Hey hey, welcome back! I do hope that you came here to learn more about Microsoft Teams and you aren’t here for the donuts. I was running late this morning and didn’t have time to stop.
In Part 1 I talked about the Teams in Microsoft Teams, in Part 2 we covered Activity, Chat, Search and Files. Today it’s time for Meetings and Planner.
Microsoft Teams Meetings
Meetings is an interesting piece of the entire Microsoft Teams puzzle. At first glance, one might say, “Oh yeah, super exciting, I’ve already got my calendar in Outlook that tells me my meetings.” Okay, Mr. Cynic, you’re right, you do. And this looks a little similar to that:
But, one of the things I love about this over the Outlook interface is the fact that at a glance I can see who organized it, who’s been invited, and if they’ve accepted, declined or are marked tentative. To me, that’s a big bonus over the Outlook display of the same meeting:
Let’s take a look at the scheduling functionality in Teams.
In Microsoft Teams, I have the option to choose a channel to meet in. When I choose a channel to meet in, it posts it to my channel that I’ve created a meeting:
If I click on that meeting, I get this:
Look at that! A dial-in number, a conference ID … looks suspiciously like Skype for Business meetings, doesn’t it? Bonus points that this meeting is now on my Outlook calendar. Now when we click on “Join Microsoft Teams Meeting”, we get something else that looks familiar:
As of right now, it doesn’t record the meeting. However, if you click the little chat bubble in the top right, you can chat with other attendees, and when the meeting is over, you’ll see that all the chat was logged into that channel:
There are plans on the roadmap to have a recording function. This is a great way to provide access to your meetings to people who aren’t able to attend.
Planner Integration with Microsoft Teams
For the final part of this series on Microsoft Teams, I want to talk a little about Planner. This takes us back around to the whole productivity and collaboration thing we started off discussing. I’m going to go step by step on a lot of this because, while it’s pretty darn intuitive, and I know that all of you will easily figure out how to use it, you might not have Teams right in front of you while you read this, so I want to make sure you get to see as much of this as you can, which means a lot of screenshots! To open Planner in Teams, here’s where you click:
When you click on that, if you’ve never done anything with Planner before, here’s what you’ll get:
“WOW! Look at all that super awesome and useful stuff! I can totally get stuff done now!” is what I imagine you saying. Yeah, I imagine everyone that reads my posts as super sarcastic. Before you get too excited, though, let’s click that box with the arrow trying to escape:
That’ll open up a page to https://tasks.office.com:
And YES, you DO have to sign in. Again. Come on, they must protect this stuff. You don’t want some random prankster from the Interwebs assigning things to you, do you? Just click the arrow next to sign in, type in your username and password that you use for your Office 365 account, and you’ll be welcomed with something similar to this:
Either choose an existing plan that you have, or click up there on New Plan. If you click New Plan, then you get to create a new plan!
Give it a name, make it public or private, put in a description so people know what you just suckered them into, and you can choose if you want people to get notification e-mails. I’m sure that the sheer simplicity of this is giving someone out there fits of granularity rage. Sorry, you can’t change what font your Plan name uses.
Now we’ve got a new plan created, and I, being the super creative person I am, called mine New Plan. Click on your new plan (whatever you called it) in that main window and here we go, the place where we can make things happen:
Right now, I’ve only got myself in this new plan. Since Jason Turpin and I like to use each other as guinea pigs on our blogs, I’m going to add him to this plan and assign him some tasks. A quick click where it says members brings up a little window where you can see what members are assigned and add new ones from within your organization as needed:
I didn’t have to use Jason’s full e-mail address, but when I type Jason Turpin into that box, it pulls from my contacts, and I didn’t think he wanted his personal e-mail address floating around out there for just ANYONE to see. Sorry, folks, you’ll have to hack Equifax to get that kind of information … oh, right, someone already did. Anyhow, click on the name of the person where it appears and like magic, they’re added:
Now let’s create some things for people to do here. Click the + under “To Do” (To Do is a bucket name. We’ll add a bucket later, just sit tight):
You’ll get this:
Give that task a name, set a due date, and assign some poor schmuck to the work:
One item of note here, if you mistakenly assign someone, you can just click the X next to their name to remove them from the Task. To demonstrate, here’s what it looks like when you remove someone:
Nice and convenient, it shows you at a glance who’s assigned and who’s available for you to assign. Once you’ve assigned your people and given this a due date, click Add Task and it’ll drop it back on that main webpage:
I put that arrow there because we’re going to click on the task name next. Yes, I know I could have done separate screenshots. I’m trying to be economical here.
