Businesses, small or large, have project managers, marketing teams, and creatives, who engage in different types of brainstorming processes to create projects for specific goals. But there are always multiple things to put in place in creative project management. If not done correctly, this could lead to a failed and chaotic project.
Historically, creative project management was completed using hard copy planning documents. However, today, the rise of technology has made it easier to plan, track, and deliver projects in creative ways.
Adopting creative project management software is one of the most valuable initiatives for business owners to execute projects more efficiently. It’s the best solution for effective resource management and real-time workflow management.
What is creative project management software?
Creative project management software offers new ways to manage project tasks more efficiently. It’s a web-based solution that keeps the creative workflow and all tasks of a project in one place. It enables project managers and creative professionals to work collaboratively, track progress via milestones, and achieve the set goals for an efficient overall creative process
Creative project management software helps everyone achieve their goals. It combines the features of different project management tools, to ensure the swift delivery of creative projects according to the creative brief outline.
The best project management software for creativity helps creative teams visualize workflows, automate repetitive tasks, and provides a centralized platform for feedback and collaboration.
Which software is best for projects? Filestage vs Trello vs Asana
For instance, if you’re a video production agency, feedback management and revisions should be a big part of your daily project management. And so you’ll need a project management software like Filestage that takes care of your feedback and approval process.
But in addition to streamlining your content review process, you’ll also have other needs, like allocating the right resources to work on a client project. You’ll also need a tool to track the time you spend on the project, a tool for invoicing, and so on. You get the idea, right?
So, to help you pick the right suite of creative project management software for your company and save hours of each workday, we’ve put together this list of 20 of the most useful project planning and management tools.
Filestage is an online proofing tool that helps agencies and marketing teams complete their creative projects faster and more efficiently. The online platform streamlines the review and approval processes for all kinds of digital content, including graphics, website layouts, documents, or videos.
Filestage makes it easy to share, review, and discuss files with colleagues or clients. All invited reviewers can leave comments and annotations on the file with full context. Further, it allows reviewers to communicate and collaborate in real-time, in the comments section. This makes feedback clearer and avoids misunderstandings.
With Filestage, you can bring all your files, feedback, and stakeholders together in one place. This helps you keep a record of your review process and keep projects moving forward.
- Comment and annotate in any file format
- Collaborate in real-time
- Set due dates for files
- Compare two versions side-by-side
- Review live websites
Monday is a project management platform that aims to give you a “new way to manage your work”. It lets you plan, organize and track your work, with custom workflows and beautiful, visual collaborative workspaces.
Because Monday is a very flexible piece of project management software, you can use it to manage your sales process, inventories, bug tracking, tasks, events, lead tracking, engineering projects, design projects, agile development projects, GDPR management, and many of your other core business processes.
One thing that really stands out for this project management tool is the splash it makes with all the colors. Monday also comes with a host of views, like calendar, chart, files, kanban, map, timeline, etc.
- Integration with your favorite apps
- Code-free automation
- Allows workflow centralization and customization
- Provides custom dashboards for tracking progress
- Kanban and Gantt for workflow management
Wrike is a project management software system that helps companies collaborate on all kinds of projects.
With Wrike, you can create different boards for your different teams, such as design, development, marketing, HR, and so on. You can then add task lists to these boards and invite the right team members to collaborate on the tasks.
Wrike comes with Kanban boards (where you can create lists, like “To do”, “Doing”, and “Done”), so you can visually track your progress through your task lists.
If you want to use Wrike, you should know that the tool is a huge and complex software solution. It’s not very easy to set up and it will definitely take some time to onboard your whole team.
- Easy dashboard customization for creative teams
- Share files, tasks, and reports in no time
- 360° visibility for real-time decision-making
- Built-in templates, interactive Gantt charts, and Kanban boards
- Enterprise-grade security with encryption and single sign-on
One of the most popular project management software systems, Asana lets you plan all kinds of projects right, from product development to sales systems.
Asana comes packed with customized planning solutions (or template projects) for many core business operations, like product development, IT support, finance, HR, sales, engineering and so on, but the tool lacks a decent file management system. Hence, working on creative files can get messy, if you’re working on a lot of different deliverables at the same time.
