You can perfectly outline the tasks, major milestones, and timeline for each project, but in the end, things happen: clients don't send the information you need, a key employee walks out the door, a technical issue pops up that requires you to rethink the approach.
This can spiral out of control when everyone is simply referring to a color-coded spreadsheet and replying to a confusing email thread.
According to the Marketing Agency Growth Report 2018, lack of a project management system has been one of the biggest pain points for agencies. Agencies face daily growth challenges for not being able to manage their time and projects efficiently. Roughly 20% of them have never used project management software to date.
And the consequences can be stressful -- 43% of agencies don't find enough free time to focus on administrative tasks such as staffing, client on-boarding, new business investments, etc. 29% of agencies experience difficulties in maintaining cashflows and 35% of agencies face hiring and talent management problems.
Inefficient time management practices have prevented 55% of agencies from growing their sales and marketing efforts, 24% of them faced differentiation challenges in the market and lack of processes or organization has kept 18% agencies from retaining clients. That's why so many agencies invest in project management software and the best apps for their services.
They need an easy-to-use interface to track timelines, tasks, time, and budgets. They need something people will actuallywantto use on a daily basis. And every agency is different, which means every agency needs a different type of project management system.
10 Questions to Ask Before Investing in a Project Management System
We've put together a list of some of the top platforms that are made with agencies in mind. As you review this list, you should consider:
Is This Project Management System A Good Investment?
Is your agency growing fast, and do you want it to grow even faster? Can the tools scale with you?
2) Is it user-friendly?
Will your staff like using the interface to schedule projects, track their time, and stay up-to-date on a client's status?
3) Is it flexible?
How does the tool integrate with other software your agency uses? Do you want the software to work with your billing processes, time tracking software, CRM, or marketing automation tool?
4) Does it provide enough customization?
What reports and features do you absolutely need, and does the software allow you to make those the focus of your experience? Do you need to collaborate with clients from the platform? Do you want your agency's branding to be featured on the client's view?
5) What features really matter?
There are project management systems that come loaded with everything you could ever want to use and there are those that focus on doing just one thing really well. What does your agency really need to make projects easier to manage?
6) How will your clients use the tool?
Will the project management system be easy for clients to navigate? What permission levels can be customized? Are there options to keep some communication private and some public? If your clients are Microsoft users, will the product look just as great in Internet Explorer?
7) Do you need email integration?
Have you tried other project management systems and people still bypass the system? Consider if you need something that employees can use within their email client.
8) Do your employees need to use it on-the-go?
Does the product offer an iPhone or Android app? What remote working functions make it invaluable for a remote working staff or teams in various different offices?
9) Do you need support and training?
A more complex and customizable tool may require setup, training, and ongoing support. What's the customer service reputation of the company? What days of the week and hours are their team members available for help and guidance?
10) What's the goal of using a project management system?
Do you want to streamline processes? Improve efficiency and profitability? Will the tool give you better insight into the types of clients and projects you want to go after? Will it help you to deliver a higher quality product? Consider the goals and how you can track the return on your investment.
18 Marketing Agency Project Management Systems to Consider
If you are looking for a new project management software or are looking to implement your first tool, check out these options:
10,000ft is a visually pleasing project management and planning tool with an interactive interface. The company also offers a design collaboration software program that has built-in design thinking tools and a way to gather data and analysis for presenting the design rationale to clients.
Drap-and-drop interface allowing managers to adjust timelines and projects based on evolving needs
Dashboard allows managers to see each project's status based on time, fees, and expenses
Visual reporting for viewing the big picture of how teams, clients, and projects are doing against goals
Price: $10/user/month for Basic, $20/user/month for integration capabilities and additional IT requirements, $45/user/month for a dedicated account manager
Zoho provides tools for a variety of different business functions, including finance, HR, sales and marketing, and project managements. The Zoho Projects tool provides agency teams with an easy way to manage communication and track progress.
Employees log billable and non-billable hours
Ability to see actual versus project time it took to complete specific milestones
Integration with Google Apps for more efficient collaboration
Project chat rooms that can be public or private
Price: Free for one project, $25/month for 20 projects, $50/month for 50 projects, $100/month for unlimited projects
WorkflowMax is a full-featured project management system that provides agencies with the ability to also manage finances and billing, leads and sales, and productivity. (WorkflowMax is a HubSpot integration partner.)
Reporting to uncover inefficiency and the agency's most profitable projects and clients
Job costing system to keep track of all expenses per project and actual versus predicted costs to better understand profitability
Create customized fields to better suit the individual needs of the agency
Tool for sending accurate quotes to prospects quickly
Price: $15/month for 1 user, $49/month for 2-5 users, $110/month for 6-10 users, $170/month for 11-20 users, $250/month for 21-50 users
Function Fox provides three different levels of project management software -- from simple project and time tracking to advanced reporting and project management.
A dedicated account manager who helps agencies set up the software and provides support as the company changes and grows
Client- and project-based reporting
Dashboard so leadership can view profitability and productivity
Custom fields for adding information unique to your agency
Group and individual calendars
Price: $35/month for 1 user + $5/month per additional user for timesheets and project tracking, $50/month for 1 user + $10/month per additional user for advanced project management, $150/month for 1 user + $20/month per additional user for in-house creative teams
DoInbound provides a framework for agencies sell, service, and deliver inbound marketing services. It breaks down projects into smaller, repeatable tasks to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the team.
Manage projects by campaign, task, and deliverables
Share files, track time, and keep all communication organized with the associated campaign or task
Training to help agencies document processes and create templates for more predictable work product
Price: $99/month for 3 users, $199/month for 20 users, $299/month for unlimited users
Workfront is a customizable tool that allows agencies to set priorities, assign tasks, manage projects, and keep stakeholders up to date. The company recently acquired ProofHQ, allowing teams to streamline the review and approval of content and creative.
Built-in approval paths for getting work out the door more quickly
Visibility of team-wide resources for better managing workloads
Work backlog feature for organizing and prioritizing creative requests
Ability to mark teams as Agile to organize work into stories or points
LiquidPlanner has a different methodology for project management in that it sets timelines based on estimates. It then gives you a realistic due date based on best-case and worst-case scenarios. It also provides a priority-based scheduler, so teams can understand which projects to prioritize to get everything completed and sent to the client on time.
Time tracking features integrate with a rate sheet
Resource management screen for viewing who is at capacity and who can take on more projects
Note features for adding obstacles to getting projects done
Communication boards that are task-specific
Price: $10/user/month for 5 users, $45/user/month for Professional, $69/user/month for Enterprise
Advantage assigns every account an implementation specialist, so this project management software is perfect for those who need more in-depth training and support or are looking for individual consulting.
Preset templates for creating schedules automatically
Ability to change schedules and tasks for multiple projects at once
Burn rate charts and a risk analysis summary to discover what projects are at-risk
Media department support with flow charts, templates, and authorization forms
Agency owner dashboard with views of cash balance, fees, and forecasting
Workbook is a project management software that allows agencies to customize the platform based on what the agency specifically needs. You start with a basic plan and add features, such as invoicing and billing, vendor orders and purchase orders, finance and accounting, customer portal, or CRM and pipeline.
Adding all costs, including mileage and personal expenses, to a project
Extensive financial reporting system with 300 built-in reports
Inter-company transaction capabilities and automatic billing feature
Weighted pipeline to reveal the potential cash flow of an agency
Ability to convert a prospect from the CRM into a project