If you’ve ever led a creative team, you know by heart that this role comes with its own set of difficulties. But we’re not in the '90s anymore, you now have technology under your reach. There are many helpful project management software for creative agencies out there, all you have to do is to find out which one will better suit your needs.
These tools encourage cooperation between team members, help you manage tasks easily, and keep your workflows running while measuring your team’s performance. Almost all of them have a reporting feature too, helping you identify the roadblocks on your path to growth.
In this blog, we’re going to look at some of the best project management software solutions on the market for creative agencies, compare their features and pricing models, and give you some tips on choosing the right one along the way. But before jumping into that, let’s look at the criteria you should look for.
Note: Since Rodeo is our own product, we decided to write about its features and what makes the tool unique first. We love what we’ve built and are excited to say we’ve helped creative agencies all around the world to manage all their projects in one place. Click here to learn more and try Rodeo for free.
- The criteria to look for in project management software for creative agencies
- Top 12 creative project management software
Among all creative agency project management software on the market, only a few will fully meet your team’s needs and help you achieve your business goals.
Although there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, let’s take a look at some features and benefits you’d expect from functional project management software:
#1 Ease of use and user experience
The first question to ask: is the tool intuitive and straightforward enough? Commonly, creative people are not expected to be the most tech-savvy people in a firm.
As a result, project management software for creative agencies must be adaptable and simple. It must assist creative teams in planning, tracking, and delivering projects on time and on budget. If you’re running a creative agency, definitely refrain from choosing complex tools, even if they offer a wide range of features.
Just make sure to invest in a tool that sorts things out in a way that makes life better for your teammates, not vice versa. Look for a tool that’s easy to learn and use.
A simplistic interface, a rich library of templates, and automated workflows are some of the features that make your experience with a project management software for creative agencies pleasant.
#2 Seamless Budgeting
Buried into a pile of intricate projects, creative teams might lose track of budgeting sometimes. It’s not exactly convenient to keep track of every customer request and delivery process manually.
This is where the brilliance of easy budgeting modules comes. The project management software you’ll use must offer ease to your teammates when they need to update a project’s budget. They shouldn’t have to go through complicated steps to make those changes or request access every time.
Say, for instance, you’re currently dealing with ten projects that will each take about a month to finish. On average, you receive 20 revisions for every project. If your project management tool allows for easy data entry—like putting down extra hours worked or extra resources needed—in the budgeting module, your PMs won’t spend a minute on adjusting the budget.
What’s the opposite case? It’ll take your PMs about two minutes or so to make adjustments in the project budget every time there’s an update. Summed up, it’ll be 6.6 hours spent monthly just to apply those changes. And also, don’t forget your teammates’ time loss when communicating the updates instead of simply entering extra hours and resources needed.
More importantly, though, manual work always brings in the possibility of human error. Look for a solution that allows you to copy a preset budget from a previous project, for both more efficient use of time and minimal error.
Hands down the top criteria to look for in a project management software. Creative project management requires all the flexibility in the world for creative teams to deliver on time in full. Each creative team has its own workflows and rarely adheres to any common project management methodologies.
That’s why creative work calls for a ton of changes on the fly as you need to be able to adapt your schedule, budget, resource planning, and the rest accordingly.
It’s only natural that you don’t want to pay for extra features that you’ll never use. Look for a project management solution that’ll give you freedom with its flexible usage and pricing model.
Now that we know what to look for in a project management solution, let’s compare some of the best tools on the market based on their overall pros and cons, fitness to requirements of creative work, features, and pricing. Buckle up!
Rodeo is an intuitive and highly functional project management software solution for small and medium-sized creative agencies that need flexibility and excellent support. It covers all the bases from planning to resource management, bringing it all under one roof in the most user-friendly way.
This highly intuitive tool comes with a comprehensive package of features that you'd look for in project management software for creative agencies.
- Budget: Rodeo offers simplified templates that make budgeting easy for teams of all sizes. You can easily add an activity to your schedule along with the costs, number of hours, and hourly rate for the project. And bam! Here's your budget ready to get approved.
Seasoned creatives definitely know by heart that even the most well-designed projects get dramatic revisions and change direction. Rodeo's Budget module is flexible enough that you can incorporate those changes without complication. With the "phases" function of the software, you can divide your project plan into several phases and assign a different budget to each. This way, when a new request on the project comes, you'll be able to add a separate budget for it and leave no room for confusion.
- Estimate: No one likes dull and error-prone tasks, right? Well, the Estimate feature of the software guarantees a transparent transition from budget to quote, with all the necessary pre-selected documentation. Using Rodeo, you'll communicate the need for extra resources easily and adjust your quote automatically.
- Planning: Rodeo users monitor all the tasks that are in backlog, in progress, and done on a single dashboard. Teams create campaign roadmaps and follow their tasks without confusion throughout those campaigns.
