Office 365 Planner

Managing Tasks: Microsoft 365 Planner vs. Trello

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Chief Executive Officer

Updated on July 13th, 2021

Microsoft Planner was released back in 2015. Before then, Trello was my tool of choice when it came to managing unstructured tasks. Since before its release, I often heard of Planner as being a serious contender to Trello. So, I thought I would put together a little head-to-head comparison of the two solutions and let you decide whether Planner is living up to its abilities as a task management tool. 

My goal with this article is not to convince you to switch or stay with either of the tools but rather to provide an unbiased opinion to help you decide what is best for your needs. 

Before diving in, it’s essential to explain the foundation of the two tools. We will do so by reviewing the following for Planner and Trello: 

  • Trello and Planner at a Glance 
  • Key Elements of Both Solutions  
  • Pros and Cons 
  • Task Management 
  • Participation 

 Are you ready for a definitive answer to if you should be using Microsoft Planner or Trello?  

Microsoft 365 Planner at a Glance 

As a part of the Office 365 Suite, Microsoft Planner allows you to organize your team’s work collaboratively, intuitively, and visually via task management. 

Microsoft 365 Planner as a project management tool has a Board where you can create cards. Your team can create tasks efficiently and effectively, regardless of the level of their experience.   

These are content-rich with:  

  • Images 
  • Checklists 
  • Files 
  • Labels 
  • Due Dates 
  • Assignees 

This tool uses different terminology from other software, such as you create plans, not projects. The Board has columns dubbed buckets.  

Charts are color-coded to help quickly identify the progress for each task status. These are shown as a bar or pie chart.  

Microsoft 365 Planner connects to all the applications in Office 365 – another convenient way to simplify managing tasks for teams. 

Trello at a Glance 

Trello as management software, a well-known tool, has a reputation for being a user-friendly product. Trello does it right in that it focused on one thing instead of trying to be everything to everyone. It perfected the Board. 

There is no calendar or list view, but “power-ups” are available if needed. Unfortunately, simple reporting features are not available, but you do get an activity feed in real-time. 

Microsoft 365 Planner Key Elements 

  • Project planning 
  • Scheduling events 
  • Boards 
  • Content cards 
  • Assignees 
  • Due Dates 
  • Comments 
  • Manage files 
  • Report performance 
  • Track tasks 
  • Labels 
  • Integrates with Microsoft 365 

Microsoft Planner’s primary selling point is that it is part of the Microsoft 365 ecosystem of applications. You can get more from Microsoft 365 Planner simply because it is a part of the ecosystem. For example, automating Planner is possible with the help of Microsoft Power Automate.  

Trello Key Elements 

  • Boards 
  • Built-in workflows you can customize 
  • Content-rich cards 
  • Power-ups potential 
  • Public APIs 
  • Integrates with other prominent tools such as Slack, Dropbox, GitHub, and more 
  • Common project management features such as due dates, descriptions, labels, assignees, comments, and more 

Trello’s package is not a part of a suite, and it may still be costly for what you are getting from the tool. At least that has been some user feedback. 

Pros and Cons

Microsoft 365 Planner Pros

  1. Getting started is easy as pie, and the user interface is user-friendly! There is no need to read a hefty manual or watch endless YouTube “how-to” videos to figure it out. 
  2. It aligns your teams with each other. When there are changes and updates, the tool auto-generates email notifications to its members. 
  3. Since it is a component of Office 365, keeping connected with team members communicating with team members is a snap with Outlook, Microsoft Teams, etc. 
  4. Deep integration is a definite plus as you can integrate with Teams, OneNote, and other Office applications. 
  5. It is easy to scan among the plans (or boards), see what team members are working on, and quickly identify if any team member is overloaded. 
  6. Switch over to the “schedule” view to assign due dates, assign tasks, and leverage the built-in calendar. 
  7. A very helpful feature is the Planner Hub view, unique to this tool as well. It can segment tasks into a detailed report, showing where time allocates, similar to a time tracker, giving you a tool to help with time management. 
  8. Plenty of space for comments, labels and descriptions. Love that! 
  9. Customization is possible by using Buckets. 
  10. It is simple and easy for anyone to find how to add a team member to boards and tasks. Just type in their name and Voila! Having trouble? A drop-down will appear where you can select your team member. 

