“The role of a creative leader is not to have all the ideas; it’s to create a culture where everyone can have ideas and feel that they’re valued.” – Ken Robinson
Let’s kick off with a scenario…
A web designer comes up with an idea to incorporate some animations in the header of the page. He shares this idea with the project manager. Now to move forward with the idea, approval from stakeholders is important.
Another team member has an awesome idea about the fonts and styling, the third member would like to work on some creative widgets, and so on. Imagine the burden on the project manager. How can a manager handle all these creative ideas while tracking the original tasks?
There’s a lot on the table and managing it efficiently is what creative project management is all about. Creative PMs have the responsibility to ensure that creative projects are delivered on-time and on-budget while offering an open space for creativity where team members can share ideas and work together.
To offer this creative space and to manage the projects in an effective way, you need a creative agency project management software. There is a long list of softwares for a unique set of challenges. But which one suits your organization best? Let’s find out.
A Quick Look at Creative Agency Project Management Software & Their Key Features
What is Creative Project Management Software?
A creative project management process is totally different from traditional project management methodologies. Creative projects often don’t require technical expertise and that’s how a project management software for creative teams is designed. The software aims to provide a flexible and straightforward platform to help teams plan, organize, track, and deliver projects on-time and within budget.
Must-have Features of Creative Agency Project Management Software
Being creative with tons of requirements and few resources can make life difficult. Although every creative project and team is different when it comes to choosing the best project management software for creatives, here are the must-have features to consider in your search.
- Workload Management & Visual Timelines: Visual timelines using Gantt charts or Kanban boards are a must to manage a creative project as team members can visualize the progress to work upon the priorities. Workload management to prioritize and divide tasks helps in efficiently crossing the finish line without missing a single deadline.
- Intake Forms: To establish a clear picture of a project’s goals, tasks, milestones, and client’s expectations, it is important to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Dynamic intake forms simplify this process of creating the project briefs. Teams, clients, and stakeholders can pour in their input for the manager to review and respond back.
- Collaborative Tools: The creative project management tool should have collaborative features like task comments, real-time notifications, and a chatbox for feedback, reviews, and editing. It gets easier for team members to share files, get approvals, and deliver projects faster without any conflicting or confusing issues later. Look for similar features where all stakeholders and team members can work together in a collaborative environment.
- Project Templates: While two projects might not be the same, they can have a similar outline. A project management software should allow you to save the existing templates for recurring projects to save time. In such a scenario, all the associated settings like task dependencies, milestones, reporting, etc. are loaded in the new project.
- Reporting: Creative teams like to visualize detailed analytics and reports on what’s going on. The tool should include real-time reporting features to generate insightful reports on tasks, time spent, resource utilization, and budgeting. Data visualization makes it much easier to see the involvement of team members and helps in making informed decisions.
- Third-party Integrations: A seamless integration with different third-party softwares helps in a smooth transfer of data. If you are looking for the best project management software for designers, then make sure that it supports Adobe Creative Cloud integrations as it surely is the most important tool for creatives.
- Security: The security of your project’s information and other valuable data should be the top-most priority. Ensure that the software provider is using the best security protocols for secure sharing, version control, data transfer, and encryption for both in-transit and at-rest data.
Creative projects are often tough to manage and that’s why project managers should look for these features in the hunt for the best creative agency project management software.
Still unsure about how a project management software can help your creative team? Here we go…
How Project Management Software Can Help Creative Teams?
Creative teams around the world find it hard to finish off their projects smoothly. There is often a missing factor that derails the whole project. To boost productivity and meet deadlines, here’s how a project management software can help.
- Idea Management: Team members can share their ideas to help in project planning. PMs and stakeholders can discuss ideas and approve them all from a single dashboard. Some ideas might be of use at the later stages and these can be stored in the software in the form of comments.
- Centralized Team Communication: Lack of communication or discussing the projects over different softwares or chat windows can get confusing. A project management software allows different teams to communicate in a centralized location and leave comments/feedback for tasks. So, everyone related to the task/project can indulge in real-time communication.
