This article will help you quickly compare and evaluate the best agency management system for your use case. I’ll highlight a few of the best agency software options. I’ve evaluated 10 agency management systems and examined the pros and cons in a simple, streamlined review so that you can choose the best software for your team.
We’ll begin with a focus on general tools for agencies, but I also include a few tools that cover a range of specialties. Most agencies may even find themselves settling on two or more items from this list in order to get the complete picture.
If you are looking for a drill down on specifics, be sure to check out the lists I have written specifically on:
- advertising agency software
- creative project management software
- marketing project management software
And you can also check out these tools often used in agency settings:
Agency System FAQ
More comprehensive than the types of tools above, agency management software is any workflow solution that covers the general needs of an agency, like intake forms for new clients and projects, intra-team collaboration and communication tools, and value-reporting for your clients. Agency professionals across many different industries—ad agencies, marketing agencies, PR agencies, et cetera—need a way to organize client work production, from planning to review stages. An agency management system is designed to cover a variety of things, like:
- Organize onboarding and intake of clients
- Internal and external communication around tasks and projects
- Collaborative mark-ups of in-progress items
- Real-time analysis and reporting of deliverables
- Flexible and comprehensive task lists
- Proposal templates
- Customer relations management
- Time-tracking and billing software
Agencies across the board may be drawn to management systems because they increase a sense of control and organization while also saving time. For example, it can be very time consuming to go back and forth with a new client on a new project getting all the necessary information before the work can truly begin.
In fact, 67% of agency respondents noted this initial information-gathering phase to be difficult or very difficult. Mandatory forms, automated onboarding, and quick proposal building are a few ways agency management systems can simplify and quicken this process.
Criteria: What Should These Systems Include?
What are we looking for when we perform agency platform reviews? Here’s a summary of my evaluation criteria:
- User Interface (UI): Is the interface intuitive to navigate and does it have aesthetic appeal?
- Usability: How steep is the software learning curve and does the company offer adequate training resources, like tutorial videos and FAQs/forums?
- Features & Functionality:
- Job/Project Costing – Can the tool capture hours and costs, estimate and do budgeting, and handle purchasing with mark-ups and purchase orders?
- Online Timesheets – Does the software have a web browser based timesheet and expense entry system? Is it easy to enter, approve and pay expense claims?
- Pipeline Management – Can the software help automating attracting new leads and report and review on the process of converting them into paying customers?
- Review and Feedback – Does the software allow clients to adequately engage with and provide feedback across the project pipeline process? Is the feedback loop easy to navigate and does it offer actionable insights?
- Integrations: Does the software connect with other first- and third-party apps for additional feature sets?
- Value for $: Is the price fair, transparent, and flexible? Does the tool offer a free demo or trial so that users can try before they buy?
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Overviews Of The Top 10 Agency Management Systems
Here’s a brief description of each of the agency management systems that are featured on this top 10 list.
1. Productive – Best all-in-one agency management system with sales and invoicing tools
Productive is a well-rounded agency management software with a stack of powerful functionality that gives you the tools and data you need to keep an agency running smoothly. The tool was actually built by a team with a decade of experience in founding, managing, and scaling a software development shop, so it’s especially well-suited to digital agencies.
The tool’s features fully satisfy my criteria for agency management tools. You’ll find client and prospect management in the Sales Pipeline (manage deal flow, get sales organized). The Resource Planning feature, time tracker, and task collaboration fit the criteria for resource and project management that I look for in an agency tool. Billing and invoicing can also be managed straight from the tool, along with useful reports on profitability and costs to help with finance management. The reporting feature actually goes quite a bit beyond that, with real-time reports on margins, utilization, and a whole lot more—including reports on individual employees’ or contractors’ history with the company, salary report, etc.
Productive’s integrations include Zapier as well as Jira, Open API, QuickBooks Online, Xero, and Exact.
Productive costs $12.50/user/month. They also offer a fully-featured, free 14-day trial.
2. TeamGantt – Best visual agency management software for simple timelines and charts
TeamGantt is an online agency management solution that works right in your browser, making it compatible with any OS. Agencies can plan and manage projects with this super-easy-to-use Gantt software and invite co-workers, teammates, and clients to view and edit collaborative content.
Agencies can create a Gantt chart online by simply dragging and dropping tasks to plan any project, making this software easily adaptable with a lean learning curve.
TeamGantt’s project management software lets you keep all tasks, documents, conversations, and team availability in one place. Agency managers can also connect documents and conversations directly to the associated task or milestone.
