Migrating a Planner board to a List

Now that we’ve all agreed that Lists is far superior and there is absolutely no reason for you to continue using Planner at all, ever again, under any circumstance… it’s time to start migrating our tasks to their new home.

(Let’s be real here – there’s still valid scenarios where you might use Planner over Lists. And when you do, enjoy your confetti and “AI” generated backgrounds.)

Bye-bye Planner

Firstly, let’s start with our Planner board. Here I have created a few tasks in a board, which utilises:

  • Title
  • Description (or “Notes” as they are called in the task itself)
  • Start date
  • End date
  • Progress
  • Importance
  • Assignment
  • Label
  • Buckets

What I haven’t utilised is:

  • Comments
  • Checklists
  • Assignment to multiple users
  • Attachments

Hello Lists

The easiest way to migrate your items would be to simply export your Planner board to Excel, then import it into the List.

(Don’t forget to open the Excel file and define a table before trying to import.)

I’d suggest setting the “Task ID” column not to be imported, and that the Task Name column should instead become the Title (as it is a required column, and we don’t need Task ID).

Remove any other columns you don’t care about, change column types from text to other formats (such as choice), hit “Next”, and a few moments later we have our import.

It’s important to know that some of the fields can’t be converted – such as the assigned or created columns cannot be converted from text to people lookup/picker. So if you want these to be assigned to actual people, you’ll need to create new columns and copy the values over.

We can however create our new board view, so the pain was almost worth it:

Hello Lists… again

Let’s try a different way. A more powerful way…

See the source image

This time we’ll start from a blank list, and we don’t care about the Planner export.

To keep things as aligned as possible, I’ve chosen to use the “Work progress tracker” list template.

Upon its creation it’s rather bare.

To align with the values used in Planner, we have to make some modifications to the Priority, Progress, and Category columns. While in Lists we can customise these to be whatever we want, that same is not the case with Planner – so we must align to it.

Additionally, I had to create the board views with my new list, because the existing “Grouped by priority” and “Grouped by work item progress” pre-date the board view so therefore don’t utilise its functionality.

Now that our List is ready, let’s start migrating!

Go with the Flow

In my previous blog post comparing Lists to Planner, I highlighted the shortcomings of the Planner triggers in Power Automate.

Well, prepare to now be completely underwhelmed at the Planner actions in Power Automate!

At a high-level, here’s what our workflow looks like:

Right now, you must be looking at this and thinking that I’ve missed some items – why would I do that!?

Remember a few sentences ago when I said the Planner actions in Power Automate were underwhelming? Well, here’s where they fell short:

  • Can only see if label colours are true – not what the value of the renamed label text is (bye-bye categories)
  • Cannot retrieve progress value
  • Cannot retrieve priority value
  • Unable to obtain bucket name, only its ID
  • “Description” value in the Power Automate action refers to Notes in the Planner task
  • Can’t get “assigned to” usernames, only user IDs (so we would need to add another action to look them up)

Also, I needed to add the second action of “Get task details” as it is the only way to expose the contents of the Notes/Description field. The “List tasks” and “Get a task” only tell you whether there is a description or not.

So, what did I end up with a the end of this?

Not all the data I needed, still some manual work to add the missing pieces. I wonder if I could do that from an Excel file…?


Could the migration of content be improved over what I’ve demonstrated above? Absolutely!

There are other steps you could perform in Power Automate to extract / transpose values to make it more complete. I’m just not going to figure them out writing this blog piece while my family sleeps and the latest episode of Peacemaker is waiting for me to watch it.

There is also the possibility of doing it via Microsoft Graph, possibly even PnP or Microsoft 365 CLI.

Find a way that works for you. While doing it programmatically offers considerable benefit for migrating at scale, the amount of effort to make it work correctly with all the variables at that level may be too difficult to get right. However, putting it in the hands of Planner board owners to export / import themselves may not result in a satisfactory timeframe.

I can however tell you that I’ll be spending more effort on this, as I’m working with a very large client on a technical campaign to actively switch heavy Planner users over to Lists.

Stay tuned!

(And if you have a way to migrate the content better than what I’ve shown – please share it in the comments.)

Also published on Medium.

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  1. Great stuff! In my company a lot of people use the checklist in planner. It seems that you cannot do that kind of stuff in lists. Or do you have an idea how to solve this?

    1. I do recognise that’s a shortcoming of Lists, so hadn’t really thought that part through yet.

    1. Unfortunately it’s not possible natively. You’d have to use something like Power Automate.

  2. Just tried it (excel import) and works great! I like the “Planner” view I now have in Lists but (I am a newbie to this) how can I change the order of the buckets once everything is imported in Lists?

  3. I did not find a way to add checklists in a list item as I used to do with planner tasks. By any chance, have found a solution for that?

      1. If you find or hear anything about a possible solution for checklists in List, I’m interested!

  4. The main problem I see trying to replace planner with lists for kanban is that you cannot drag and drop list items to manually change their order. What effectively kills item prioritisation.

    1. Are you able to elaborate on that sorry? I’m not sure what you mean about the changing of the order not being possible.

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