Microsoft launched its latest powerhouse application, Teams, on March 14, 2017, a somewhat surprising 4 years ago. In my most humble ‘marketing’ perspective, Microsoft has been designing and developing Teams to be the end-all, be-all of productivity applications, smack dab in the center of the Microsoft 365 solution stack.
One of the latest steps in bringing workflows from other Microsoft 365 applications into the native Teams interface is creating an App called ‘Tasks by Planner and To Do’. I’ll explain how to add this App to your Teams application and go through the basics of its purpose and explain how it can boost your productivity.
Note – Microsoft plans to rename the app to its final name, ‘Tasks’, sometime in the first half of calendar year 2021. This timeline is subject to change.
First, let me show you how to add the App to Teams. Along the left side of the Teams application is the ‘App Navigation Bar’ where you see Activity, Chat, Teams, etc. Go ahead and click the ‘…’ at the bottom and you’ll see the ‘Find an app’ popup.
In the top search field, type ‘Tasks’ and click on ‘Tasks by Planner and To Do’.
Click ‘Add’ and you’ll see the new interface.
Tip – Be sure to right-click the new App and click ‘Pin’ to keep it in your Teams Navigation Bar permanently. You can also click and drag its icon up in the stack to another position if that suits you.
The first section, ‘My tasks To Do’, shows your Tasks in their respective lists/views from your Microsoft To Do content. You can create new Tasks, edit existing Tasks, assign Due Dates, and even mark them Complete. If you want to create a new List of related Tasks, click the ‘New list or plan’ link at the bottom of the window under your Planner content.
There are some productivity shortcuts you can utilize to make the management of your Tasks more efficient. Click the ‘…’ at the right of a Task to quickly change its Progress, its Priority, its Due Date or to move it to another List in your arsenal. You can also Delete the Task if you wish.
Next, let’s find out what Shared plans are all about. If you’ve ever used Microsoft Planner, the interface will look fundamentally familiar.
In the ‘Shared plans Planner’ section of this App, you’ll see the various ‘Plans’ that you have access to and that have been added as ‘Tabs’ in Teams, grouped by the corresponding Microsoft 365 Group the Plans are connected to (‘Reinders – Test – 01’ and ‘Office 365 Migration’ as examples). This Teams App provides decent integration with the underlying Planner content in Microsoft 365. The changes you make here will automatically reflect on the Planner website, your Planner mobile app, etc. If you’re familiar with the various Views available in Planner (List, Board, Charts, Schedule), you’ll be right at home in Teams.
I have the ‘Test-List-Plan #1’ plan currently selected above. In ‘Board’ view, it shows the various related Tasks grouped under what Microsoft calls Buckets. Click ‘Add new bucket’ on the right to create a new Bucket; you can now add similarly grouped Tasks. This makes it easier to manage your potentially large number of Tasks required in your various Plans. When you click Add task, you’ll see the ‘Add task’ popup screen.
Go ahead and enter the task name, set a due date, and Assign the task to a member of your Plan. When you do, the various views will reflect this change. The recipient of the assigned task will also receive an email notification from Microsoft 365 with a link to the Task.
Click the ‘Charts’ link in the upper right to see a dashboard-like view of your Tasks.
Earlier I said you had most of the functionality here in Teams. There are processes and workflows inaccessible to you in the Teams App. These include admin tasks like adding/removing Members, Copying Plans, and having direct access to other Microsoft 365 Group shortcuts (Email, Calendar, OneNote, etc). It’s safe to say Microsoft is working on bringing over more features all the time. You can search on the Microsoft 365 Roadmap website for details – Microsoft 365 Roadmap | Microsoft 365.
Also Note – Only Plans that you’ve added as Tabs in a Teams Channel will be displayed here.
There are a growing number of ways to access your content in ‘Planner’ and ‘To Do’. I plan to go over these various methods in future articles. If you’re interested in learning more about one, feel free to leave a comment!