- Time Management: Time and resource management are crucial for creative teams as there are fewer resources available to meet the deadlines. Utilizing a tool with time tracking features help in identifying the bottlenecks to prioritize tasks and increase productivity. Time tracking gets even more critical if you bill time by clients.
- External Users: As there are external clients, sponsors, or parties involved in some projects, it gets tedious for PMs to constantly share the progress. With a project management software in action, external authorized users can hop in and check the progress of the project anytime. They won’t need to ask about the progress of the project every time.
- Creative Software Integrations: Creatives love some tools and a project management software makes it super easy to let them work on the projects integrated with their favorite softwares. With third-party integrations, creatives won’t have to switch windows or copy files from one software to another.
Best Creative Project Management Software
So far, we’ve got a clear idea about creative agency project management software and how your creative team can drive towards success with the help of the right tool. Next, let’s check out the top 16 tools available to creative teams!
ProProfs Project is a user-friendly online project management tool, that aims to provide a delightful work experience to creative teams. From project planning to completion, the task timeline helps you plan, execute, and visualize the project schedule and progress. Different teams can collaborate in real-time to share files and discuss ideas for an efficient and productive work environment.
- Add tasks, sub-tasks, deadlines, and change the status of tasks easily for better organization.
- Drag and drop functionality for easy task management.
- Use Kanban boards, Gantt charts, calendar views to plan and strategize projects.
- Create in-depth reports and use analytics to plan projects.
- Team collaboration, task comments, and shared calendars.
- Generate invoices and customize bills with simple functions.
- World-class customer support over the phone and live chat.
- Receive real-time notification updates and track projects over mobile apps on the go.
- Free – no charge freemium plan
- Essentials – $3/user/month
- Premium – $6/user/month
What we liked: Super easy user interface, 24/7 support, and collaboration options.
What could be better: Portfolio management needs some improvements.
nTask is a free project management application for creative teams looking for seamless collaboration. Users can easily discuss ideas, assign tasks, create project schedules, track time, and manage resources. The ability to attach files and task commenting makes it an ideal tool for creatives to manage their projects.
- Team chat, task comments, and dedicated workspaces.
- Customizable Kanban boards and cards.
- Resource allocation, budgeting, and milestones tracking.
- Efficient timesheet management.
- Issue tracking and risk management.
- Basic – $0 (Free forever)
- Premium – $3.99/user/month
- Business – $11.99/user/month
What we liked: User-friendly interface and simple collaboration.
What could be better: Task reporting and project analytics.
ClickUp is a creative project management tool with built-in creative features, especially for designers. Users can easily collaborate with different teams using proofing, task comments, chat, and file-sharing options. The software provides an intuitive platform for task management and reporting to get a complete view of the project.
- Task management & time tracking.
- Easy team collaboration & task comments for easy communication.
- Advanced reporting & analytics with customization.
- Drag & drop interface.
- Multiple dashboard views for different projects & teams.
- Free – $0
- Unlimited – $9/user/month
- Business – $19/user/month
What we liked: Efficient dashboard view and customer-centric features.
What could be better: User interface & complex options.
Monday.com is a popular project management software among creative teams as it has a really intuitive user interface with colorful boards. There are multiple customizable views like simple task lists, project timelines, Kanban boards, a map view, workload view, etc. Users can easily share files, attach notes, and collaborate with multiple teams in real-time.
- Easy task and resource management.
- Options to upload attachments, add comments, and mention teammates.
- Timesheet tracking to assign the tasks and view progress.
- Gantt charts are available.
- Customizable task boards to adjust your creative methodology.
- Workflow automation options to automate processes.
- Basic – $10/user/month
- Standard – $12/user/month
- Pro – $20/user/month
- Enterprise – Custom quotes on request
What we liked: Visually pleasing interface and customizable task boards.
What could be better: Lag issues while navigating through UI.
Screendragon is the perfect project management solution to speed-up creative delivery and brings down project costs and risks. The customizable and easy-to-use interface helps project teams with creative briefs, visual proofing, file sharing, resource management, and fast approvals. With collaborative tools and powerful features, it is a great tool to streamline creative projects effectively.
- User-friendly customizable interface for different teams.
- File sharing & team collaboration.
- Visual proofing & resource management.
- Personalized dashboards for different projects.
