Software

Should You Use Microsoft Planner in Microsoft 365? Best 10 Alternatives

Jonathan Friedman
November 30, 2020
Should You Use Microsoft Planner in Microsoft 365? Best 10 Alternatives

Are you thinking of trying Microsoft Planner to manage your project? In this article, we at TrueNxus will review Microsoft Planner and help you determine if Microsoft Planner is worth buying for your team to plan and execute project management. We'll also shed light on ten great Microsoft Planner alternatives to try out instead.

Below is everything we will cover. Feel free to skip ahead.

What is Microsoft Planner?

Microsoft Planner screenshot

Microsoft Planner is a newer addition to the Microsoft Office suite. With an easy-to-use kanban board, it's an agile-based project management software. With Microsoft Planner, you can efficiently assign and organize tasks. Additionally, you can set deadlines, share files, and team members can communicate with each other. Furthermore, you can receive alerts on tasks, allowing you and your team to be reminded when a task is coming due, is late, or scheduled in the next week.

How to use Microsoft Planner effectively?

Microsoft Planner is most useful for small teams performing task management. However, if you and your team perform agile project management, whether SCRUM or not, you could leverage MS Planner's easy-to-use interface.

If you're comfortable with the Microsoft Office suite of tools, Microsoft Planer may be an excellent addition to your suite of productivity tools. It is especially true if you use Microsoft Teams day-in and day-out. Given it's integration into MS Teams, you don't have to exit the app, and you can manage everything together.

Who has access to MS Planner?

Anyone who has one of these Microsoft 365 plans has access to the Microsoft Planner app for free:


If you have one of the above plans, the Microsoft Planner app will show up in the Office app section of your dashboard.

Microsoft Planner features

MS Planner has a lot of benefits to offer to its customers. Here is a closer look at Microsoft Planner's features.

1. Kanban boards

The first thing that you'll notice about the MS Planner app is its kanban board interface. If you've used kanban boards before, you'll find it easy to get up-to-speed.

You can access each project accessed from the left navigation pane. Once you're in your project, you can move tasks through the board and edit items with ease. It makes this Microsoft app great for a small team looking for a basic task management app.

2. Coordinate the project in one location

Unlike other productivity tools, with Microsoft Planner, you'll be able to coordinate with your project team in one online location. You'll no longer have version control issues as every project team member will be able to access the same information from one place.

Additionally, you'll be able to attach files and share them. For example, say you've now completed a deliverable, and you want to share it with the team. Upload it to MS Planner.

3. Collaborate on task management

Given Microsoft Planner is a kanban board interface, it is perfect for task management. If you and your team typically create checklists or to-do lists that you need for a small project or a repeatable process, you can do these in MS Planner with ease. Additionally, you'll be able to communicate with one another directly in the app. For example, Microsoft Planner allows you to add comments to cards.

Microsoft Planner limitations

Unfortunately, Microsoft Planner has many drawbacks and limitations when using MS Planner for project management. Here is a closer look at Microsoft Planner's limitations.

1. It's task management software, not project management software

Microsoft Planner may be a useful productivity tool, especially within the Microsoft Office suite. However, when you break down it's capabilities for project management, it's just task management software, which is good for a checklist or a to-do list. Sure, MS Planner may have a kanban board, but boards are for tasks and not for complex project management.

2. No Timeline or Gantt chart-like view exists

Project management requires the ability to view the project plan across time. Sure, Microsoft Planner has a Kanban board. However, once you have more than a few tasks that need to be executed over multiple days or weeks, or you start having dependencies, a Kanban board will cut it. It does a terrible job at allowing you to visualize the project schedule. As a result, you'll begin looking for software with a Timeline or a Gantt-chart.

For example, see TrueNxus's Timeline.

Project timeline, or gantt chart

3. The reporting available is not valuable

While Microsoft Planner claims to have reporting, it's basic reporting at best. It's just multiple views of tasks that have already occurred. MS Planner reporting does not show you what you need to know. If you are executing a project with more than a couple of stakeholders, you're going to need to monitor and report progress with more than a few historical views. You are going to need to pull together a project status report to track the project health, and you won't find any feature in Microsoft Planner that will provide you with the capabilities to do so.

Unlike Microsoft Planner, TrueNxus provides you with an out of the box status report that gives you and senior leadership the insights you all need to know to clear roadblocks, make decisions, and move the ball forward.

