- 1. monday.com — Best for annotating and versioning
- 2. Wrike — Best for scaling organizations
- 3. Kantata — Best project management software for scaling organizations
- 4. ClickUp — Best free plan for creative project management software
- 5. Productive — Best for resource planning and budgeting
- 6. Height App — Best for client access and collaboration
- 7. Resource Guru — Best for managing projects, people, and equipment in one place
- 8. Hub Planner — Best for team scheduling, capacity planning, & requesting work
- 9. GanttPRO — Best for planning and controlling tasks of any complexity using a Gantt chart
- 10. Paymo — Best creative software for tracking time and invoicing clients
Managing creative projects at an agency is different from managing creative projects on an in-house team. You’re managing multiple client projects and client relationships, in addition to team member dynamics and successful team collaboration. All this while trying to streamline your workflows and hit your target metrics.
The project management software you choose needs features that support your creative teamwork as well as internal and external relationships. I’ve reviewed and outlined the top project management software for creative agencies below!
What Is Creative Agency Project Management Software?
While there are plenty of project management software available, some are better suited to creative agencies than others. Digital, design, advertising, and marketing agencies will benefit from specific features that not all creative project management tools offer. These include things like project profitability forecasting, external collaboration tools, time tracking with billable hours, and client notifications.
monday.com is a work management platform that has dozens of use cases, including creative and design work.
Why I picked monday.com: Easy, visual and intuitive, monday.com is an award-winning 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 this platform handles particularly well.
monday.com lets you create shareable forms to customize creative and design approvals. It also has a repository where you can store all files related to your projects and easily collaborate on them. Once a file is uploaded, you can annotate and comment on an asset, and keep a record of the different versions of it. Finally, the boards have the capacity to handle custom workflows where you can keep your team up to date on expectations.
monday.com Standout Features & Integrations
Features include monthly and annual expense tracking, a recruitment tracker for HR, easy editorial and blogging planning, competitor analysis, the management of marketing projects, onboarding processes, and creative requests.
Integrations include DropBox, Excel, Google Calendar, Google Drive, Integromat, Slack, Trello, Pipedrive, Jira, Mailchimp, and even more through Zapier.
Wrike is an award-winning creative project management software that allows creative teams to streamline their processes from start to finish.
Why I picked Wrike: It features customizable briefs and request forms, visual and customizable workload management, space for team members to provide feedback, and reporting and analytics. You can automate work intake and proofing, enable creative workflows, and improve delivery with a single collaborative platform.
Additionally, you can customize workflows, dashboards, reports, and request forms. 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. You also have access to a variety of pre-built templates for common organizational processes that allow teams to launch projects faster.
Wrike Standout Features & Integrations
Features include pre-built templates, custom request forms, interactive Gantt charts, visual proofing, workflow automations, time tracking, project portfolio management, and dashboards.
Integrations include 400+ pre-built native integrations, like the most popular file management software from Microsoft, Google, and Dropbox, along with sales and marketing software from Salesforce and Marketo.
Kantata is a SaaS product that's been designed to make project management a whole lot easier for creative agencies. It's got a clean, intuitive interface that makes it easy to get a handle on what's going on with your projects, and it's got plenty of features that are specifically designed for creative agencies.
Why I picked Kantata: First off, there's the project dashboard. It gives you a bird's eye view of all your projects, so you can see at a glance what's on track, what's behind schedule, and what needs your attention. Then there's the time tracking feature. This is a game-changer for creative agencies, where time really is money. Kantata makes it easy to track how much time you're spending on each project, so you can make sure you're billing accurately and staying profitable. And let's not forget about the resource management feature. This lets you see who's working on what, so you can make sure everyone's pulling their weight and no one's getting overloaded.
Kantata Standout Features & Integrations
Features include resource management, workload and allocation views, skills database, skill gap, projected demand, and projected profitability.
Integrations. As part of their “API-first strategy”, they’ve built a solution that doesn’t require a third party in order to integrate with any apps. They provide an integration platform (called M-Bridge) that’s designed to simplify integration between Kantata and other business apps like CRM, HCM, and financial software. On top of the M-Bridge platform, Kantata provides several pre-built integrations with these tools: Expensify, G Suite, Xero, Salesforce, Netsuite, Jira, Hubspot, Slack, Concur, Dynamics 365, Qualtrics, Quickbooks, and Sage Intacct.
ClickUp is a creative project management tool software that offers built-in creative features for every step in the design process.
Why I picked ClickUp: 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 Standout Features & Integrations
Features include the creation, sharing, and editing of documents and files. Also, 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.
Integrations include Slack, G Suite, Dropbox, and many more tools, as well as 1,000+ integrations through Zapier.
ClickUp's free plan is robust and includes all primary features so you can properly test it and discover if it suits your needs.
Productive is an all-in-one agency management software with project management, resource planning, time tracking, budgeting, and collaboration features.