- Open API for custom integrations.
- Custom pricing
What we liked: Single dashboard view to manage the entire lifecycle of creative projects.
What could be better: Advanced analytics and reporting features.
Smartsheet covers most of the must-have features we have laid out above. For intake forms and briefs, project teams can use the “Forms” feature to collect almost any data from anyone. Users can easily participate in real-time communication to discuss ideas and provide feedback, approvals, and annotations. The powerful reporting and analytics are like the cherry on top.
- Visual workload management of live data and key metrics.
- Real-time notifications and team collaboration.
- Drag and drop dashboards for easy management.
- Customizable advanced reporting.
- Forms to collect any data in a structured format.
- Individual – $14/month
- Business – $25/user/month
What we liked: Content collaboration features and project dashboards.
What could be better: Resource management & time tracking capabilities.
Paymo is an ideal project & work management tool for creatives. It is designed to help creative agencies with planning projects, tracking time, and invoicing clients for a seamless project management experience. To keep everyone on the same page, Paymo allows users to easily collaborate and keeps the concerned users informed with email notifications.
- Keeps track of time and generates reports.
- Store all files related to the project at a single location for project visibility.
- Track expenses and time for generating invoices per client.
- Multi-user task assigning for easy collaboration.
- Different task views, including Kanban boards for different projects.
- Task prioritization, reminders, and recurring tasks.
- Free – $0
- Small Office – $11.95/user/month
- Business – $18.95/user/month
What we liked: Time tracking, resource management, and invoicing features.
What could be better: Customization functionalities for different views.
FunctionFox aims to provide a frictionless experience by streamlining time and expense tracking, scheduling, running reports, budgeting, and collaborating with different departments in real-time. The easy-to-use application has comparably affordable plans and a generous feature set, making it the best project management software for small creative teams.
- Time tracking & milestone tracking.
- Resource management for increased productivity.
- Different views including Gantt charts.
- Collaboration tools for real-time communication.
- Advanced reporting capabilities.
- Classic – $5/user/month
- Premier – $10/user/month
- In-house – $20/user/month
What we liked: Color-coded Gantt charts for managing and monitoring project progress.
What could be better: Invoicing and billing capabilities.
9. Toggl Plan
Toggl Plan is a flexible project management application for creative teams, that comes with a drag and drop interface, making it super easy to plan, execute, and track projects. Project plan timelines and team timelines help in scheduling tasks and tracking individual progress. With file sharing and commenting capabilities, team members can collaborate efficiently.
- Team timelines and resource management to easily manage work.
- Customizable task boards to meet the requirements of different creative teams.
- File attachments and comments for real-time collaboration.
- Role-based access control.
- Easy to set up recurring tasks.
- Team – $9/user/month
- Business – $15/user/month
What we liked: Task checklist and customizable task boards to match your workflow.
What could be better: Reporting and analytics features.
Basecamp is more of a collaboration tool than a project management software. It is a popular choice for creative teams looking to share ideas and collaborate in an intuitive environment. The simple to-do lists are available to assign tasks, set deadlines, and distribute resources. Users also get bulletin boards and team messaging capabilities to work in real-time.
- Simplified view to plan a project and track milestones.
- Real-time updates and notifications.
- Group chats to discuss ideas and projects.
- Hill charts with realistic views of where your project stands.
- Centralized space to store company documents.
- Business – $99/month (unlimited)
What we liked: Smooth collaboration features to stay connected with different teams.
What could be better: Custom task workflows.
Nifty is power-packed with a lot of features to provide the ultimate project management experience. Kanban boards, to-do lists, milestone tracking, and much more to help PMs from initiation to completion. Using live team chats, users can collaborate, share files and transform ideas into project tasks.
- Time tracking & detailed reporting.
- Team chat for real-time collaboration.
- Customizable Kanban boards for different projects and teams.
- Project portfolio management.
- Recurring tasks, schedule & workload overviews.
- Starter – $49/month (10 users)
- Pro – $99/month (20 users)
- Business – $149 (50 users)
What we liked: Built-in team chat for easy team communication.
What could be better: User interface and learning curve.
