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15 Best Creative Project Management Platforms for 2021

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by Katie Oberthaler

5 November 2020

Creative project managers are a rare breed.

They’re leaders who understand both how to nurture the creative process and bring ideas to life and how to organize, orchestrate, and track the logistics of delivering projects on time and under budget.

Traditional project management tends to focus on helping software development, construction, or manufacturing teams increase productivity and consistently meet quality standards.

Creative PMs manage teams of “idea people", documenting workflows, and coordinate input from beyond the creative team while sticking to tight deadlines. As such, traditional project management tools often don’t work for creative teams or their clients.

Creative project management software drives improvements by automating admin tasks, creating a centralized hub for communicating requirements, collaborating on creative projects, and sharing feedback.

Here’s what you need to know.


Read more: Creative Project Management: 5 Steps to Success in 2020 


What is Creative Project Management?

As far as definitions go, creative project management is about as straightforward as they come. The term describes a subtype of project management specific to creative projects such as marketing and advertising campaigns, web design, re-branding, or video production.

And while there’s some overlap between traditional and creative project management, there are some important distinctions between the two.

Creative PMs are responsible for ensuring that creative projects are delivered on time and match the requirements in the brief, while also carving out enough space to honor the unpredictable, organic nature of creativity.

Unlike software development or engineering projects, creative projects are hard to quantify, and PMs can’t rely on KPIs to monitor & track progress against a fixed set of standards.

Done right, creative project management offers a framework for aligning projects around customer needs, effectively managing resources, and keeping teams focused on the right ideas.

Why Your Agency or Brand Needs Creative Project Management Software

Creative project managers are responsible for making sure that the people, processes, and all moving parts work together to deliver a final project that both exceeds expectations and arrives on time.

Without the right tools and processes in place, projects quickly fall apart--facing delays, quality issues, and budget overruns.

Creative project management software holds everything together and keeps everyone aligned around the same set of goals.

Here’s a quick look at some of the specific benefits of investing in a dedicated creative PM platform.

Creative project management software streamlines the creative brief and intake process

Rather than wasting time on brainstorming sessions or waiting on stakeholders to weigh in and agree on requirements, creative project management software streamlines the process of gathering feedback and generating briefs.

Top solutions include dynamic intake forms with adaptive fields that change based on the role of the requester, send automated reminders, and direct all feedback to a central hub--allowing projects to get up and running ASAP.

Creative project management software helps visualize workflows

Creative project management software provides teams with visual management tools that help them understand the big-picture through charts, graphs, and timelines tied to creative deliverables.

Visualizations also make it easy for PMs to orchestrate complex workflows that help creatives follow along with the plan and submit their work on time.

Creative project management software provides a central hub for feedback and collaboration

Creative project management software brings all project materials into one place--the many creative assets, Excel sheets, Google Docs, PDFs, marketing & sales templates, teams rely on to do their work--and include a smart search function that helps users quickly locate files.

The best platforms come equipped with baked-in collaboration tools that enable discussions within the context of specific tasks or files. And, they centralize communication records, allowing users to instantly size up a situation and jump right in.

Creative project management software provides a platform to review and approve assets

Software solutions should also include features that address the review and approval process--a major source of bottlenecks for large-scale creative projects.

These tools capture and incorporate feedback--directly inside digital asset files--and allow admins to automate approval flows, notifications, and status updates to maintain forward momentum.

Creative project management software automates tasks so your team can focus on creativity

Without a solid system in place, creatives can easily spend their time on the wrong priorities or get distracted by manual project management tasks like creating checklists or logging data.

Creative PM software typically includes features that allow managers to automate repetitive tasks like setting up new projects,

Key Features to Consider When Choosing Creative Project Management Software

The best creative project management platforms empower teams to deliver high-quality work by striking the right balance between structure and flexibility.

In other words, you want something that aids the creative process by providing guidance and focus toward achieving goals without burdening the team with additional tasks like pulling reports or logging project data.

With that in mind, you’ll want to look for software that includes collaboration tools, digital asset management, project tracking, integrations, and the ability to automate manual admin tasks that eat up valuable time.

While every organization has different requirements, here’s a look at some of the most important features you should look for.

Usability

Usability is a big deal no matter what, but when you’re evaluating solutions for managing complex creative projects, software must be easy to use--otherwise, your team won’t use it.

In a creative agency, you have multiple stakeholders--many of whom aren’t coming from a technical background, nor do they have the time to learn the ins and outs of a whole new feature suite.

