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One of the most exciting news that came out during the last year was the release of Microsoft Planner. The tool provides a web-based interface and allows users to manage tasks right in the browser, completely independent of other tools like SharePoint or MS Project. Having spent a great share of my career in project management and being an avid follower of Agile methodology (I utilize Agile principles when I configure SharePoint sites for my clients), I believe that Microsoft Planner is a game changer for Agile projects. With his post, I would like to explain how you can use Microsoft Planner for Agile and specifically SCRUM projects, with a very little upfront setup.

He has been awarded as Microsoft Most Valuable Professional for 8 years in a row and has authored and published 4 intranet books. Yaroslav is also a frequent presenter at industry conferences and events, such as the Microsoft SharePoint Conference and Microsoft Ignite. Scale your low-code apps with Azure. Use Azure to extend low-code apps built with Power Apps and create enterprise solutions that scale to meet your organization’s needs. Professionally manage your enterprise app development using Azure DevOps, plus tap into the power of reusable components, AI services, and your entire data estate on Azure. The newly released Microsoft Planner is a total game changer and in my opinion is a perfect fit for Agile/Scrum projects. Below I would like to highlight the different areas of Planner as they relate to SCRUM artifacts and explain to you how you can configure Planner to accommodate Scrum Projects.

What is Microsoft Planner?

Up until recently, for those of us working in the SharePoint environment, the tools of choice for task management were Task Web Part or Project Online/Project Server (Microsoft’s PPM solution). Unlike the two choices above, Microsoft Planner provides an unorthodox way to manage projects. No task dependencies or complicated project schedules and no upfront setup or configuration. Instead – a very simple and intuitive interface. I have published a very detailed post on Planner and its features just recently. You can access it here.

Using Planner for Agile and SCRUM

Historically, SharePoint had a Tasks web part available for task management. Despite some pretty robust features, it made the most sense just for Waterfall (phased/sequential) projects and was not compatible with the Agile ones. By the way, you can read a comparison of Planner vs. Tasks Web part here.

The newly released Microsoft Planner is a total game changer and in my opinion is a perfect fit for Agile/Scrum projects. Below I would like to highlight the different areas of Planner as they relate to SCRUM artifacts and explain to you how you can configure Planner to accommodate Scrum Projects.


The sprint backlog is essentially a list of tasks from the product backlog which will be completed in the particular sprint. Sprint backlog can be captured via Buckets in Planner. Essentially, you would name your Planner buckets as Sprint 1, Sprint 2, Sprint 3, etc. and add tasks to each of the Sprints (buckets) accordingly.

Product Backlog

The product backlog is the complete list of requirements/tasks to be completed for the project. Product backlog can be set up as yet another bucket. As you design your sprints and proceed from one sprint to the next, you can move tasks from product backlog bucket to sprint bucket and vice versa by easy drag and drop (Planner feature).

User Stories

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User stories in Scrum are short descriptions of a feature from the business user perspective. Since this is often expressed as text, an ideal place for this is OneNote notebook, that is part of every plan in Microsoft Planner/Office 365 Group.

Daily Scrum Meetings

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Meeting Logistics

In case the team is not co-located, Skype (that is part of your Office 365 subscription) is a great way to handle those 15-30 minute daily stand-ups.

Meeting Notes

OneNote is a perfect tool to capture meeting notes from daily stand-ups (or Skype) meetings. By the way, reference this post to learn more how to use OneNote effectively for meeting notes. When it comes to SCRUM Daily meetings themselves, the only three questions need to be addressed during the meeting are:

1. What did I do yesterday that helped the development team meet the sprint goal?
2. What will I do today to help the development team meet the sprint goal?
3. Do I see any impediment that prevents me or the development team from meeting the Sprint goal?

Sprint Burndown Chart

The Sprint burndown chart is a chart showing remaining work in the Sprint Backlog. While Planner does have task summary charts available, they are not in the format of the typical Sprint burndown chart.

However, such chart can manually be maintained using the statistics from the Planner itself. Each task can include the estimated/remaining effort info which can assist the Scrum Master in the preparation of the Sprint Burndown Chart.

From that point on, the Scrum Master can use Excel to pull the information together and display info via a chart.

Image Credit: Wikipedia

Release Burndown Chart

Release Burndown Chart shows the amount of work (tasks or user stories) left vs. the number of sprints. As with the previous chart, the statistics for this diagram can easily be obtained from the Planner buckets and charts and can manually be maintained/built in Excel.



The functionality of saving a site as a template described in this article is only supported in SharePoint Server 2013, SharePoint Server 2016, SharePoint Server 2019 (classic sites only), and SharePoint Online (classic sites only).

It is not supported in SharePoint Online (modern sites) or SharePoint Server 2019 (modern sites).

Learn how to design and build robust applications by using SharePoint site templates.

You can design and build robust SharePoint applications that include a rich set of data sources, customer-facing views and forms, highly customized workflows, and more. Once you've built your business solution site, you can start to use it immediately in your SharePoint environment. Or, you can turn your solution into a template and deploy it in another environment, make it available to users so they can create new sites from it, or hand it off for additional development in Visual Studio.

What is a SharePoint site template?

SharePoint site templates are prebuilt definitions designed around a particular business need. You can use these templates as they are to create your own SharePoint site, and then customize the site as much as you want. You're probably familiar with the default site templates, such as Team Site, Project Site, and Communities Site.

