In the world of planning, there’s no shortage of software offerings that let you plan and execute your project. Microsoft Planner in particular, which is included in the Office 365 suite, is a major player in the project planning software space.
Microsoft Planner is a tool that helps you gather the elements of your project and create a project plan with a beginning, middle and end. MS Planner is part of a suite of tools that Microsoft offers to project managers and their teams.
But is Microsoft Planner the right software for your needs compared to Microsoft Project, another Microsoft project management tool—or should you perhaps look elsewhere, like a Microsoft Project alternative?
Before making any decisions on what tool to use when managing your next project, let’s take a closer look at what works and what doesn’t with Microsoft Planner.
What Is Microsoft Planner?
Microsoft Planner serves as a super to-do list app, rather than a legitimate project planning software. It’s integrated with Office 365, and anyone who is subscribed to that product can use it for personal or professional planning. Specifically, MS Planner is part of the Office 365 Business Essentials plan.
The Microsoft Planner interface makes use of task cards in a kanban board interface. It’s a light-weight app that can be used on both mobile devices and desktop computers. Looking at it from a project management angle, it can help project managers and their teams make plans and assign tasks. Plus, there’s a chat feature to foster collaboration, and charts that show progress.
Think of it as a way to organize your team and tasks, much like similar apps such as Slack and Trello. Microsoft has positioned the tool for more casual users who have personal projects to execute. For the professional, MS Planner can be seen as a gateway app into Microsoft Project, Teams and Sharepoint.
Related: How to Run Microsoft Project for Mac
Microsoft Planner Features
Individuals and teams are using MS Planner to get visibility into their projects, stay updated on approaching deadlines and have the ability to group and filter their tasks. These are only some of the features available—let’s take a quick tour of what else makes up Microsoft Planner.
- Schedule View: The schedule view allows users to view all their tasks on a calendar.
- Group and Filter Tasks: Filter your tasks by deadline and see what work is coming due soon.
- Collaborative Task Management: My Tasks shows all your tasks, and team members can comment and attach files on the task in Outlook, Outlook Groups, Teams and more.
- Assign a Task to Several Team Members: Unlike some other task management tools, you can assign tasks to more than one person.
- Give Users Access to the Tool: If you’re working on a project and want to bring in a vendor, contractor or stakeholder to see what’s going on, you can add external access.
- Import Microsoft Planner into Outlook: You can put your Microsoft Planner into your Outlook through the iCalendar feed, which helps facilitate scheduling and time management.
- Get Email Notification: There are also email notifications that keep users on track by alerting them of coming deadlines.
All combined, these features are helpful in planning and even executing the project, though they don’t offer the level of control that project managers need to deal with resources, budget and more.
How Much Does Microsoft Planner Cost?
As mentioned above, Microsoft Planner is part of MS Office 365 Business Essentials Plan. MS 365 is a premium grouping of its Office applications, cloud storage, advanced security and more. It can work across multiple devices at the same time, whether Windows, MacOS, iOS or Android.
There is a 30-day free trial you can take to kick the tires, but if you’re interested in using the business level subscription, there are several tiers.
Microsoft Planner Plans and Pricing
- Microsoft 365 Business Basic: $5 user/month with an annual commitment, includes Microsoft Teams, storage and the Office suite of products only accessible online.
- Microsoft 365 Business Standard: $12.50 user/month with an annual commitment, has the above, business email and premium Office applications across devices.
- Microsoft 365 Business Premium: $20 user/month with an annual commitment, includes the above and greater security against cyber-threat and device management.
- Microsoft 365 Apps for Business: $8.25 user/month with an annual commitment, includes file storage on the cloud and Office apps, but no Teams or business email.
Microsoft Planner is available on all enterprise plans, education plans, business essentials and the business premium Microsoft 365 plans.
Pros and Cons of Using Microsoft Planner
While Microsoft Planner is a fine tool for simple projects, it does have some massive drawbacks when it comes to project management. When you compare it to other project management software, problems arise. Here are some of the pros and cons of Microsoft Planner:
Pros of Microsoft Planner
- You can get started fast thanks to an easy-to-use interface. It makes onboarding your team simple.
- Email notifications in the Microsoft planner app let you stay on top of your task list and never get surprised by unexpected deadlines.
- All the information you need to complete, manage and collaborate on your tasks is in one place, with a task description window, checklist, labels and comments.
- The calendar view lets you set deadlines how you want.
- You can generate reports on tasks, progress and more to stay on schedule with the Planner Hub.
- See all of your team’s assignments to better manage their workload and stay updated on their progress.
- Get a unique Outlook email for communications with each plan and better organize your project work.
- The Microsoft planner app fully integrates with Office 365.
Cons of Microsoft Planner
- The absence of a Gantt chart makes it impossible to link dependent tasks, set milestones and view all your tasks chronologically on a timeline.
- There is no way to set recurring tasks, which adds busy work and slows you down.
- There is no risk management feature, which makes it difficult to identify and manage any issues that might arise.
- There is no time tracking, which makes it difficult to stay on schedule and monitor your team’s progress.
- The lack of in-app notifications means you have to leave the tool to get updates, which takes you away from your work.
- There is no access to dashboards outside of the project team, which takes away a valuable tool when updating stakeholders.
- There aren’t multiple checklists per task.
- There is no way to see team workload and reallocate data from the same page.
- The lack of portfolio management, portfolio roadmaps or dashboards mean you can manage only one project at a time.
- There’s no way to check team availability, making it more difficult to assign tasks because managers don’t know who’s free.
ProjectManager is the Best MS Planner Alternative
If you’re looking for a software like Microsoft Planner, but want more features and more robust project management tools, try ProjectManager. It offers all the same functionality as Microsoft Planner, with the added bonus of robust project management features.
More Planning & Scheduling Features
It’s like taking the powerful kanban board from Microsoft Planner and adding in Gantt charts, real-time dashboards and powerful collaborative tools for a complete project management experience. ProjectManager is cloud-based, so progress is updated in real time. It even supports large remote teams at a better price.
With an easy-to-use, user-friendly interface, there’s no training required. Business and Enterprise plans have onboarding fees included in the listed price. You can get your team up and running fast! Plus, you’ll have access to a top notch customer support team to help.
To learn more about our award-winning project management software, visit our homepage and check out our robust feature set— you’ll quickly understand why we’re trusted by organizations like NASA and Volvo to plan their projects.
There’s so much more ProjectManager can do for you when planning a project big or small. It’s easy to use and powerful, with tools that manage one project, a program or even a portfolio of projects. Get started today planning your next project on ProjectManager by taking this free 30-day trial.