Find the best PM software for your marketing agency by balancing the pros and cons. No single tool will make you happy.

Find the best PM software for your marketing agency by accepting that no one tool will make you happy.

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. 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

59 popular PM tools for agencies

The best tool for your agency will depend on your unique needs. Remember, using Google Spreadsheets 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! [Latest update: June 2018]

Project management software for agencies

1) 10,000ft – Visualizes plans and assignments.

2) 17hats – All-in-one PM and business management.

3) Accelo – Integrated system for PM, CRM, support, and automation.

4) ActiveCollab – Manages clients, tracks time, and bills projects.

5) Advantage – PM, media management, and accounting.

6) AffinityLive – Scheduling, billing, and support for retainers.

7) AgencyHub by Pbworks – Project dashboards, automated stakeholder updates, and asset tracking.

8) Asana – Organizes projects across a team without email.

9) Axosoft – Agile PM for development teams.

10) Basecamp – Collaborate and communicate, host files, and track tasks.

11) Bric – Analytics-driven time tracking and project planning

12) Central Desktop – Collaborate, share and review files, and organize processes.

13) ClickTime – Timesheets and resource planning

14) Clients & Profits Agency – Manage people, projects, media, and money.

15) DoInbound – Workflow management and templates for inbound agencies.

16) FengOffice – Open source collaboration and PM.

17) Float – Team scheduling, with real-time drag-and-drop updates.

18) Fogbugz – Project planning and issue- and bug-tracking.

19) Forecast – Resource scheduling from Harvest.

20) Freedcamp – Collaboration tools.

21) FunctionFox – Timesheets and PM.

22) Function Point – PM and analytics.

23) Ganttic – Resource planning and workload management.

24) HubPlanner – Resource scheduling, project planning, time tracking.

25) inMotionNow – Project workflow automation.

26) JIRA – Issue and project tracking.

27) Kanbanchi – Task management, project management, and team collaboration via G Suite.

28) Lighthouse – Issue tracking with client service integration.

29) LiquidPlanner – Manages tasks and tracks time.

30) Mavenlink – Manages tasks and workflows.

31) Monday – Goal-setting, communications, and gamification

32) MS Project – Analyzes resources, budgets, and timelines.

33) OmniPlan – Mac- and iPad-based planning tool.

34) Paprika – Job costing and accounting

35) Podio – Flexible workspaces, with built-in chat.

36) Producteev – Task management with collaboration and notifications.

37) Productive – Combine PM, finance, and sales pipeline, with project-level P&Ls.

38) ProjectHub by PBworks – Collaborate on projects and share files.

39) Project Insight – Project and portfolio management.

40) ProjectManagement.com – Scheduling, project planning, and team management.

41) Projector – Professional Services Automation, including PM, accounting, and resource management.

42) ProofHub – Planning, collaboration, files, and tracking.

43) Ravetree – PM, CRM, and more, specifically for professional services firms.

44) Redmine – Open source PM tool.

45) Resource Guru – Schedules resources and team members.

46) SpiraPlan – PM tool that adapts to Scum, Kanban, Waterfall, and other methodologies.

47) TeamGantt – Gantt chart-based scheduling tool.

48) Teamwork – Project management, with mobile app.

49) Trello – Flexible card-sorting tool.

50) Vogsy – Professional Services Automation, integrated directly with G Suite.

51) Waffle.io – Track your GitHub issues and pull requests with an automated workflow.

52) Workamajig – Syncs accounting, client services management, and task management.

53) WorkBook – Modular software for project-based businesses.

54) WorkflowMax – Job management software, with quotes, costing, and time-tracking.

55) Workfront – Enterprise PM for marketing teams.

56) Workgroups DaVinci – All-in-one PM and workflow automation for creative teams.

57) Wrike – Manages tasks and syncs with other tools.

58) ZenHub – Agile PM within GitHub.

59) 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.

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 in 2014, 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

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