Update Coming Soon, in Public Preview Now
Message center notification MC250796 (April 15) covers an update to allow Teams users to create tasks from chats and channel conversations. Rollout was supposed to be complete by the end of May, but Microsoft 365 roadmap item 68696 says that delivery is in June. You can access the functionality today using the public preview of Teams.
The idea is very simple. Many discussions happen in chats and channel conversations, some of which end up as tasks which people need to follow up. Microsoft 365 has a tasks subsystem based on To Do/Outlook (personal tasks) and Planner (group tasks), all of which come together in the Tasks app in Teams. Letting people create tasks from Teams messages is logical. When you create a task from a chat, it’s regarded as a personal task. Tasks created from channel conversations are usually group tasks but can also be personal. Let’s see how it works.
Creating Personal Tasks
Tasks can be created for any message in a personal or group chat. If you don’t see the Create task option, it’s likely in the More actions menu (Figure 1).
Creating a task takes a single message from a conversation and populates the new task form. The text of the message becomes the title (as shown in Figure 2, you’ll likely want to update the title to make it more obvious what the task is about). It’s also inserted in the task notes along with details of who’s involved in the chat and a deeplink to the thread.
Saving creates the task in the My Tasks section of To Do, the Tasks app in Teams, and the Tasks folder in Outlook (Figure 3). Apart from having some information captured from Teams in the body of the task, they’re just like any other task.
Creating Tasks from Channel Conversations
A team can have one or more associated plans to hold group tasks and a task can be either personal or a group task. These factors make it a little more complicated when you create a task from a channel conversation because you need to select the destination for the new task.
When you choose to create a new task, Teams lists the available target destinations, just like they appear in the Tasks app for Teams (Figure 4). Personal task destinations are first followed by teams with associated plans. Naturally, you only see teams you are a member of. A team might have several plans (like Office 365 for IT Pros in Figure 4), and you then need to expand the list to reveal and select the right plan.
The resulting Planner task created is not fully populated (Figure 5):
- By default, you don’t need to assign anyone to a new task. It is possible that the person creating the task is responsible to carry it out, but it’s also arguable that if I create a task, it’s to remind me to do something. I can always edit the task afterwards if it should be assigned to someone else.
- Any attachments in the Teams message are missing. Planner supports attachments for tasks. However, an attachment to a Teams channel message is posted to the SharePoint Online document library belonging to the team and the plan selected for the task might not be associated with the same team. However, it’s feasible for software to detect these conditions and create a copy of the attachment for the task if necessary.
- Any emoticons or Gifs in the Teams message are missing. This is fine because there’s no way for Planner to capture these graphic elements.
In any case, it’s easy to update the new task using Planner or the Tasks app for Teams to add whatever detail is necessary, including one or more of the 25 labels Planner now supports to help categorize tasks.
Private Channels and Tasks
You can’t create tasks for conversations in private channels. This is likely because Planner isn’t currently supported for private channels.
Guests Can Create Tasks
Guest members of teams have full access to the resources owned by the teams, so although they can’t create a personal task (because guests don’t have Exchange Online mailboxes in the host tenant), they can create tasks in Planner.
Good New Option
Being able to create tasks from Teams chats and channel conversations is a surprisingly useful new capability. It’s only after you’ve used it a couple of times that it becomes apparent quite how useful the smooth interaction between Teams and tasks is. Overall, this is a nice extension to the Tasks in Teams app.
Learn more on an ongoing basis about how Office 365 really works by subscribing to the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook. Our monthly updates keep subscribers informed about what’s really important across the Office 365 ecosystem.