The 18 Best Project Management Software (for Creatives)

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CRM & Tech : 9 min read

The 18 Best Project Management Software (for Creatives)

If you work in the creative field or run a successful agency, you know by now that being creative is about much more than just pumping out pretty projects.

Juggling clients and multiple projects require not only skill, but also a lot of planning, teamwork, and management.

It's easy to get overwhelmed by the process if you don't have a proper system in place to help you along the way. This is where investing in a project management software for your creatives can save you time—and money—which would've been thrown away in lost productivity.

It might even save you a bit of sanity.

Finding the right tools can be difficult though—that's why we've compiled a list of the best project management software for creatives. From tracking client relationships to improving team communication on projects, these tools have everything you need to do your best creative work.

Let's take a look at the best project management software for creatives.

1. Copper

Okay, so we're a little biased. But many agencies are on Gmail. And more and more people are using G Suite for work. Copper is designed specifically for creatives who use Google for work—and it integrates with all of Google's apps.

copper crm designed for g suite

As a busy creative, you want to focus your energy on ideas and—well, creation. A good CRM can automatically record and organize all interactions, emails, and profile information for your contacts. This includes freelance clients, partners, agencies... basically anyone you work with on a day-to-day basis.

See how Advoc8, a creative agency that handles events for Google and CNN, does it.

Because Copper is integrated with Google, all your Google Calendar events, emails, Docs, and more are automatically attached to the relevant contact records in your Copper database:

copper's gmail integration
Easily log notes and schedule meetings for every contact in your Gmail inbox.

Spend less time managing and keeping track of relationships, and more time coming up with award-winning creative work.

Pricing: Free 14-day trial / Starts at $19 a month

2. Asana 

Asana is the ultimate organizer. It lets you organize your lists, boards, calendar, and timeline so you can readily share details with clients (or your team).

asana calendar view

This makes it easy to set deadlines and delegate where you need to. The best part? Asana is integrated with over 100 other productivity tools, so your current setup can be easily merged into your team's workflow without too much disruption.

Pricing: Free basic plan / Premium starts at $9.99 a month

3. Trello

Another awesome project organizer—for freelancing creatives. Trello allows you to build ‘teams’ in the app so you can manage multiple side projects, subtasks, and more. It also automatically syncs everything and even has a dedicated page to update sales leads in your pipeline.

The board is easy to customize. You just set up as many boards as you need, and change the pipeline up to suit the project:

trello project management board

If you’re running an agency with a couple of creative teams, you can also join company boards and manage them all together. From there, you can set due dates and see them in the tool’s calendar to make it easier to visualize project deadlines.

Pro-tip: You can customize your boards' backgrounds, which makes each board feel like a part of your brand (and make clients feel at home in the app) when you’re working on different projects.

Pricing: Free Basic plan / Business Class starts at $9.99 a month

4. Kanban Tool

KanbanTool can help creatives track how long each stage of a project is taking them.

The project board works much like the other tools on our list (like Trello and Asana), but when a stage of a project is completed, KanbanTool will also tell you how long the stage took to complete.

kanban tool

This type of data can be a game-changer for creatives in a few ways.

First, it helps creatives give more accurate timelines and delivery dates to their clients for each stage of a project. Secondly, if projects are getting bottlenecked at certain stages, they'll become easier to spot. Once you know where projects tend to get stalled, it’s easier to allocate more resources to that stage to make sure projects run more smoothly.

Pricing: Free 14-day trial / Enterprise starts at $10 a month

5. Resource Guru

Has scheduling work for your creatives become a nightmare?

Resource Guru is perfect if you’re overwhelmed with keeping track of what everyone is working on, and if projects are going to be delivered on time.

resourceguru
Resource Guru's time-tracking view

The cloud-based tool lets you plan project schedules, and sends you daily updates on where everyone is at with their allocated projects.

Resource Guru also has reporting capabilities: you can do a deep dive into your creatives workloads to see what percentage of time is being spent on non-billable work, or if you’re under-servicing your client’s needs.

resource guru's reporting

A screenshot of a customized report showing billable time and how well resources are being utilized

The tool can also build custom reports, so you can easily see how well your creative resources are being used, and if workloads are being balanced across your team.

