of water… and then we’re going to demo. So, let’s just press escape. So, what are we going to do first of all? Well… I’m not a big fan of demo scripts. As with all good demos, all the best ones, you kind of have a rough idea of what you’re going to do.

Ben Howard: Let me introduce you to Planner. Okay, so I’m in tasks.office.com, which is Planner. We know that we can get at it from the waffle here, and it sits here as one of my applications. So that’s all hunky dory. Within Planner, I’ve got a couple of favorite plans. I’ve got one here called “Plot 8 – Snagging”. One of my customers is a builder, builds very nice houses. They use Planner for snagging on all of the plots. Quite interesting. I’ve got a demo plan here called “Public Plan” and below there, I’ve got some other plans. Across all of the plans, I’ve got my tasks. So this is my view of all of the plans across… or my tasks across all of the plans. This will make more sense in a little while. And then down below there, I’ve got individual plans, again my favorites, and some recent plans.

Ben Howard: So let’s just have a look at this. If I was going to open up a school in the U.K., which I may be doing in the next three weeks, then you can bet people are running some plans on that. So that’s the sort of thing that you may well just start a Planner Plan for. Let’s do our own, let’s go ahead and create a new plan. We’re going to reopen our restaurant. A bit topical… Okay, so that’s the name of our plan. Now, I can add that to an existing Office365 group if I want, or… I can just go and create the plan and it’ll create a new group for me. This is where you need to begin to think, “What groups do I want? What have I got? Am I integrating this into Teams?” So I’m going to add this into an existing Office365 group, and I’m just going to go to the senior leadership team. Okay, and we’ll go and create the plan. Okay, so great.

Ben Howard: I’ve now got this plan called “Re-open our restaurant” and I’m presented in this view here, which is the board view, okay? Now, the thing about the board view, is it presents me with buckets, and as I said, these buckets could be your functional items. The other things that we have got, and we can find those by clicking on the group by here, as we’ve got the ability to group by bucket assigned to progress, due date, labels, or priority. Let’s just have a look at progress, because people typically do this. They create buckets for progress. Well, progress is already there- not started, in progress, or completed. Priority, is already there- urgent, important, medium, or low. Labels, well here are my six labels, they are… actually, we’ve got no label, and then we’ve got 6 others. They’re colored and labeled initially pink, red, yellow, green, blue, and purple.

Ben Howard: So let’s just think about this. What I would do when I create… or what I do do when I create a plan is I think about what the function of buckets might be. And if I’m opening a restaurant and I’m going to group and organize my tasks, I might group it by… can I keep using this term- functional… functional bucket, because that’s what I tend to think of. So, by function, if I’ve got a restaurant, I might have front desk where we welcome people in, and the Maître d’ says, “Oh, good afternoon, sir”, and you slip him 10 quid and you, you get the table by the window. So front desk, we might have the main restaurant. We might have, obviously, the bar. We could have the kitchen, etc, etc. Toilets… Okay, so I’ve got some buckets. Might tend to think about that.

Ben Howard: I might then also think about some labels, okay? So let’s just think about what the labels might be. I might want to think about the people that are going to be impacted, so my pink label… actually, we’ll just call that staff, because I’ve got to take care of my staff for sure. I need to take care of my customers. No customers equals no revenue right? And of course, I can’t feed my customers unless I have some suppliers. So, probably those are the key groups that I’m going to interact with on a day to day basis as I open up the restaurant. Green, blue, and purple, I’m just going to leave as they are, okay? And that’s my configuration done.

Ben Howard: Let’s go back to grouping by bucket, and we might change To Do to To Be Assigned. Or, if you do some software development, you might just call this your backlog. What do I need to think about? What haven’t I organized? So let’s just go in and add a task, you can click on add a task. We’ll enter a task name, so we need to get some hand sanitizer… sanitizer. I’m not going to type in loads of tasks… we’re going to need to do a deep clean. Because you seeing me type tasks isn’t great… we need to order some food. That’s okay, we need to get a staff rota. What else do we need to do? I don’t know, we need to update the telephones… messages effectively… Hello we’re now open!! Which might lead into a bit of social media campaign. And sometimes, this is part of a brainstorm, or you might just do… I see people using Planner for meetings, and tracking things in meetings. So that’s okay.

