Exploring Microsoft Office 365 Planner Preview Rollout

The arrival of Office 365 Planner stems from Microsoft’s recent announcement that it is adding more to its portfolio of services that make its cloud more efficient and offers significant advantages to those enrolled with Microsoft’s First Release program. Microsoft is also in the process of adding OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online to its Office 365 First Release program. The Planner preview is being rolled for all Office 365 First Release customers.

Understanding the Approach

Microsoft continues to be aggressive about its cloud computing capabilities, now adding a new dimension to its team collaboration capabilities with the Office 365 Planner. For Microsoft users enrolled with Office 365 First Release Early Access Program, this is an encouraging sign—their premium subscription is now paying dividends. Office 365 is evolving, trying to break free from its misinterpreted image of being a PC-based productivity enhancing software suite. The Planner adds more layers of cloud efficiencies to Office 365.

First Impressions: Is the Planner totally new?

In many ways it is and then, it is not an absolute revolutionary tool. It is a part of Microsoft’s plan to ensure that it addresses questions decision-makers ask in cloud-based infrastructure. Some analysts say that in terms of bearing similarities, the Planner shares some dynamics with Trello—another data coordination tool that engaged initial enthusiasm but currently is not exactly a bestseller.

What does the Office 365 Planner offer?

Office 365 Planner caters to contemporary workflows that are getting more collaborative, keenly on the lookout for tools that can further uncomplicated their workloads and make data omnipresent and safer. The Planner provides a “visually” easier way to manage work. Microsoft Office 365 Planner helps teams assign work, create roadmaps and keep track of everyday progress for different projects. From data-heavy files to chat collaborations, the Planner is designed to make Microsoft Cloud-based work management smoother.

Getting Started with Office 365 Planner

The Planner is easy to set-up with guidance provided via a step-by-step instructional email. Those with Office 365 administration and First Release credentials should expect an instructional email with a systematic approach to setting up and using the Planner. Once launched via Office 365 App Launcher, the Planner is easy to work with. It will be available to all First Release customers using any of the following Microsoft subscriptions:

  • Office 365 Enterprise E1
  • Office 365 Education E3
  • Office 365 Education E4
  • Office 365 Business Essentials
  • Office 365 Business Premium
  • Office 365 Enterprise E3
  • Office 365 Education
  • Office 365 Enterprise E4
  • Office 365 Enterprise E5

Digging Deeper into Office 365 Planner Preview Dynamics

Planner integration with Office 365 Groups is seamless—brewed to perfection. Paying attention to the fact that Groups is the foundation of creating private or publicly interactive groups, the Planner comes with the assurance of effortless integration. Ensuring any Office 365 Groups user is not disadvantaged, existing Group users get to choose the most relevant plan. Every time you create a new plan, the Planner will automatically create a new Office 365 group.

A Bit of History & the Road Ahead

The Planner was earlier called the "Highlander"— often discussed as one of the next-gen tools that will add to Office 365's growing reputation as a work management and data collaboration platform. Now, Planner preview is applicable for Organizational First Release only. However, this does not mean that Individual First Release clients will be neglected. Microsoft is driving the cause of making the Planner accessible for First Release Select People too. According to Microsoft executives, the rollout will be executed globally, due to arrive in your Office 365 tenant. The road ahead suggests that it will be immediately available to eligible Office 365 educational and commercial customers in 2016.

What to expect from Office 365 Planner?

Office 365 Planner provides an interesting interface, attuned towards easing project management. Different content entities are systematically indexed, displayed as Cards and Boards where each Card contains different documents.

From Word to PowerPoint and Word documents, each file can be easily attached to a Card. Each document ensures ease of visibility with its automated image previews. Every Planner Card is about information at a glance. Every Card can be later listed within a Board.

Every Board has Buckets that you can customize according to nomenclature or priority. More personalization options include tagging with differently colored labels. These Cards are optimized to ensure that Microsoft Office-generated/warehoused content becomes easier to collaborate. These files are open to offline editing as they are saved in the SharePoint Document Library.

This adds more dexterity to project management front as project stakeholders can access and edit documents even when on-the-move. Project managers can track progress across each Card. They can be hyper-selective too, choosing to view filtered documents from different cards.

Office 365 Planner adds another dimension to ease of data accessibility and processing with the addition of Charts—a data viewing option that provides easy-to-interpret interactive charts.

Office 365 Planner: Delivers More than What Meets the Eye

Office 365 Planner benefits from every feature associated with a Microsoft Office offering, including a highly secure cloud infrastructure. Users across the US can expect compliance with HIPAA, FISMA, ISO27001 and EU Model standards. With extensive redundant backup loops, your data remains safe despite being virtual and always available. All Planner conversations will be easily visible in Outlook 2016 apart from Outlook on the Web and Groups mobile apps.


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