People often ask me to recommend the best project management (PM) software for their agency, typically because they aren’t happy with their current PM tools. [Latest update: February 2023]
Be careful—there’s no single “software savior” for your agency, and changing your agency’s PM software will disrupt your agency’s productivity.
Choosing or switching software for project management shouldn’t be taken lightly, since your PM tool affects all aspects of your agency’s workflow. Once your team is accustomed to an existing PM system, adjusting after a switch is extremely disruptive.
New software might be worth it if you:
- Aren’t using any system at all right now
- Face significant problems with your current PM software that are already hurting productivity
87 different PM tools for agencies
The best tool for your agency will depend on your unique needs. Remember, using Excel or Google Sheets is better than doing nothing to track your projects. By definition, each of the PM tools below has pros and cons. Their being on the list isn’t an explicit recommendation—but they’re options worth considering in your search.
Got a favorite tool to add to the list? Let me know!
Project management software for agencies
- 10,000ft – Visualizes plans and assignments.
- 17hats – All-in-one PM and business management.
- Accelo – Integrated system for PM, CRM, support, and automation.
- ActiveCollab – Manages clients, tracks time, and bills projects.
- Advantage – PM, media management, and accounting.
- AffinityLive – Scheduling, billing, and support for retainers.
- AgencyHub by Pbworks – Project dashboards, automated stakeholder updates, and asset tracking.
- Asana – Organizes projects across a team without email.
- Avaza – PM, time tracking, estimating, and invoicing.
- Axosoft – Agile PM for development teams.
- Basecamp – Collaborate and communicate, host files, and track tasks (and, since April 2021, attract controversy about problematic leadership).
- BasicOps – Task management and collaboration.
- Beeye – Resource planning, payment dashboards, reporting.
- Cage – Media collaboration and project workflow.
- Celoxis – Project portfolio management, supporting Agile, with workflow automation.
- Central Desktop – Collaborate, share and review files, and organize processes.
- ClickTime – Timesheets and resource planning.
- ClickUp – Multiple “view” options, 1,000+ integrations via Zapier, and migration from competitors.
- Clients & Profits Agency – Manage people, projects, media, and money.
- COR – All-in-one software, including AI-based timesheets.
- Clubhouse – PM for software development teams, with iterative schedules based on your weekly priorities.
- CurrentTrack – workflow management system, focusing on advertising agencies.
- Deltek WorkBook – Modular software for project-based businesses.
- FengOffice – Open source collaboration and PM.
- Float – Team scheduling, with real-time drag-and-drop updates.
- Fogbugz – Project planning and issue- and bug-tracking.
- Forecast – AI-driven PM software.
- Forecast by Harvest – Resource scheduling from Harvest.
- Freedcamp – Collaboration tools, including Kanban boards, Gantt charts, and personal to-do lists.
- FunctionFox – Timesheets and PM.
- Function Point – PM and analytics.
- Ganttic – Resource planning and workload management.
- Hive – PM software for hybrid teams, with built-in AI integration.
- Hubbion – Lightweight task management & collaboration tool.
- HubPlanner – Resource scheduling, project planning, time tracking.
- Hygger – Project management tool.
- inMotionNow – Project workflow automation.
- JIRA – Issue and project tracking.
- Kanbanchi – Task management, project management, and team collaboration via G Suite.
- Lighthouse – Issue tracking with client service integration.
- LiquidPlanner – Manages tasks and tracks time.
- Mavenlink – Manages tasks and workflows.
- Milanote – Create visual boards to organize the early stages of projects.
- Monday.com – Goal-setting, boards, communications, and gamification
- MS Project – Analyzes resources, budgets, and timelines.
- Notion – Projects, notes, and a Knowledge Base.
- Nifty – Collaboration hub, designed for desktop and mobile.
- Nuvro – Task ETAs, recurrent scheduling, client access, and more.
- OmniPlan – Mac- and iPad-based planning tool.