- Time-tracking: One of the best parts of a user-friendly tool like this one is that it helps you sail through even the most boring and repetitive tasks, like entering your hours. Or keeping track of your worked hours, to begin with. It comes with a personal timer and very easy-to-use time cards that make dull administrative tasks easy to handle. Once your teammates write down their hours, your budget will be automatically updated.
- Invoicing: The Invoice feature of Rodeo keeps your cash flow pumping without troubling you at all. It automatically creates invoices conforming to your corporate identity with just a click, while also offering Quickbooks integration to make sure you’re getting paid. Recurring invoices are not exempt from that. If you want it to, the software automatically sends invoices to customers when the payment time comes.
- Reports: One common problem that creative teams come across is accurately the tracking performance of projects and team members. Yet the related metrics have incremental value because they reveal what has been the best and worst decisions for you.
This creative project management tool allows you to track project performance and team productivity. It allows you to see the roadblocks and what’s holding you back, as well as the assets that carry you further.
Rodeo has a monthly starting price of $29.99 per user, which includes all features: project and budget management, invoicing, and report modules, as well as time-tracking, and forecasting.
In case you're a fast-growing team or have changing needs that are inherent in complicated and layered project design, Rodeo offers a scalable upgrade structure.
If you're planning strategic senior hires in the next year, for instance, a tool like Rodeo gives you the flexibility you need. Add as many project manager accounts as you need by adding $14.99 per account to your monthly billing. They will also have access to all features.
Or, say you're out on a hunt for creative talents to join your team. You don't need to wait for several others to upgrade your package as you would in tiered pricing structures. You can easily make additions to your creative team with $8.99 added to your monthly bill.
Now, a positive attitude is always useful when running a business. But there are ups and downs in every business journey, and small businesses can benefit spectacularly from using flexible tools with flexible pricing models.
What are customers saying about Rodeo?
Peter Rogers, managing director of award-winning BAIT Studio explains how they've cut their project management tool costs by 50%:
"The flexibility Rodeo offers is amazing. I can add new users on and off continuously, sometimes even just for the few days I use them. My bill from Rodeo is different every month. We have managed to cut back significantly on costs for project management software, even while having more staff. We are saving at least 50%, with far more users than before."
And Sophie van der Togt, Head of Account at Dorst & Lesser tells about how they overcame the troublesome onboarding problem with the intuitive tool:
"We have a lot of young creatives working with us who really appreciate how modern Rodeo feels. The interface looks very neat and refined, and they all quickly get used to it because everything is so straightforward. Whenever I show a new intern or employee how it works, we just go through everything once and that’s it."
Asana is a project management tool for large teams with complex hierarchies. It allows you to monitor your tasks in a task list, on a calendar or a Gannt chart, and also as a Kanban board.
Using Asana, teams can coordinate and collaborate easily, share related files, and more.
- Custom workflow automation
- Task management
- Customer requests via forms
- Real-time Chat and Email Distribution
Asana is free for individual users and teams of under fifteen people. Yet it might not be the best tool for teams of that size, because it’s not the most user-friendly tool out there. It might take some time to get familiar with the tool and onboarding new teammates might take longer than necessary.
The next plan is Premium, where you get access to most features by paying $10,99/monthly per user. For teams that need more customization and advanced integration options, the Business plan comes at $24,99/monthly per user.
Workamajig is another creative project management software solution for creative agencies, common among large-scale agencies. It's an all-in-one solution that can streamline your work processes, covering all aspects of agency management.
- Project Finance
- Sales CRM
- Resource Management
- Client Management
Workamajig charges $50/month per user for the first few accounts. As you'd see in retail volume discounts, the unit price per account drops as the number of users increase. And the structure is as follows:
- Up to 5 users: $50/month/user
- Between 5-10 users: $38/month/user
- Between 10-50 users: $34/month/user
- Over 50 users: $32/month/user
ClickUp is a collaborative project management tool that provides users with built-in creative features. Creative teams that use ClickUp have control over processes, easily share files internally and with customers, and have access to templates used to manage creative workflows.
- Task Management
- Gantt and Timeline View, Mind Maps
- Collaborative Sharing and Editing
- Chat View for Communication with Clients
ClickUp offers 5 plans for different organizational structures, and the pricing model is this:
- Personal use: Free
- Small teams: $5/month per user
- Mid-sized teams: $9/month per user
- Multiple teams: $19/month per user
- Multiple large teams: You’ll have to get a quote
Basecamp is a very simple project management software solution for creative agencies, with the most simplistic functions. It offers to-do lists as a task management function, a chatbox for internal communication, and message boards for brainstorming.
- To-do Lists
- Internal Chat
- Collaborative Boards
If you're a solo user looking for a tool to organize your tasks, Basecamp's free plan is just for you. You can have up to 20 users and 3 projects on this free account, therefore not so well suited for teamwork.
