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Microsoft Lists: New Microsoft 365 App Demystified

Every year, developers and software engineers attend Microsoft Build to explore the Microsoft ecosystem, connect to other IT professionals, and discuss innovative projects. Due to COVID-19 this year, Microsoft Build was hosted as a 48-hour, all-digital event. And, for the first time, we learned about Microsoft’s new Microsoft Lists app — rolling out in August 2020.

In a nutshell, Microsoft Lists is a new, highly-customizable information tracking app that naturally integrates into the Office 365 ecosystem. This may confuse some of you. Microsoft already has Microsoft To Do — a “to-do” app. So what is Lists? And, what separates it from a basic scheduling and managing app?

Microsoft Lists: A “Smart Information Tracking” App for Microsoft 365

Microsoft describes Lists as a “smart information tracking” app that can “track issues, assets, routines, contacts, inventory and more using customizable views and smart rules and alerts to keep everyone in sync.” In other words, Lists is a data and information tracking app that syncs to your Office 365 ecosystem.

At the conference, Microsoft previewed a few features. For example, you can select from pre-made lists like events, contacts, and itineraries. However, the entire app is flexible, so you can customize your own templates, as well. You can also customize each list with color-codes, alerts, and processes, which all feed back into the Office 365 ecosystem.

Like Trello, you can create shared team lists and personal lists. Microsoft’s recent blog post also confirms that you can feed Excel table data into Lists and use existing lists to create new ones.

The look and feel of Lists is somewhat similar to Trello (colorful and simple). But, as of now, we haven’t heard any mention of Kanban capabilities. Despite this apparent lack, the customizability and block configuration of Lists makes it a serious challenger to tracking apps like Airtable and Notion.

For those of you who use SharePoint lists, don’t worry. Microsoft Lists will be replacing SharePoint lists. This means all of your existing SharePoint lists will be instantly transferred to the new Lists app, and your data will remain intact.

Office 365 Users and Developers Rejoice

Microsoft Lists has robust Office 365 integrations out-of-the-box. You can share lists with channels on Teams. And, you can also create lists inside Teams without switching over to the Lists app (which will be on both desktop and mobile). Here’s where things get interesting. You can use Power Apps to customize any list in Microsoft Lists, and you can feed those lists into Power Automate to create dynamic workflows.

On the backend, there’s a List API, so you can feed Lists data into custom fields, as well. Microsoft recommends using Microsoft Graph to connect and interact with third-party data lists.

Obviously, you also get security and compliance baked into your Lists experience since it’s operating under the Office 365 banner.

The use cases for Lists are virtually endless. You can use it to share workflows via Teams, automate tasks, collaborate on agile projects, and build out smart schedules with team input. Really, this is another Microsoft product that eliminates some of the redundant, silo-inducing 3rd party apps in your stack.

Microsoft Continues to Create a Holistic 365 Ecosystem With Microsoft Lists

Over the past few years, Microsoft has allowed businesses all over the world to upgrade their technology stacks. Now, millions of businesses have access to industry-leading productivity apps for a monthly subscription. And, as Microsoft continues to innovate and grow, lean mission-critical apps are replacing massive legacy stacks.

Sure, the lack of Kanban features in Lists may force some businesses to continue relying on third-party solutions for sprints. However, its customizability and immediate integration into the Office 365 ecosystem certainly make it an attractive choice over similar information tracking apps — especially if you already use Office 365.

Are you looking to migrate to Office 365? From fresh starts to hybrid IT infrastructures, we can help you jumpstart your Office 365 experience seamlessly. Contact us to learn more about taking your tech stack to the next level.

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