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Planner fans rejoice. Highly anticipated feature added!

Out of the box, Planner has many features for managing your team and their projects.  Many of these features have filtered down from Microsoft’s enterprise grade offering, Project Server 2019.  These features include red highlights for late tasks and color-coded labels for visual cues for finding tasks that require your attention.  And of course, there is a Charts view for visually displaying the progress of your project.  Now, Planner is designed to be simple and easy to use, but there are times when you need more capability than what Planner can provide.

This is where Planner’s new feature “Export to Excel” comes in.  As we all know, Excel is a great tool for analyzing data and is a great partner for Planner.  In keeping with Microsoft’s goal of simplicity, exporting a plan to Excel is extremely easy.  As a matter of fact, it only takes a couple of clicks.  Within Planner, simply click the ellipse (“…”) at the top of the screen, then select “Export plan to Excel”.  That’s it!

The exported file includes nearly all the details from your plan.  In Excel, each task will get its own row.  The top of the sheet will display all of the plan information such as plan name, plan ID, and the date of export.

What are some of the benefits of this new Export to Excel feature?  Why should you care? Good question.  I will list 5 features that all Planner users will find extremely beneficial:

  • Archiving: Excel can provide a simple method for archiving completed plans. Once exported, the files can be stored in OneDrive or SharePoint.
  • Analysis: Excel has many built in analysis tools.  These tools will allow you to easily create a report of completed tasks (which are hidden by default in Planner), build pivot tables such as Burndown Charts, and sort/filter on elements not available in Planner.  As a bonus, you can export the data to Power BI
  • Merging plans: Currently, there is no way to analyze similar plan in Planner, but by exporting plan data to Excel and merging the files into a single spreadsheet, this is now possible
  • Printing: You can print Planner files, but they are in the format of a plan board.  If you export the data to Excel, you can now take advantage of a the built in Tabular view which may be easier for end users to digest.
  • Sharing: If you want to share a plan, you either must share the total plan or none at all.  What if you just want to share the status of a plan? This is currently not possible in Planner.  Excel to the rescue!  By exporting the plan to Excel, you can now easily delete columns of information that you do not want to share.

In the future, Microsoft plans to add the capability to import data from Excel.  Stay tuned!