The new Microsoft Planner: New task features for organizations with frontline workers

This post has been republished via RSS; it originally appeared at: New blog articles in Microsoft Community Hub.

Earlier this month we announced that the new Microsoft Planner has begun rolling out to General Availability. As part of the new Planner, we’re enhancing task publishing, a feature designed to increase clarity for frontline workers about what work is required and increase visibility for the organization on how that work is going. More specifically, we're releasing four new features based on the top requests we’ve received across frontline organizations. We’re happy to report that these new capabilities have started rolling out as part of the new Planner:

1. Assign training and policy tasks to frontline employees (task list for each team member)
2. Automatically send repeat tasks to frontline locations (task list recurrence)
3. Make it mandatory to provide input back to the org (form completion requirement)
4. Make it mandatory to get approval for work completed (approval completion requirement)

These features are being enabled for users who have the new Planner experience, so it is expected that not everyone will see them immediately. The approval completion requirement is coming soon to the new Planner, and the three other features are available today in the new Planner experience. You'll find them within the task publishing experience.

Task publishing support for training and policy tasks

Task publishing allows central leaders to create a list of tasks, distribute those tasks to multiple locations, and monitor execution across locations.

One of the top requests has been the ability for organizations to publish tasks that each employee at a frontline location must complete – for example, to send training tasks or new policy acknowledgment tasks to all team members at designated frontline locations.

This feature will appear in task publishing as a new type of task list for each team member. When publishing a task list for each team member, you can select the locations that should receive the task list, as usual. Once you confirm the locations, a copy of each task in the list will be created for every employee at each of the chosen locations. When these tasks are created for each employee, they’ll be created in a plan for the specific employee rather than the plan for the team. Once the list has been published, you’ll have access to simple reporting to monitor completion.


Task publishing demo showing the menu for creating a new list, which now has two options: For each team and For each team member.


Task list recurrence

Another top feature request has been making it easier to manage recurring tasks across frontline locations, such as tasks for completion of regular site inspections and compliance walks.

With task list recurrence, you'll be able to apply a recurrence pattern to a task list, with options for daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly intervals. Once you publish a recurring list, task publishing will take care of scheduling all future publications of those tasks, so the list automatically publishes at the specified cadence going forward. From a wide range of customer conversations, we know this will be a big timesaver for distributing repeat tasks across frontline locations. Once the recurring task list is scheduled to publish, central teams will have less to manage when distributing the tasks to frontline locations, making it easier for the org to ensure the right work is completed on time at the right places.


Demo of list recurrence choices for a list. We choose a monthly cadence for this list.


Form or survey completion requirement

We're also introducing two new completion requirements, which enable your organization to ensure the right steps are taken before the task can be marked complete.

The first new completion requirement is the form completion requirement, an integration with Microsoft Forms. When you use task publishing to create a task, you’ll have an option to add a requirement for completion of a designated form. When you publish that task, each recipient team will be unable to mark the task complete until a form response is submitted by a member of that team.

As with any form you create via Microsoft Forms, you have a range of options on the types of questions you can include. You can ask for a text response or ask respondents to select from multiple choices. You can also require a file upload, so that each recipient team must share a photo of the completed work, if you so choose. What's more, you can use conditional branching to make additional questions appear or not appear based on the answers provided. For example, if a user chooses an answer that indicates non-compliance with a company policy, you can ask the user follow-up questions to collect additional details. That's one more way form completion requirements make it easier to get information back from your frontline teams.


Demo of the form completion requirement


Approval completion requirement

You’ll also soon have access to approval completion requirements, an integration with Microsoft Approvals. When you use task publishing to create a task, you’ll be able to designate that an approval is a prerequisite for a task to be marked complete. When you publish that task, each recipient team will be unable to mark the task complete until an approval is requested and subsequently granted.

A user on the recipient team who opens the task will be able to choose the appropriate person on the team to request their approval. The names of the requestor and the designated approver are reflected in the task details, so other members of the team can see the status and help facilitate the approval of the work. This will make it easier to heighten accountability of recipient teams for important tasks your org needs them to complete.


Demo of the approval completion requirement feature

Demo of the approval completion requirement


Task publishing demo video

Watch the full video below to see an overview of task publishing as a whole, including other features we’ve previously rolled out, such as checklist completion requirements, text formatting in the notes fields, our new API capabilities for advanced reporting, and improved options for Teams activity feed notifications.


Video overview of task publishing, including these new features


Additional resources:

• Learn how to setup task publishing by creating a team hierarchy
• Read the blog post announcing that rollout of the new Planner to General Availability has begun
• Watch the new Planner demo videos for inspiration on how to get the most out of the new Planner app in Microsoft Teams.

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