3 min read

MS Teams and Planner: The Next Step in Collaboration Tools

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As the modern workforce continues to be dispersed and mobile, organizations are looking for ways to boost productivity and efficiency. This need to virtually connect disparate workers has led to the rise of new tools to enable effective real time communication and project collaboration. Microsoft has entered the fray in a big way with MS Teams and MS Planner.

Group Chat

Work groups have used email, instant messaging, and video chat for real-time conversation, but those solutions are so…2010. Organizations are now providing instant communication with team chat software that brings people, AdobeStock_81218743-180840-edited.jpegconversation, and content together to streamline collaboration. MS Teams delivers a powerful solution by naturally integrating with familiar Office applications. MS Teams provides a true hub for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, SharePoint, OneNote, Planner, Power BI, and Delve giving team members access to all the tools they need to work more productively.

MS Teams provides a modern conversation experience by supporting persistent and threaded chats to keep everyone engaged, while also offering private discussions. It is also deeply integrated with Skype so you can still conduct voice and video conferences when necessary. You can also personalize the experience with emojis, stickers, GIFs, and custom memes.

Like the popular group chat application Slack, MS Teams provides built in helper bots: T-Bot and Whobot. Like Slack’s Slackbot, T-Bot helps answer questions using data in MS Teams, but provides multiple user interfaces to accomplish the task. WhoBot takes things a step further than Slack as it is built on top of the Microsoft Graph artificial intelligence framework and can answer questions about particular employees by pulling data directly from Active Directory. Teams’ integration with Office 365 makes content easier to access and work with than with Slack.

MS Teams’ built in video gives it an advantage over Slack and HipChat - which provides some video capability - but MS Teams’ seamless integration with Skype for Business enables you to start voice and video chats on demand.

Another edge MS Teams has over Slack and HipChat is its ability to create “important” messages that alerts everyone in the channel. MS Teams also provides a customer polling tool that can measure everyone’s reactions to items being discussed. Slack needs a plug in to accomplish this task.

Other advantages of MS Teams over Slack include more comprehensive IT administrator controls and added layers of security. Built from the ground up on the Office 365 global, secure cloud, MS Teams goes beyond ISO 27001 compliance with certifications to ISO 27018, SSAE16 SOC1 and SOC2, HIPAA, and EU Model Clauses.

Project Collaboration

Microsoft is also hoping to enhance the way teams work together with MS Planner. This Microsoft offering makes it easy for groups to create new plans, organize and assign tasks, share files, chat about work being done, and get ongoing progress updates. MS Planner is less complex than the traditional MS Project but a more robust solution than using simple Excel spreadsheets to manage your projects.

MS Planner is seamlessly integrated with Office 365 Groups. Every time you create a new plan, a new Office 365 Group is automatically created. If you have a pre-existing Group, a plan will automatically be created for that Group. All the activity is powered by Office Graph using machine learning that maps relationships, data, and activity for a more customized, personalized collaboration.

MS Planner is taking on familiar project planning solutions like Trello and Asana which have staked out positions in the “simple project management” market space. MS Planner provides a basic dashboard to provide an overview of your projects. Trello requires a paid account to get a task overview and Asana only provides an overview of three projects at a time unless you upgrade to a paid version.

When you set up a project in MS Planner, you can create a plan email address which links to conversation threads in Outlook, make it public or private, and add a description. Asana allows you to create emails but Trello does not and neither Trello or Asana allow you to add descriptions.

MS Planner provides a quick view of task progress including those completed and those overdue so you can decide to change or reassign as needed. You can also view tasks by individual so you can balance workload as needed. You need a paid plan with Trello to get an overview of all projects that are ongoing.

Ultimately, the power of MS Planner is its ability to seamlessly integrate with the entire O365 applications suite. As Microsoft continues to provide the necessary tools to serve the needs of the growing collaboration market, this advantage will become even more pronounced. 

To learn more about how Microsoft and DynTek can build solutions that can help empower your workforce, check out our Microsoft Platform Solutions.