Decades ago, talk of implementing “systems” in the workplace often meant manual processes. But today, companies large and small are leveraging high-tech software to create, manage workflows, collaborate, and more. These tools have become essential for many industries, but in the ever-evolving creative industries, tools and software solutions make it possible to optimize and streamline operations that would otherwise be messy, disjointed, and difficult to track.
That said, even the most organized and tech-savvy teams must face the cold, hard truth – implementing the newest technologies often makes for a whole lot of confusion. According to 2017 survey conducted by PMI Pulse of the Profession, a whopping 37% of executive leaders stated that “a clear lack of goals” is the most common factor behind project failure. Of course, a myriad of explanations can be attached to this, but, no matter the catalyst, it’s important to realize that there are tools out there that can support, augment, or even completely transform established project management processes – yes, even for those complex creative teams. Take digital asset management solutions, for instance. A leading DAM solution, such as MerlinOne, offers streamlined asset management, access controls and rights management, permissions and versioning, a proprietary Workflow Engine to automate tedious, manual tasks, and built-in collaboration, communication, and distribution capabilities for end-to-end support of the entire creative process. In other words, it’s the glue that holds creative operations together – seamlessly.
Download our white paper to learn more about how MerlinOne can help your creative team meet deadlines more efficiently:
To help you narrow your search for the top project management tools with the capabilities you need to streamline your creative operations, we’ve put together this list of 50 leading project management tools for creative teams available today. While these tools have been selected specifically for their beneficial capabilities for creative teams, many are also helpful tools for brand management and other use cases. Below, we’ve organized our picks for the top 50 project management tools for creative teams by category, with tools listed alphabetically within each section.
- Schedule Management Tools
- CRMs and Account Management Tools
- Time Reporting Tools
- Visual Task Management Tools
- Streamlined Workflow Management Tools
Schedule Management Tools
Asana is a project management app with a number of work tracking features. With the ability to handle tasks, communications, and project information all within the app, it provides a streamlined solution for creative teams. There are also dashboard views to help visualize the work and companion iOS and Android apps for connecting team members on all devices.
- Communication inbox built into the app
- Work tracking tools such as commenting, notifications, and structured tasks
- Over 100 integrations available to work with your other software tools
Cost: FREE for small teams, premium plans are $9.99-$19.99+/mo
Float focuses on task planning and managing team schedules through a simple visual interface for viewing and editing. There are also communication tools and simple reporting available, making it a perfect solution for creative teams with projects that require a lot of task planning.
- Visual interface for task management and planning
- Custom sort, search, and save
- Create task dependencies for easy rescheduling
Cost: $5/mo per user
iMeet Central is a collaboration tool that teams can use to stay connected regardless of location. It focuses on full cloud collaboration with the ability to view and organize tasks, documents, and workflows among team members. It is a great option for fully remote teams.
- Built-in meeting and event scheduler
- Centralized feedback workflow for review and approvals
- Moodboards for shared inspiration
Cost: $25-$45/mo per user
LiquidPlanner offers a unique approach to project scheduling by providing realistic due dates for assigned tasks based on best-case and worst-case scenarios. It also allows the team to view project tasks by priority so that the most critical client deliverables can be scheduled first.
- Automatic smart schedules based on current project conditions
- Availability resource management tools
- Dynamic trend reporting for project and resource data
Cost: $45-$69/mo per user
The Podio platform from Citrix provides users with a single portal to track all the key functions for their projects. Communications are managed and tracked on project specific pages and there is support for file sharing and task management. The software also features numerous extensions to integrate with other software along with the capability to develop customized integrations.
- Automated workflows and custom web forms
- Real-time status updates through project pages
- Numerous integrations and extensions available
Cost: FREE, paid plans at $9-$24/mo
ProofHub is a work management system that centralizes team communications, project details, and client information in a single solution. There is full project management capability where projects and tasks can be managed, tracked, and viewed through different dashboards and reports. A detailed communication tool centered around discussion topics allows the team to communicate clearly and centralizes the critical points.
- Discussion topics to centralize project communication
- Task management and delegation
- Visual dashboards and workflows
Redbooth approaches project management from the usability angle. Tasks can be easily created, scheduled and modified using Kanban boards and list views. This visual project planning is great for teams that could benefit from seeing the big picture together as a team. There are also numerous communication tools available within the software such as video conferencing, a tool that sets Redbooth apart from competing software packages.
- Project templates
- Video conferencing, voice calling, and business chat
- Virtual team workspaces
Cost: $12-$18.75/mo per user
ResourceGuru is a resource management and scheduling app that provides the team with visual and intuitive tools for easily assigning resources to projects. Included is a single calendar used to give the whole team complete visibility and make scheduling clear to avoid overbooking. Each team member logs in individually and has a unique personal dashboard for customized organization.
- Visual resource scheduling with drag and drop capability
- A single resource pool to track people, equipment, and rooms
- Custom fields and filters for easy searching
Cost: $3-$8/mo per user
Slack is a communication management tool that centralizes all team member conversations into channels. It includes integrated file sharing, video conferencing, and over 1500 integrations with other software tools. It is great for teams that are looking to maintain a central repository for communications, and it works especially well alongside corresponding project management software.
- Track messaging, tools, and files in a single view through channels
- Fully searchable history
- Share channels with external partners and businesses
Cost: FREE, paid plans are $8-$15/mo per user
TeamWeek is a project management tool that provides a single timeline interface for scheduling of resources and tasks to projects. There is also a shared calendar for the team to track deadlines and assignments for an optimized, fully transparent, and easy-to-use experience.
- Drag and drop editing on the central timeline
- Visual project-specific roadmaps
- Quick timeline sharing capability
Cost: FREE, paid plans are $39-$299/mo
WeekDone provides teams with a simple interface for tracking weekly tasks associated with quarterly objectives. In essence, it provides a real-time status of your agency goals and is a great way to track both short and long-term progress, no matter how intricate they may be.
- Trend reports to analyze team performance
- Weekly status updates
- Metric dashboards and result reporting
CRMs and Account Management Tools
The Clients & Profits solution offers four customizable tiers of features and a full suite of potential tools. At the core of the system are digital job tickets that track all the details for each project from start to finish. It includes advanced management capabilities for digital and traditional media, along with time and cost tracking. There is also a full billing capability built into the CRM portion of the software for holistic tracking.
- CRM and account management tools
- Client accessible web portal for sharing project details
- Digital and media billing and asset management
TrafficLIVE provides a streamlined tool for agencies to manage accounts, sales, and financial details for their client projects. It includes a native CRM to track client specifics, and a visual dashboard provides key details such as task deadlines, project deliverables, and time allocations. It is a fitting tool for creative agencies needing a complete view of their most important resources.
- Utilization charts to plan staffing needs
- Visual dashboard available for each project
- Integration with Microsoft Project
Time Reporting Tools
For those teams that are involved in projects requiring very detailed time management and invoicing, ActiveCollab offers a holistic solution. It has all the necessary task management and scheduling features a team would require for managing your projects. The invoicing functions allow for detailed tracking and processing of online payments and reminders to customers for overdue invoices.
- Invoicing and expenses tracking
- Task filtering, labeling, and reporting
- All-in-one calendar view for scheduling
Advantage is a full-featured PM solution perfect for those agencies looking to convert their current processes to a single platform with hands-on support. The company offers many customizable add-on features, including task management, complete billing, and media management planning.
- Implementation specialist assigned when you purchase the software
- Numerous additional services available including training, consulting, and ongoing support
- Disaster recovery services supported by multiple data centers
Cost: Pricing upon request
FunctionFox provides a streamlined and visual dashboard that can enable teams to simplify their processes. There are core task, project, and scheduling tools, making it a prime choice for small creative teams and marketing focused agencies. Additionally, FunctionFox’s reporting features assist in understanding team effectiveness and driving improvements.
- Individual and group calendars
- Time-tracking and budgeting
- Instant reports on clients, projects, and personnel
Cost: $5-$15/mo per user
Harvest offers advanced time tracking and billing tools that can be used to gain insights on your project progress, spending, and management. It is designed to work alongside your existing project management software through integrations that are available for many tools. The advanced reporting features can be especially useful for teams with complicated budgets or projects with lots of moving parts.
- Real-time visual reporting from timesheet data
- Invoicing and profitability analysis
- Future project scheduling simulations available using sister app Forecast
Cost: FREE, with plans from $12/mo per user
Hub Planner offers tools that project managers can use to manage team resources and schedule time. Included in the software are reporting capabilities and time tracking features that can be customized to accounts for holidays and time off. Team resources can be easily identified with an advanced search, tagging, and location matching features.
- Skills and location resource matching
- Customizable workflows and approvals
- Team reporting and dashboards
Cost: $7-$18+/mo per user
Paymo offers a full suite of tools for creative teams to use managing time, budget, and expenses. Included are detailed monitoring features for projects to identify time spent on recurring tasks, as well as built-in discussion modules for facilitating communication among colleagues, no matter their location or schedule.
- Timesheet tracking and analysis
- Project overviews for tracking essentials
- PaymoPlus app available to allow quick time tracking between tasks
Cost: FREE with plans at $9.56-$15.16/mo per user
Workamajig is a creative project management software that is a complete ERP solution. It supports client management, accounting, project analytics, and resource management in a single collaborative program. This software has been designed specifically for enterprises working within creative industries.
- Incoming project request portal
- Project analytics and reporting
- Real-time updates for staff schedules and budget figures
Visual Task Management Tools
21. 10,000ft Plans
As the name implies, 10,000ft Plans offers a project management software solution that focuses on a broad view of your work assignments among your team. The visually oriented interface allows users to see task assignments, availability, and schedules in a very clear, user-friendly interface. This software also includes numerous options and tools that focus on all details of resource management.
- Resource planning tools for staffing requirements and work assignments
- View task allocations and availability of all team members
- Interactive schedules with real-time changes
The Brightpod app allows users to track their projects in a board-based view with time tracking, file attachments, and prioritization. There is also an editorial calendar for tracking social media and content release schedules. Each team member logs in to a unique dashboard providing a focusing on each individual’s top priorities for the day.
- Individual team member dashboards
- Custom project workflows
- Display tasks and lists as Kanban boards
Celtra Creative Management is a cloud-based solution focused on the advertising lifecycle. It handles multiple media formats and contains tools for analyzing and testing. With it, you can manage your entire media plan in real time and gain insights that can be used to improve your advertising campaigns.
- Visual collaboration tools
- Performance benchmarking
- Template building and management
Cost: Pricing upon request
Microsoft Visio is a feature-rich tool for creating flowcharts and diagrams to outline the processes of your business. It is best suited for businesses that do extensive process mapping and workflow management, especially those in need of a co-editing tool that can be accessed by multiple users remotely.
- Flexible design options from simple to detailed
- Large template and shape database
- Integration with Skype for real-time collaboration
Monday is a collaboration and task management tool that focuses on a streamlined and simple interface that can be customized to meet your needs. There are numerous views such as timeline, Kanban, and calendar available and many integrations to popular tools. A simple weekly overview is available to each team member to keep priorities clear.
- Customize workflows to match your project complexity
- Multiple templates available
- Detailed overviews to review projects
The preparation of flowcharts and diagrams is a key function of project management and SmartDraw provides a flexible solution that can be used in many project environments. It includes numerous templates, import and export options, and collaboration tools that teams can utilize remotely. There are also a number of integrations available to connect with corresponding project management tools.
- Intelligent formatting for quick editing
- Over 4500 templates
- Integrations with many software tools
Cost: $5.95-$9.95/mo per user
The Smartsheet software offers the user numerous tools for managing projects utilizing templates stylized as sheets. A projects module can be used to create tasks and milestones along with customized fields and alerts. There are also calendar, dashboard, and portal views available that can all be updated real-time.
- Collects project information through custom web forms
- Integrations available with many other tools
- Interactive calendar and card views
Trello, one of the first Kanban-based project management tools, has become a strong player in the could-based project management software space thanks to its visually pleasing, yet user-friendly interface. The bulletin board style view shows your tasks grouped by categories of your choosing and can be moved and modified based on your team’s needs. It is a great solution for smaller teams and project workflows that are relatively simple such as content creation.
- Highly visual board based interface
- Attach files and images to tasks
- Collaborate by adding team members to tasks
Streamlined Workflow Management Tools
Learn what to look for when selecting a digital asset management solution by downloading our ebook, “Selecting a DAM – Things to Consider,” below.
Avaza is an all-in-one project management solution that contains task management, time-tracking, and billing features. There are also numerous collaboration tools and the ability to convert emails into tasks. A simplified time-based billing feature can be used to streamline your team management and invoicing.
- Create project templates for recurring tasks
- Multiple views for task management including Gantt and Kanban
- Interactive resource management planning
Cost: FREE, with plans at $9.95-$39.95/mo
The Basecamp user base has been steadily increasing as it offers a streamlined and full-featured project management solution in an easy-to-use interface at a base price, regardless of the number of users. It’s a great option for most creative groups with core project management needs.
- Built-in project and topic message boards
- Client-specific dashboards for sharing
- In-app messaging
Bitrix24 offers a full suite of project management tools include a core offering of communication, task management, and CRM. There are also tools for contact center management and website design/hosting that can offer your creative team a truly complete set of resources to run your business.
- Built-in chat and video tools
- Full project planning and workgroups
- CRM including online payments
Cost: FREE, with plans $31-$159/mo
Breeze.pm offers a simple and intuitive design with both visual board and classic list views. Included are detailed inputs and tracking available within projects to manage communications among team members. These collaboration tools are tailored to sharing project details directly with customers.
- Visual board and list dashboards
- Activity stream and notifications for each project
- File and document management
Easy Projects is a full-featured project management platform that can be used to plan projects, monitor progress, manage resources, and understand costs. The software allows custom forms with a number of templates that can be used to speed up project kick-off. It is a great option for mid-size creative agencies looking for a complete solution to support many different project work methodologies.
- Critical path feature for project planning
- Measure analytics with business intelligence package
- Time tracking and project budgeting
Cost: $24/mo per user
Freedcamp offers a project management solution that ranges from a basic free plan to fully customizable enterprise plans. There are third-party integrations available with the core system offering project templates, invoicing, CRM, and file management capabilities. Freedcamp fits well with teams looking for basic functionality that can be scaled as their business develops.
- Bills clients directly with invoicing and time tracking
- File editing, storage, and backup
- Project templates and task/widget boards
Cost: FREE, with plans at $1.49-$16.99/mo
Function Point offers core project management capability along with resource management, invoicing, and collaboration tools. It focuses on providing the core functions that a team will need for collaboration and scheduling tasks. This fact makes it especially conducive for a small to mid-size team with basic project complexity.
- Accounting reporting and invoicing
- Individual workflow management
- Customizable dashboards
inMotion is a workflow management software with extensive proofing features. It includes a detailed project intake form capability and task management that covers the entire lifecycle of the project. You can create portals for customer access and gain insights into your team’s productivity through detailed reporting tools.
- Real-time online proofing
- Customized approval workflows
- Detailed reporting and metrics
Cost: Pricing upon request
MerlinOne is a digital asset management tool that offers an all-in-one solution for working with your digital media. Included in the package is a built-in workflow engine for automating media processing and creating content. Specialized brand asset management functions, such as access controls, permissions, rights management, and versioning, can be used to control your corporate identity, and fully integrated collaboration capabilities support in-context communication and team discussions.
- Automated workflows for processing and managing media
- A complete digital asset management repository – a single source of truth, where everyone can access your content and digital assets
- Brand asset approval and digital rights management
- Collaborate and communicate throughout the creative lifecycle
Download our ebook, “MerlinOne Workflow Engine,” below to learn more about how MerlinOne’s powerful Workflow Engine can help your creative team get more done in less time.
As one of the original project management software tools, Microsoft Project continues to offer a comprehensive solution for project, resource, and portfolio management. With a large user base and integration with MS Office, it is a great option for teams deeply integrated into the Microsoft ecosystem as it has features strong built-in templates and scheduling tools.
- Project scheduling and task hierarchies
- Detailed business intelligence analysis and reporting
- Project timeline creation and exporting
Cost: $7-$55/mo per user
Guru Lab’s Project Management System is an administrative-based tool that offers core project management functionality with a focus on customizations based on your project requirements. It can be very useful to streamline systems and consolidate the activity into this tool for optimized collaboration and transparency.
- Custom reporting options
- Task management and notifications
- Project estimation management
Cost: Pricing upon request
The website, Projectmanager.com, offers a completely online and comprehensive project management tool that can be scaled for teams of all sizes. There are numerous options for unique views and customized reports that are populated by real-time data as it is collected. The tool is ideal for teams looking for a lean and completely flexible solution, on any system.
- Instant reporting and data exporting
- Timesheets and team workload analysis
- Real-time dashboards
Cost: $15-$25/mo per user
ProWorkflow is a cloud-based project management software that contains a variety of features to manage your creative workflows. Included are core modules such as task management, timesheets, contact management, and reporting. A detailed timesheet entry and tracking feature will keep your projects and team on budget and efficient, no matter how complex the operation may be.
- Notifications and alerts for key tasks
- Collaboration features allow updates to be made by team members simultaneously
- Availability tool for resource management
Redmine is an open-source project management solution that has an active user and developer base. It offers core project management capability and supports setting up multiple custom projects and databases. The software also includes basic functions like charting, calendar scheduling, and timecard management, along with other unique features.
- Custom fields for issues, time entry, and users
- News, document, and file management
- Gannt chart and calendar views
Scoro includes project management, CRM, billing, and media management features into a single solution. Users can create customized project dashboards, quotes, and reports from within the software. To sweeten the deal, the software features a comprehensive project tracking capability to manage costs, media, and all necessary details attached to each project.
- Customized dashboards and reports
- Integrated invoicing, quotes, and client billing
- CRM and sales pipeline management
Cost: $22-$55/mo per user
Screendragon offers project management software that is geared toward agencies, marketing groups, and branding operations. The software operates from a central hub which manages the workflows, track budgeting, and resources. Screendragon also boasts a built-in proofing tool for media production.
- Visual workflow system
- Project scope creation tool
- Content production tool for proofing and revisions
Cost: Pricing upon request
Streamtime is a project management solution that contains powerful financial and scheduling features. Projects can be managed through tasks and timelines with drag-and-drop features for easy updating. This same interface can be used to track time and there are quoting and invoicing tools built-in. For financial support, check out Streamtime’s Xero and Quickbooks integrations.
- Drag-and-drop feature for time tracking
- Visual job planning and scheduling tools
- Reporting and export tools
Cost: FREE, paid plans are $13.50-$27/mo per user
Teamwork Projects features the essential tools for tracking projects, from start to finish. In addition to core features like Gantt charts, attachments, and task/milestone tracking, there are also numerous integrations available for your existing tools. Teamwork is a fitting choice for creative teams that would like to add more project and task planning functionality to their existing workflows.
- Project activity overviews for easy activity tracking
- Customizable charting and reporting functions
- Full messaging capability in-app
Cost: FREE, paid plans are $9-$15+/mo per user
Workbook is an agency management software that contains a base plan with the ability to add on additional features based on your project requirements. Options include invoicing, CRM, and project accounting. The software is a good match for creative teams that would like to fully customize their management software, while only including those functions they desire.
- Built-in collaboration features for team communications
- Real-time finance and accounting data
- CRM and pipeline management
Cost: $19-$24/mo per user
Workzone is a creative management software solution that focuses on a streamlined approach to task management. Personalized task lists are managed for each user with auto-generated Gantt charts and graphs. The software also gives users the capability to edit and approve designs directly, giving complete control to the agency for the whole creative process.
- Create custom process templates
- Auto-generated and editable Gantt charts
- Customized forms for new project requests
Cost: Pricing upon request
Wrike has a complete set of tools for creative project management. It allows you to track the workflow for each creative project and includes a centralized intake area, collaboration tools, and detailed task management options for streamlined communication. Check out the numerous integrations available to interface with your existing tools.
- Streamlined creative brief intake forms
- Creative approval workflows with online proofing
- Included template for content development workflow
Cost: FREE, paid plans are $9.80-$24.80+/mo per user
50. Zoho Projects
Zoho Projects is a streamlined project management tool with a simple interface and tools to help visualize your project status. Built into the program are complete task management, time tracking, and collaboration features. You can also view your tasks and Kanban cards and organize your projects by milestones, making your team priorities clear. It’s a great tool for teams that require a full set of features in a simple-to-use package.
- Collaboration, messaging, a shared team calendar
- Gantt charts, milestone lists, and Kanban card views for tasks
- Dedicated workflow for tracking issues
Cost: FREE, paid plans are $20-$150/mo
Ready to make your creative operation more optimized, streamlined, and efficient? A DAM system like MerlinOne provides access to robust functionality and useful, intuitive features that empowers creative and marketing teams to get more done in less time. Schedule a demo today to learn how MerlinOne’s DAM solution can transform your creative operations.
Wondering whether a DAM is right for your business? Download our “Business Case for DAM” ebook below!