Pricing: Free 30-day trial / Grasshopper starts at $2.50 a month

6. Evernote 

Okay, Evernote isn’t a planner, but it is arguably the best digital assistant tool available right now.

Creative work and ideas aren’t restricted to only when you’re near your desk, and Evernote knows it.

Using Evernote, you can write and save project ideas as notebooks, checklists, searchable notes, and to-do lists. Plus, if you come across a PDF or audio clip that you think could be useful, you can save it to a specific project too.

It even has a camera option for when you need to upload items like business cards, notes, and letters:

evernote camera option

This feature is perfect if you’re the type that comes up with life-changing ideas on the back of restaurant napkins. All you need to do is take a picture, and it’ll be uploaded into your Evernote account, which you can access on any device through the cloud.

Pricing: Free Basic plan / Premium starts at $7.99 a month

7. Dropbox

Dropbox is obviously on this list. It’s one of the best companions for creatives on the move.

Massive amounts of file storage no matter where you are, team folder management for different projects, and file recovery... it's no wonder that Dropbox is one of the biggest file-sharing platforms (though Google Drive is quickly gaining ground).

dropbox

Dropbox makes it easy to share projects between clients as well as keeping sensitive documents and data safe from prying eyes. (Regardless of size or sophistication, the document storage tool you choose should have robust security features.)

Pricing: Free Basic plan / Plus starts at $9.99 a month

8. Google Drive

Need something that'll help you create and share projects across various Google apps like Docs, Sheets, and Slides?

google drive

From inside your Google Drive account, you can create documents for clients, and give them access right from the dashboard. If you're working with a big team, you can easily share your files with the ‘Share’ link, and choose whether your team member can make edits or not.

Pricing: First 15GB of storage free / 100GB of storage starts at $2 a month

9. PandaDoc

PandoDoc is a great contracts tool because it understands that no two projects are the same. (How many creatives use one-size-fits-all contracts?) You need something that can be edited easily and quickly, and that can be signed anywhere, anytime.

PandaDoc is also a timesaver. It lets you create custom sections in contracts, agreements, and quotes in templates (there’s a whole gallery of them to choose from) without having to start a whole document from scratch. Perfect for busy creatives.

pandadoc

Pricing: Free 14-day trial / Individual Plan starts at $15 a month

10. DocuSign

If you don’t need an intensive all-in-one solution, DocuSign lets you collect signatures digitally for any contract or agreement.

It’s perfect if you have complex or custom contracts that are in PDF form, but just need a solution that’ll allow your clients to sign them digitally. All you need to do is select the document you need signed and then add in the client as a recipient. Boom.

docusign

Once each party has signed the document, they’ll receive a digital hard copy for their own records. If you've bought or sold a home lately, you might have noticed these being used in real estate contracts. Super convenient.

Pricing: Free 30-day trial / Personal Plan starts at $10 a month

Pro-tip: If you use Copper, you can now sign documents straight from your CRM dashboard thanks to an integration with DocuSign. Once you’ve sent out a document to be signed, it'll show in your client’s record, along with what status the signing stage is at: sent, received, complete, or declined.

docusign copper integration

11. And.Co

Built by the folks over at Fiverr, And.Co is an all-in-one invoicing and contract solution for smaller (or solo) creative teams.

The software’s contract templates were made in conjunction with Freelancers Union, so they’re watertight right out of the box when you’re sending them to clients. (No legal fees, woo!) The contracts are easy to customize for each client or project by turning on and off whatever clause you want to include.

and.co contract settings

The tool’s dashboard is also a powerhouse for managing your day-to-day creative tasks. It has an invoicing platform, where you can customize invoices to include your logo and payment options like Stripe and Paypal.

