What we will be discussing today is a work around for how to create recurring tasks in Microsoft Planner. Lets first discuss what Microsoft Planner is and what problems it solves.
What is Microsoft Planner?
Microsoft Planner is a cloud application (working across desktop and mobile devices) that allows your team to create tasks, assign a due date to those tasks, and assign those tasks to themselves or other team members. This app is very similar to Trello. This application solves the problem of organizing the countless number of tasks that a team must accomplish for a project or just every day maintenance and display them nicely in a calendar view, plus a dashboard view to show how many tasks are outstanding. This can really help in organizing how many tasks a team has daily/weekly/monthly, the status of those tasks, and how many a team is accomplishing.
This is all very great, but there is one small problem. As of today (7/30/2018), Planner does not have the ability to set up recurring tasks. Microsoft’s Dev team is actively working on getting this feature implemented. Below is a current link to the status of adding recurring tasks to Planner.
So how do we work around this to simulate recurring tasks in Planner?
Enter Microsoft Flow
What is Microsoft Flow?
Microsoft Flow is a cloud application (working across desktop and mobile devices) that allows users to automate manually created logic across multiple applications (Office 365 apps, SharePoint, G Suite, salesforce, etc) whether that is modifying files, creating appointments or reminders in Outlook, emailing certain team members upon modification of a document stored in SharePoint, etc.
This allows normal users to be able to automate simple but time consuming and constantly recurring tasks without the need for software developers or even writing a single line of code.
Flow works on the basis of triggers and actions. Triggers are actions that begin a flow of business operations that results either one more actions being performed. An example of a trigger would be if a team member (let’s call her Jane) adds a file to a certain folder on her team’s SharePoint site, that would be the trigger that starts an action for every team member to receive an email with a templated response explaining that, Jane, has added a file to SharePoint.
The team member (Jane) adding the file would be the trigger, and the emails that get sent out because of that trigger is the action (that can be managed and customized in Microsoft Flow by users).
So how would we put Planner and Flow together to create recurring tasks in Planner? Lets use an example to demonstrate this process.
What is the Use Case?
Here is our use case. Let’s say that I, as an accountant, have to input a journal entry for a payroll transaction as soon as payroll has been submitted and accepted. The process of payroll occurs every 2 weeks. Ideally, I would like to have a recurring task in Planner that will create a task every other Friday to remind me to input this journal entry. I would like to assign this task to myself as the user.
Plan of Action & Result
First, we will go to Microsoft Flow from within our Office 365 site
This will take us to the main Microsoft Flow page. From here, we will have a list of our flows that we have created. Let’s create the new Flow for Planner. Click the “Create from blank” option at the top of the page.
Here is where we will begin setting up the business logic and the trigger.
Lets create a name first for the flow. You can call it whatever you’d like
The first feature we will set up, will be the trigger. In order to create a recurring task for Planner, we will select the “Schedule” trigger from the list of connectors
What the Schedule trigger does, is it allows date & time to be a trigger in itself to start up a Flow.
From here, we will select the specific “Schedule — Recurrence” trigger, allowing the schedule trigger to be placed in a loop of whatever time frames a user desires.
Here is where we will place the details about what day and time this flow begins, and how often the flow will occur. In the example below, I configured the Recurrence trigger to run once every 2 weeks on a Friday, at 10:00am, starting today.
Lets now create the action that will occur once the trigger constraints have been met. We will click the new step button, and choose an action that we want to occur. Let’s search for the Planner connector. As you can see below, Flow already has a bucket list of actions we can choose from when working with the Planner connect. Let’s choose “Planner — Create a task”
Once that is chosen, we will then be able to assign the Plan Id that is associated with the task, assign the bucket we want the task to be placed in, the title of the task, assign the start date & time of the task, the due date & time of the task, and the user that this task is assigned to. Here is what I created in this portion for my payroll journal entry task.
One thing to make sure is correct. We need dynamic values for the start and due dates. If we do not, that same recurring task will always be placed on a constant date that is in the past. We want the task to be created on the same date that the Flow will run.
To do this, we will go to the expressions tab and select the utcNow() function from the list. This will get today’s date or the date that the Flow will run
The second dynamic date will go one step further. For my example, I want this task to be due within 4 days, so I will add this expression to the Due Date field
This expression shows that we would like to make the due date 4 days after today’s date, which will be the date that the Flow is ran.
After we enter in these fields, we just press save and our flow is ready to go!! With using the testing function to test this flow, here is what I now see in my Planner account:
I did not once have to even go into Planner to create this task!! It was all done through the automating workflow power of Microsoft Flow. This same action will be now ran once every 2 weeks on a Friday until it is updated or set inactive.
Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section, and other ideas you all may have come up with to work around setting up recurring tasks in Planner!