I’ve noticed some interesting things about notifications in Planner, so I thought I’d share. Microsoft has information on Planner notifications, but I wasn’t completely clear on some of the behavior until I poked around in it a bit.
I have a Plan for an O365 Group I created for doing work with a client, so the Group/Plan members are just me and an external (guest) user from the client, whose email is through Google Mail. She’s a member of the Group so she can view SharePoint documents etc, but of course she doesn’t have access to Planner through that account – I’m just using the Plan for my own internal scheduling work on this project. I found yesterday that as I was adding some comments to some Tasks, the client was receiving email updates, though I didn’t have the notification option turned on, nor had she subscribed to email updates (which of course she couldn’t do, anyway). So I did some testing with another Plan in my tenant…
In my testing Group (called Events), the members are myself, Pliny the Elder (a user in my tenant that I use for demos), and my Gmail account as a guest user. To begin with, no one had clicked on the Subscribe to email updates option for the Plan, nor had I (as Plan owner) enabled the Send notifications about task assignment and task completion to the Plan’s conversation feed option for the Plan (under Edit Plan).
When I added a comment to a task, my internal user (Pliny) could see a notification in the Group within the left pane in his Outlook, but my external user (my Gmail) received an email notification, just as my client had. I think this is because it’s really just a Group notification, but since Gmail doesn’t have O365 Groups integrated into it (obviously), then the notification must take the form of an email. However, if another comment is added to that task, then I (as the first commenter) receive an actual email in my Inbox (not just a Group notification).
Next, I tested enabling the Send notifications about task assignment and task completion to the Plan’s conversation feed option. Noting that it doesn’t say users will get an email, only that notifications will be sent to the conversation feed, the behavior was the same as above, with the addition of the assignments being added to the feed. That is, internal users see it as a notification in the Group in Outlook, and external users receive an email. And because it’s going to the Task’s feed, an internal user who has previously commented on that Task will receive an actual email notification.
Going a step further, I had Pliny subscribe to email updates, and created a new Task. When I assigned the Task to him, he received an actual email (when I had previously assigned a Task to him, before he subscribed to email updates, he only saw a Group notification – he did not get an email). Also, he receives an actual email when a Task is completed, whether or not it’s a Task assigned to him – but there’s no notification when a Task is added, until it’s been assigned to someone.
So I think all of the above is by design, rather than an issue (see this UserVoice entry from February about Comment notifications). However, I found an anomaly with additional Task assignments, which is a feature just added to Planner on April 1, 2017. I assigned a Task to Pliny, so he received an email as expected (after he subscribed to email updates). But when I also assigned the same Task to my Gmail user and then to my O365 user, the email notifications each said the Task was assigned to Pliny. This is because the entries in the Task Feed were all the same, presumably because Pliny was the initial assignment – but this needs to be fixed (I’ll be adding it to the Planner UserVoice).
Note also that although my other two users had not subscribed to email updates, they both received email notifications of the additional assignments… My Gmail account received all 3 notifications, because Gmail. My O365 account received the 2nd and 3rd notifications, because they were additions to the Feed where I had made a previous entry (the initial assignment to Pliny). Note in my email screenshot below that the first notification was only to the Events Group, but the 2nd & 3rd notifications were to me and the Events Group.
I’ve put together a summary chart, where the info icon indicates an Outlook Group notification, and the envelope icon indicates an email…
NOTE: The behavior described in this post was current as of April 2017. It may be different at a later date.