The New Microsoft Planner: What You Need to Know

Mitch Herrema
January 4, 2024

Microsoft is finally fixing their task management tools. Let's talk about what they're doing, why it matters, and what you can expect to see over the upcoming months.

Microsoft's Solution

For years this task management situation has been a little bit... awkward.

There's a lot of different tools that all do task management in Microsoft, and for a while, we've always wondered why don't they just create one "good one". You have things like Planner, To-Do, Tasks in Teams, Project for the Web.

Well, they're all becoming one tool, finally.

Source: Microsoft

The first place that they're building this is right within Teams. So, where you're used to seeing tasks in Teams, you're going to see a Microsoft Planner logo. No more awkward "Tasks by Planner and Todo".

That app will function very similarly as it did before with a few key differences:

  • You will be able to create your own personal Planner boards not tied to a group
  • Project for the web features will be integrated in. Things like agile sprint planning, team workload, goals alignment, custom fields, and task history will be available.
Source: Microsoft
Source: Microsoft
Source: Microsoft

So, you'll no longer need to steer your users between the different tools. You can now literally just say "Use Planner", and that will serve as the task management tool at your organization.

So for now, this will all be coming to Teams, but, there will be a web browser version of it shortly after.

The Paywall

Too good to be true, right?

Well, they're leaving one little paywall in this tool: in order to get the Project for the Web features in Planner, you do have to still have Planner Premium. You're going to see a little diamond indicator all around the tool and it's going to pressure you to sign up.

Source: Microsoft

So if you need things things like agile sprint planning, team workload, goals alignment, custom fields, and task history, plan to upgrade.

I understand the mechanics here - they're trying to "keep the cost of the subscription low, but allow people to add on things as needed". At least, that's the most optimistic way I could look at it.

But it creates friction. For everyone using these tools, they're going to need to ask the question over and over: "Do I need to upgrade? Will it be worth it? Do I need licenses for everyone? Or should I just get a couple?".

It's annoying, frankly. We live in a world of subscriptions and micro-transactions, people.

I think Microsoft missed an opportunity to just incorporate these all of the "premium" features into the existing subscriptions plans and make one great frictionless tool.

Either way, now you know what you're getting into. This will bother some, might make sense to others, and I'm sure a large portion won't mind just having the simple version.

The Unified Task List

Ok, enough of being a downer. This is going to be a good thing! Let's put the paywall aside and just reflect on a single unified task list is going to be fantastic.

You'll now be able to assign tasks to your people across multiple tools and have them all get rolled up into one task list.

When people need the complexity of Project or Project for the Web, they've been out of luck and haven't been able to integrate it into the other tools. That's all going away now, and it's going to be a game-changer for a lot of people.

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The Plan

So when is all this coming, how are they going to roll it out? Let's get into all those details.

The first thing you should know is that in Spring 2024, the new app in Teams is going to be available. That's going to be the primary thing that they're going to be pushing right up front is having this project experience right within Teams.

Source: Microsoft

The next thing that WAS going to change is Project for the Web is going to be renamed to Planner (Project). But according to the admin center message out there right now, it sounds like they're holding off on this rename.

That rename would have left some confusion around what is "Planner" proper going to be in the meantime if Project for the Web is going to be Planner. We'll see what they do.

Later in 2024, they're going to be creating that same experience that is within Teams as a web app. So for people that don't maybe use Teams regularly or want to have that in a web browser, they're going to have all the same functionality of Planner (within the Teams app) in a web browser.

They haven't exactly spelled out what's happening with the Planner web app right now, but I think that's going to stay the same until they kind of get everything all together. Microsoft, comment below if you have any more details. We'd love to know.

My Questions

I do still have some questions about this tool that I'm not I haven't been able to find answers to online.

Are they going to fix notifications?

Notifications in Planner are pretty terrible. You get notified when someone assigns something to you, but there's none in comments. It's just very flat; it's not dynamic. You can't `@` tag people and get notified; it's not great. So when I think of this being a flagship product, they really need good notifications. So, I'm hoping those get fixed.

What will happen with Planner in the meantime?

Is the Planner we know today sticking around as a web app until the final version? Is it going to be renamed Planner Classic, or what does that kind of look like in the mix of the migration process to this new tool? I'm not sure.

Will Planner Use Dataverse?

While writing this blog, I actually found this answer! Right now Project for the Web tasks and everything get created somewhere in Dataverse. Planner does not. But according to this Microsoft blog post, the new Planner will be "built on the Microsoft Power Platform". So I think it's safe to assume we're going to get what we want here. Better access to the data, better reporting, better automations, and the like. Sweet!

Wrap Up

Well, this is all we know for now. We're really excited for this change, and will be sure to provide updates over time as we learn more and this thing gets launched. I'd love to know your thoughts or questions in the comments below!

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