In addition to the default templates, you can create your own site template based on a site you've created and customized. This is a powerful feature that allows you to create a custom solution and then share that solution with your peers, the broader organization, or outside organizations. You can also package the site and open it in another environment or application such as Visual Studio and also customize it there.

Turning your customized site or business solution into a template is an extremely useful and very powerful capability. Once you start to package your solution as a template, you begin to realize the potential of SharePoint as a platform for business applications. The site template option makes all of this possible.

When you save your site as a template, you create a Web Solution Package, or WSP. A WSP is a CAB file that uses the solution manifest. The solution that you create is stored in the solutions gallery for the SharePoint site collection. Once you save the template, a solution file (.wsp) is created and stored in the solutions gallery where you can download or activate the solution.

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The WSP you create is a partial trust user solution that has the same declarative format as a full trust SharePoint solution. However, it does not support the full extent of feature element types that are supported by full trust solutions.

What gets saved in a template?

When you save a SharePoint site as a template, you're saving the overall framework of the site — its lists and libraries, views and forms, and workflows. In addition to these components, you can include the contents of the site in the template; for example, the documents stored in the document libraries. This could be useful to provide sample content for users to get started with. Consider that this could also increase the size of your template beyond the default 50-MB site template limit.

Most of the objects in a site are included and supported by the template. However, there are several objects and features that are not supported.

  • Supported Lists, libraries, external lists, data source connections, list views and data views, custom forms, workflows, content types, custom actions, navigation, site pages, master pages, modules, and web templates.

  • Unsupported Customized permissions, running workflow instances, list item version history, workflow tasks associated with running workflows, people or group field values, taxonomy field values, publishing pages and publishing sites, My Sites, stapled features, SharePoint Add-ins, and remote event receivers.


    For publishing sites, you can use site definition templates. For more information, see Additional resources at the end of this topic.

What can you do with SharePoint templates?

Saving a site as a template is a powerful feature because it offers so many uses of custom sites. Here are the immediate benefits you get from saving a site as a template:

  • Deploy solutions immediately Save and activate the template in the solutions gallery and let other employees create new sites from this template. You can select it, and then create a new site from it, which will inherit the components of the site, its structure, workflows, and more. You don't need Visual Studio to create your solution, and you have to access the server directly and run server administrator commands. Just save the site as a template, activate it, and off you go.
  • Portability In addition to deploying a custom solution in your environment, you can download the .wsp file, take it on the road, and deploy it in another SharePoint environment. All of your site customization is conveniently stored in one file.
  • Extensibility As a Web Solution Package, you can open your customized site in Visual Studio, perform additional development customization to the template, and then deploy it to SharePoint. SharePoint site development, as a result, can go through a solution life cycle (develop, stage, and put into production) that includes SharePoint Designer 2013, Visual Studio, and the browser.

As you begin to create custom sites in SharePoint, you'll discover even more benefits to turning your site into a solution that can be made portable across the organization. The basic steps to working with site templates are as follows:

  • Save a site as a template to the solutions gallery.
  • Download the site template from the solutions gallery to a .wsp file.
  • Upload the .wsp file to the solutions gallery.

After you add a site template to the solutions gallery and the template is activated, the next time that you create a site or subsite, the template is available for selection in the Custom tab of the Template Selection section on the New SharePoint Site page.

Save a site as a template to the solutions gallery

  1. Navigate to the top-level site of your site collection.

  2. Click Settings, and then click Site Settings.

  3. In the Site Actions section, click Save site as a template.

  4. Specify a name to use for the template file in the File name box.

  5. Specify a name and description for the template in the Template name and Template description boxes.

  6. To include the content of the site in the site template, select the Include Content box.


    Including the content of the site can increase the size of the template significantly. The default size limit for a site template is 50 MB but might be less in your organization. You can always exclude the content, and then copy what you need later into the new site. Or, you can increase the size limit. For example, to increase the limit to the maximum allowed, use the following Stsadm command syntax. > stsadm -o setproperty -pn max-template-document-size -pv 524288000

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  7. Click OK to save the template.

    If all of the components on the site are valid, the template is created, and you see a message that states 'Operation Completed Successfully.'

  8. Do one of the following:

    • To return to your site, click OK.
    • To go directly to the site template, click Solutions Gallery.

Download the site template from the solutions gallery to a file

  1. Navigate to the top-level site of your site collection.
  2. Click Settings, and then click Site Settings.
  3. In the Web Designer Galleries section, click Solutions.
  4. If it's necessary to activate the solution, select it, and in the Commands group, click Activate. Then, on the Activate Solution Confirmation screen, in the Commands group, click Activate.
  5. To download the solution, click its name in the solutions gallery, and click Save. Then, in the Save As dialog box, browse to the location where you want to save the solution, click Save, and then click Close.

Upload the site template file to a solutions gallery

  1. Navigate to the top-level site of your site collection.
  2. Click Settings, and then click Site Settings.
  3. In the Web Designer Galleries section, click Solutions.
  4. To upload the solution, in the Commands group, click Upload, and then in the Add a Document dialog box, click Browse. Then, in the Choose File to Upload dialog box, locate the file, select it, click Open, and then click OK.
  5. To activate the solution, on the activate solution confirmation screen, in the Commands group, click Activate.

See also