You’ll want to look for a platform that makes it easy to manage files, syncs data across all business applications, and offers built-in communication and collaboration tools.

Additionally, factors like a clean interface and visualizations help users immediately understand key details.

Intake forms

Creative briefs establish a clear picture of a project’s goals, milestones, and target audience ensuring that everyone is on the same page before the kickoff.

They also require a lot of input from a lot of different people, which means generating briefs manually can easily consume a huge chunk of time.

Dynamic intake forms simplify the process of creating project briefs by allowing teams to gather input from internal stakeholders, external collaborators, and the client. Users can create question flows based on the requester’s role, type of request, and route responses back to their PM software.

Media versatility

An effective creative project management platform gathers all assets into one place--regardless of file format--and allows users to review, edit, & approve content from the same interface.

You’ll want to look for a solution that supports every media type you use including rich media files like HTML5, video, and audio, as well as static Word docs and Excel sheets, PDFs, and more.

Visual timelines and workflow management

Any project management platform worth its salt includes a variety of reporting tools for representing all relevant project data.

Visualizations limit the amount of time spent in spreadsheets, and allow everyone involved to track progress toward critical milestones and view all tasks, deadlines, and dependencies from a centralized dashboard.

Visual reporting and workflow management tools also link back to the usability factor, allowing contributors, clients, and creative PMs to understand the necessary information at a glance so they can focus their efforts where it counts.

Online proofing

Project management software for creative agencies should also include online proofing, which allows users to move the review and approval process into a shared digital workspace.

The benefit here is teams can easily capture and implement feedback, collaborate directly inside files, and automate approval flows—and as a result, deliver projects faster.

Collaborative feedback and editing

Feedback is critical to the success of any creative project, however, with input coming from multiple stakeholders, complex review & approval flows, and conflicting opinions, projects can stall out.

A platform with real-time collaboration tools is essential for helping teams avoid bottlenecks. Look for features like side-by-side version comparison, status tracking, and the ability to directly markup content, comment, and reply directly on the asset in question.

Project templates

While no two projects are exactly the same, creative teams often start projects with a familiar outline.

The best creative project management solutions allow you to save templates for recurring projects and automatically save all associated settings as the default--think task dependencies, reports, milestones, and relevant team members.

Not only do project templates save PMs from repetitive setup tasks, they also eliminate errors and ensure all assets match brand guidelines and other compliance requirements.

Reporting

Creative project management tools should include real-time, self-service reporting tools that allow users to generate insights and instantly understand what’s going on.

You’ll want to find a solution that can tell you how teams spend their time, the status of each project, and detailed insights into resource utilization and budgeting.

Again data visualization features, as well as visual management tools can make project data more accessible to everyone that’s involved.

Creative Suite Integrations

You’ll want to look for a platform that integrates seamlessly with creators’ most used tools--aka the Adobe Creative Suite--so that workers aren’t wasting time switching between windows or searching for the right file.

Solutions like Ziflow allow users to collaborate on projects in a centralized location, while providing access to the full functionality of Photoshop, InDesign, Premiere Pro, and Illustrator.

Security

Project managers should also make sure to choose a solution that protects brand assets, employees, and clients.

Our software is SOC 2-compliant and offers secure sharing, version control, and data encryption--both when in-transit and at-rest.

Pricing

Finally, you’ll also need to think about pricing.

As you’ll notice in the next section, most software providers charge on a per user basis. And while plans tend to start at $9, $12, $15 a month, most entry-level plans offer a pretty limited set of features.

For larger organizations, enterprise plans may be the most cost-effective option as they often provide a discount based on volume.

Best Project Management Software for Creative Agencies

#1. Ziflow

 

Overview: Ziflow’s online proofing software is used by companies such as Amazon AWS, Toyota and weber to streamline the entire creative review & approval process.

The platform offers an all-in-one digital workspace, real-time collaboration & feedback capture, and workflow automation that, together, bring clarity & visibility to the creative process and enable faster turnarounds.