Plus, you can build to-do lists, create client profiles and even keep an income/expense record that is an absolute lifesaver when tax time comes around.

and.co timetracking software

If you have clients that you bill on an hourly basis, And.Co also has a time-tracking feature that creates timesheets you can then input into invoices. Easy!

and.co timesheets

Pricing: Free plan available / Pro plan starts at $18 a month

12. Liquid Planner

Liquid Planner is a great tool that helps agencies avoid unfair workloads and burnout with their creative team.

Once you set up a project and assign a group leader, you can then give each task to a creative and set a rough time you expect it to be delivered by. Liquid Planner will then calculate what each creative’s workload looks like with every project they’re working on, and whether you’re loading them up with more work than they can handle.

liquid planner software
Nick and Zarssen have by far the highest workloads, and Adam and Alison are also overloaded this month.

The tool will highlight any creatives who have an overload, so you can reassign tasks to other team members. It’s not as easy to use as some of the other tools on our list, but for busy agencies that have many projects on the go, this is a good way to make sure everyone’s doing a similar amount of work.

Pricing: Free 14-day trial / Professional Plan starts at $45 a month

13. Wrike

Don’t want to let go of your spreadsheets? Wrike understands.

The tool is the perfect blend of to-do lists and spreadsheets. It gives creatives a spreadsheet view for tasks and custom fields, comments, due dates, and everything else you need in a project management tool.

wrike table
A spreadsheet in Wrike. It has customizable columns, making it easy to plan and manage projects.

But the reason that Wrike is a perfect solution for creatives is its Adobe integration.

A team can use the tool’s Adobe CreativeCloud extension to take care of pesky administrative tasks that can interrupt their workflow. Thanks to integrations like Xero and Workday, creatives can control everything from their accounting to signing NDAs from a single dashboard.

Pricing: Free plan available / Professional plan starts at $9.80 a month

14. BackLog

This is one for all the coders out there.

BackLog is a tool that allows coders to organize and store files, code, and tasks in a single place. Using BackLog, you can create folders for each project and then create a separate Gantt chart to track and visualize the project’s progress.

Using BackLog, coders can create wikis and organize them by topic in projects.

It’s easy to keep clients updated on a project, too. All you need to do is share files with them and ask them for their feedback. You can also monitor and review code changes with private Git and SVN repos, which a lot of other project management tools don’t have as they aren’t geared towards coders.

Pricing: Free plan available / Starter plan starts at $35 a month

15. Podio

Looking for a tool to fuel project discussions and ideas in your creative team? Podio has you covered.

Podio is a project management software that has Instant Messaging (IM) capabilities. The tool is perfect for projects that have a lot of creatives and account managers working on them because it allows everyone to collaborate without having to send a ton of emails.

Inside Podio’s dashboard, teams can create and customize tasks, and then communicate through the IM function on the right of the project’s screen.

podio

Podio has a few creative-friendly integrations as well. You can hook it up to Dropbox and Google Drive, which is ideal if your team works remotely and needs access to project files. It’s not just for English speakers, either. Podio comes in French, Chinese, Danish, German, Russian, and Spanish.

Pricing: Free plan available / Basic plan starts at $9 a month

16. Slack

Who doesn't know Slack? This messaging tool not only organizes your conversations by project and client, but also has a searchable history so you don’t have to spend precious time trawling through your messages to find a mention of that project with that client.

slack

If you don’t want to do the instant-messaging thing, Slack also has a built-in voice/video caller that allows you to share your screen as well. Need to communicate something to a few people (or a whole team) at once? You can share updates from team-wide channels with individual people to bring them all together and make sure everyone's on the same page.

Pricing: Free plan available / Standard plan starts at $6.67 a month

17. Google Hangouts

Hangouts is another easy way for you to communicate with all of your contacts (who are also on Google).

hangouts

Start conversations through an instant message, phone, or video call. You can also send files through the messenger part of Google Hangouts.

Pricing: This is the best part: it’s free.

18. Zoom

Isn’t technology great? Thanks to Zoom, creatives can now host meetings, conferences, and presentations from anywhere in the world.