Ben Howard: So I’ve got some tasks. We could then assign the tasks and think about, right, where do those impact? So, update the telephone messages might, telephone’s on the front desk. Staff rota, well, that could be… we might have staff rota for the restaurant, or we might have one for the bar. These might not be the right buckets. Deep clean, well we’d definitely have to deep clean the restaurant and the bar, and everywhere. Might need to order some food. Well, we can get the kitchen guys to do that. We’re not going to bother… let’s get out of there. Let’s just turn that off, don’t need that. We’re not recording this. We’d deep clean everywhere of course. We’ll have some hand sanitizer. Do we have some toilets? No, we’ll have some hand sanitizer at the front desk. And we’ll kind of think about where the social media’s going to go.

Ben Howard: Now, in terms of grouping by bucket, that’s great. Let’s just have a look at our labels. We could, if I think about the deep clean, I could open that up, and I could assign a label here. Okay. But you know that’s a couple of clicks. I actually think about who’s going to be impacted by the deep clean. Well certainly the staff might be, ordering some food is, that hand sanitizer for the customers, staff rota’s going to be staff thing, update telephone messages maybe for suppliers, etc. So again, we can just drag and drop this around a board, but the important thing is this board can be grouped in different ways… Okay.

Ben Howard: Let’s go and assign these activities to some people. So, let’s just go and have a look. Let’s see if we’ve got any assigned to… remember we’ve not got anybody assigned to anything. Again, I could say, right, the social media campaign. I could add that to Ben, or in terms of suppliers, I could click on the assign button and pick one of the people out of the current Office365 group. Which I think was my senior leadership team. So it could say Andre’s going to do this one. That’s okay. And now we got Andre in there, that’s great. I could go in and add some other members in here, but for the customer stuff, we’ll get Andrea to go and do that, etc, etc.

Ben Howard: So that’s all well and good. Okay. We can also initially look at priority, because some of these things are going to be more important than anything else. So probably getting the deep clean done by the staff is important, but urgent might be the social media campaign, so people know that I’m going to open this up. Suppliers? Are they opening? Can I get the right food, etc, etc. So we can begin to prioritize that… we’ll do that one… Yeah ordering some food is pretty important. And the staff rota can just hang around for a while. Most of my staff, let’s just say, are furloughed in the U.K. and I’m sure they’ll be dying to come back to work. So this is all good, and that’s great. What else might we do?

Ben Howard: Well, let’s just go and say the deep clean stuff needs to happen by a certain date. So I’ve got a start date and a due date. I’m going to say that due date is… Friday, okay? And that’s fine. Let’s close that off. And now I want to show you some of the other tools, or some of the other pieces. We’ve played with the board a bit. I’m going to click on the schedule, because most people don’t use the schedule. But, you can just take tasks and drop them onto the schedule as to when they should happen. So if I think the social media campaign should happen on the 29th, we can drag it onto the 29th, but maybe actually, I want it to start on the 27th, and then I want it to finish on the 29th. So I’ve got drag and drop in here. Now this isn’t a Gantt chart. This is just a way of saying, let’s organize our schedule. Let’s decide who’s doing what and when. Because again, any time you have to come in here and you have to go into a date picker, oh man, that’s just difficult. So, that’s what I would end up doing, I’d use the schedule.

