The nature of creative project management is somewhat different from other types of projects mainly for two reasons. The first is the type of team running the creative projects, and the second is the time challenges involved in them.
Type of team. Creative projects mostly live in two places, an in-house team or an external agency team. An in-house team handles multiple projects for the same client, while an agency team has to deal with multiple client projects from different companies simultaneously. Depending on your situation, access to the client and the dynamics within the client relationship will be different. However, one thing prevails, you need a high level of communication and involvement if you want good results.
Time challenges. The involvement of creative folks can make it a tad more difficult for you as you look to deliver your projects on time. Creative projects specifically face a big timing challenge. I mean, how do you set time boundaries on creativity? Add to the creative process the back and forth with the client for approvals, and you got yourself a nice 5000-piece puzzle trying to keep everyone on track.
Therefore, the project management app you choose needs features that support the creative process and allow you to automate creative workflows from approvals to content creation. Collaboration tools within the app will be a great way to connect the team with the client, invite conversation over creative assets, and reach results faster.
First, let me share with you what were the categories I took into consideration for these tool evaluations.
- User Interface (UI): I look at the overall interface design and see if this is a tool that is attractive to the eye. This is a tool that you will have to look at every day, so it better be nice looking.
- Usability: Is this easy to learn and use? Usability mostly comes from navigation and overall user experience. The ability to use a pre-made project template and create your own for recurring projects or a hierarchy that makes sense are contributing factors to this category.
- Integrations: Pre-built integrations with Adobe’s Creative Suite (Photoshop, Premiere Pro, InDesign, Illustrator, etc.) is ideal for many teams. And if there aren’t pre-built integrations for popular tools that creatives use, I look at how easy and affordable it is to set them up.
- Pricing: I look at the pricing and if they have it divided into different tier plans. Additionally, I search for information on trial periods and free versions of the software (if available).
How many of the key creative management software features and functions does it provide, and how powerful are they? Specifically, I looked for:
- Briefs & Intake Forms: this simplifies the intake process with dynamic forms that allow your teams to set specific question flows for incoming requests, storing all these details in a central location.
- Visual, Customizable Workload Management: this includes project planning and task tracking features that help everyone manage their workloads. They should be able to see projects, tasks, deadlines, dependencies, and scheduling conflicts in a timeline. Also, track their progress on visual dashboards. And because each creative team works uniquely, custom approval workflows are a useful feature for defining and monitoring your work.
- Collaborative Feedback: feedback, revision, and collaboration is a major part of the creative process. Therefore, the best project management system for creative teams should facilitate this process with real-time collaborative editing in a shared workspace. It should also have visual markups, feedback consolidation, and version control that clearly shows the item’s changes and approval history.
- Reporting Features: because of the nature of creative work, justifying the cost of creative teams can present a challenge. The best software includes beautiful, simple reports that illustrate your team’s progress and value to stakeholders.
- Budget Management: includes estimation, invoice management, billing, time-tracking, and financial reporting features that capitalize on project data already in your system, saving you from administrative headache.
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Monday offers a range of tools that creative professionals will benefit from, including monthly and annual expense tracking, a recruitment tracker for HR, easy editorial and blogging planning, competitor analysis, the management of marketing projects, onboarding processes, creative requests and more. Easy, visual and intuitive, Monday is an award-winning PM software used by over 70,000 teams.
In our evaluation criteria, I specify that we are looking for customizable workload management and collaborative feedback, which is something that Monday handles particularly well. Monday allows you to easily collaborate with freelancers and third parties by sharing the same project “boards” and has many options for interface customizability to help navigate the uniques ins and outs of your workload.
Optional integrations include DropBox, Excel, Google Calendar, Google Drive, Integromat, Slack, Trello, Pipedrive, Jira, Mailchimp, and even more through Zapier.
If you are looking for web software that has seamless mobile integration, this may not be it. The tutorial and training options available through the site are also lacking, which leaves users scrounging on the depths of YouTube for unauthorized user-generated content in order to address the steep learning curve.
Monday costs from $6/user/month and comes with a free 14-day trial. They offer a free plan for up to 2 users.
