Microsoft Planner: New Feature. 25 labels 🎉

When I saw a post in the official Microsoft Planner with the title Add up to 25 embedded, editable labels to your tasks,” I was super happy. And then I was disappointed. Why increase to 25? Since you’re increasing, why not make it unlimited? This is one of my pet peeves with Microsoft Planner. I love how it works but having a limitation on labels when you can go bananas with “buckets” seems like a strange Microsoft decision. But I’ll take it. 25 labels give us more flexibility and allow for better segmentation.

The feature

I started the post complaining, so let’s change it to a more positive note. The feature should be already available to you, so if you go to your Planner, you will see something like this:

Keep scrolling, and you’ll see the new colors:

This is enough for most people who use tags freely to classify data, deadlines, effort, and only other dimensions; this is not enough.

It’s not like there aren’t any more colors (the last dig, I promise).

How to use it now that you have more

The strategies that I defined in the previous article still stand. You can use buckets and labels to segment your information, and now you have more flexibility to do it.

Using buckets

Here are some things you can use buckets for:

  1. Projects – I would guess that this is the most common. Having tasks per project enables people to tackle them at the same time as well as segment the work better within the team.
  2. Departments – If you work for a company but provide services to several departments. Then you can group them by the department and tackle them all at the same time.
  3. Clients – You can have tasks segmented by your clients if you’re a freelancer and have tasks from multiple sources.
  4. Types of Tasks – You use it for major groups of tasks like Maintenance, Planning, Personal Improvement, to name a few.
  5. Workflow Elements – For example, you can have an editorial planner with a bucket for each step, from idea to publishing.

What to do with more labels?

Labels now can serve as an additional dimension with:

  1. Effort. For example, if it’s low, medium, or high effort, you can have a group based on the more useful tasks to do at any point in time.
  2. Timeline – You can use a quarter segmentation, for example, to guide you to when you should tackle something. Planner provides dates to start and finish, but you may not know when these are, so this is a good way to plan the whole year for your major tasks.
  3. Context – I consider this an important one. The context could be a group of activities, like “document review” or “approval of the project” or “code review.” Something that could be independent of projects, departments, etc.
  4. People – This may be different from the “Assign” field. Imagine that you manage many projects; it’s important to keep track of who asked you to perform the task. The task is assigned to you, but you can know who to ask for information or tell that did the task. Adding the person as assigned could make them think that they need to do something.
  5. Status – Planner provides status but only 3 (Not Started, In Progress, or Complete). But you can have tasks that are “Waiting for Feedback” or “On Hold,” and that could be useful to know. Used in conjugation with the previous one is quite powerful. You can talk with a person and know everything waiting for information from that person, for example.
  6. Location – Location is important for some people. A task may only make sense if you’re in a specific location, but you always want to know everything you need to do there so that you don’t leave with hanging tasks.

Final thoughts

Overall I’m happy with the improvement from 6 to 25 labels. I’m sure that Microsoft got many requests regarding this one, but Microsoft Planner continues to go in the right direction. Microsoft is listening to its users and talking about the things that people want more.

Have a suggestion of your own or disagree with something I said? Leave a comment or interact on Twitter and be sure to check out other Microsoft Planner-related articles here.

Photo by Bruno Martins on Unsplash

Manuel Gomes

I'm a Project Manager with experience in large projects and companies. I've worked in the past for companies like Bayer, Sybase (now SAP) and I'm currently working for Pestana Hotel Group.

View all posts by Manuel Gomes →

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