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Choosing Creative Agency Project Management Software: 10 Top Tips For Success

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Updated on:
February 18, 2024
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Creative agencies bring professionals with a range of talents together, from logo creators to interior designers. Whatever niche your agency works in, you need the ability to manage your projects from start to finish. Managers require visibility over what team members are working on, and those employees need tools to help them complete tasks more efficiently. Creative agency project management software provides oversight with platforms that aid organization and collaboration, creating better experiences for clients and agency personnel.

Understanding the need for streamlined project management helps agencies choose the right software for their teams. This article will explore the foundations of effective project management and ways to select the best tech tools for your creative agency.

Basics of Creative Agency Project Management

There are 2.82 billion results when searching for creative agencies on Google. Finding ways to stand out from the crowd is an essential aspect of your agency’s growth strategy. Expansion starts with considering the right structure for your agency and how you’ll manage creative projects. The more complex or disparate your teams, the tougher it can be to put management processes into place. If you have freelancers or contractors, for example, you might struggle to engage them with the same processes you use for in-house employees.

Agencies must find ways to ensure everyone involved with a project is focused on efficiency and first-rate deliverables. Consistently producing quality output is the foundation of scaling your agency upward. It’s a cycle of positivity, with great results encouraging positive customer reviews, testimonials, and repeat business.

The following project management basics help ensure every member of the team is on the same page.

Well-Defined Goals

These will shift depending on the client or projects your agency is focusing on. Each job has its own goals — an ultimate destination that you and the customer agree on during the onboarding process. Start by discussing the overarching goal, then split it into component parts.

If you’re designing a new website for a client, for example, the primary goal might be a more eye-catching look to drive time spent on the site. Deciding on a way to measure success here is simple — you’ll ask for existing time-on-page statistics and set dates to check this metric again post-project completion.

Getting to that end-of-project status requires multiple steps. Break the project down into those individual deliverables and assign them accordingly. Once you do, everyone knows what their aims are and how those feed into the end goal.

Your creative agency project management software can help here by allowing you to add and remove collaborators from project tasks quickly.

With Bonsai’s collaboration tools and CRM, project management has become so much simpler. Quickly review who is working on what task and assign people to projects as required. Invite collaborators from across your organization or work with external partners with ease.

Realistic Deadlines

Part of effective goal setting includes being realistic about time management. If you guarantee a client that you can deliver a full package of branding visuals in one week, you’re likely to disappoint that client. Make sure you:

  • Assess how long individual tasks take.
  • Understand who is available to work on those tasks.
  • Utilize data from previous projects to provide realistic timescales and deadlines.
  • Create a meaningful project timeline.
  • Include buffers so that if unforeseen circumstances cause delays, you can still deliver in line with the schedule agreed with your client.

Over-promising can lead to under-delivering. Considering the fact that 36% of agency professionals state that a lack of transparency contributes to client churn, eliminating unrealistic deadlines is essential.

Effective Communication

Now that you’ve allocated tasks to those you know can deliver on time, you need to ensure they can collaborate effectively with the rest of the team. Decide how you’ll host an initial meeting. Do you want everyone physically in the same room? Is this even possible? Consider options such as video conferencing tools and work messaging platforms as alternatives to ensure everyone is kept up to date.

It’s also critical to ensure you understand how your client likes to communicate. Some will want daily updates via email. Others may prefer a weekly chat on the phone. Deciding in advance how and when you’ll communicate helps ensure everyone’s expectations are met.

These are just a few of the aspects of project management that impact the success of creative agencies. Each of these is simpler with tools that facilitate communication and provide better ways of organizing data.

Benefits of Effective Creative Agency Project Management Software

Investing in appropriate tools means understanding the impact they’ll make on efficiency and client satisfaction rates. What differences can the right software make for your agency? For a start, effective tools can automate many tedious or time-consuming tasks. They can also reduce or eliminate data siloes — instances where individuals or departments can’t get hold of the information they need to carry out tasks.

Let’s explore some of the key benefits of creative agency project management software.

Centralized Repository of Data

When professionals have to skip between multiple databases, spreadsheets, and other data sources, they’re not being creative. They lose their flow, which can impact the quality of their work. Employees may also miss critical aspects of client information, causing potential discrepancies between goals and output.

Effective project management tools collate all client data in a single location. Agencies can add to this information, creating client profiles that link to collaborators, relevant documents, and project assets. Automation further increases the effectiveness of these data stores. Sending automatic updates when tasks are completed, for example, keeps teams and clients motivated and informed.

Free-Up Time and Increase Creativity

Automation and streamlined data processes mean your creative teams aren’t wasting time on unnecessary administrative tasks. Instead, they’re 100% focused on their role, whether that’s design, content creation, or branding.

Project management tools also allow all team members to view the project timeline quickly and understand current progress. They can instantly see how long they have left to perform particular tasks. This can also boost creativity — experts suggest that effective deadline setting and time management increases innovation within teams.

Increased Client Satisfaction

When your professionals get more creative, they produce higher-quality work. Better organization means they’re creating this top-level content faster. Your clients will, naturally, love this and are likely to speak highly of your organization to others.

Elevating client satisfaction in this way gains you earned media in the shape of reviews and testimonials. You can implement this into your future lead generation strategies, making your creative agency project management software an effective growth tool.

How to Choose the Best Creative Agency Project Management Software: 10 Tips

It’s clear that no matter what type of creative agency you run, choosing the right software can streamline processes and boost efficiency. However, understanding which project management software is right for your team is challenging. You want tools that help you control every facet of a creative project from concept to completion.

Asking the following questions can help you pick out the right creative agency project management solutions for ongoing success.

