When Microsoft launched Planner in 2015, it was an attractive option for many teams who were looking for a Trello alternative, especially if they were already in the Microsoft ecosystem.

This led many people to compare Microsoft Planner vs Trello to see what might be ideal for them.

I’ve used Trello extensively over several years and Microsoft Planner for a few months. With this experience, I’m going to share with you the pros and cons of both the tools and share the difference between Trello and Planner.

Let’s jump in.

Trello vs Microsoft Planner: A complete review

Microsoft Planner: An Overview

Microsoft Planner is a part of Office 365 suite that lets you organize your team’s work with intuitive, collaborative, visual task management.

Boards in Microsoft Planner
Boards in Planner

It comes with a Board you can use to create cards that are content-rich with files, images, checklists, labels, assignees, and due dates to set a deadline for tasks. This enables the members of your company, no matter their expertise, to manage tasks effectively.

Unlike other software, the tool uses different terminologies. For example, you don’t create projects, you create a plan. Also, columns in the board are called buckets. Since it’s primarily a kanban software tool, it doesn’t come with other views such as List view.

It provides colour-coded charts that help you visualize the progress of task status as pie or bar charts. It connects with all of your Office 365 apps and makes task management easier for your teams.

Key Features in Microsoft Planner

  • Boards
  • Content-rich cards
  • Assignees, due dates, and comments
  • Event scheduling
  • Project planning
  • File management
  • Performance reports
  • Labels
  • Task tracking
  • Office 365 integration

Microsoft Planner Pricing

Pricing for MS Planner
Microsoft Planner Pricing

The tool is a part of Office 365 suite. The pricing plan includes a free 1-month trial. After the trial, you can choose between three plans:

1. Microsoft 365 Business Basic - $5/member/month on an annual contract.

It includes:

  • An email with 50 GB mailbox
  • HD video conferencing
  • 1TB of online storage
  • Office Online

2. Microsoft 365 Business Standard - $12.50/member/month on an annual contract.

It includes:

  • 1 TB of file storage and sharing
  • Installed Office on Mac/PC
  • Office Apps on tablets and mobile phones

3. Microsoft 365 Business Premium - $20/member/month on an annual contract.

It includes:

  • 1 TB of file storage and sharing
  • an email with 50 GB mailbox
  • HD video conferencing
  • Installed office on Mac/PC
  • Office Apps on tablets and mobile phones

As you can see, since the tool is part of a larger suite, you get more capabilities out of it. However, there are some big disadvantages to this, which we’ll discuss below.

Pros of using Microsoft Planner

  • It’s easy to get started with the tool. The user interface is simple and the experience in using the product is intuitive. I didn’t even have to go through their docs to understand how their product works.
  • You can quickly view all the tasks everyone is working across Boards (or Plans, as Microsoft calls them). This is particularly helpful to see if your teammate is overloaded with work.
  • You can view tasks and set their due dates using the in-built calendar feature. It’s known as “Schedule” view.
  • All members of the Plan are automatically informed via email notification about any changes or updates you make. This helps everyone to stay in-sync.
  • Communicating with all members of the plan is easy since it’s part of the Office 365 suite. This allows you to easily communicate via Outlook.
  • Integrates deeply with Onenote, Teams, and several other tools.
  • A unique and useful feature of the tool is its Planner Hub view. From the Planner Hub, your tasks can be broken down to give you a detailed report on where your time was spent the most. You can think of it as a time tracker.
  • Each Kanban card has enough space for description, checklists, labels, assignees, and comments.
  • Adding members to your tasks and boards is effortless, especially if they’re already part of the Microsoft ecosystem. All you need to do is type their name and the tool will immediately bring a drop down to help you select them.
  • Buckets in this software allow you to customize your Kanban Board to meet your team’s needs. Buckets are your Trello’s Lists or Columns in your board.