Trello Pros 

  1. You do not need to enter your credit card information to use Trello, and the free version can do a decent amount. 
  2. Responsive and fast, Trello will not slow down from too many users on the platform at one time. 
  3. It is extremely intuitive to help make sure you won’t feel lost. Mention team members to send them a shout-out with a notification by using the @ symbol before their name. The activity feed is in real time and shows all events in a timeline fashion. 
  4. It integrates with tools like Salesforce, Google Drive, Dropbox, Slack, and others.  

Microsoft 365 Planner Cons 

  1. You can have a checklist for each task. The max limitation is 20 checkboxes, and some teams may find this restricting. 
  2. You can’t mention a team member in a comment, and you can’t share documents and files in a conversation. 
  3. There are character limits for comments which can hinder communication channels. Tasks are not assigned independently.  

Trello Cons 

  1. This tool is not as scalable. Trello is not a superb choice for company growth.  
  2. The free plan option is without a calendar view. You need to opt-in for the more expensive plan for this. Also, you cannot use a hierarchical view to see all tasks and subtasks. 
  3. If you are in “My Tasks,” there is a limit on grouping and sorting. Teams may have a more challenging time getting started as it lacks commands. 
  4. Uploads and file attachments are limited to 250 MB file size. Also, you cannot export in the free plan. 
  5. Unfortunately, it’s not a scrum tool as it cannot estimate points and create agile reports. Because it lacks scrum features, someone can only use it partially as a scrum board. 

Task Management 

Task management is an excellent way to organize your team. You can manage unstructured tasks without requiring project management that is sequence related. When you first compare the tools, they look similar. Both let you name a task and assign it to a team member. They also allow you to provide more information like a description, checklist, attachment, and due dates. Also, in both, you can see the history of conversations related to the tasks.  

Task management shines though when it integrates in the other potential places you work. Microsoft has a stronger position here through integration with Project Online, Outlook, ToDo and the many places most enterprise users already work. 

Participation 

Microsoft 365 Planner and Trello are Kanban boards, which are good for sharing tasks with your colleagues. Usually, participants of the tool are in the same group. However, things are a little different when you need to provide access to a third party outside of your organization. 

Trello has a simple way of allowing users outside of your organization to link to a Board but Microsoft 365 Planner is a closed ecosystem. You cannot share it outside of the Office 365 network. That said the integration of Planner in SharePoint, Teams and other places people work may counteract this negative depending on what technologies you are leveraging. 

When you assign an individual, that person will receive a notification and can see all their tasks in a single view. Also, it will notify the person of their task with an email. 

What it boils down to for Microsoft Planner VS Trello  

Ultimately, if you are looking for a Kanban-style task management application, you can’t go wrong with either of these two.  

Planner  

If you are looking for an enterprise-ready solution that is synergistic with the rest of the Microsoft 365 stack, Planner should be great for you! However, if you are collaborating with third parties, and don’t want to create an account for them, Planner won’t be able to help much. 

Trello 

If you are not looking for seamless connectivity with Microsoft 365 or have a smaller organization where the free option is sufficient, Trello might be the right choice.  

Have you made your choice? 

I hope you have been able to find out which of these two solutions is the right fit for you or your organization. As you can see from this comparison, each tool offers some advantages over the other. What is important to remember is that these tools continue to evolve, particularly as new competitive products come to the market.  

Helping you chose the right solutions for the job 

At 2toLead, we are happy to help your organization discover, learn, and discuss the best tools on the market that will best suit your needs.  

If you are curious about the connected ecosystem we mentioned in the blog, we are certain that many of the questions you have about Microsoft 365 are answered in one of our many whitepapers and eBooks.  

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