Why I picked Productive: Creative agencies can use this tool to not just plan their projects, but manage their resources, budgets, and time. The software offers a comprehensive task management system that allows users to assign tasks to individual team members, keep track of progress on each task, and set deadlines. Users can also set up recurring tasks so they don’t have to worry about manually creating them each time.
The software's time tracker tool allows users to log their hours for each task or client project, supporting accurate billing and budgeting down the line. Users can upload documents in the platform or link them from other cloud storage services, and connect them with specific projects or tasks. The resource management features allow teams to keep track of who is working on which tasks and assign tasks in the context of everyone's workload.
Productive Standout Features & Integrations
Features include list, table, calendar, timeline, and board views; recurring tasks; time estimations; time tracking; budgeting; document management; resource planning; upcoming work placeholders; and client billing.
Integrations include Dropbox, Exact, Google Workplace, Jira, Harvest Economic, Outlook, Microsoft Calendar, Slack, QuickBooks, and Xero. A Zapier integration is also available, which can unlock more integrations with a paid account.
Height App is a project management software that creative agencies can use to plan, manage, and track their tasks and projects. It can facilitate collaboration both across internal departments and with external contributors.
Why I picked Height App: Creative agencies can set project budgets, develop timelines, and prioritize tasks in the platform. Teams can manage their projects using multiple views including Gantt charts, Kanban boards, and calendar or spreadsheet views. The software facilitates team collaboration with live chat, inline commenting, @-mentions, and emoji reacts.
What stands out most about this software is its guest collaboration capabilities. Guest users can access specified projects, allowing creative agencies to collaborate directly with clients and keep them up-to-date on progress. The software also has reporting and analytics tools to help users understand their productivity and production metrics.
Height App Standout Features & Integrations
Features include Gantt charts, Kanban boards, spreadsheet and calendar views, tiered access permissions, customized guest access, dark and light mode, custom keyboard shortcuts, desktop app, multiple assignees, multiple lists in tasks, and collapsible subtasks.
Integrations include Discord, Fivetran, GitHub, GitLab, Google Suite, Notion, Sentry, Slab, Slack, Trello, and Zendesk. Additional integrations can be built using Zapier.
Resource Guru is an employee management software for agencies that has time, project, and resource management in a single platform.
Why I picked Resource Guru: In addition to building project plans, the software also has resource management features like an employee directory with information like skill sets, location, and availability. Within the platform, you can set up custom schedules for each of your team members, assign projects and tasks, and track their progress. Schedules and capacity planning inform how projects are scheduled and managed.
Equipment can also be managed with the software, creating an overview of all resources needed for projects. Everything is managed in a single calendar, helping create a high-level picture of how work will get done, by who, when, and with what tools. The software can also produce forecasts for employee capacities and resource utilization.
Resource Guru Standout Features & Integrations
Features include employee scheduling, employee and resource calendar, billable and non-billable time tracking, reporting and analytics, project management, resource allocation, and a mobile app.
Integrations include Apple Calendar, Calendly, Google Calendar, and Outlook Calendar. A paid Zapier account can be used to configure additional integrations.
Hub Planner software is a resource management tool that helps organizations schedule and allocate personnel, track time, and manage project workflows more efficiently.
Why I Picked Hub Planner: Hub Planner can be used for creative agency project management by providing tools to help manage and schedule resources, track project progress, and collaborate with team members. With the ability to allocate team members to specific projects and tasks, managers can ensure that resources are being used efficiently and that workloads are balanced across the team. The software's intuitive drag-and-drop interface makes it easy to schedule projects and tasks, while its advanced reporting and forecasting tools help managers to monitor project budgets and timelines. With features such as time tracking and custom reporting, Hub Planner enables creative agencies to measure project performance and identify areas for improvement, helping to ensure that projects are delivered on time, within budget, and to the highest possible standard.
Hub Planner Standout Features & Integrations
Features include resource management, PTO planning, timesheets, reporting, skills matching, task management, templates, drag and drop scheduler, project budgets, approval flow, smart scheduler, and third-party integrations/add-ons.
Integrations include DIY options via their Hub Planner API and webhook. Or, open an account with Zapier for more options (may incur an additional cost).
GanttPRO is a project management tool that helps creative agencies keep everything under control with features that encourage organizational structure, thorough planning, and task management.
The platform allows creative project teams to plan work, track tasks, set deadlines, and collaborate effectively. It empowers individuals and groups to create unlimited projects and work with unlimited resources. GanttPRO offers an online Gantt chart that they can use to schedule activities, set dependencies, add milestones for the project tasks, and work with the flexible WBS hierarchies. It allows prioritizing tasks to make sure deadlines are met.
The tool provides a UI that allows creative agency workers to custom-brand the interface. It covers many kinds of project management aspects with robust features for creative briefs, visual proofing, reviews, approval workflows, and resource management.
The collaboration features of the tool include adding comments, assigning tasks, adding reminders, and due dates. GanttPRO helps teams ensure that everyone is working towards the same goal.
GanttPRO integrates with JIRA, Slack, and Google Drive.