Project status report

4. You cannot see everything you are responsible for

Microsoft Planner allows you to visualize every task you are assigned to in a specific project. However, to do this, you have to go into the page and search for your name. Then you have to do this every time.

While this is hugely inefficient in its own right, it's even more annoying and unproductive if you want to see every task you are assigned to across multiple projects because you can't. You should be able to see everything that you are responsible for completing. Additionally, you should be able to see how others impact your work, which is task dependencies. If a task is dependent on another task, you have to go into the project and find the task and see if anything has changed.

Who has time for such inefficiency? With TrueNxus there is a section called My Work that provides you a view into everything you're on the hook for, including any dependencies that you may or may not be assigned.

MyWork

10 great Microsoft Planner alternatives

1. TrueNxus

TrueNxus is the most pragmatic project management software in the market. With TrueNxus, you’ll be able to manage all of your organization’s projects. 

You’ll have all of the features you’re looking for in Microsoft Planner alternatives.

1. Multiple views

Your project management software needs to be able to provide personalized views. A view that makes sense to you may not make sense to your teammate. These views need to be in sync as well.

TrueNxus provides you with the following views:

Project plan

List

A list is a table that allows you to manage your project plan easily. Organize the work into groups such as workstreams, or any logical way to categorize tasks.

Project timeline, or gantt chart

Timeline

Unlike Microsoft Planner you can visualize the project as a Timeline, a Gantt chart like view that lets you understand how the entire project fits together. Make updates to the project plan through an interactive interface.

2. Automated project status reports

Project status report

Let TrueNxus analyze the project health real-time giving senior leadership and the project team the insights they need to make decisions and move the ball forward. No more herding cats with endless phone calls and countless emails.

3. My Work

View all of your work in one place

Know what you’re on the hook for delivering. Different from MS Planner, you can view every task, and every dependency, that is important to you, across every project, in one location.

4. Dependencies

Dependencies

Be accountable when others are reliant on you. Understand dependent tasks, change implications, and adjust course as needed.

5. Automated notifications

Automated workflows - notifications

Stay productive and get notified when changes occur. With TrueNxus’s 20+ out-of-the-box automated notifications, you will have the transparency you need to stay in-the-know. As a result, TrueNxus creates efficiency by informing you immediately when changes to the overall project plan occur, such as when roadblocks impact dependencies.

6. Comments

Collaboration by comment in the webapp

Collaborate directly in the app. Communicate with project team members and chat with one another directly in tasks.

7. Project charter

OKR with a project charter

Unlike Microsoft Planner you can leverage OKR and create a project charter. Collaborate as one team and establish the project objectives, benefits, and risks from the very beginning.

8. Privacy

Project privacy

Ensure confidentiality when necessary. Make projects private to create a safe place for sensitive work.

Learn more and see all product features.

TrueNxus advantages

TrueNxus disadvantages

Nothing else. We’d love for you to sign up for a free trial (no credit card needed) and let us know what you think. We love feedback!

TrueNxus pricing

TrueNxus has flexible pricing so that you only pay for what you need. Both monthly and annual plans are available. If you sign up for a yearly plan, you get 2 months free.

Pricing is simple. For teams of up to 5 users, it’s only $10/month. Then, for teams larger than 5 users, you’ll only pay for each additional user - $9/user/month. If your team size changes, your bill will be prorated.

2. Notion

Notion

Notion is one of the few no-code software solutions out there for collaboration. It is fantastic if you are a small team working together day-in and day-out and need to stay organized. It's like Evernote on steroids. It's worth considering when thinking of Microsoft Planner alternatives.

Notion advantages

Notion disadvantages

Notion pricing

There is a free version, but if you need more than a place to create a personal checklist, you're going to need to upgrade to a paid plan, which starts at $5/month. However, if you want to team and collaborate, you're going to need to pay $10/user/month.

Compare Notion to TrueNxus.

3. Basecamp

Basecamp

Basecamp is an excellent project management and collaboration software for smaller teams. It offers a central location for teams to collaborate, plan, and execute work. Definitely worth considering as one of the best Microsoft Planner alternatives.

Basecamp advantages

Basecamp disadvantages

Basecamp pricing

There is a free version for personal use. However, if you want to collaborate genuinely, you'll have to upgrade to a fixed price of $99/month.