Cons of using Microsoft Planner

  • The tool lets you add a single checklist per task with a maximum of 20 checkboxes. Teams working collaboratively can find it hard to and are likely to need more than just 20 checkboxes in a card.
  • Unlike in Zepel, MS Planner does not allow you to view all tasks and subtasks (checklist) in one, nested view.
  • As a project management and a collaboration tool, it’s surprising to see that there is no way to mention a teammate in a comment and share files and documents in the conversation.
  • You’ll receive too many emails if your team begins to actively use the software.
  • Lack of detailed reports such as burndown chart, burn up, and cumulative flow diagrams.
  • Comments have character limits that can make it harder for teams to communicate exactly what they want to share.
  • Does not have developer-friendly features such as markdown, integrations with  GitHub, Bitbucket, or GitLab.
  • Cannot be used as a full-fledged agile project management tool.
  • Doesn’t have the ability to set dependency between tasks.
  • Does not have kanban board templates.
  • Since it is part of the Office 365 suite of products, you’ll end up paying for plenty of tools you’ll not be using.

Zepel, dev-friendly agile project management tool

Trello: A quick overview

Trello is a popular project collaboration tool that I’m sure you’ve heard from your friends before. It rose to popularity thanks to its simplicity and ease of use.

Trello board - MS Planner alternative for small teams
Trello Board

Unlike other online project management software, Trello focuses on doing only one thing and trying to do it well — Board. With this tool, you do not get other views like list, Gantt, or calendar. But the good news is, you can use their “power-ups” to get these capabilities.

The tool can be used for several use cases ranging from event planning to collaborate with your development team. It doesn’t have even a basic reporting capability that others have. However, this software does give you a real-time activity feed of what’s happening within your team.

It has a huge list of integration that you can use to connect to the tools you already use every day.

Key Features in Trello

  • Boards
  • Content-rich cards
  • Customizable workflows
  • Power-ups that gives you more capabilities and views such as calendar or Gantt charts.
  • Public APIs.
  • Integration with 100+ tools like GitHub, Bitbucket, GitLab, Dropbox, Slack, and more.
  • Traditional project management features like assignees, due dates, labels, description, comments, attachments, and more.

Trello Pricing

Pricing comparison Microsoft Planner vs Trello
Trello pricing

Trello’s pricing is simple to understand. You’ve got three plans to pick from:

1. Free - $0 per user per month

The free plan lets you collaborate with an unlimited number of members but restricts you on the features you can use.

It includes:

  • 10 Boards per team
  • 10 MB limit on a file attachment
  • 1 Power-up per board
  • Colored labels

2. Business Plan - $12.50 per user per month when paid monthly.

It includes:

  • Unlimited boards
  • Advanced checklists
  • 250 MB limit on a file attachment
  • Unlimited Power ups
  • Calendar view
  • Gantt view

3. Enterprise - $17.50 per user per month when paid monthly.

It includes:

  • Everything from Business Class plan, plus
  • SAML SSO
  • Power-up administration
  • Public board management

As you can see, Trello’s pricing is a lot simpler compared to MS Planner. However, it can feel a bit too pricey for the features and capabilities you get out of it.

Pros of using Trello

  • Effortless to get started. Does not require you to add a credit card to get started.
  • The tool is fast, responsive, and does not have bloat that can slow down the software as your team uses it.
  • The user interface is intuitive and there will hardly be a moment where you’ll wonder how to do something within the app.
  • Unlike other tools, they provides an unlimited number of checklists and subtasks that you can add to your card.
  • Has several kanban board templates that you can use for inspiration.
  • Allows you to @ mention people in comments to get their attention.
  • Has real-time activity feed that shows you a timeline of all the events that happened.
  • Includes several integrations including Slack, Dropbox, Box, Onenote, Google Drive, Salesforce, and more.
  • Power-ups help you to pick and choose the capabilities you want for your team. This helps reduce bloat.
  • It’s easy to see who’s doing what and track progress of tasks in one glance.