Key features:

  • Centralized asset management. Ziflow users can upload, review, and approve digital assets from one central workspace. The platform supports 1200+ file formats including videos, PDFs, live websites, GIFs, static Word docs, and more.
  • Workflow automation. Ziflow’s robust workflow automations eliminate the repetitive review & approval steps that cause bottlenecks and delays. Users can automate approval flows by defining parallel and sequential stages and flexible triggers. Additionally, users can sync checklists and status updates to workflow stages to keep everyone on the same page as creative assets develop.
  • Intake forms. Ziflow's intake forms allow anyone--from clients and contractors to in-house employees--to submit a proof by following a link to a simple submission form that routes content directly to approvers.
  • Centralized collaboration & review. Ziflow acts as a single source of truth for creative projects, allowing reviewers to share actionable feedback directly inside project files.
  • Project dashboards

Reviewers can add annotations or markup to assets, read and respond to comments, and run side-by-side version comparisons to confirm changes faster. Additionally, automated audit trails record every update and decision made to each project.

Pricing: Ziflow plans range from $9-$45 per user, per month, with enterprise pricing available upon request.


Try a free trial of Ziflow and test drive the creative project management capabilities of online proofing for creative teams. 


#2. Monday.com

Overview: Monday is a versatile resource management tool designed to support cross-functional teams across all industries. The platform helps teams manage tasks, assets, and workflows with a robust feature suite that covers everything from digital asset management and time tracking to client management, team collaboration, and project planning.

While Monday.com isn’t specific to creative agencies, users combine it with online proofing and customize features to fit their organization’s creative process and requirements.

Key features:

  • Project management
  • Creative asset management
  • Team collaboration & management
  • Customizable workflows & templates

Pricing: Plans start at $7.80 per month per user

#3. FunctionFox

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Overview: FunctionFox is a time-tracking and project management platform that aims to simplify the creative project management process, making it easy to stay on top of things like budgeting, expense reports, and estimates, as well as automating repetitive admin tasks so that creatives can spend more time doing what they do best.

While FunctionFox is easy to use, it doesn’t integrate with any third-party tools--meaning, it doesn’t provide the data-driven decision-making or asset management capabilities that really transform this process.

Key features:

  • Collaboration tools
  • Tracks milestones, cost-to-completion, and time & expenses
  • Resource management
  • Gantt charts

Pricing: Plans start at $5 per user per month

#4. Paymo

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Overview: Paymo aims to help agencies manage and streamline the end-to-end creative process with features that cover project estimation, task management, time-tracking, reports, and in-app communication tools that facilitate collaboration.

Additionally, Paymo integrates with a wide range of business tools including Adobe Creative Cloud, Slack, QuickBooks, Google Drive, and Zapier.

Key features

  • Project planning & scheduling
  • Team collaboration
  • Task management
  • Resource management
  • File management

Pricing: Paymo plans start at $9.95 per user, per month

#5. VOGSY

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Overview: VOGSY is a professional services automation tool built on Google’s G Suite. The platform is designed to bring project management, resource planning, and real-time reporting into Google Drive--allowing users to access all project files, track progress, and collaborate from a familiar central hub.

VOGSY also integrates with your other business tools including Salesforce, HubSpot, Quickbooks, and Zapier.

Key features:

  • Team collaboration & management
  • Customer relationship management
  • Resource management
  • Project planning
  • Change & decision alerts

Pricing: VOGSY plans start at $19 per user per month, with the option to unlock all features for a $2400 flat rate.

#6. Hive

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Overview: Hive is a creative project management and collaboration tool used by big names like IBM, Starbucks, and Uber. The platform offers time-tracking and visual management tools like Kanban boards, Gantt charts, and calendars, as well as detailed reporting tools that bring transparency to the process.

Hive also features automated workflows and a proofing & approval feature that makes it easy to gather & implement feedback from customers and stakeholders.

Key features:

  • Agile project management
  • Kanban
  • Collaboration tools
  • Workflow management & automation

Pricing: Professional plans start at $12 per user per month

#7. Asana

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Overview: Asana is another more “general” project management tool that supports a diverse range of workflows from Agile sprints to remote work, though it also includes a number of features for managing creative projects without overwhelming your creators.

Asana allows admins to automate task dependencies, audit trails, and adjust deadlines when project requirements change, and supports integrations with just about any tool in your current stack.

Key features:

  • Visual project management tools--project timelines, lists, boards, calendars, & progress reports.
  • Rules-based workflow automations
  • Create & save templates you can reuse for similar projects & processes
  • Collaborative task management & communication features--status updates, priority scoring, in-app inbox.

Pricing: Asana offers a free version with limited features. Paid plans start at $10.99 per user per month and enterprise pricing is available upon request.

