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 their 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 – All-in-one agency management software with a full business lifecycle from sales pipeline to project management to profitability reports.
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.
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.
- Mavenlink – Project management and professional services automation software for increased visibility, greater control, and richer, more actionable data.
- Clarizen – Enterprise collaborative work management solution to create a line of sight across the enterprise to share goals and increase accountability.
- Ravetree – Fully-integrated platform for agencies, in-house creative teams, and project-driven organizations to manage products, budgets, and CRM.
- Hive – Comprehensive project and process management software to monitor and report on projects in real-time.
- Scoro – Get an overview of your entire project portfolio or stay up to date with project timeline, planned/past activities, time spent and billed.
- VOGSY – Professional services automation solution for Google’s G Suite with forecasting, resource alignment, timesheets/billing, and proposal automation.
- Monday.com – Highly adaptable workflow management system to collaborate, manage, and track your work through attractive, flexible dashboards.
- Teamwork – Work and project management tool that helps in-house and remote teams with planning, collaboration, visibility, and accountability.
- Smartsheet – Flexible, no-code account management system that empowers teams of any size to build the solution they need and adapt as needs change.
- Intervals – Agency management for small teams with simple yet powerful time tracking and task management software with intelligent reporting.
- Paymo – For small to medium creative & marketing agencies to manage tasks, create team schedules, track work time, and bill clients from the same platform.
- Nifty PM – Agency collaboration hub that makes tasks, timelines, and workloads clear to your team and clients across all projects, work, and communications.
- Admation – Approval workflow and project management software for marketing teams and advertising agencies with robust client management systems.
- Asana – Empower your agency to seamlessly and efficiently plan, organize, and execute marketing activities from planning through execution.
What Agency Management System Am I Missing?
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 us to cover next (ie. business management system, etc.)? Let us know in the comments below.