Planner Highlights Plan Changes but No Sign of Auditing Support

Planner Slips Changes in Quietly

I’ve noted before that Planner is in the habit of introducing new features without posting a notification in the Office 365 message center. The Planner developers have been busy recently with the introduction of the Tasks in Teams app, which delivers a unified view of personal and team tasks, but they’ve also managed to polish the browser app. Two user interface changes I have noticed are:

  • Planner prompts if you should refresh the app (reload the browser page) to pick up changes/fixes. This won’t affect you if you load Planner every couple of days or use it through Teams or SharePoint Online, but it’s a nice update for those of us who keep Planner open in a browser tab.
  • Planner now notifies you if changes were made to tasks in a plan while you were inactive (Figure 1). This is a nice update that would be even better if it told you which tasks were updated and by whom, but you can’t have everything at once.
Someone's been busy in a plan while I've been away
Figure 1: Someone’s been busy in a plan while I’ve been away

The Lack of a Change Log in a Plan

Today, no log exists to track what happens inside a plan Ideally, it would be nice for team members to view details of all changes made to tasks in a plan. The log might track:

  • Creation of a task.
  • Assignments of a task.
  • Task updates, such as changing the progress, adding an attachment, or updating the notes.
  • Task completion.
  • Task deletion (this is especially important because Planner doesn’t have a recycle bin or other way to recover a deleted task).

Ideally, the log should be exportable to CSV.

Planner’s Lack of Support for the Office 365 Audit Log

In addition to providing a user-visible change log within a plan, Microsoft needs to do better about Planner support for the Office 365 audit log. Several user voice requests have been made to the Planner development team about the need for auditing, including one from 2016, soon after Microsoft launched Planner. The idea has also surfaced in the Microsoft Technical Community. In neither case, the technical community seemed relatively disinterested.

Three years ago, I noted that the Office 365 audit log doesn’t capture anything for Planner. The same applied to Teams at the time, but Teams has since fully embraced auditing and a great deal of useful information flows into the audit log. Planner is an outlier in this respect when you look at the list of Office 365 workloads which generate audit records for the audit log. I mean, if a relatively unused application like Sway can generate audit records, surely Planner can?

We think about details like this to make sure that we cover Office 365 topics at the right level in the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook. It’s the small, but important stuff, that makes the difference.

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