Moreover, Asana is a very complex solution that lets you create your own project boards to adapt your processes. Unfortunately, this also comes with a cost. Onboarding new team members or clients might take a while.
- Assign tasks to colleagues with due dates
- Add dependencies between tasks
- Interactive boards, including Kanban boards and Gantt charts
- Provides real-time analytics for tracking project progress
- Offers real-time collaboration for workload management
Trello is one of the most popular and best-loved project management software solutions. It uses Kanban boards to help you manage your projects.
Trello is also very flexible and lets you manage any kind of project right, from editorial boards to hiring workflows. You can also personalize how your Trello boards look, by uploading custom background images.
Trello lets you create unlimited projects with unlimited lists that can have unlimited cards (cards are basically tasks). You can easily tag a team member on a card to assign it to them or to invite them to collaborate on it.
Trello offers seamless integration with services like Google Drive, so you can quickly attach all your project files to the relevant cards. You also get real-time notifications when your team members make updates to any of the tasks.
- No-code automation for time management
- App integration for workflow management
- Provides collaboration in real-time for project review
- Inline and drag-and-drop editing
- Interactive boards and cards with labeling, tags, and comments
Teamwork Projects is one of the most comprehensive and well-thought-out project management platforms out there, which gives you everything you need to track a project from start to finish. It comes with features like Gantt charts, time tracking, file management, billing (with support for multiple currencies), CRM, a useful calendar view, among many other features.
Teamwork Projects also includes features like reporting and resource allocation and management.
- Cloud-based app integration
- Task lists and time tracking for resource management
- Offers pre-built project management templates
- Track creative projects for time management
- Custom collaboration features for improved client engagement
ClickUp claims to be that one app that replaces them all, by enabling a workplace where tools and creative teams meet. The project management software serves as a great productivity tool for work centralization. It’s built on the core values of customer experience, urgency, growth, fun, and optimism.
ClickUp offers flexible features for deadline tracking, task assignments, and space management. You can work through views, task lists, timelines, and maps. You can embed and upload documents as well. However, the concern is the complication of views and settings. It may take time to create tasks and onboard team members.
- Task management and customization features
- Lets you build docs, wikis, and knowledge bases
- Monitor and manage project management strategy
- Integrate apps and import documents
- Uses notes, folders, lists, subtasks, and checklists
nTask provides small businesses, independent creatives, and individual project managers with cloud-based project management solutions. The project management tool offers key features, such as team collaboration, task management, and project scheduling. It comes with a free version and a 14-day free trial of the premium plan.
nTask believes you can get more done with its robust project management software, which simplifies creative project planning and focuses on priorities. It’s one of the cheapest tools, but the security is less comprehensive and dashboard navigation can get clunky.
- You can plan projects, budget, and set milestones
- Pre-built board templates, including Kanban boards
- Offers team chat, task comments, and dedicated workplaces
- Effective timesheet management
Paymo proposes an environment where you can work better together with your team. The emphasis is on real-time collaboration. The creative project tool is best for creative agencies who want customizable workload management. It’s mainly used for small and medium-sized marketing projects and creative works.
The tool promises to keep your team engaged throughout the creative process, such as task management and schedules, while billing your client from the same platform. As for the cons, you should know Paymo does not track each project’s cost and offers only limited team management for free users.
- Task management through lists and filters
- Timesheet management using time tracking
- Team scheduling and app integration
- Create estimates and accept online payments
- Timesheet reporting with live updating time reports
FunctionFox provides creative and marketing teams with reduced administrative time and improved workflow. The project management software serves as a simple online tool to manage creative projects. You can trust the app with your timely project delivery, due to its tracking features.
The tool is ideal for creative professionals and creative agencies that want to track multiple creative projects with a simple project management tool. Creative and marketing teams can try any of the three plans: classic, premier, and in-house. But you need to know that privacy is not guaranteed, and the poor dashboard segmentation can take some time to get used to.
- Set-up time and expense tracking in simple ways
- Plan estimates and budgets
- Get real-time insight and reports on projects
- Use charts, schedules, and email alerts to stay on track
ProProfs Project is a creative project management software that offers help while completing creative projects.
