Microsoft today launched Office 365 Planner, a new project-management tool for teams. The company will be rolling out Planner worldwide to Office 365 users, including Office 365 Enterprise E1–E5, Business Essentials, Premium, and Education subscription plans. The Planner tile will appear in your Office 365 app launcher, meaning Office 365 admins don’t need to take any action.
Microsoft first rolled out a preview of Planner in December 2015, promising general availability sometime in 2016. At the time, the company described it as a tool that “makes it easy for your team to create plans, organize and assign work, share files, chat about what everyone is working on and get updates on progress.”
In short, Planner is all about structuring teamwork. You can set due dates, and use visual dashboards and email notifications to keep in the loop. Each new plan created in Planner automatically creates a new Office 365 group (Office 365 Groups allows individuals to easily create public or private groups).
But what about Microsoft Project? We asked the company how it differentiates the two Office tools.
“Microsoft Planner and Microsoft Project are very different solutions aimed at very different sets of end users,” a Microsoft spokesperson told VentureBeat. “While Office 365 Planner is a Work Management solution that helps teams of Information workers better organize and manage teamwork visually, Microsoft Project is an industry leading PPM (Project Portfolio Management) offering that helps companies manage a complex portfolio of projects and programs. Microsoft Project has a lot of unique PPM capabilities such as Program and Portfolio Management, Resource Capacity Management, Financial Management, Timesheeting and Schedule Management.”
Microsoft has been “working closely with a variety of Office 365 customers from around the world” since the preview arrived. Going forward, the company is asking for feedback from all Planner users over on its UserVoice service. “We are committed to reading every piece of feedback we receive and turning that into action, so that we can continue to improve Planner,” the team promised.
Microsoft also shared some of Planner’s future roadmap. New features coming in the next few months include the ability to assign a task to multiple users, external user access, plan templates, and customizable boards, as well as Android, iOS, and Windows apps.