Ben Howard: Okay, so what else? So we’ve created our plan. Let’s just jump over to good old Teams. Okay, so let’s create a team… or actually I think we’ve got the strategic leadership team. If we click on there, let’s go and add in, if we’ve got the right team, a Planner plan. Okay, into that and we’ll use an existing plan, and here we go, “Re-open our restaurant”. And we’ll save that. So now, within Teams, here’s my reopen the restaurant plan, and we can begin to play and add tasks into each of the items. So the bar, I might just cleanse the glas… restock the bar, etc. So you’ve got this full fidelity between Teams and Planner, and that all just works very well. Okay, so that’s my Teams demo dump. Love it. Use it a lot but of course, in terms of integrating into Planner, that’s possibly what we want. We don’t get all of the options in Teams, in truth, that we might get in Planner, okay? So it is a subset amount.

Ben Howard: Let’s close down Teams. What else could we do from this? Well, let’s show you a couple of things that we could do. Let’s just say that I’ve got a chain of restaurants. I’ve got 20 restaurants. I’m a wealthy guy. I don’t, let’s just hope I was. Then I could create my default template plan, and then I could copy that plan to re-open restaurant… delete… in Covent Garden, because I’ve got a restaurant in Covent Garden, London. Bang, okay. So, going to take a copy of that, bang. Away we go. So I’ve not got another plan. You can just see here. It takes a little while to do that, but its copying all of the tasks, all of the labels, not necessarily the assignments, not the progress, and not the data because they’re going to be different. Just the raw data, if you like, so that I’ve got another copy and that I can replicate that.

Ben Howard: I can also, copy tasks. So let’s just say I had quite a convoluted task, and I had lots of checklists on here. Do this, do that, do the other, and then maybe some documents or attachments. Again, I can take that task and I can copy that task or move it to, potentially a different plan, okay? So if I’d forgotten to do that, then we can take that task, and we can say, “Right, lets just send that to… take a copy of that and put that in our Covent Garden restaurant.” Okay. So again, that sort of thing just works nicely.

Ben Howard: Let me just expand both of these. Deep clean, I’m going to say deep clean is kind of late, so that it’s the 19th, and we’ll put this one on today’s date. Okay. So that’s Planner.

Ben Howard: Now we talked about To Do a little bit. This is To Do, todo.office.com, and we talked about the synchronization of the activities between the two. Now if you’re not seeing synchronization, that’s because this little thing is turned off. So under settings here, I’ve got some To Do settings, and as we scroll down… Wunderlist! Right so if you’re still on old Wunderlist, you can import your plans from Wunderlist into To Do, for a little while. Wunderlist support is going to stop soon. But here, we’ve got connected apps, and… the connection to Planner is off, and I can click that on. And what we’ll see fairly soon, maybe if I just refresh this, or if I manage to force a sync, then those activities will come in.

Ben Howard: Okay, so let’s go force a sync. I think we can do that. Of course, we don’t worry about this typically, cause it happens every five minutes, and we’re not too concerned if things are five minutes late. Okay, so in my planned activities here, I’ve got my social media campaign for re-opening my restaurant and earlier, I should have… reviewed the sign in sheet. Can’t remember which one it was, yeah? But from here I can… mark as completed. And that will then be completed in the Planner plan. Other things I can quickly do, because I really want to get on to the mobile stuff, and time runs away. There’s a couple of things in here. One is I can go and… I can add the plan to my Outlook calendar, so we’ll get activities within Outlook. So that’s fine, I won’t demo that. But we can… plan settings… charts… I will ignore that. Can’t find the SharePoint item with this, it should have in here SharePoint item, so we will instead just go and have a look at some mobile stuff.

Ben Howard: So, one of the things that we’ve got, or I should have… My phone’s just been sitting in the sun, and it says device overheating. Here’s my phone, and I can’t type on it from here. I just have to click on it with my thumb. So I’m going to press clear for that. Okay, and then you can see I’ve got To Do, Planner, Teams, and Power BI. Let’s go and click, with my finger, click on Planner. Oh no! No! All right then, what about Teams? Ohh. I’m just going to go and shove this in the… No I’m not going to go and throw it in the fridge.

