September 25, 2021

Microsoft Planner: One task, multiple people

Today we continue to learn some of the fundamentals in Microsoft’s Services, this time in Planner regarding task attribution and collaboration.

There are many to-do lists out there, and some enable you to share or attribute tasks to other people, but these can be quite limiting. The mindset is that you have something and you “delegate” something to someone else.

The issue

The main problem is collaboration. You have separate islands with tasks with only a few connecting pieces between them. What if you have a task that needs to be performed, but any of X number of people can do it. For example, someone new arrives at the company, and you have a nice Power Automate that creates all the necessary tasks to get the person up and running. What would you do? Create in 5 people’s to-do lists the task of “giving permissions to X platform”? What about if someone does the task? The others will still have that task on their to-do list. This is quite cumbersome and not very collaborative, so there’s a better way.

Multiple people

The main way to solve the issue of collaborative tasks is to assign them to multiple people. If they use Microsoft To-Do, the tasks will show up on their list, but they disappear once someone does them. So you always have a list of tasks that you can do, but only one person is necessary.

Here’s what it looks like in Microsoft’s To-Do.

As a bonus, Microsoft’s To-Do will display the Plan’s name so you will have the context of where the task came from.

Collaboration at its best.

With this strategy, you can have your whole team collaborating, even if they are not actively using Microsoft Planner. They can have the tasks in their To-Do list, plan and perform them as any other tasks and be part of a more efficient team that tackles issues or requests in bulk instead of having complex synchronization systems or to-do list applications.

One person can’t do it all.

Another advantage of this simple system is that people are finite in their concentration, effectiveness, and overall energy levels. People come and go, but no task is left behind with this system because there are always multiple people who tackle it. Simple things like going on holidays remove to “wait until X comes back” since it’s on their to-do list and the rest of the team is unaware that something needs to be done.

The backup

You can also define that a person always has a backup for their tasks. You can automate this with Power Automate where, once a task is created, another person has added automatically to it. The backup person knows that they don’t need to do anything, but if there is an issue, they have access to it, the comments, and other shared information and tackle the task if necessary.

Final thoughts

The overall concept is super simple but quite powerful. Plans created between logical units and having tasks with multiple people help to shorten the communication gap without any extra work.

Give it a try, and don’t forget that automation is your friend here. Automate where you can and check for yourself the joy of having a ticket in your to-do list that someone else did for you.

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 Ryoji Iwata 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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