Clicking the name of the task gives you some more granularity:
Up at the top, click the “…” and you get the option to delete the task. Click the X and it closes this config window. Here is where if we had another bucket, we could assign it to that other bucket, we can give it a start date, even mark our progress on that task:
Okay, even I have to admit that a few more options on the progress status would be nice. I haven’t seen that on the official roadmap, but let’s just keep our fingers crossed on that one.
I’ve gone ahead and modified everything so that it’s a bit more than just a blank slate:
Now, you see those check boxes that say, “Show on Card”? Unfortunately, you can only check one of them. Checking the other will uncheck the one you just checked, so make sure you check the one that you want to check when you’re checking your check boxes.
One last thing before we close out this window is the tabs:
You can change the labels all you want. Yes, I know, my labels aren’t very helpful are they? Okay, fine, let’s make them more helpful.
There we go, much better for the purposes of demonstration. Now we click the X and let’s see what we’ve got:
So now I’ve got my primary task with all my sub tasks listed out with nice little check boxes next to them. But where’s the labels? Well, we’ll get to those in a minute. First, I want to address the elephant in the room. This blog is about Microsoft Teams, but all this Planner stuff is in a web interface! What gives, man? Well, think of this from a project manager perspective. You’ve got a project and you’ve got several folks on your team that will be doing the work. The web page is the centralized location for you to create the tasks, assign those tasks to buckets, assign sub-tasks, etc. When a task is assigned to you, it shows up in your Microsoft Teams, like this:
You can click on that title for the plan, just like from the web page, and you can then update as you need to:
As soon as I marked my task as “In Progress”, it was moved on the main planner page in Teams to the “In Progress” category. I marked the label that says, “Working on It”, and checked off the items on the checklist that I had completed. Now take a look down there under comments. From a project manager perspective, let’s say I’m doing my daily review of the tasks that my team has and I notice that this particular one seems to have stalled. I can type in a comment here, and click Send. What does that do, you might ask? Why, it sends an e-mail!
Yup, I just got that in my Outlook. It also records it in a running history at the bottom:
Remember I set that label for “Working on it”? Well, after clicking that X to get me back to the main page, I can see that the label has been set and hovering over it gives me a description for that label:
Let’s go back to the web interface where your project manager will be viewing the tasks of their people and see how these changes reflect from that side:
It shows the half-filled circle to show I’m in progress, it shows my label that I tagged it with, and it shows what I have left to do from my checklist. All my changes that I made as a team member have been reflected here for my team to see. Where else might these changes be reflected? Let’s click on “Charts”:
Now I’ve got some actual metrics to look at and show to our clients as project updates. Does it give everything that we’d want to give? Of course not, but it’s a great supplement to other documentation that we would want to provide to show where things are and how they’re progressing.
If you click on the “…” next to Charts, you get even more options! Let’s take a brief look at this:
Clicking “Conversation” gives us this:
This is a search in your e-mail for all the conversations related to “New Plan!!!!”. And yes, before you even ask, I DID blur out the number of e-mails I’ve got sitting unread in my inbox. Don’t judge me.
Clicking “Files” gives us a repository for any files associated with “New Plan”:
Clicking “Calendar” Brings up your calendar with any appointments associated with the plan highlighted in a different color:
I originally wasn’t going to screenshot it as I didn’t want to have to blur out everything, but I felt that it just wouldn’t be the same if I didn’t have a screenshot for you.
Clicking on “Notebook” creates a notebook in OneNote for your plan:
And finally, clicking on “Members” gives you a listing of all the folks that you’ve added to that plan:
Okay, enough about Planner.
One last item I’d like to touch on VERY briefly is the “Get Apps” button.
Apps in Microsoft Teams
These are third- and first-party apps that are designed to integrate into Microsoft Teams. I would love to be able to go through each and every one of these and show you what they can do, but there’s roughly 130 different apps, bots and connectors, and ain’t nobody got time for that!
As you can see, Microsoft has made great strides on creating what could possibly be the best productivity and collaboration software on the market today. With such incredible flexibility and no real right or wrong way to use it, the possibilities are endless.
I’ll be keeping abreast of updates to Teams and the entire ecosystem surrounding it as more features come available, and I will strive to bring those changes to you as I can. In the meantime, any of you that are currently using Microsoft Teams, or as you begin to use Microsoft Teams, I’d be interested in hearing the different ways that you use it. Explore the apps that are available, and if you find some that work for you or you find interesting and helpful, drop me an e-mail to tell me about it. Or, if there’s one that you’d like for me to take a look at and give a bit more in-depth look at, let me know. I can’t guarantee anything, but I’ll happily take a look and write about it if I can.
Until next time, remember, you can’t spell “collaboration” without using letters.