Compare Basecamp to TrueNxus.

4. Trello

Trello

Trello is a great project management tool for small software development teams that need a kanban board. If you're in the market for a kanban board software, Microsoft Planner won't beat Trello. Domains other than software development can use Trello as well, but its capabilities are limited.

Trello advantages

Trello disadvantages

Trello pricing

There is a free version, but if you need to collaborate with a team, you'll want to upgrade to a paid version, which starts at $12.50/user/month.

Compare Trello to TrueNxus.

5. Microsoft Project

Microsoft Project Gantt chart

Microsoft Project is one of the original project management software solutions and if you're considering Microsoft Planner alternatives, you've probably used MS Project before. That's because It's been around for a long time, and thousands of organizations have used it. As a result, it will not let you down if you decide to use MS Project for project management.

Microsoft Project advantages

Microsoft Project disadvantages

Microsoft Project pricing

All Microsoft Project plans are billed annually. The first plan, Project Plan 1, starts at $10/user/month. However, if you want reporting capabilities, you need the second pricing plan, Project Plan 3, which is $30/user/month.

Compare Microsoft Project to TrueNxus.

6. Airtable

Airtable

Airtable is another no-code software solutions out there for collaboration. It is fantastic if you need to spin up a shared database. It should definitely be considered when comparing Microsoft Planner alternatives.

Airtable advantages

Airtable disadvantages

Airtable pricing

Airtable has a free option, but if you want additional features, you will have to pay at least $12/user/month.

Compare Airtable to TrueNxus.

7. Asana

Asana

Asana is a project management and task management software and is a great alternative to Microsoft Planner. It's fantastic for smaller teams managing strategic initiatives or executing repeatable work.

Asana advantages

Asana disadvantages

Asana pricing

While there is a free version, you're limited to simple checklists, file storage, and no more than 15 users. As a result, you'll want the plan that starts at $13.49/user/month (annual billing is $10.99/user/month) to take advantage of the features you'll need to plan and execute projects.

Compare Asana to TrueNxus.

8. Monday.com

Monday.com

Monday.com is a powerful work management platform. It's a simplified, yet easy to use spreadsheet-like application. You can manage anything, including projects. It'll have a lot more to offer than Microsoft Planner.

Monday.com advantages

Monday.com disadvantages

Monday.com pricing

The Basic plan starts at $10/user/month ($8/user/month if billed annually). However, keep in mind that you buy licenses in blocks of 5, so you're out-of-pocket by at least $50/month, or $40/month when billed annually. If you want features like Timeline or Calendar, you need to upgrade to the next package with a minimum of $60/month for five users, or $50/month for five users when billed annually.

Compare Monday.com to TrueNxus.

9. Smartsheet

Smartsheet gantt chart

Smartsheet was built to replace Microsoft Excel, and it has done its' job well. As its' name alludes, it's a spreadsheet. If you like spreadsheets, Smartsheet is one of the better Microsoft Planner alternatives. Smartsheet allows you to collaborate with your team, develop automated reports, and upload files. As a result, it's a top pick for project management software.

Smartsheet advantages

Smartsheet disadvantages

Smartsheet pricing

The Individual plan starts at $19/user/month ($14/user/month if billed annually). However, if you want reporting capabilities, you need the Business plan, which is $32/user/month ($25/user/month if billed annually), with a minimum of 3 licenses, resulting in a minimum of $96/month ($75/month if billed annually).

Compare Smartsheet to TrueNxus.

10. Confluence

Confluence

Confluence is a space where small teams can collaborate in pages. If you're looking to solve a documentation mess and integrate with the Atlassian suite (i.e., Jira), Confluence is for you.

Confluence advantages

Confluence disadvantages

Confluence pricing

There is a free version for up to 10 users. Additionally, there is a paid version, which starts at $10/month for a team of 10 users.

Compare Confluence to TrueNxus.

Conclusion

While MS Planner is a great addition to the Microsoft Office suite, it has several drawbacks, as shown in this review. Fortunately, you can use a handful of Microsoft Planner alternatives like TrueNxus to solve all of its limitations.

TrueNxus has everything you need to plan and deliver successful projects but at a fraction of the cost of Microsoft Planner.

See for yourself, and sign up for a free trial today (no credit card needed).