Ben Howard: Oh well that was a bum demo wasn’t it? Don’t leave your phone in the sun. Just see if the weather is working? No, I was going to show you it is about 26 degrees where I am, which is hot for the U.K. My phone won’t come back, let’s come back to that in a moment. I’m going to keep blowing on it. Let’s just go back into here.

Kyle: Hey, we did have a couple of questions that have come in, if it would be-

Ben Howard: Yeah! Okay, that would be great, you ask those questions. I wish my phone was waterproof man, I could just throw it in some water!

Kyle: So we had a few questions that, kind of all related to the same idea. So, Cheryl was curious, and you kind of spoke on this a little bit but, do the tasks in Planner connect with Project at all?

Ben Howard: No. No, but now would be a good time to do that, whilst we wait for our phone. Here… Here is what’s coming in the near future. So this was talked about at Ignite last year, which is the second bullet point. Import the plan into P4W, the new reimaged Project for the Web. And so, this is just a mock up of a slide that I took. So this is for Planner plan here, and you can see that the Planner plan has some, the idea is that it’s going to have some completed tasks, and then it has some incompleted or in progress tasks, etc. And you can decide which ones you want to bring into Project, and then you would just create projects. So you can see this for those of you who are familiar with the new Project for the Web interface, then this is how this would work. So, not today, but in the near future.

Kyle: Okay, great! Someone else asked about Excel as well. Is there anything in the near future you’re aware of with integrating with Excel?

Ben Howard: You can export to Excel, and that’s my last 2 minute demo, and then bring those plans into Power BI, so we’ll kind of do that.

Kyle: Okay.

Ben Howard: Anything else on that one, Kyle?

Kyle: There was one more question. Looks like the word has been out about the Planner app in Microsoft Teams will become the Tasks app soon, and they’ll combine Planner into View. Someone said they actually got a notification in their Office365 tab and was curious if you had any comments or any idea about that.

Ben Howard: No, and I alluded to it before where the Teams and Planner guys are getting very close together. But you can see again, here’s a screenshot of this. So down in Teams, this is what your user would be alluding to, there’s a Tasks button, or a Tasks app, and some of those tasks will be personal, they’ll come from To Do, and some of them will come from Teams. Teams, Plan Tasks and Planner, so they will all be grouped together in one thing called Tasks, and then we can have this list view in there, and again I can just come here and click, yeah: done that, done that, done that. And that’s, kind of the linking. Teams is what I call the new SharePoint, it’s where you surface everything.

Kyle: Got you. Okay, thanks Ben! Appreciate that.

Ben Howard: No brilliant, because I do believe we’re now working on this. So let me just go into Planner, so I just hit the Planner app. Let’s go into re-open our restaurant. Okay. I’ve got a social media c… and this is typically… in the real app, so its good on here. So what we could do, is we could add an attachment. So it says there are no attachments to add, so I’m going to press plus and I’m going to add an image from the camera. Now, I’ll walk outside, you’ll lose me on the mic. I’m going to go to my garden.

Ben Howard: I walked back towards my office, hope you caught all of that. I’m now back, and that attachment will be saved and uploaded, okay? So what will happen is if I come out of here, and then we get back into… here, reopening my restaurant. And we have a look at the tasks if we group by assigned to, we get back in the board, then this… Well, you can already see its got an attachment associated with it. Takes a little time sometimes to come in, but that attachment will appear and you will see that, so if you’ve got people who are out and about, yeah? Get them to use the mobile clients, because the mobile clients work, and they’re useful.

Ben Howard: Again we can, if I come out of here, open up To Do… We can see some of the tasks that are either overdue, or due today, or due this week. Whoa, come here. Just refresh that. Okay, again, a little synchronization issue. But they will begin to come into my To Do lists, and finally of course… I’m not sure I’d want to do too much conversation on Teams, I don’t do a massive amount on my mobile phone other than talk and chat with whoever, and the odd email, but of course in here then, you can begin to see the apps that you may have and access them. Now again, you wouldn’t go into Teams on your mobile to access a Planner app, but you may other apps within there, yeah?

