Microsoft Planner: Linking Plans to a Project task


For those on the Office Insider builds – or First Release – you will already be seeing a new link in the ribbon for Tasks in Project Online Desktop Client.  This is a feature only available for the subscription client – so don’t expect to see this in Project Professional 2016 if you own the perpetual license.  The new link enables you to link a task in Project Online to a Plan in Microsoft Planner, assuming you have an Office 365 subscription that includes Planner.  Let’s take a look and think about how you might use this.

You can see the link on the upper right – and clicking opens up the guide on the left.

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Clicking the link gives a selection box for the Office 365 Group (not the Plan – as a Group can have more than one Plan – from Teams for example) and starting to type will find Groups that match the entered string

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Selecting the plan then tells you who will get added to the Group – if they are not already there – and these will be  the assigned user and current user.  The project and the task need to have been published at this point to be able to make the link (You will get a message if they are not).

The right hand screenshot below shows the result when a Group is chosen that has more than one plan – and also in this case is adding the assigned resource (Sara) as well as me.

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Once the link is made you get a link in the guide and a Planner icon in the grid.

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You can have links to multiple plans – and clicking the link will take you to the plan – as you might expect:

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But you can’t link two different task to the same plan – and the thinking here is you wouldn’t know which task the plan progress was being made against if you linked one plan to two tasks:

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In this initial release it is purely a link – so it enables the project manager to offload the tracking of that task to someone else who will be managing it in Planner.  The PM can then see how progress is going and update the project task accordingly after reviewing the progress of tasks and possibly checklists in the plan.  We are keen to hear what ways you might consider using this and future features you would want to see.  Use either the feedback option under the smiley top right in Project – or the Project UserVoice site.  If your feedback is more about the Planner end of the equation – then Planner has a UserVoice too!


Comments (23)

  1. Joe Blake says:

    This is great functionality and certainly help push integration in the right direction.

  2. Looking good Brian and the rest of the Project Team.

  3. Diego Longhi says:

    It seems to be a good feature and great when planner plan automatically update the project task.

    1. Mike Bennett says:

      I second the notion of having Project tie directly to planner tasks and allow the planner task to update the project. The planner interface for task management is much simpler to the average user, plus planner tasks can be accessed by outside domain users. This allows for contractors and vendors to complete the tasks in planner which is a feature lacking (in my opinion) to Project Online today. But this is a great start. Thanks.

      1. Lee Jacobson says:

        Couldn’t agree more that having Planner actually update Project would be a huge feature! We use Planner daily and having a two way link between the two would really help our managers and teams understand each other much more easily. Please add this as it would be a huge time saver for us. 😉

        1. To Lee and all all who would like the two way linkage with Planner back to Project Online please share how you would expect this to work – in terms of what progress in Planner maps to what progress in Project? Only complete? Or something else? There is certainly more to come in this space and using UserVoice will help us to understand what your expectations are.

          Best regards,
          Brian.

          1. Alex says:

            My thought is the total % completion would be reported in the task and therefore visible in Project Online. Also integrate the total duration of the entire plan by using the earliest start date latest due date.

            Exposing that link to the planner in Project Online would be great too; as far as I can tell that link only is visible in the project client.

            Great stuff. Thank you!

          2. Thanks Alex – the challenge comes when the task in Project maps to a Plan with several tasks – of unknown individual effort, making it tricky to map the limited tracking in Planner back up to Project. I like the idea though, and as long as the PM was aware of the limitation it could be workable.
            Best regards,
            Brian.

          3. John says:

            Hi Brian. Good 1st step. 2-way updates would be a great 2nd step! I would think some people here or your other contacts could quickly devise how the 2nd step could work – even if limited functionality.

            My thoughts on 2-way update: (1) something along the lines of Didier’s response could work for some – then use the CHECKLIST within the MS Planner task for detailed steps or (2) add a few additional fields into MS Planner for each task for those customers that want MS Planner MS Project integration. MS Planner is simple, and easy to use. The customers not wanting integration would keep it the same and not use (or see) these extra fields. One new field would help relate MS Planner into one MS Project Task + another new field to allow %complete. Subsequent releases to allow for update on hours in Planner (for those that want hours input), Remaining work hours entered in Planner, etc..

  4. Lars Hammarberg says:

    Will the resource assigned to the task need a Project licence to be allowed to see the task data in Planner?
    I know it’s not required technically, but licence-wise?

    1. Hi Lars, the Planner user will not need a Project license. There is just a link created – so there is no actual Project task information being pushed into Planner or being consumed by the Planner user – merely a Plan being set that relates to a task. Great question though – and as the feature develops I can see we will need to consider and give guidance on any licensing implications.
      Best regards,
      Brian.

    1. I’d tend to think that is an unfortunate by-product of the way partners and even Microsoft work Trutz, but not something most customers will experience. You can log out of the other account and then all will work fine. Thanks for the UserVoice suggestion and we can see what the product group respond with.
      Best regards,
      Brian.

  5. This is a tiny functionality (no taskupdate but only a link), and certainly promissing for the future. This how I suggest to use the “Work Package” Strategy : build you plan in Project Pro 365 with “Work Package” placed at summary tasks level 1 , a work package is a set of tasts to be done by a specific team in the OBS, and level 2 will be the detail of tasks done by this OBS team. You use the Planner link only at level 1 for Work Package line. Udpate will be easier that way, even if the update is totally manual (since there is no date flux in this feature) : all task will be grouped in Planner too. Then we update the project Plan, group by group, when reading the provided link.
    Didier

  6. Hi Brian, the link looks good, but how would the update process work with updates coming from Planner; can you provide screenshots on that process as well?

    1. At this stage Eric the update process from Planner would be purely manual – so the PM responsible for the task in Project would need to click through to Planner and review progress and update the task accordingly – chasing up the plan/task owners if it wasn’t clear how things were progressing. Updating in the Plan could be obvious if tasks were completed or checklists checked off, but in-progress tasks are not going to give much indication of the % completion or remaining work.
      Best regards,
      Brian.

  7. Naser says:

    Well done!
    So excited to see full integration between these two tools.

    Just I hope you have a plan to re-design whole UI for “guide” section; I mean the area which dependency and deliverable information get displayed and managed.

  8. Joe says:

    I hope this is the beginning of a deeper integration between Project and Planner. This feature doesn’t do much for either PMs or for task owners. This is basically a 1-click way to get from Project to Planner. I would hope to see tasks information from Project pushed into Planner, including Task Name, Start Date, Finish (Due) Date, Resource Names. I’ll add this to Uservoice, if it’s not already there.

    1. Thanks Joe, and yes, this is just the start and appreciate the feedback into UserVoice!
      Best regards,
      Brian.

  9. Shirley Brodbeck says:

    Hi Brian
    I wanted to link my tasks from my MS Project (Project Online) but my icon is inactive or greyed out. What is that mean?

    1. This would normally indicate tnat the account you are running as does not have access to Planner. If you navigate to https://tasks.office.com does Planner work for you Shirley? If so is this account associated with the Project client application?
      Best regards,
      Brian.

  10. Petter-Andre Johansson says:

    Just discovered this myself, and the idea is great!

    However, when trying to connect a task with Planner, the only link I get up is greyed out. On further inspection, it seems you need to have Project Web App for this to work – is that correct?

    1. Same reply as for Shirley – but additionally (and this will show as a hover over text “The project and task must be published to use this command” – so yes, you do need to be connected to a Project Web App for this to work Petter-Andre.
      Best regards,
      Brian.

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