It comes with a dashboard, which makes project tracking seamless and also helps to collaborate with clients or teams with no fuss.
What’s more, it’s packed with a multitude of features, so you can complete creative projects on a successful note. Gantt charts offer insights into each project’s progress, which helps you take proactive measures if your team is falling behind schedule.
- Share ideas, files, and discussions in real-time
- Generate reports to identify project risks
- Plan creative works and track progress
- Manage invoices for smooth client billing
- Mobile-friendly, so it can be used anytime and everywhere
In addition to offering you project management software, Workzone also acts like your partner, who offers to “guide, coach and cheer you on until you reach your project management happy place”. With Workzone, you can create task templates for all your routine project management processes. Although this sounds good, users criticize the usability and interface of the tool on Capterra. It seems like it’s not the best experience, according to multiple reviews.
Workzone comes with features like visual progress indicators, file-sharing, project templates, and project timelines, editable Gantt charts, personalized to-do lists, email reminders, and more.
Workzone also helps you with resource allocation reporting, so you can see if your resources are being over or underloaded, and plan accordingly.
- Provides collaboration and document management
- Web-based time management solutions
- Offers pre-built templates for time effectiveness
- The tool can work as ad agency software
- Know where everything stands in your project
An award-winning project management solution, Clarizen takes care of every aspect of project management, from optimizing resource allocation and budgeting to email-free communication and collaboration.
Resource allocation is a key focus of this cloud-based project management tool, aiming to make it effortless for companies, Clarizen offers advanced resource schedules, showing the availability and workload of everyone on the team. It also lets you predict your resource allocation needs with “what-if” scenarios and lets you make real-time allocations, based on the job titles, skills needed, and the availability of the resources.
In addition to this, you also get other useful project planning and management features, like document repositories, file-sharing and management, timesheets and expense sheets, and reporting.
- Friendly user interface
- Offers product portfolio and management planner
- Can work as an enterprise task management tool
- Used for work automation and collaboration
Zoho’s business apps suite comes with a powerful project management solution: Zoho Projects. Zoho Projects lets you plan, organize, and track your projects to closure.
With Zoho Projects, you can break down your projects into tasks and subtasks. Other features of this project collaboration platform include Gantt charts, file management, time tracking, invoicing. Zoho Projects also integrates with hundreds of business apps, like Slack, Dropbox, GitHub, Zapier, and many more.
In addition to its core project and task management functionalities, Zoho Projects also has features like feeds, forums, and chat, to support real-time collaboration. Its resource utilization comes in handy for budgeting resources to work on projects.
Zoho Projects is an excellent tool for tracking project issues. It keeps track of your issues in real-time and ensures they are solved at the right moment.
- Seamless integration with third-party apps
- Personalize projects according to fields, layouts, and reports
- Record billable and nonbillable hours with timesheets
- Plan projects with Gantt charts, and automate tasks
The project collaboration platform Basecamp powers the project management of a lot of companies. Basecamp offers features like messages, chats, to-do lists, file storage and management, knowledge base management, schedules, and more.
Another feature of Basecamp is its Automatic Check-in. With Automatic Check-in, you can automate the task of seeking work updates from your team on a daily basis.
Although Basecamp allows you to do a decent job of managing tasks, reviews (for example, on Capterra) criticize the clunky and complex interface. This makes it hard to stay on top of things when managing a project, which is obviously crucial.
- Improved collaboration with group chats and videos
- Organize your projects
- Expanded project management tracking with Hill charts
- Available on iOS, Android, Mac, and PC
- Offers group communication and app integration
This powerful, yet simple project collaboration software brings together task management, time tracking, invoicing, and team collaboration.
Unlike most of the other project management solutions on this list, ActiveCollab offers two versions. The first one is the cloud-based version, where you pay a monthly fee for using the platform. The other option is a self-hosted version that you can install on your own servers. This version uses a one-time fee and some annual fees for support and upgrades, but lets you add unlimited team members.
In addition to its core project and task management features, ActiveCollab also comes with estimates, notes, a powerful calendar view, personal to-do lists, and more.