Ben Howard: So that’s absolutely important, to be able to do that. And we should just be able to come back out of there. Okay.

Ben Howard: The last thing I wanted to talk about it, and I realize I am going to talk for the minutes. Oh here is the photo! As I say, it’s a nice day in the U.K. The last thing I wanted to talk about was Power BI. Now, this stuff’s all fine. We can kind of see what I’m up to. Okay, because I can go into my Planner hub, and I can see the tasks. I can see the charts for me, what’s late, what’s not late, etc. But in reality, if I’m managing all of those restaurants, and they’re assigned to different people all over the place then that’s very difficult to do. So what we can do is, if we go back to the board we can… Okay, let’s just get on the right plan. Planner hub, come down to here, re-open our restaurant… Great!

Ben Howard: We can export the plan to Excel, okay? So that’s going to open up that plan. Let’s just copy that. In fact, yeah, let’s copy it, and I’m going to paste it into… this one, plans. MPUG plans. So we’ll past that here. Let’s just have a look at that file, so that’s just a standard Excel file. There’s Excel opening, different screen of course, so we’ll bring it in from the other screen. It’s coming in there. So here’s our list of activities, and we have a plan name… we have some dates, we’ve got who it’s created by, who it’s assigned to, due dates, start dates, and lots of other stuff. So that’s okay, but difficult to report on. So what I did is, I created a little PowerBI report that you could use for this, and its called Planner Reports and its available if we… we’ll open it up, we’ll go over to GitHub. You can download it from here, so just search for PowerBI Planner on GitHub and you’ll pick it up.

Ben Howard: So, I realized I didn’t have the real file open up, so let’s just open that, and it’s going to probably take me a tad more than two minutes but Kyle, give me the time and I promise it’ll be worth it.

Kyle: Sure thing!

Ben Howard: Any more questions whilst this is opening?

Kyle: Yeah Robin had a question. He was curious, does Planner have any progress tracking or resource allocation features or functionality?

Ben Howard: So, it has no concept of work, that’s the first thing to say. So you get a task, but there’s no idea how long it takes you to get sanitizer in terms of effort. We can have a start and a finish, but our only progress is, it’s either not started, in progress, or completed. So, it’s that, sort of, less mature technology, or management technology than say, Project.

Kyle: Okay, thanks.

Ben Howard: Okay. So this is ultimately the file that you would download from that GitHub piece, there’s a front page on here which says “about”. But the idea about this file is that, you bring in files from… you bring in lots of those Excel files. So if I have a look at, at the moment, plan status by priority, you can see I’ve got two plans. One called strategic contacts, and one called restart school, and of course all the nice visualizations, etc. work. If I refresh that data, then it’s going to go out and bring in that other plan. So this’ll take, I don’t know, 15 seconds or so. And again, its a great reason to have… whilst that does that… it’s a great reason to get the PowerBI app on your mobile phone, because of course, on my favorites, we’ve got Planner Reports. So the report we’ve just seen on my desktop actually, we can go and grab it on the mobile phone and view that in different ways.

Ben Howard: So I’m not going to worry too much about that, because we’ll scroll back to this one. So now we can see, back in the PowerBI desktop, here’s my re-opening of our restaurant, okay? So if I’m interested in that, I can begin to see how many tasks are completed, how many are late? We can see what priority, test by priority again, maybe just for the re-opening of the restaurant or our Covent Garden restaurant, or whatever it may be. We might have a look at remaining tasks, what’s late? And then one of the lovely ones that I like in PowerBI is this whole thing called a decomposition tree.