- Paprika – Job costing and accounting.
- Parakeeto – Automated agency operations support, with KPI reporting, simulations, and more.
- Parallax – Professional services audomation
- Podio – Flexible workspaces, with built-in chat.
- Price&Cost – For project estimation and cost management.
- Productive – Combine PM, finance, and sales pipeline, with project-level P&Ls.
- ProjectHub by PBworks – Collaborate on projects and share files.
- Project Insight – Project and portfolio management.
- ProjectManager.com – Scheduling, project planning, and team management.
- ProjectOne – Agile planning and management for software companies, software developers, and managers.
- Projector – Professional Services Automation, including PM, accounting, and resource management.
- ProofHub – Planning, collaboration, files, and tracking.
- ProWorkFlow – PM, client communication, and billing.
- Ravetree – PM, CRM, and more, specifically for professional services firms.
- Redbooth – Team task management, visualization, and two-click video meetings.
- Redmine – Open source PM tool.
- Replicon – Time-tracking software that’s expanded to PM and resource management.
- Runn – Capacity planning and forecasting.
- Resource Guru – Schedules resources and team members.
- Scoro – PM, scheduling, financial management, and CRM.
- Service Provider Pro (SPP) – PM, client management, shopping cart, helpdesk, and CRM.
- SpiraPlan – PM tool that adapts to Scum, Kanban, Waterfall, and other methodologies.
- Storm – Business process management, PM, and planning.
- Teambook – Capacity planning and team scheduling tool.
- Teamdeck – Resource scheduling, time tracking, and leave management tool.
- TeamGantt – Gantt chart-based scheduling tool.
- Teamwork – Project management, with mobile app.
- Trello – Flexible card-sorting tool.
- VOGSY – Professional Services Automation, integrated directly with G Suite.
- WeekPlan – Priority planning (by matching tasks to goals) with a team component.
- Workamajig – Syncs accounting, client services management, and task management.
- WorkflowMax – Job management software, with quotes, costing, and time-tracking.
- Workfront – Enterprise PM for marketing teams.
- Workgroups DaVinci – All-in-one PM and workflow automation for creative teams.
- Wrike – Manages tasks and syncs with other tools.
- ZenHub – Agile PM within GitHub.
- ZenPilot – Workflow management and templates for inbound agencies. (Formerly known as DoInbound.)
- Zoho – Cloud-based office suite.
Selection process: Finding the best PM software for your agency
Once you understand why your project management software is inadequate for your agency, search for a tool that solves that specific problem. Don’t get sidetracked by a tool’s claims that it alone can improve your productivity. This won’t happen. Here’s my step-by-step tutorial on choosing PM software for your agency.
Remember that “good enough” is best—no software will meet all your requirements. After you’ve found your “good enough” tool, commit to it fully. Learn how to implement it properly, and then train your team. Don’t give up if it doesn’t meet all your expectations—remember, this is better than not using any tool at all.
Considering launching a new PM software product to sell, or turning your homegrown PM software into a public product? Think twice; the market is already fragmented and saturated, since different firms need different things. I keep discovering new tools, so that’s apparently not stopping anyone from trying.
Why you may not need to switch your PM software
I often see agencies switch to new tools instead of solving underlying problems in their PM processes. No single project management tool can capture the needs of every marketing agency.
Before contemplating a switch, identify why you think you need new software. You may not be using your current tools in ways that are best for your agency, or you may need to change how you onboard your clients.
Remember, the grass is rarely greener—new software may have the same shortcomings as your current system, and they’re likely to have new problems. When I spoke at the Digital PM Summit several years ago, another speaker said his agency had gone through four PM programs in two years. The constant switching was terrible for productivity… and for client service. Tools support good processes. Don’t count on software alone to solve your underlying problems!
Question: What do you like and not like about the PM software you use at your agency?
Image credit: Networking cables by Adam Selwood via Creative Commons