- Work management system
- Create unlimited projects on any plan
- Invite teams and clients for web-based collaboration
- View, sort, and filter tasks and projects
- Automation and time management tools
Robohead creates project management solutions for in-house marketing creatives. The goal is to help project managers organize, collaborate on, and deliver projects. Rather than focus on process, Robohead concentrates on people, deadlines, and creative deliverables. The app is easy to use, as you only need to complete a few steps to begin.
If you’re interested in this project management platform, Robohead can customize a creative brief, based on your management processes and workflows, to improve task dependencies. The customer support is immense, and its pricing plans are flexible and affordable. While you engage with the app, however, be mindful of glitches and bugs. Also, the software is not exactly as user-friendly as claimed.
- Chart visibility for team workload and project delivery
- Customizable request forms and portfolio output
- Real-time collaboration tools
- Custom dashboards for easy navigation
- Campaigns and surveys to collect feedback
ProofHub is a creative project management software platform that can increase your productivity by leaps and bounds. It provides an exhaustive number of tools to streamline the process of all kinds of teams. It becomes a central location for all the project-related tasks, files, documents, communication, discussions, etc.
Apart from this, Gantt charts within ProofHub provide a bird’s eye view of all the project tasks and schedules and help you in planning and scheduling. Kanban boards within ProofHub are a creative solution, as the drag and drop feature updates everyone about the status of any task in an instant.
Timesheets, proofing tools, discussion sections, chats, and announcements are other features that make ProofHub a complete package for project management.
- Create discussion topics with the @mention
- Uses table-view for project presentation
- Workflow and project management
- Gantt charts and calendars to keep you on track
- Personalized proofing and time management tools
Milanote is a tool for organizing creative projects into beautiful visual boards. By design, it feels a lot like working on the wall in a creative studio – visual, tactile, and sometimes a bit messy. Milanote is a great fit for designers who work in teams remotely.
Milanote is a project management system that allows project managers to write notes and plan to-do lists. You can upload images, files, and save documents in the cloud. Its flexible drag-and-drop interface enables you to organize tasks effectively. It comes with built-in templates, which you can use to save time. Although the app is simple to use, it can get buggy on smartphones.
- Offers simple text editing for task management
- You can upload and import images and files
- Collaborate with teams using the whiteboard
- Use the drag-and-drop feature for easy navigation
Redbooth is a complete project management solution that helps you plan your projects, tasks, and communication, so all the work gets done on time.
Redbooth offers very detailed and ready-to-use project management templates for projects like social media marketing, CRM, Scrum, IT support, web design, PR, employee onboarding, hiring, team meetings, client servicing, etc. With Redbooth’s project management templates, all you need to do is select a template and your workspace will automatically be filled with all the routine workflows and tasks of the project type, which means you’re ready to start working within seconds.
Redbooth also comes with handy features like time tracking, Gantt charts, timelines, conversations (including HD video meetings), and more.
- Create Kanban boards
- Task transparency and task management
- Use dashboards for videos, emails, and meetings
- Use the drag-and-drop feature to organize tasks
- Detailed reports for project analytics
FAQ about creative project management software
Companies that balance numerous projects, disseminated amongst writers, graphic designers, and other employees, need proper creative workflow management. Otherwise, communication gets lost in translation and things can go awry.
What is creative project management?
Creative project management is the process of tracking every single one of a company’s projects from start to finish. Businesses use special creative project management software, in order to track the different phases of a creative project, showing which employee (or group of employees, depending on the specifics) is working on something.
This software allows workers to communicate with each other and track the project’s status in real-time. On top of this, these programs can track the hours spent on a project for billing purposes, list the client’s specifications, and even make notes of every comment made by the client when it comes to edits.
Creative projects, from the development of logos, brochures, and ads, to things like website design and other computerized graphics needs, tend to be complicated. With many different employees, each with a specialization, working on them at once, it can be tough to communicate and track the project via email or spreadsheet.
When you add in the fact that many companies balance projects for more than one client at a time, the equation gets even trickier. This is why these businesses turn to creative project management software.
Can project management be creative?
Most project managers think projects involve long hours of hard work and have no room for creativity. This mindset is a total misconception. Projects, whether run by a creative agency or marketing team, are informed by creativity. But creativity can only be achieved if there’s an enabling environment for the realization of innovative ideas.
