Keeping up to date as an organization: Track Microsoft 365 Message Center messages in Planner

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One of the questions I ask every new colleague is how they are keeping up with the new and changed features in Azure and Microsoft 365. For individuals, it’s hard to keep up, but in many organizations, the IT department is having an even harder time doing so.

This might have multiple reasons:

  • They’re overwhelmed with operational tasks and can’t find the time for anything else.
  • One or more 3rd parties have configured, migrated and rolled out the services to the organization. Lack of admin training or admin urgency means admins don’t see the need to keep up to date. Even when these parties offer ongoing support, their main goal is revenue; keeping you up to date doesn’t regularly make money.
  • Several teams have split up the tasks and responsibilities between Microsoft 365 services. This has led to expectations from other teams that are simply not fulfilled.

There can be many more reasons, but the outcome is always the same: Even when the Microsoft 365 services were perfectly configured and aligned with the organization’s goals during roll-out, service configuration became adrift. These services, including Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, OneDrive for Business, Teams… but definitely in the case of Azure AD, no longer offer the best fit in terms of processes and settings to the organization.

There is a straightforward way to counter this situation. Assuming sufficient admin knowledge and usage of the services within the organization, tracking messages from Microsoft 365’s Message Center into Microsoft Planner solves the latter two points in the bulleted list above.


About the Microsoft 365 Message Center

The Microsoft 365 Message Center helps organizations keep track of upcoming changes, including new and changed features, planned maintenance, and other important announcement.

The Message Center is the primary way Microsoft communicates the timing of individual changes in Microsoft 365, but, with default settings, admins also receive email reminders when changes impact their organizations directly.


Benefits of using Microsoft Planner

A lot of actionable information about changes to Microsoft 365 services arrives in the Microsoft 365 message center. It can be difficult to keep track of which changes require tasks to be done, when, and by whom, and to track each task to completion. You also might want to make a note of something and tag it to check on later. You can do all this and more when you sync your messages from the Microsoft 365 admin center to Microsoft Planner.

Microsoft Planner is a Microsoft 365 service. Microsoft Planner is a Kanban solution that simplifies task management for teams and is integrated across Microsoft 365 apps. It’s used for personal and teamwork planning, with a simple card-based interface that’s similar to Trello.


Tracking Message Center messages in Planner

Use the below steps to start tracking Microsoft 365 Message Center messages in Planner:

Create your Planner plan

First, we might need to create a plan for the IT department to work together in. If your organization already has plans for departments and/or processes in Microsoft Planner, then you don’t need to create a new plan. Instead, you can reuse these plans and continue to the next series of steps.

Perform the following steps to create a plan:

  • Navigate to
  • Click the Sign in button and sign in.
  • In the left navigation pane of the Planner interface, follow the + New plan link.
  • In the New Plan modal window, enter the name for the Planner plan, for instance: Microsoft 365 Message Center.
  • For the privacy setting of the plan and the associated Microsoft 365 group, choose Private – Only members I add can see plan contents.
  • Click the Create plan button at the bottom of the New Plan modal window.
    You are taken to the new plan.
  • In the top-right corner of the Planner window, click the Members link.
  • Begin typing the name or email address of an admin within your organization that you want to add to the plan. Select the person’s card when it appears to add the person.

Configure the Message Center

Next, we need to send messages from the Microsoft 365 Message Center to the Planner plan. This way, messages automatically show up in Planner.

Perform the following steps:

  • Navigate to
  • In the Microsoft 365 admin center’s left navigation pane, click the … Show all link.
  • In the navigation pane, expand the Health node and click Message center.
    You are now in the Microsoft 365 Message Center. This dashboard consists of a list of messages displayed with columns with properties per message. On top of the list, there are filter options and the Preferences and Planner Syncing links.
  • Click the Planner Syncing link.
    The Planner syncing blade appears. It explains the feature:

  • Click the Set up syncing button at the bottom op the blade.
  • You are redirected to a wizard to Set up your plan.
  • In the Search for a plan field, start typing the name of the Planner plan you created above or the Planner plan that you want to reuse. Click the plan’s name from the search results to select it.
  • Make your choice between using an existing bucket or creating a new bucket. As every Planner plan has a default To do bucket, you’re good to go to select Use an existing bucket and then select To do.
  • Click the Next button at the bottom of the screen to advance to the next screen.
  • On the Choose which messages to sync screen,deselect any Microsoft 365 service your organization doesn’t use, doesn’t intend to use or doesn’t want to receive messages for.

When you’re only interested in Azure Active Directory, deselect all products and services except for General announcement and Identity Service.

  • Click the Next button at the bottom of the screen to advance to the next screen.
  • On the Choose which current messages to import screen, click the Next button at the bottom of the screen to advance to the next screen.
  • On the Review and finish screen, click the Finish button.
  • On the Planner syncing is all set up screen, click the Create flow button and follow the instruction in the modal window.
  • Click the Done button.

Use Microsoft Planner

Now, you can use Planner to assign messages from the Microsoft 365 Message Center to people in your organization or they can pick these messages up themselves to investigate the impact and opportunities for your organization. You can track the progress of their research of messages in Planner, too.



Using Microsoft Planner to synchronize messages from the Microsoft 365 Message Center and then track their progress with the people assigned messages. This way, you can avoid overlap in research of impact and opportunities. It allows your organization to keep up to date with everything Microsoft 365.

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