Wrike is an award-winning creative project management software that allows creative teams to streamline their processes from start to finish. Automate work intake and proofing, enable creative workflows, and improve delivery with a single collaborative platform.
Wrike features customizable briefs and request forms, visual and customizable workload management, space for team members to provide feedback, and reporting and analytics. Customize workflows, dashboards, reports, and request forms with highly configurable software — designed to eliminate time-consuming admin so your team can spend more time creating high-value assets.
Wrike has an easy-to-use interface with distinct Spaces, folders, and tasks. You can switch between Kanban boards, interactive drag-and-drop Gantt charts, and traditional workload views to visualize priorities. Or navigate between the home screen and timesheets, dashboards, calendars, reports, and a stream for notifications and messages. Users also have access to a variety of pre-built templates for common organizational processes that allow teams to launch projects faster.
The tool has over 400 integrations, including the most popular file management software from Microsoft, Google, and Dropbox, along with sales and marketing software from Salesforce and Marketo.
Wrike costs $9.80 per user per month and offers four different price points, including a free version and plans which allow users to invite free external collaborators to a paid account. It’s suitable for teams of five or more.
Teamwork is a flexible work and project management software that helps agencies become more productive and profitable. It enables agencies to manage high volumes of client projects from start to finish. Teamwork allows you to build flexible, custom workflows and gives you one central place to visualize your team and client projects.
Teamwork offers a number of tools and features to help agencies manage their work. With the Workload feature, you can get a complete picture of your team’s capacity and manage resources and keep your team on track. There's built-in time-tracking on Teamwork to log hours spent working on tasks and track billable hours. Profitability reports allow you to track financial performance by project or team member and compare it against the budget for that client.
Something especially useful about this agency software is that you can add clients as collaborators for free so they can communicate with your team, leave comments in context, review assets and get visibility on project progress.
Teamwork integrates easily with other tools including Gmail, Harvest, Hubspot, QuickBooks, Slack, Dropbox and more.
Teamwork costs from $10/user/month. They also offer a 30-day free trial
ClickUp is a creative project management tool software that offers built-in creative features for every step in the design process.
Users can collaborate with their teams on any design project with features for proofing, threaded comments, chat, and easy file sharing. Share files and deliverables with clients and control what they can access with permissions. Collect approval, feedback, or customer information with custom branded forms. ClickUp also offers multiple views and templates for building and managing your creative workflow or getting projects started.
Task management features include task checklists, subtasks, and task templates, as well as the ability to filter, sort, search for, easily reorder, and view tasks in the manner most convenient for the team. Users can also create Gantt charts, calendars, and timelines to visualize tasks.
ClickUp also includes features for creating, sharing, and collaborative editing for documents and files. Users can comment on documents and tasks, assign comments, and chat with other team members for increased communication and collaboration. Reporting features include the ability to create custom dashboards, as well as six built-in report types for team reporting.
ClickUp offers native integrations with Slack, G Suite, Dropbox, and many more tools, as well as over 1,000+ integrations through Zapier.
ClickUp's free plan is robust and includes all primary features. The unlimited plan starts at $5 a month per user and offers additional functionality.
Walling is one of the most visual creative project management software to manage projects and work within a clean, easy to use interface. Walling helps creative teams get organized and aligned by giving them one place that provides clarity on all their project tasks, ideas, and important information.
What makes Walling stand out is that it enables you to organize tasks, ideas, inspirations and files side by side to empower you to see the big picture of your work. The tool is also very flexible and has a variety of other views such as the kanban view, task lists, and database tables.
Walling’s collaboration features include adding comments on the block level, assigning tasks and adding due dates and reminders. The clear and visual experience of Walling ensures that everyone on your team is working towards the same goal. It gives your team a bird’s eye view of your projects to see clearly what needs to be done, why it matters, and when it's due.
Walling integrates with Google Drive and it has a list of other third-party integrations planned on its public product roadmap.
Walling offers a free plan for up to 100 bricks. Paid plans cost from $6/user/month.
Filestage is a review and approval platform used by agencies and in-house creative teams around the world. From sharing files to collecting feedback, it speeds up every step of your creative review process.