Ben Howard: Now I’ll try and make this as big as possible. We’ll kind of max that out, so let’s just get rid of this. We’ve got 15 tasks, so this allows me to drill through all off those tasks, and maybe I want to see them by progress, okay? So I’ve got four completed and 11 not started. Maybe I then want to see the not started ones by who’re they assigned to, right? Andre’s got three, Andrea’s two, Ben’s got two, and four are unassigned. So, Andre, well let’s go and kick Andre, and say Andre, you need to go and do these tasks please mate, and we can begin to open up our restaurant. But you can see how you can drill through and decompose this data out of PowerBI, or out of Planner in a nice way, just by putting it in Excel.

Ben Howard: Of course what you would do then, is publish that, and once this is published… or you could have it set as an automatic refresh. Once that’s published, which we should just… Planner Reports is where we published that one… That’s going to go away in Published, gives me a little bit of a warning. Again, I’d set up a gateway to do that on a regular basis. If we then go back to… Oh I’ve lost my connection to my mobile phone, and if we open that back up…

Ben Howard: And Kyle, I’m pretty much done now, let me just connect this up.

Kyle: Okay.

Ben Howard: Yeah, there we go. Lets go on there. Yeah, so here we go. So here’s that Planner report, and we can scroll around, and then we can refresh, or comment, or do whatever we need to on that data. So we can get the data if it’s in PowerBI, and it’s exported from Excel wherever we are. So, Planner is a great tool for that kind of collaboration.

Ben Howard: Okay, so we covered off the other things that I was going to cover off. Just to reiterate, it was the Teams integration, which we’ve done, and the new stuff that’s coming up which is importing tasks into Project. We’ll leave you just with this slide, which says stay connected. There’s a Planner Tech community, there’s a product page, and you can vote on your favorite Planner options in UserVoice.

Ben Howard: Kyle, that’s it from me! Thank you very much, and thank you for letting my phone cool down.

Kyle: No problem! Thanks so much Ben! And if anybody’s interested in reaching out, or learning more about your services, how would they connect? Hey perfect!

Ben Howard: There we go, ben@applepark is great, or just grab me on LinkedIn, LinkedIn.com/in/applepark. Yeah. Magic.

Kyle: Excellent. Well thanks for the great session, Ben. That was an excellent dive into Planner, and we really appreciate that. For those of you that are claiming the PDU for today’s session, I’ll get that info back on the screen now… And, there we go. That’s eligible for three quarters of a technical PDU. And if you missed any of the session, or would like to go back and review anything that Ben shared with us, a recording will be posted to mpug.com in just a couple hours, and you’ll receive an email with a link to that. And, in a couple weeks, we have our next session with Dux Raymond Sy, and he’s going to actually provide an overview on how to manage agile projects using teams in Planner, so kind of building on what we saw today. Diving in a little deeper from a different angle there, and that session is open for registration now along with the session on June 17th. Nenad will show us how to run scrum projects with Project for the Web.

Kyle: So some great sessions on the calendar open for registration, and I’ve chatted over a link where you’ll be able to access those and sign up. And that does it for today, so once again, I’d like to thank you Ben for a great session, and thank you to everyone that joined us live, or is watching this session on demand. We hope you have a great rest of your day, and we’ll see you back in a couple weeks for our next live session. Thanks!


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Written by Ben Howard

Ben Howard – Awarded Community Leader for his very popular and comprehensive UK web training series and has over 30 years of experience of implementing enterprise solutions for customers worldwide.  During that time, he’s worked for IBM, DELL, and Microsoft, as well as several smaller organisations. He now runs his own consultancy (Applepark Ltd), providing Project, Project Online and Power BI implementation and training services. He has been awarded the Microsoft Most Value Professional award for Project for the last 13 years, blogs semi-frequently at www.applepark.co.uk, produces video training for Pluralsight and his own YouTube channel, and finally was responsible for producing P2O, an application that exports tasks from Microsoft Project into Outlook.  You can catch him at ben@applepark.co.uk


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