What makes project management creative is not the long hours or the pay rate or the level of focus and commitment invested in research. It’s the creative juices that keep everyone on the project on track: the funny comments, the lovely encouragement, and the sweet collaboration. Rather than embrace boredom, a creative project turns every moment into fun.
What should you consider when looking for creative project management tools?
Choosing the best creative management software for your company’s needs involves taking a good look at what you want the program to do, while weighing several additional factors, like pricing and accessibility.
Pricing is often the most important factor. Some programs base their fees on the number of users (your employees), while others use the number of projects or steps as a way to gauge how much to charge. You need to find a balance between what you can afford and what you need the program to actually handle. It helps that many of these programs include various tiers, so you can scale up or down, as necessary.
What does the tool offer? Does it allow you to track the steps of each project, based on time? Can you upload documents to it? Does it allow your employees to choose or assign tasks, based on their interests and abilities?
There are many different creative project management programs out there, and each has a different set of functions. You need to take the time to list what you want the program to do and then find one that handles everything (or as many of those items as possible), before making a decision. Otherwise, you may end up with a program that doesn’t meet your needs.
Ease of use
Usability is the next important factor. There’s little use for a graphic design project management program that’s too complicated to use. If you need to dedicate an entire week to teaching your employees how to use the program, then it’s too complicated. The best programs are intuitive and can be taught in a matter of minutes, instead of hours.
How do you manage a graphic design project?
Graphic design project management requires time and commitment. From conception to execution, you’re invested in the processes. Aside from meeting design targets and complying with deadlines, there are steps to follow for effective graphic design project management.
1. Define goals
Before you begin as a project manager, it would be best to meet your design and marketing teams. That way, you have an avenue to clarify the goals and address critical issues. You can brainstorm with your team, to generate ideas and have solutions outlined in a creative brief.
2. Prioritize team effort
Encourage team collaboration by praising the team and critiquing as a unit. Do not concentrate on an individual creative, as that might create unnecessary competition. Instead, dole out praise and bonuses to the creatives as a team.
3. Create a project timeline
One of the significant concerns among design teams is project scheduling. You need to ensure the schedule for the graphic design project is realistic, by leveling time, cost, and quality. With a realistic timeline in place, project managers need to ensure that communication is free-flowing so that everyone can be carried along, as the project progresses. That way, it’s possible to detect challenges in delivery before they actually happen.
4. Track progress and share feedback
Checking your team’s progress is essential, as it allows you to know how far they have gone. But while you’re monitoring this, make sure you’re not micromanaging. Allow your team autonomy to operate. Using Filestage as your creative project management software, you can track the progress of creative tasks, share feedback with the team in real-time, and make the review and approval process as seamless as possible.
Project management for creatives: Best practices
Choosing project management software for creatives is only the first step. There are also some best practices that you should adhere to, all of which should be made easier by the program that you choose.
Communication between employees and clients
While your business may only have one or two select employees communicating directly with the clients, this doesn’t negate the fact that your workers need to properly discuss things with each other. For example, if you have one group coming up with a logo and another designing the website, the two will need to communicate in order to make sure both end products complement each other.
Have a work plan in place, based on the client’s brief
Another important thing to keep in mind is the overall work plan. This is where project management for creatives is needed. The plan includes what the client wants, based on their initial brief, as well as the steps necessary to complete the project to the client’s satisfaction. What needs to happen in between? The plan should include every step of the creative process, from start to finish.
Make sure that every step is documented
In addition, project management software for designers ensures that every step of that work plan is properly documented. This way, clients can be updated in real-time, and the end date can be estimated. If anything goes wrong during the process, there will be plenty of supportive evidence in writing.
So how do you really choose the best creative project management software for your team?
Well, to start with, list all your project management needs. Include all the stages of your project management, from getting the client on board to submitting the final deliverables, and everything in between.
Now, pick a tool from this list and add a checkmark against all the tasks it takes care of. This way, you’ll know what project management software to go with for your agency or company. In most cases, you’ll find that you need more than one management software system, but that should be okay, as a project management unicorn that can do everything doesn’t exist — and probably never will!