Filestage centralizes your approval workflow into a single dashboard. From there, you can see every review step, file format, version, and reviewer in your project, with status indicators to show who’s approved what. So at any stage in your creative review process, you can see exactly where things are at a glance.
However, feedback management is where Filestage really shines. You can invite reviewers to add comments and discuss ideas right alongside your content and create review steps to group feedback from different types of stakeholders, like Creative, Account management, and Client. Add in automated timecodes, version comparisons, annotations, and attachments, and Filestage is a great feedback platform.
Filestage features native integrations with Slack, Microsoft Teams, Adobe Creative Cloud, and Asana – plus thousands more apps through their integration partners, like Pabbly.
Pricing starts at $24/user/month with a 7-day free trial. You can also invite an unlimited number of reviewers and external uploaders to your account for free.
Project.co is a cloud-based project management and team collaboration platform that is equipped with a variety of features that are tailored to facilitate various aspects of the project development process, including task management, time tracking, scheduling, payments, and people management.
The online project management software provides you with the ability to generate automated invoices and process payments from clients electronically through credit cards, all within the same platform. This offers a huge advantage for medium to large creative agencies that manage multiple projects for a large number of clients.
Project.co helps you organize and view multiple tasks in different formats, including a list view, a calendar view, a task scheduler view, and a Kanban board view. Both project management and communications aspects of the platform are centralized, giving your team the ability to collaborate and communicate with other team members, clients, and stakeholders. This approach helps streamline communication across the entire agency.
Moreover, Project.co also allows you to embed videos into comments and sort through them by filtering the attached files either by name or by date to find what you were looking for quickly.
Project.co also supports seamless integration with third-party solutions, such as SagePay and Stripe, which is well-suited for the unique requirements of most creative agencies when it comes to project development.
Nifty offers creative teams and organizations a single workspace to collaborate and manage projects. Cross-project overviews give organizational clarity, and task progress is automatically updated as teammates complete the corresponding tasks. Nifty boasts automated project status reporting, and a time tracker to track time across members, tasks, and projects. The task list and Kanban view offer added task management flexibility.
Nifty is robust enough to manage development sprints while remaining approachable and flexible to a variety of workflows. A cross-organizational project overview tab provides insights into high-level timelines which can be turned into a task-level deep-dive analysis of any project. Nifty also has a help center to ensure you maximize your team’s efforts.
Nifty allows you to import data from Asana, Basecamp, ClickUp, and Trello so you can quickly establish your workflow. Along with native integrations with Slack, Google Drive, G Suite, Google Calendar, Zoom, and GitHub; Nifty’s integration with Zapier connects Nifty with over 1000+ apps.
Nifty starts at $39/month.
VOGSY provides creative agencies with the ability to automate project management workflows and admin tasks. The tool is built for Google Workspace and uses an intuitive Google Material Design interface. VOGSY generates and sends quotes and invoices to clients, suggests resources while you’re planning hours, creates project budgets, optionally pre-fills timesheets, and produces real-time financial reporting across projects and agencies.
Projects, resources, and tasks are viewable in Gantt chart timelines and visual project cards that show deliverable activities, resources, real-time budget consumption, and estimated vs. actual margins. Project cards keep everything in one location, including documents, tasks, emails, automated invoices, comms, and notes.
This tool is unique for covering services firms’ entire services chain from opportunity tracking to billing and reporting as well as Gmail, Docs, Drive, and Sheets integrations. Teams can work from their inboxes and follow up with clients immediately, as well as simultaneously edit, comment on, and mark up quote and invoice templates.
VOGSY is ideal for mid-sized professional services organizations looking to lay solid foundations for future growth, or larger ones that have tech stacks and are looking to bring data and operations into one place. Integrations include CRMs such as SalesForce and HubSpot, as well as financial systems such as QuickBooks and Xero.
VOGSY starts at $9/user/month and offers a 30-day free trial. It also offers a free version limited to one user.
MeisterTask is a Kanban-inspired software that enables effective, creative project management through stunning design and intuitive user experience. Teams can organize and manage tasks in a beautifully designed, customizable environment that perfectly adapts to their needs.
MeisterTask offers extensive collaboration options within projects—including comments and mentions, assignable checklist items, task and project watch, and advanced permissions settings—to provide teams with a robust platform on which to work together.