Asana is a popular name among complex and creative teams as users can execute the projects in different ways like boards, shared calendars, Gantt charts, and task lists. The project management tool is perfect for large organizations to manage multiple projects and track organizational goals. PMs can easily visualize the team’s workload and users can collaborate to get work done efficiently.
- Different board views for agile management.
- Set priorities and deadlines for different tasks.
- 100+ tools integration.
- Visualize project plans and generate reports/graphs.
- Collaborate seamlessly to avoid communication gaps.
- Basic – $0 (Free forever)
- Premium – $13.49/user/month
- Business – $30.49/user/month
- Enterprise – Custom quotes on request
What we liked: Customization options for the dashboard and multiple board views.
What could be better: Exporting functionality and user interface.
ClientFlow is an all-in-one solution for client management and project management that allows teams to collaborate and manage client communications via shared inboxes on a single platform. With tasks management, time tracking, reporting, invoicing, and many more functionalities, teams can productively manage their projects and clients.
- Time tracking & real-time notifications.
- Easy communication between clients and team.
- Shared inboxes to offer everything on a single platform.
- Internal comments for tasks feedback.
- Quick invoicing & reporting capabilities.
- Pro – $19/user/month
What we liked: Shared inbox for teams to centralize communications.
What could be better: Customizable views and boards.
Flow is an efficient project management solution for creatives as you can manage the project from start to finish with a bird’s-eye view. Create visually appealing project timelines and work on different project views like Kanban, list, and calendar view. The real-time notifications and collaboration features make it worth a try.
- Intuitive project dashboard to get a 360-degree view of projects.
- Planning with project timelines.
- Gantt chart timelines.
- Workload and resource management to distribute tasks.
- Real-time notifications and comments for easy collaboration.
- Basic – $8/user/month
- Plus – $12/user/month
- Pro – $18/user/month
What we liked: Ability to create intuitive project timelines to visualize progress.
What could be better: Reporting and invoicing features.
Admation is a complete solution for creative and marketing teams to manage projects, resources, and digital assets. As it is designed for brands and ad agencies, it is the best project management software for creative agency to plan projects and execute them from start to finish from one central location.
- Time tracking and task management.
- File sharing and collaboration tools to communicate in real-time.
- Portfolio and resource management.
- Customizable templates & boards for different projects.
- Advanced reporting & analytics to identify bottlenecks.
- Custom pricing
What we liked: Creative briefs and resource management capabilities.
What could be better: User interface and learning curve.
Hive is a modern project management tool for creatives with a sleek interface and top-of-class proofing & approval functionality. The different project views allow teams to view projects and tasks in the way they want. With messaging features available, users can communicate and collaborate with team members or groups.
- Agile methodologies for complex projects and teams.
- Customizable Kanban boards for different projects.
- Workflow management & automation to increase productivity.
- Integrated email & live chat for better collaboration.
- Forms to collect the necessary information.
- Real-time sync for all users & devices.
- Base – $16/user/month
What we liked: Advanced analytics on projects in real-time to identify and eliminate risks.
What could be better: Exporting functionality & learning curve.
Teamwork is an ideal work management tool to improve project visibility, collaboration, accountability, and productivity to deliver successful results. The tool is a flexible solution for creative teams to easily manage the complete project lifecycle. PMs can structure the project milestones, set deadlines, and break down tasks effectively.
- Built-in file storage, chat window, and messaging apps.
- Time tracking and task management.
- Resource tracking to make data-driven decisions.
- Reallocate tasks, resources, and milestones smoothly.
- Customized invoices of tracked time and expenses.
- Free – $0
- Pro – $12.50/user/month
- Premium – $22.50/user/m
What we liked: Workload management to get a bigger picture of the team’s capacity.
What could be better: Learning curve and interface.
Comparison of Best Creative Project Management Solutions
|Pricing (Starting/month/user)||Storage (per user)||Time Tracking||Team Collaboration||Project Reporting||24/7 Support||iOS/Android Apps|
|Toggl Plan||$9||Unlimited||Yes (With integration)||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Basecamp||$99 (unlimited users)||500 GB||Yes (With integration)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Nifty||$49 (10 users)||Limited||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Asana||$0||Unlimited||Yes (With integration)||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
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