Cons of using Trello

  • As your company grows, this software rarely scales with you. You’ll run into missing features and make it harder for your employees to stay productive.
  • Lacks a calendar view that can only be used if you’re on a higher paid plan.
  • Can not be used as a scrum tool since it lacks capabilities such as user stories, estimation points, and agile reports or even a simple way to visualize progress.
  • Can be used as a scrum board, but only partially due to its lack of certain scrum related features.
  • Limited to only 250 MB on file attachments and uploads.
  • Lacks exporting option on the free plan.
  • Lacks / commands to make easier for teams to get started.
  • Does not provide the ability to view all tasks and subtasks in a single, hierarchical view.
  • Limited sorting and grouping in “My Tasks”.

Alternatives to Microsoft Planner and Trello

Still can’t make up your mind?

Zepel, dev-friendly agile project management tool

If you’re still not sure which to choose between Trello vs Planner, there are several alternatives that you should consider.

Below, we’ve listed 4 alternatives to help you decide.

1. Zepel

Zepel is a simple project management software used by several development teams. It comes with a wide range of capabilities that growing organizations would find it missing in either MS Planner or Trello.

Kanban Boards in Zepel - Alternative to MS Planner and Trello
Kanban Boards in Zepel

Zepel helps you capture customer feedback from several tools (Intercom, Zendesk, Sentry, and more), prioritize them, and track its development progress. It can support both Scrum and Kanban. The tool includes a “My Task” view, advanced filters, and several reports in-built that helps teams to stay productive.

The software comes with a free chrome extension, has several developer-friendly features, and deep integrations with the tools you use every day. Unlike other tools, Zepel also has a one-click importer that allows you to bring your data in without any hassle.

Pricing:

  • First 5 members are free forever.
  • The standard plan starts at $5/member/month.

2. Asana

Asana is a popular project and task management app. It’s mostly used among non-technical teams. Asana comes with several views including List, Board, Calendar, and Gantt chart.

Boards in Asana - an alternative to Microsoft Planner and Trello
Boards in Asana

Asana lets you create tasks, sub-tasks, and group them using Sections. Each task can have subtasks, descriptions, assignees, tags, comments, and custom fields.

However, if you want to view a nestled view of all the tasks and subtasks, that is not possible. A big drawback with Asana is their pricing plans. This leads to teams search for other Asana alternatives.

You might be interested in comparing Trello vs Asana.

Pricing:

  • Includes a free plan for 15 members with a limited set of features.
  • Premium plan starts at $13.49/member/month.
  • The business plan starts at $30.49/member/month.

3. JIRA

JIRA is the tool large teams switch to when they need more functionality.

JIRA project management tool
Boards in JIRA

The tool supports kanban, scrum, includes agile reports, and integrates with several developer tools like GitHub, Bitbucket, and GitLab. Despite being one of the most popular tools, in the recent past, many teams look for an alternative to JIRA. This is primarily because JIRA has become a slow, complex project management tool.

You might be interested in comparing Trello vs JIRA.

Pricing:

  • First 10 members free with a limited set of features.
  • The premium plan starts at $5/member/month.

4. Wrike

Wrike is one of the best Planner alternatives that creative and marketing teams are fond of.

wrike MS Planner and Trello competitor

Wrike has an interactive Gantt chart, calendar view, and board view that helps teams to view the entire scope and project status. The tool focuses on helping you optimize for planning and resource management.

Similar to many software tools, Wrike also has a really-time activity feed that helps members to stay on top of all the updates. It also gives file-sharing capabilities that help members to collaborate easily.

Pricing:

  • Free for up to 5 members with limited features.
  • Professional plans start at $9.80/member/month.
  • The business plan starts at $24.80/member/month.

Conclusion

So, which one should you choose between Trello vs Microsoft Planner?

If you’re already in the Office 365 ecosystem, you might want to give MS Planner a solid shot within your team. If you’re not too keen to jump into the Microsoft ecosystem, Trello might be a better choice for your team.

However, if you want more functionality and you’re looking for a tool that will help you take your customer feedback, prioritize them, and build software together, you should try Zepel.


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