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Optimizing collaboration with Microsoft 365

Millennials make up 35 percent of the U.S. labor force, followed by Gen Xers (33%), Boomers (25%), Gen Z (5%) and Silent (2%) according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.

Between this diverse labor force, new technologies and the everyday work demands, optimizing collaboration can feel like a daunting process.

Fortunately, for those of us with Microsoft 365, Teams and Planner are here to help.

Microsoft Teams

Teams is a mixture between Skype and Slack – combining chat, video meetings, file storage and more.

This is where quick one-on-one or group conversations happen via text, phone or video meetings right from your phone or laptop. You can send files, GIFs, meeting requests, current location, weather and more. Video meetings or group calls can be transcribed afterwards as well – no need to furiously take notes during your meetings.

Useful for committees, collaboration across an organization (including outside users) or any other case when file sharing or integration with other applications like SharePoint or Planner is necessary.

View current Microsoft Calendar, plus schedule meetings without having to leave the browser window or app.

Store your files on the cloud and access them anywhere, anytime. OneDrive files are accessible from this application as well.

Microsoft Planner

Within your team, you can create a plan in Microsoft Planner – which is a great tool to use as a content calendar. Planner is easy to use, visual and helps organize teams in an efficient manner.

Planner allows you to create and assign tasks. Tasks can be an item on your to-do list, content for social, blog, curated content, upcoming events or anything else your team needs to keep on the radar. Each task has a name, assigned team member(s), category, progress status, start and due date, description, checklist, attachments (file, link, SharePoint), tags and comment capability.

Example of what a task looks like in Planner

Example of what tags look like in the task

Tasks can be organized by:

  • Category (bucket) – helpful for organizing different types of content
  • Status – see timelines/progression of tasks
  • Calendar (schedule) – perfect for the visual team members who want a month’s view
  • Assigned to – understand how much is on team members’ plates
  • Labels – create custom labels for priority levels, social platforms, content distribution type, themes or any other need

Schedule view of Planner

Planner sends daily emails reminding of late and upcoming tasks, so you don’t have to keep the tab or application open 24/7.

Progress status of tasks

Setting up Teams and Planner at CSU:  

  1. Work with your college or department resource coordinator to set up a team in Teams
  2. From Teams, select Planner
  3. Create a new plan
  4. Open Planner from Teams
  5. Begin building plan

Teams and Planner are available on your browser and as applications for your computer and phone. As of now, Planner is really only available for internal communications use.

There are a lot of project manager tools out there and it can be tricky to find the right one for your team needs, but I’ve found this to be my personal favorite. I hope you can find success with Microsoft Planner like I did.