Introduction

When someone says the word “list”, my ears perk up.  As a Project Manager / Scrum Master, a key part of my role is to be organized.  As such, lists play a big part; particularly when it comes to risks, issues, decisions, and changes. So, when I heard that Microsoft Lists was now available, I wanted to play around and see how it worked. 

And since recently, we as a project management team, have had several discussions on how to best track and communicate project risks, issues, etc. in a standard way, I thought I’d use Microsoft Lists to build out some templates for these types of lists.  I also wanted to see how Microsoft Lists could be incorporated into Microsoft Teams since we use Teams as the collaboration workspace for all our projects.

..you do not need to have any technical experience on how to create SharePoint lists.

Below are the steps that I went through to create a project Risks list through Microsoft Lists integration with Microsoft Teams.  What I came away with through this process is that you do not need to have any technical experience on how to create SharePoint lists.  Microsoft Lists walks you through the entire process and allows for implementing some neat features without having to write any code.  And the only time I did need to go into SharePoint itself for the list was to create a calculated field, where I was calculating Risk Exposure based on values in Risk Probability and Risk Impact.

Steps for Creating and Formatting Microsoft Lists from Within Microsoft Teams

Step 1: Creating the List

  1. Within the Teams channel where you want to create a Microsoft List, click the “Add a tab” item
  2. Select the Microsoft “Lists” option in the “Add a tab” pop-up window
  3. When the “Lists” pop-up window appears, select “Save”
    • You will then be taken back to the Teams site with a “Lists” item added in the top menu and with the following displayed. 
  4. To start creating your list, select “Create a list”
  5. After selecting “Create a list”, the following will be displayed. As you can see, Microsoft provides some pre-created templates that you can use if desired.  To learn how Lists worked, I wanted to create a new list from scratch, so I selected “Blank List”.
  6. After selecting “Blank list”, the following will be displayed. Here, you can give your list a name and description, a general color scheme, as well as pick an icon for your list.  Once you have provided this information, select “Create”.
  7. After selecting “Create”, your list will be created, and the following will be displayed. Note how the “Lists” item in the menu now has been renamed to the name you provided above – in this case, “Project Risks List”.  And since you are creating a new list from scratch, the only column the list contains is “Title”. 

Step 2: Adding Columns to Your List

  1. To add a column to your list, select the “Add column” item. Here, you can then select which type of column you want to create.  At this point, the functionality to add columns to your list is essentially the same as if you were doing so directly within SharePoint itself.  One difference, however, is that in the below image, you do not see the “More…” option, which in SharePoint, would open the List Settings “Create Column” page.
  2. Below is an example where I created a “Multiple lines of text” field called “Risk Consequences”. I also added a description.  As you can see, there are other options you can select/use if desired. 
  3. Below is another example where I created a “Choice” field called “Risk Response Strategy”.
  4. Once you have added all the columns you desire, then it is time to move onto the fun stuff: column/row formatting.

Step 3: Custom Formatting Your Columns or Rows

a. Custom Formatting in a Column

Like Excel’s “Conditional Formatting” feature, you can apply some customization in your columns based on column values.  And again, the functionality is the same as if you were formatting from the list from within SharePoint itself.

Below is where I set up formatting for values in the “Status” column of my Risks list.

  1. To start formatting a value in your column, select the down arrow for the column and select “Column Settings” and then “Format this column”
  2. After selecting “Format this column”, the following panel will appear, and in the case for the “Status” field, I chose to use “Choice pills” to format values. Note:  the formatting options available will depend on the type of field you want to format.  For example, if a field is a type “Number”, a formatting option is “Data bars”, but no “Choice pills”.  And text fields generally only have the “Conditional formatting” option.
  3. When you select “Edit styles”, the following panel appears. Note, in my case, Lists attempted to provide some pre-defined formatting for the values of “Status”, but I made some changes via the following steps.
  4. To edit the formatting, select the “pencil” icon to the right of a status value. The following will appear, where you can select just a color if you would like.
  5. But if for more formatting options, select “More styles” to display additional options.

And that is it! Easy peasy.

b. Custom Formatting in a Row

  1. Custom formatting rows is not that different than for a column. For rows, you have two options:
    1. “Alternate row styles”, which allows you to implement the following formatting options for an entire row.
    2. “Conditional formatting”, which allows you to implement the following formatting options for an entire row based on the value in one of the columns.

Again, that’s it! And again, easy!

Summary

I wanted to play around with Microsoft Lists and see how easily it integrated with Microsoft Teams.  I found that it worked great!  For the types of lists I wanted to create – e.g. Risk list, Issues list, etc. – the creation process is not a lot different than how you would create and format a list directly from within SharePoint itself. But I did like how I could create a formatted custom list from within Microsoft Teams using Microsoft Lists, where the only time I needed to go into SharePoint was to add a calculated field. 

Also, this may be small, but I also like how when are adding or editing an item in the list, the edit view displays full screen, versus showing a narrow window to right, like it does when using the standard SharePoint view.  Below is an example of the Microsoft Teams add/edit view for my Risks list.

And if you wanted to create the list as a template…

Lastly, I really like that once a Microsoft List has been created, the list is easily available to other Microsoft Teams sites as a template.  This is done by following Steps 1a-1d above.  Then, instead of selecting the “Blank list” in Step 1e above, select “From existing list”.

Once select “From existing list”, the following screen will be displayed, where you can scroll through your Microsoft Teams sites to the site where your template is located. 

Once you select the Teams site with the template, you can then select the list you want to create within your new Teams site.  When selected, a blank copy of the list will be created in your new Teams site.  😊

P.S.  Here is where I landed on my Risks List Template: