The Best Project Management Tools for Agencies
Managing multiple clients can be difficult; urgent tasks pop up without warning, clients need updates with varying levels of regularity, different tasks require different approaches – the list is endless. This is true whether you have 5 or 500 clients, so when it comes to managing your projects, you need a tool that’s up to the job.
For each type of agency, you need a different kind of project management tool. Development-heavy agencies will care more about granular task management and timescales, for example, than marketing agencies who may want to concentrate more on client communications and new sales.
And then there’s those exceptions to the rules who need very specific kinds of control over all aspects of project management. It really can become a mix-and-match affair.
So is there a project management tool out there that does everything?
Extremely customisable and incredibly detail-orientated, Jira was built on the premise of using Sprints to make overall project management easier to manage by breaking them down into sizable chunks.
Jira is not the most user friendly tool, and it has quite a steep learning curve. However, if you want to have a very granular approach to your task management, then this could be the right choice for you.
There is also a huge online community that offers additional plug-ins and add-ons, depending on what you need. This does have a downside however, as you are relying on 3rd parties for additional functionality and updates.
- Clean, customisable and works easily in Sprints
- Really cheap if you are a small team – you can have up to 10 users for $1 each
- Can add on a Help Desk function as well as a CRM tool (for additional costs)
- While you can give access to clients, Jira is not very user friendly
- Requires a lot of time to set up and customise, and if only one person knows how to do this, your day-to-day progress may be restricted
- If you want to give access to external clients, you’ll need to train them up as it’s not a try-it-and-see kind of tool
Best for: Developer-led agencies and technical agencies
Teamwork offers a project management system that is easily scalable and focuses a lot on both internal and external communication. There’s a number of pricing plans available, so you only pay for what you need.
Unlike some PM tools, Teamwork offers different ways for external clients to interact with your projects, giving them levels of control depending on how involved you need them to be.
It also functions as an email, chat and support desk management tool, with the addition of paid and free add-ons, so you can keep everything located within the same place.
Teamwork is our current tool of choice as we needed a management system that could include our clients, whilst also giving us greater visibility on task lists and projects.
- Very user friendly
- Clients comms, tasks, time tracking, notes and files can all be kept within one Project for each client
- 5 users on the free plan, with 2 projects
- You’ll have pay additional to make clients into ‘Users’, rather than Collaborators, to give them the same access as your team, though this can be a double edged sword, depending on how hands-on you want your clients to be
Best for: Medium to large agencies and those with a high number of external clients
Redbooth is one of the simpler project management tools available but that doesn’t mean it’s not effective.
It is extremely user-friendly and most people can start using it without much training at all.
You can create multiple work spaces, assign users and move tasks as you need to. There are also options to expand into automation, reports and web forms if you are more technical-minded, but the majority of users can get to grips with it right out of the box.
You can also get a 14 day free trial to have a play around before you pay.
- Very easy to use
- Free for single users
- Offers discounts for schools, groups of students and non-profit organisations
- Could be a bit too simple for larger agencies
- The free plan doesn’t allow external users access to your projects
- Uses Gantt charts, which a lot of agencies are moving away from now for project management
Best for: Beginners starting out and smaller scope agencies
Trello is a brilliantly visual way of keeping track of your tasks and comms, with boards for each projects and columns of cards for individual areas of focus.
It is also very easy to use, with a simple drag-and-drop style of management and colour co-ordination. It can become confusing depending on how many projects, clients and tasks you need, but for small to medium sized agencies, this is a great tool to start out with.
You can also invite clients to comment, move tasks and @ mention them for quick communication, so Trello is perfect for agencies who need all their comms in the same place.
- Simple system for updating sprints
- Really easy to manage
- A lot of the functions are on the free package, even with multiple users
- Can become confusing, especially if you have multiple projects for different clients
- Not ideal for more detailed communications
- No functions for additional tools, such as client communications management, billing or time tracking
Best for: SMEs and single-project agencies
Hubspot offers a good selection of project management tools, with different hubs for Marketing, Sales, Services and Growth. Hubspot also helps you to organise your comms really effectively; from emails and comments, to calendars and spreadsheets.
Each of the Hubs offers different tools to help you with specific area of management. Within the Marketing hub, for example, you can upload files for individual projects and can communicate via one place, rather than having to use additional 3rd party tools.
- Allows you to do a lot across your business; new lead management, client and internal communications, support tickets
- The free packages give you a lot to work with
- The comms system can get very confusing and finding a particular message within a long thread can be difficult.
- A lot of the best features are behind a pay wall (obviously) but the tricky part is adding members in one section can increase your costs in others, so you have to keep an eye on things
Best for: Agencies that want a different PM tool for each area of their business
Have we missed off your favourite project management tool? Let us know in the comments if you have something special that works for you.