MS Planner for Remote Collaboration

Creative usage of MS Planner

During the last two weeks of remote work I learned two further ways on how to work with MS Planner (which is part of the Office365 package). Again I want to show a creative use case of how to use tools which are usually available in many companies.

While more and more teams are getting used to work with simple Kanban boards (known as To do, Doing, Done) two further applications are possible with MS Planner:

  1. Setting up a meeting agenda (and collaborate on it before a meeting happens!). Thanks to my colleague Marina Sverdel for giving me this hint!
  2. Retrospectives (and tracking of related Action Items)

Agenda via Planner

If you use Teams you are probably used to the integrated Planner. But there is another way on how to set up a Planner board – if you want to use it outside of Teams. Just log in to your Office365 startpage ( and click on the Planner icon. Now you can setup a new board (private or public) and create buckets as needed. Per default I use:

  • To dicuss
  • In discussion
  • Discussed

In certain cases it makes sense to create extra buckets for decisions or an archive of discussed topics.

Then it is easy to share the agenda, be it as a link or via an invitation to the board. People can create cards and participate in the agenda setting process. And if you have an spontenous meeting you can run a Lean Coffee and build the agenda together. Pritization is unfortunately not so easy, because the is not a voting function.

Retro via Planner

For the ones who use already a tool like it is obvious that the bucket approach of Planner is the same. Of course you don’t have features like voting or hiding cards during a sequence, but it’s good enough. Actually it offers other uses cases which you usually don’t get from other tools: The tracking of Retro Action Items could be an extra bucket.

Another nice effect – it is easy to set up a private board, so one can be sure that the collected items are in a safe space. Vegas FTW!

Further use cases

Basically Planner could be used in any situation there you would use columns and Post It’s in the real world. Of course one could play (like in the real world) with a specific bucket structure for workshops or use Liberating Structures as the underlying process of a collaborative endeavor.

Another example on how to use Planner in a creative way: The METRONOM Impediment Board. In our company we have a public board that any employee can access. The purpose of this board is to give each individual the possibility to give input regarding impediments in daily work life. There is a team of volunteers which takes care that “things are getting done”.

As you can see – from idea collection to learning – many additional applications are possible which go far beyond planning. Wish you happy experimenting!

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