Which to use when: To-Do & Planner

Let me start by saying, there is no infographic here. This is a super quick and concise post to explain when to use To-Do or Planner in simple terms.

Why is this needed? Because this week Microsoft To-Do released two new features that overlap with Planner functionality: List Sharing and Steps.

List Sharing

This is as simple as it sounds; you can now share lists with other people. Microsoft says this is for colleagues, friends or family.

I genuinely don’t know why you would be using To-Do for friends or family, given there are a plethora of significantly more advanced task management systems that integrate with others (eg. Any.do, Todoist, and even Wunderlist which is slowly dying under Microsoft’s ownership). To give it some context; I use Office 365 in my personal life (as in full E5 suite) but use Todoist as the task management system for my wife and I as it integrates with Alexa. Anyway, I digress. (Sorry To-Do product team, but this is the reality of killing Wunderlist.)

Steps

This is another name for subtasks. Or as they are called in Planner; checklist items.

Sounds like To-Do can do some of the things Planner can. Why should I use it?

I’ll make this as simple as possible: To-Do is to OneDrive as Planner is to SharePoint.

In OneDrive we can share files with other people and collaborate with them while the content resides in our OneDrive location.

However, in SharePoint we collaborate with team members, with all of them has access to everything in the site.

The same goes with To-Do and Planner:

If I want to share a list of tasks with one or more individuals – I’ll do it with To-Do.

But if I want to work with colleagues on a project or activities in a collaborative fashion – I’ll use Planner. Not to mention that a Planner is generally tied to an Office 365 Groups group and/or Microsoft Teams team, so brings with it a lot of other functionality we can use to work together on.

For those who want a graphic, here you go:

Improvements to Planner integration with Microsoft Teams

One of the bugbears for users of Microsoft Teams is the challenges of Planner integration – or lack thereof.

In the early days of Teams, the Planner integration was very limited – it had no ability to see existing Plans that had been created, only those that it created.

As of present Teams production builds the frustration is that users need to keep navigating across to tabs within channels within teams in order to see their tasks – as any Plan created inside a channel would not show up under My Tasks inside of Planner and similarly users could not access My Tasks from within Teams.

There are two key improvements in this area, though not 100% feature complete.

Accessing My Tasks in Teams

To see My Tasks inside of Microsoft Teams you will need to switch to the developer preview mode. This can be done by clicking on your picture in the bottom left corner, navigating to About, and then selecting Developer preview.

You will then see the following warning:

Continuing will restart the Teams application and get you to sign in again. Not much will appear different except that the navigation on the left will now show three dots underneath the Files button.

Clicking this will now show the Planner app button.

And clicking this will now bring up the My Tasks from Planner inside the Teams interface, allowing you to group by progress or by plan.

Accessing Planner tasks from Teams in Planner

It seems like a no-brainer, but it is currently in progress.

At the moment the functionality is limited where I can see tasks from a Plan in a Teams channel, but not the Plan itself.

Notice in the screenshot below the names of the three Plans: Paradigm Solutions, Teams eBook, and Teams-Planner test. Now take a look under the My Tasks heading and you’ll see that there are tasks from a Plan called “Plan”, but then looking back at the Plans listing it’s not there.

Over at the Office 365 Roadmap you can see that some of these bits are in development and should be released to production early in 2018.

Hopefully the Planner team can keep up with the pace set by the Teams team for integration and development!