Using Zoom, creative teams can share their screens simultaneously for more interactive meetings, and meeting attendees can also communicate through built-in chat to share files.

zoom

Before you (digitally) step into a meeting, you can set Zoom up to create a transcript, which can then be downloaded and kept on file for future use. This is perfect for creatives who are trying to secure new clients and are looking for ways to nurture their relationships. After all, client information is gold. The more you can gather about their business and their pain points, the easier it is to personalize your interactions with them in the future.

Any meetings or presentations you make on Zoom are encrypted too, so you don’t have to worry about security. It’s integrated with Gmail, Outlook, Safari, and Chrome too—just send your client a meeting invite and they can join you instantly.

Pricing: Free Basic plan / Pro plan starts at $15 a month

The best project management software should give you:

1. Customizable workflows for your specific industry

In the creative space, each industry is different. For example, an agency requires a completely different workflow than a photographer. If you run a creative agency, it's important that your workflows can be customized to not only each client and project, but also each person working on it.

Everyone works differently, so it's essential that your interface adapts to what you need.

Using software that gives you a team dashboard along with a visible workflow is important so everyone knows where they're at—regardless of which part of the project they're working on.

2. Easy communication between your clients and employees

A decade ago, creatives would rely solely on email as their communication channel, but now everyone has a different way of keeping in touch while working on a project: Google Hangouts, Slack, Zoom, and email, just to name a few.

Ideally, your project management software would allow for multiple communication channels since in the creative industry you could be collaborating on a project as a one-off or communicating with a client over the long term. Either way, it's important that everyone can communicate on an easy-to-use platform.

The main aim here is to have the option to integrate different communication platforms.

3. A true teamwork environment that allows collaboration on each project

This should be an obvious one, but you may be surprised at the amount of project management software available on the market that isn’t collaboration-friendly.

A good project management software shouldn’t just allow collaborations between client and agency either; it should make it easy for your team to collaborate with each other on projects through comments, briefings, shared files, and production stages.

You should also make sure your chosen software collaborates with other parts of your tech stack. It’s no use investing in a tool if it doesn’t integrate with the other key parts of your project management setup.

4. A built-in ideas hub

If your team is spread out, whether it's within an office or around the world, how will you empower them to be creative together? Even if you're a solopreneur, having a place to jot down your ideas is an extremely useful feature to have in your project management software.

asana ideas hub
Asana has a built-in ideas hub where teams can build and customize different boards for different types of projects.

With a built-in ideas hub, you or anyone on your team can submit ideas, flex your creativity in proposals or briefs, and get them approved in one smooth process.

Think of it as a place where you can go at any time of the day (or night) to jot down your ideas.

5. Ease of use

As a creative, your job already requires multitasking and multiple skill sets, so the last thing you need to worry about is finding a block of time to teach yourself a time-consuming and difficult-to-use project management software.

After all, the whole point of using a project management software is to lessen your workload, not add to it.

The key points to remember when checking this box off are: minimal setup time, integration with the tools you're already using, and a simple interface to allow you to switch over quickly without interrupting your workflow.

6. Superpowers (in organization)

If your files and back office are messy, this will flow into your projects, your free time—and your creativity. Keeping everything accessible and organized will save you a lot of time and frustration later on when roadblocks pop up.

Another way a software management tool might be able to organize your workflow is by keeping your files actually saved on the software itself. This can allow you to save everything on a platform instead of fiddling around with documents in a bunch of different places.

7. Free time to do the non-boring stuff

Chances are, you're in the creative industry because you're not a big fan of doing mundane administration tasks like data entry. Any project management software worth its salt will automatically do these tasks for you and automate parts of your workflow.

Who doesn't like boosting productivity and saving time?

If you remember nothing else when choosing a project management software for creatives...

The biggest thing to remember is that your software must be as creative as you are, with the ability to adapt to your projects' and workflows' demands as well as your forever-evolving creative environment.

Beyond that, narrow your list down by reading reviews and try out some free trials to delve a little deeper into each piece of software.If it can take care of the manual, mundane tasks you regularly have to deal with (such as data entry), that’s probably a good start. Good luck!