“Surely any decent system would …..”
February 14, 2020
Remove manual data entry in Spreadsheets using Power Automate
February 16, 2021

If you are managing a project whether its small or complex, then Microsoft Teams is a fantastic platform to use. In this article I am focusing project scheduling. However, Teams is a great solution for other project management activities. For instance, resourcing can be managed with Teams inbuilt shareable calendar or Project Issues Lists can be easily managed using an integrated Microsoft 365 Lists. Also, meetings with collaboration of documents can all be achieved easily and seamlessly with Microsoft Teams.

Where in Teams should my Schedule Live.

One of the powers of Microsoft Teams is its ability to have flexible functionality. This makes functionality easier to meet your organisation needs. In pure functional terms you can place a schedule in many different locations. For instance, a schedule could be its own Team, or a schedule could just be a Tab on a Channel. I am not going to prescribe here where to put your Schedule in Teams. Other than to say it is very important that the decision needs to part of a bigger picture as to how you layout your project tools and collateral and the schedule needs to be easy to access and use.

Which Scheduling tools

In this article I layout the 3 tools I mostly use for managing schedules. That being:

  1. Excel
  2. Microsoft Planner
  3. Microsoft Project

All 3 integrate well using Teams. However, each have their own strengths and weaknesses that is heightened by the use in Microsoft Teams.

I know there are many more solutions for managing project schedules and some of them also integrate well with Microsoft Teams. However, if I were to include them this would be a very long document.

1.      Excel

Teams integrate seamlessly with Excel and as with any Excel sheet you can share the project schedule.

Pros:

  • Provides easy visibility of state of schedule. Especially if your Team is not project scheduling reporting
  • Good for simple projects. You would only want to share with 2 or 3 people at maximum.
  • Updates to the spreadsheet are reflected instantly.
  • With Excel Online multiple people can update the schedule.

Cons:

  • You don’t get a lot of benefits whether accessing and using  as an excel File (in the Files Tab)or directly from the Team Tab.
  • Project Plan needs to be created from scratch (a new spreadsheet) or a spreadsheet template used for each project.
  • Difficult to report across multiple projects.

2.      Microsoft Planner

With Microsoft Planner, you can create a plan, build a team, assign tasks, and update statuses. Planner is an app included in the Microsoft 365 suite that works well for basic project management and scheduling.

Pros

  • Good for small to medium sized projects or ongoing activities.
  • Probably the closest solution considered to be “made” for using in Microsoft Teams.
  • Comes set up with standard project functionality like Assignment and Due Dates.
  • Using Power Automate you can automate tasks like Post Messages to the Team when a new Task is created.
  • Assigning tasks to someone in the Team
  • Works well on Mobile devices. For instance, Frontline Workers

Cons

  • You cannot change the basic product for example adding customised fields.
  • Follows basic Project principles and therefore has limits with managing projects with rules and dependencies.

3.      Microsoft Project

MS Project is great for Projects that require some “serious” management.  You probably need a practiced and experienced Project Manager to be able to manage a Microsoft Project.

Pros

  • Good for medium to large projects. Where there are many team members and multiple tasks that have dependencies.
  • Integrates well with Microsoft Teams.
  • Some tasks can be automated with Power Automate.

Cons

  • Additional subscription licensing needed.

Summary

There is no right or wrong answer in which tools you use to schedule work using teams. There are of course better or worse decisions. These decisions are mostly based on how your organisation manages their projects. For instance, an organisation that has the occasional ad-hoc project or activity then a simple Excel Spreadsheet could be a way to go. Alternatively, if your organisation is constantly running multiple projects with multiple people then MS Project in the Teams is acceptable.

Whatever you decide, be clear to the Team what is being used and how its being used.

Do you have a preference on how you manage your Projects in Teams? I would love to hear. In the meantime, happy Team Projecting.