The Evolution of my Organization Transformation with Microsoft Office 365 Planner

March 1, 2018 Ryan Yaegle

I am by nature a writer of all things: thoughts, notes from meetings, plans, processes and lists upon lists. I also carry an innate need to over-organize everything I touch. My need for organization is a bit intense, and over the course of my professional career I had settled in quite well to my pattern of organization of ongoing projects through my light obsession with colored pens, five subject notebooks and post-its.  

 Enter new workflows and processes. The notebook, color coded post-its and pens were metaphorically ripped from my hands and replaced with Microsoft Office 365 Planner. The panic rushed over me as I placed my last order for the 5-subject notebook and began the process of integrating my old school organization skills into a program that I was unfamiliar with and, frankly, scared of.  

 As I tried to uncover how I was going to fit my time-honored ways into this new tool, I discovered the Microsoft Planner Quick Start Training. After thoroughly reviewing and grasping an understanding that Office 365 Groups run in close synergy with Office 365 Planner, I was ready to dive in, and a whole new level of over-organization and collaboration was born.  Since I began using Planner and integrating it into my team, we have all noticed a transformation of increased efficiency.

 Microsoft Office 365 Planner has turned my former notebook and post-it method on its head and has become the hub for all ideas, projects and tasks that my team collaborates on daily. The ability to create new plans, organize, assign tasks, share files and chat about what we are working on within a central location and get real time updates on progress has transformed the way we work together and increased our ability to work on many projects at once.  

 At this moment, the New Signature Offer Marketing team is working in over 11 different planner groups and have over 60 separate projects or tasks within those planners functioning at one time. With so many projects moving forward simultaneously, it is invaluable to have the ability to organize our work visually, see all of the tasks in one central location, keep a watchful eye on progress with the dynamic Planner Hub and collaborate in a seamless manner outside of e-mail.  

 Taking these projects out of the static notebook and placing them into a tool that has flexible categorization and visual insights has enabled us to get many projects off the ground and to full completion that may have otherwise gotten stuck in the middle of a notebook where no one could find them.  

Office 365 is relatively new, released in June of 2016. Microsoft is continually improving and widening the integration, functionality and usability within Planner. I find it particularly exciting and interesting that Microsoft has opened the forum of collaboration around the continued development of this tool to the user community to provide valuable user feedback through the Microsoft Planner-Feedback Forum, where the voices of organization junkies are heard from across the globe.  

 New ideas to improve Planner are voiced, voted on and then reviewed by Microsoft. Many of the new and exciting features that have recently been rolled out have come to fruition through the Microsoft Planner-Feedback Forum.  

 I’m particularly excited about these new and upcoming features: 

  • Schedule View: This new feature is available on Microsoft O365 Planner now and provides the ability to view your task schedule with weekly and monthly task views increasing your ability to meet deadlines, plan ahead and understand project status.  
  • Group and Filter options: The new Group and Filter feature provides deeper insights into your tasks to help you meet key deadlines. The ability to filter tasks by due date or utilize the group feature to view tasks that have not been started streamlines the ability to prioritize your work.  
  • Due date notifications: This new feature is especially exciting, the ability to receive a scheduled email notification summarizing tasks due in the coming week will improve my ability to stay on top of approaching deadlines for myself and my team.  
  • iCalendar format feed: I’m eagerly awaiting the ability to publish tasks to my Outlook Calendar, making time-management and scheduling more streamlined with your overall schedule.  

The functionalities of Planner continue to develop; while I am not free from my need to take notes and track projects, I am free to take all those notes and plans with me on any device, streamlining the way I work and providing my the flexibility and mobility I need to match my lifestyle. Microsoft Planner has been the only tool that can match my pace, and that of my team.

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