The paid plan, on the other hand, is for teams at a monthly price of $99, and it allows as many users accounts as you like.
Monday.com is a project management tool with CRM functionality, helping you visualize your funnels and have greater control over your prospects' journey.
It has a very user-friendly and colorful interface and a variety of data visualization options that cover your team's needs. If you have complex needs, a lot of freelancers that you work with, and a budget to spare, Monday.com might be a good option for you.
- Task Management
- Time Tracking
- Automated Workflows
- Guest Access
- File Sharing
Monday.com offers a free trial and a basic plan for $8/month per user. If you need access to the different views mentioned above (Timeline & Gantt views, for instance) you'll be paying $10/month per user to use the Standard Plan.
The Pro plan costs $20/month per user, where you have to register at least three users. It includes all the Basic and Standard plan features, and grants access to Chart view and time tracking features.
The tool also offers an enterprise plan designed for large teams and project design that calls for multi-level permissions and advanced reporting and analysis.
Read also: Top 25 Monday Alternatives to Try in 2022
Nifty project management software is a solution that helps creative teams get more productive using existing resources.
It allows teams to monitor and manage their tasks using Kanban boards, milestones, and to-do lists.
- Project Management
- Portfolio Management
- Internal Chat
- Inbuilt Time Tracking
Nifty has a free plan for really small teams or solo users that work in no more than two projects simultaneously. The software's tiered pricing model is as follows:
- Up to ten users: $39/month
- Up to twenty users: $79/month
- Up to fifty users: $124/month
- Unlimited users: $399/month
nTask is a customizable creative project management tool that offers a variety of configuration options. It allows collaboration between team members and a synchronized schedule for on-time delivery of the projects.
- Task Prioritization
- File and Comment Sharing
- To-do Lists
- Time Tracking
- Resource Management
nTask has a free plan for individual users, a Premium plan for small and medium-sized businesses for $3/month per user, and a Business plan for large businesses at an $8 per user monthly fee. The most comprehensive package is the Enterprise, where you get access to all features, and for which you have to contact the nTask team to get a quote.
Trello is an easy-to-use visual collaboration tool from the Atlassian suite. The tool eases project management by visualizing workflows and allowing team members to share files, comments, and links to other shared spaces.
- Task Management
- Resource Tracking and Analysis
- Project-based Templates
- File Sharing
Trello has a free plan for solo users and really small teams and the Standard plan is for scaling teams at a $5/month fee per user. The Premium package is for teams of up to a hundred members, and it comes at $10/month per user. Large teams that need more security and are cross-functional can benefit from the Enterprise plan that is for $17.50/monthly per user, which comes with the power-up administration future and a wide range of permission options.
Smartsheet is a project management software solution for creative agencies that enhances collaboration between team members and eases work execution.
As the name implies, Smartsheet's interface looks a lot like an Excel spreadsheet. Very straightforward, this tool offers real-time traction of tasks, historical data, and automated alerts.
- Grid, Gantt, and Chart views
Smartsheet offers a 30-day free trial using which you can thoroughly understand how you can make the most out of its features and whether it'll be useful for your business.
It's priced at $7/month per user, and up to 25 accounts are allowed.
Wrike is a creative project management tool ideal for teams of over five members. Using Wrike, creative teams can customize every module from workflows to dashboards, and briefs to customer request forms.
- Project Management
- Path Analysis
- Customizable Kanban board
- Time Tracking
- Real-time Activity Stream
Wrike charges $9.80/month per user for the professional plan and $24.80/month per user for the Business plan. While the first is for individual use and small teams, the latter allows better customization, supports more integrations, and activates time tracking and automation modules.
The Enterprise plan is for teams that have advanced security needs, but you need to contact the Wrike team to get a quote depending on your goals and expectations.
Teamwork is a project management tool designed especially for remote teams. It allows remote creative teams to customize navigation, visualize their workflow, follow each other's schedules, and restrict access to private issues and projects.
- Project Management Suite
- Moodboard for Inspirational Sharing
- File Sharing
- Customizable Workflows
- Configurable Navigation
- Meetings and Scheduling
The tool has four pricing tiers:
- Free Forever: For small teams and individual use. It’s free, not so shockingly.
- Deliver: For mid-sized teams that work on multiple projects simultaneously, for $10/month per user.
- Grow: A larger package with templates, resources, and budget management modules, at $18/month per user.
- Scale: For teams that need access to an unlimited number of projects, financial budgets, and templates, at a price that is to be negotiated.
We’ve compared the 12 best project management software by examining features, pricing, ease of use, and other important metrics.
The bottom line is, there’s no point in looking for a tool with abundant features that you’ll never use yet still have to pay for. Products and solutions that merge flexibility in design and pricing will give you the freedom to reallocate resources and change strategy when you need to. Use project management software that enables agility in the following areas:
Doing this will help you better utilize the resources and assets, helping you thrive in this highly competitive market.