MeisterTask also helps teams bring all their task-related documents into a centralized location. You can attach files and images up to 250MB directly to tasks and browse through them using the integrated attachment viewer.
With MeisterTask, managers can easily automate recurring steps in their team’s workflow, ensuring team members work more consistently and get more done together. You can automatically assign tasks, move tasks between projects/sprints when they are moved to a new section, track time, or create recurring tasks that are due weekly or monthly.
MeisterTask comes readily integrated with popular tools such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, GitHub, Zendesk, Harvest, and various email apps. In addition to these native integrations, you can use Zapier or IFTTT to connect your projects with hundreds of other tools.
MeisterTask offers a free plan for up to three projects. Paid plans cost from $8.25/user/month.
Need expert help selecting the right Creative Project Management Software?
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It only takes a minute to submit your requirements and they will give you a quick call at no cost or commitment. Based on your needs you’ll receive customized software shortlists listing the best-fitting solutions from their team of software advisors (via phone or email). They can even connect you with your selected vendor choices along with community negotiated discounts. To get started, please complete the form below:
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A work management tool for creative and digital agencies, designed to help with planning work and projects, tracking time and invoicing clients
Best for 3rd party integrations
Best creative PM tool with time tracking
Best job management software for creative businesses
Creative project management and workflow management software designed specifically for marketing teams and ad agencies
Software for small creative teams with features for client communication, team collaboration, and project tracking
A well-rounded project management software that is both powerful and easy to use for creative teams
- Workgroups DaVinci
Best creative project management software for workflow automation
Clean, efficient software for project collaboration, planning, and monitoring, with features geared towards distributed teams
Best project management solution for in-house marketing teams
What is a creative project?
A creative project tends to be an original “imaginative” or “artistic” solution to a problem faced by digital marketing firms, advertising agencies, branding studios, and other business types.
What is creative project management?
Creative project management involves navigating the needs and workflow of a team that has been assigned a creative-oriented task. It may also include being the “go-between” for technical, administrative, and creative teams to ensure everyone works seamlessly together.
What is creative project management software?
This is software created specifically for teams that work on creative projects. These projects can include social media graphics, ebook design, website elements, product page banners, or blog post images.
Since these types of projects require collaboration, creative project management software has features that support these specific workflows. One of them is in-app conversations. I’m talking about a module that lives inside the software and allows your team to chat with each other and use mentions to invite conversation. Another feature is proofing. This will let your team collaborate on a creative deliverable and get to the final product faster.
Finally, there are creative kanban views. These views will show the task to be done but will also show a preview of any attachments on the board itself. Very useful to track progress at a glance.
Read more about the use cases of project management software here.
How do you manage a creative project?
Unfortunately, there is no single way to manage a creative project. However, there are some steps that you can take to get started:
- Go through a careful requirements gathering process
- Kick-off the project with solid project kickoff meeting
- Make sure you know how to make and use a robust project plan and budget
- Manage and control your projects through to delivery by monitoring progress and maintaining frequent communication (mitigate against scope creep!)
- Once you’ve delivered the final product, make sure you get useful feedback from your teams (for example, in a retrospective meeting)
Where to start? Read books, listen to podcasts, or follow blogs about creative workflow management. Our PM how-to guides are a good resource to get you oriented.
Who uses creative project management software?
Anyone can use creative project management software. However, some specific examples include creative agencies, marketing teams, design studios, and product development teams.
What is the easiest project management software for creatives?
User-friendly project management software like Monday or Asana can work well for creatives that may not be hugely tech-savvy. These apps are prolific enough to have a solid base of “How To” support on YouTube, their websites, and other online forums.
In addition to this list, you might want to look at these other reviews for creative teams and PM-related topics.
- List of software for advertising agencies
- General agency management systems
- Digital asset management systems to organize your creative assets and metadata
- PM software with really good visual tracking and planning features
- Project Scheduling Software For PMs
- Project Management Software
- ClickUp Competitors And Alternatives
- Help Desk Software
What do you think?
I hope you found a useful project management system to accommodate your creative team’s workflow! Feel free to mention the tools you use or your experience as a creative DPM in the comments section.
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