Microsoft releases Planner to help Office 365 users manage their projects

To help its users stay on task and manage their assignments more easily, Microsoft has just launched a new project management tool for teams using Office 365 called Planner.

The company initially released a preview of its new tool in December 2015 and now it will begin rolling it out worldwide to all Office 365 users including those using Office 365 Enterprise E1-E5, Business Essentials, Premium and even its Education subscription plan.

To access Planner, users simply need to open their Office 365 app launcher. Since it appears right within the launcher, it will not have to be configured or approved by Office 365 administrators and users of the service can immediately begin using the new tool.

Microsoft described planner as a tool that “makes it easy for your team to create plans, organize and assign work, share files, chat about what everyone is working on and get updates on progress.” The tool can be used to set due dates for projects and users will instantly receive an email notification alerting them that a task has been assigned to them. When a plan is created within the tool an Office 365 group is automatically created and users have the ability to create public or private groups.

While Planner is able to accomplish many of the tasks that Microsoft Planner can, the company has already set it apart from its previous task management software by including it within its Office suite of apps. Microsoft further explained how the two tools, although similar, are aimed at entirely different users:

“Microsoft Planner and Microsoft Project are very different solutions aimed at very different sets of end users. While Office 365 Planner is a Work Management solution that helps teams of Information workers better organize and manage teamwork visually, Microsoft Project is an industry leading PPM (Project Portfolio Management) offering that helps companies manage a complex portfolio of projects and programs. Microsoft Project has a lot of unique PPM capabilities such as Program and Portfolio Management, Resource Capacity Management, Financial Management, Timesheeting and Schedule Management.”

Today marks the launch of Planner and Microsoft has provided some details into how the tool could change in the future. In the coming months it will be receiving new features such as the ability to assign a task to multiple users, external user access, plan templates, customizable boards and its own app for Windows Phone, Android and iOS.

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