GanttPRO costs from $7.99/user/month and offers a 14-day free trial.
Paymo is a project management, time tracking, and invoicing software that helps creative agencies streamline the process of managing their projects from start to finish while offering a frictionless experience.
Why I picked Paymo: Paymo’s features cover the whole process, from creating the initial project estimate to adding and assigning tasks, setting up budgets, tracking work time, and generating reports and invoices for clients.
To keep everyone informed and on the same page, Paymo allows real-time commenting at the task and project level along with in-app and email notifications. The interface is modern and easy to navigate through. It looks pretty crowded but you can hide the modules you don’t plan to use.
Lastly, a dedicated account manager will make sure the onboarding process is smooth for everyone. Therefore, it makes learning the tool easier.
Paymo Standout Features & Integrations
Features include time tracking, team scheduling, several ways to view your tasks, file upload to tasks, file proofing, professional estimates, and leave planning.
Integrations include apps like Slack, Adobe Creative Cloud, Google Drive, QuickBooks Online, Xero, JotForm, Shift, to name a few. Other integrations are available through Zapier or by syncing with their fully-documented API.
Need expert help selecting the right tool?
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Get the PM Software Buyer's Guide
Best for annotating and versioning
14-day free trial + free plan available
|From $8/user/month (billed annually, min 3 seats)||Visit Website|
Best for scaling organizations
Free plan available
|From $9.80/user/month||Visit Website|
Best project management software for scaling organizations
|Pricing upon request||Visit Website|
Best free plan for creative project management software
Freemium plan available
|From $9/user/month||Visit Website|
Best for resource planning and budgeting
14-day free trial
|From $9/user/month (billed annually)||Visit Website|
Best for client access and collaboration
Upon sign-up, interested parties can get a 30-day free trial of Height App's Team plan.
|Height App's premium plan for teams costs $6.99 per member monthly.||Visit Website|
Best for managing projects, people, and equipment in one place
30-day free trial available
|From $3/user/month||Visit Website|
Best for team scheduling, capacity planning, & requesting work
30-day free trial
|From $7/user/month (billed annually)||Visit Website|
Best for planning and controlling tasks of any complexity using a Gantt chart
14-day free trial
|From $7.99/user/month (billed annually)||Visit Website|
Best creative software for tracking time and invoicing clients
15-day free trial
|From $5.95/user/month||Visit Website|
Best Kanban-inspired collaboration for creative teams
Best for 3rd party integrations
Best for its variety of ways to gather feedback
- Planview Clarizen
Best creative project management software for enterprise
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
Best All-In-One Management Solution For Creative Agencies
- Workgroups DaVinci
Best creative project management software for workflow automation
Flexible and visually pleasing PM software geared towards marketing, creative, product, and finance teams
How I Picked The Best Creative Project Management Software
To decide which tools to feature in this list, I evaluated and compared the details for a number of popular creative PM tools. I weighed a variety of key factors and functions that would be top of mind for businesses of all sizes.
This is the set of criteria I considered to determine the best and most useful software:
At the baseline, this is the functionality required for a project management solution to make it onto my list:
- Work management: You need basic project planning and task management features, like timelines, task lists, dependencies, and milestones.
- Workflow automation: The ability to automate certain aspects of your process, like sending a notification for unchecked items on a to-do list.
- Project progress tracking: Whether with a Gantt chart, Kanban board, or calendar, a visual project management software gives you a real-time update on project status.
Beyond the basic functionality I’d expect to see in any project management platform, here are some specific project management features I looked for in a creative agency solution:
- Resource management: Creative agencies don’t always have set teams, and being able to handle your resource allocation based on skills and availability is a plus.
- Collaboration features: Tools that help your team members work together on creative projects or liaise with clients are a big bonus.
- Timesheets: The ability for employees to track time according to projects, tasks, clients, or other factors, especially with billable hours tracking.
- File sharing: The easier it is to share files among team members or with clients, the easier it is to exchange feedback and keep projects moving. Many project management systems have built-in digital asset management.
- Reporting dashboards: You want to be able to show your stakeholders the impact of your work. This includes the profitability of your projects, and the efficacy of your time management and resource planning.
- Budget management: Invoicing, project budget tracking, expense management, and other tools that help you ditch the spreadsheets.
- Customizable workspace: Both for your internal interface and the client-facing interface, the ability to arrange it to your liking and add branding.
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.
Pre-built integrations with Adobe’s Creative Suite (Photoshop, Premiere Pro, InDesign, Illustrator, etc.) are ideal for many creative teams. I also looked for integrations with popular CRMs, asset management tools like Dropbox or Google Drive, and communication tools like Slack and email. Some providers also have APIs that can be used to build custom integrations, and some can export or import data to and from other PM solutions or Excel.
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).
What is a creative project?
What is creative project management?
Who uses creative project management software?
How do you manage a creative project?
As mentioned, creative projects need excellent communication. Therefore, I suggest you read about communication plans and how they work. You'll even have access to a template you can use.
Related tool lists:
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