#8. Trello

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Overview: Trello is an intuitive project management platform that helps teams collaborate using its digital Kanban board, cards, and lists. The platform also includes a built-in “Butler” which allows you to set up automated workflows using rules-based triggers, playbook templates to get teams up and running ASAP, and “power-ups” designed to connect Trello cards to Slack channels, Adobe projects, or issues logged in Jira.

Key features:

  • Kanban boards, cards, & lists
  • Advanced checklists
  • Power-ups & integrations
  • Workflow automations

Pricing: Trello offers a free plan that supports up to 10 boards per team and unlimited cards & lists. Paid plans start at $9.99 per user per month.

#9. Clarizen

 

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Overview: Clarizen’s project management software helps teams tackle complex creative projects across the entire lifecycle, offering a powerful set of features that help the whole organization align around a unified vision--including automated project planning tools, resource allocation, and a centralized hub for discussing projects.

Clarizen provides teams with a single source of truth--with a real-time, 360-degree view of all project tasks, timelines, and progress, and one-click access to all connected resources.

Key features:

  • Project management
  • Portfolio management
  • Capacity & resource planning
  • Reports and dashboards

Pricing: Subscriptions start at $45 per user per month

#10. Podio

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Overview: Podio’s all-in-one project management and collaboration software aims to streamline work across the entire organization. The platform boasts a robust set of features that includes personalized dashboards, a built-in CRM, automated workflows, social collaboration, and advanced reporting tools—including data visualizations designed to simplify decision-making.

Key features:

  • Project management
  • Centralized collaboration hub
  • Advanced workflow automation
  • Personalized dashboards & reporting tools
  • In-app CRM

Pricing: Plans start at $7.20 per month, per user

#11. Avaza

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Overview: Avaza is a comprehensive business management solution that includes project management and team collaboration tools, resource scheduling, expense reporting, online timesheets, and a centralized collaboration space where users can assign tasks and share files with a simple drag-and-drop action. The platform also provides visual management tools like Kanban boards and Gantt charts.

Key features:

  • Project management
  • Resource scheduling
  • Time & expense tracking
  • Quoting & invoicing

Pricing: Avaza offers a free version with limited features. Paid plans start at $9.95 per user, per month

#12. ProProfs Project

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Overview: ProProfs Project is a project management platform that helps teams organize tasks, track progress, and collaborate from a single dashboard view. Additionally, the platform allows users to generate reports within a matter of clicks and integrates with tools like Dropbox and Google Drive for easy sharing.

Key features:

  • Project management
  • Resource management
  • Project estimation & budgeting
  • Team collaboration

Pricing: Plans start at $19 per user, per month

#13. LiquidPlanner

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Overview: LiquidPlanner is a project management tool that helps teams manage their entire creative portfolio, collaborate remotely, and manage resources, budgets, and their time. The platform also comes with a scheduling engine that automatically generates schedules based on priorities and automatically provides an estimated delivery time for each task.

Key features:

  • Team collaboration
  • Project management
  • Real-time delivery estimates
  • Resource management

Pricing: Plans start at $45 per user per month, enterprise quotes available upon request

#14. RedBooth

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Overview: Redbooth is a project management platform that includes communication & collaboration tools—including built-in video conferencing, task management, time-tracking, and support for a long list of integrations that enable easy file-sharing, and big-picture reporting.

Key features:

  • Project management
  • Team collaboration tools
  • Visual task management--timelines, Kanban boards, and customizable dashboards
  • Dedicated iOS & Android apps

Pricing: Plans start at $9 per user, per month, enterprise pricing available upon request.

#15. 10,000ft

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Overview: 10,000ft allows users to build and implement flexible strategic plans from an interactive dashboard and uses historical data from past projects to improve the accuracy of project estimates and forecasting. While 10,000ft isn’t designed specifically for creative project management, its flexible planning and project tracking tools, along with the ability to generate comprehensive briefs make it a solid option for data-driven PMs

Key features:

  • Project planning & management
  • Resource allocation
  • Dynamic reporting
  • Time-tracking
  • 10,000ft panel integration for Smartsheet

Pricing: Plans start at $14 per user per month, enterprise pricing available on request.

Which Creative Project Management Software Are You Going to Try?

While every business has a unique set of requirements, the goal is to land on a platform that makes it easy for the whole team to align around the same vision and turn in their deliverables on time.

Bottom line: your creative PM stack should empower your teams to deliver their best work, allowing them to focus on the creative process instead of repetitive admin tasks.

Check out our agency solutions page to learn more about how Ziflow’s features help creative teams streamline the review and approval process.

 

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