TeamGantt integrates with Slack, Trello, Basecamp, Google Calendar, iCal, and Outlook. Or, build a custom integration using TeamGantt’s public RESTful API.
TeamGantt is free for up to 3 users and 1 project. Paid plans cost from $24.95/month.
3. Hive – Best agency management system for multiple project views
Hive is a robust tool for agency management, project organization, and flexible task coordination. It lets agencies organize projects in a Gantt chart, Kanban board, table, or calendar, and also easily switch between each layout. Additionally, each user can choose to look at a project through different views, so each member of your team can use the view that works for them. Updates are reflected across all project views so the agency is informed no matter what option they use.
Hive enables users to easily collaborate by sending messages directly to agency individuals or groups. Need to share a document? Upload it directly to a task, project, or message. Hive’s Forms feature eliminates constant emails and collects all necessary information through simple fill-in-the-blanks.
It’s worth noting that if you’re switching to Hive from another tool, you can import tasks from tools including Asana, Trello, Basecamp, Smartsheet, and a few others.
Hive integrates with Google Drive, Salesforce, Jira, Dropbox, Slack, Zoom, One Drive, Box, and more than one thousand other tools through Zapier.
Hive costs from $12/user/month.
4. Gain – Best social media agency management system
Gain is designed to bring agencies that design online content and their clients together in a seamless collaborative environment. Communication is heightened with excellent feedback loops and collaboration prompts to allow agencies to receive notes and eventual approvals much faster during the content building cycle.
With this tool, you can share your content with agency clients no matter what program it was built in originally. Whether it’s a JPEG, PDF, Photoshop file, PowerPoint, or even a Google spreadsheet, Gain will create previews for your approvers and team members to review and collaborate on.
Agencies will appreciate Gain’s automated workflows, which allow content to move instantly to the next person for review, revisions, or approval. Agencies and their clients can send feedback and approve from any device.
Gain integrates easily with Canva. No additional integrations are noted.
Gain costs from $99/month. If you pay for a full year up front, you can get 2 months free.
5. Yanado Task – Best agency management tool for Gmail users
Yanado Task + Project Management coordinates agency projects and tasks within Gmail. It’s designed to help agencies manage their sales pipeline and boost sales productivity with email templates and email tracking, and by automating basic and repetitive tasks.
You can use a Kanban board to track agency operations and keep your team accountable by visualizing and monitoring deadlines, milestones, and dependencies. The tool offers to-do lists that are pretty easy to create, plus you can also make tasks directly from emails. Something great about this tool is the shared inboxes feature which lets you assign or pass-on emails and then manage them like tasks.
Agencies with busy online profiles to navigate will appreciate being able to create unlimited posts for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram using this software.
A native integration with Slack is available and hundreds more integrations can be accessed through Zapier or their REST API.
Yanado Task + Project Management has a free plan. Paid plans with additional features start at $6/user/month.
6. Nutcache – Best agency management system for invoicing and managing expenses
Nutcache is an agency management tool designed to organize all aspects of your daily processes. With this software, you get a toolbox of color-coded schedules, task organization queues, and data reporting.
Nutcache supplies the standard Gantt chart tools, which visually track and organize agency tasks with drag-drop-and-click editing techniques that require minimal training to learn. You can also use the software for Agile or Scrum project management, depending on agency preferences. This simple flexibility makes Nutcache a solid agency management software for small or large teams alike.
Nutcache offers time logging tools where users can log, track, and invoice time and expenses in a way that lets agency managers know where project money is going. Unlike a lot of other tools, Nutcache also has features to create, customize, and manage unlimited invoices.
App integrations for Nutcache include Dynacom Accounting, PayPal, 2Checkout, Stripe, Authorized.Net, QuickBooks Online, Google Sign In, Google Drive, GitHub, Slack, and hundreds of other apps through Zapier.
Nutcache costs from $6/user/month with a “Pro” plan that requires 5 users.
The Best Agency Management System Tools Summary Chart
Other Agency Management Options
Digital advertising agencies may struggle to find the right complete software solution, so here’s a few more that didn’t make the top list. If you need additional suggestions for handy agency systems, check these out.
Join The Conversation
Have you tried out any agency software listed above? Are there any great tools for digital marketing agencies that you would add to this list? What do you want me to cover next (ie. business management system, etc.)? Feel free to comment below to share with our community of digital project managers.
You can also get more support for managing a successful agency in both The DPM School online course (which teaches you how to manage digital projects) and in our Membership program where members get access to mentorship from digital project management experts, project templates, workshops, and more.