1. Does This Software Collate Client Information?

Your project management tools should function like a customer relationship management (CRM) system. By this, we mean you want every aspect of your client’s data in a single place, from contact details to project goals.

We already touched on the importance of creating client profiles in the previous section. These are so important for keeping everyone in your team informed and on the same page. A freelancer can have the exact same client details as the project manager, helping eliminate discrepancies and inconsistencies.

Bonsai allows users to apply tags to customer profiles. Quickly use a tag to search for clients in a particular category to showcase examples of previous work or highlight processes to a new employee.

2. Can I Use This Software to Schedule Meetings?

One of the most critical aspects of project management is time. Deadlines, meetings, and task completion rates all impact your clients’ perception of your organization as a whole. Check if the software has the ability to schedule and share meetings to make time management simple.

Advanced project management tools may provide ways for clients to suggest meeting times to you. Empowering clients in this way increases their satisfaction and encourages repeat business.

3. Does This Tool Include Financial Aspects?

All creative agencies need to ensure that there are simple ways for them to get paid. Likewise, clients like to receive consistent, branded invoices and ensure that their financial records are up to date. Project management software that includes these financial features cuts costs for agencies by removing the need to invest in a separate accounting platform.

Bonsai offers multiple financial tools for creative agencies, from bookkeeping to invoicing. By utilizing an all-in-one platform in this way, clients know exactly what to expect and when to expect it.

4. Can We Send Forms and Other Assets to Our Clients?

Invoices aren’t the only official document you’ll need to send to your clients. Having to come out of your project management tool to use a separate system for sending files is tedious and disruptive. Look for software solutions that allow you to upload documents and instantly provide access to the relevant stakeholders.

Ideally, you should be able to allocate certain documents to particular projects and notify collaborators with the click of a button. Keeping everything centralized in this way increases efficiency and reduces friction from communication channels.

5. Are External Contractors Able to Log In to This Software?

Those channels must include all personnel working for your agency. The best creative agency project management software must be accessible to everyone involved in the project. If only one person can access the tools, that means external contributors like contractors and freelancers have to find alternate ways to access resources.

Discuss these requirements with software providers. Find out if there’s an external login procedure for contractors. While you’re asking, check if there’s the option to create a client portal, too. Clients appreciate a single source of contact rather than multiple streams of disconnected data.

6. Can I Clearly See a Project Timeline?

Clients will also want to know exactly where you are in terms of completion. The ability to quickly review a project timeline is essential. Provide updates at the push of a button, and if your software allows client logins, share the timeline progression with them instantly.

Thorough timelines give the added benefit of showing what’s taken longer than expected and what you completed ahead of time. Data analysis platforms can use this information to provide insights and predictions for future projects. Use data visualization tools to make this information more accessible. You can use these insights to provide more accurate project timelines to future clients, constantly improving the service you offer.

7. Does the Platform Provide Templates?

Every project requires creative agencies to send standardized forms and surveys to clients. If you’re creating these from scratch every time, forms can be prone to human error and inconsistencies. These differences can confuse clients and even make them wonder if these are genuine assets from your agency. This is exacerbated when forms are sent from multiple different email accounts or platforms.

A great project management tool provides multiple templates for everything from onboarding to end-of-project feedback. You should be able to send forms directly from the platform and provide simple ways for clients to respond.

Clients love to feel like their voice is heard. Providing an intuitive format for them to give input makes them feel valued. Plus, it provides first-hand data that can drive your process improvement strategy.

8. How User Friendly Is This Project Management Tool?

Another way you can make clients feel valued is by making everything easy for them. Customers shouldn’t have to feel like it’s hard work to connect with you. Investing in a user-friendly creative agency project management tool benefits your team members and your clients.

Consider the interface and how easy it is to navigate. Are the menus confusing and over-cluttered, or spaced out and logical? Does the flow of information support your internal processes, or will it overcomplicate workflows?

Asking for a demonstration or promo video is the usually best way to understand the user-friendliness of software products.

9. What’s the Support Like for This Solution?

Even the most intuitive tools throw up challenges from time to time. What matters is how software providers deal with concerns and what support they offer. For example, Bonsai provides multiple resources, including its respected blog, hundreds of templates, and a built-in help center.

If a project management tool vendor can’t quickly define what support they offer, this could be a red flag. Look at software review sites and even social media reviews. If there’s a trend of complaints and queries going unanswered, consider a competitor.

10. Does the Provider Offer a Free Trial?

The best creative agency project management software should always come with a free trial. At the end of the day, you’re investing your agency’s budget into an entirely unknown entity. Software providers need to have a stellar reputation to command the level of respect necessary to gain this buy-in without a trial.

Bonsai allows users to set up an account for free. The free account includes numerous resources valuable for creative agencies, including the aforementioned templates. From here, it only takes a couple of clicks to start a free trial of the full, paid service. A trial of this type is vital to ensure that the features of the platform align with your agency’s goals.

Software experts recommend always engaging with the people who actually use the tools day in and day out. Consult your end-users and consider asking clients what they want from an agency’s portal.

At every stage of your research process, consider your agency’s requirements and the features that will help you deliver better results for your clients. Consider asking software providers which organizations they’ve catered to in the past and if they understand the needs of growing agencies.

Consider All-in-One Create Agency Project Management Software

You’ve been through the process of understanding your agency’s needs and how software can help serve your clients. Now, consider opting for a solution that provides multiple ways to support both aspects proficiently. Bonsai is a feature-rich, all-in-one solution with a multitude of features ideal for creative agencies.

Rather than investing in disparate platforms for project management, accounting, and client data organization, save money by choosing a platform that does it all. Bonsai integrates financial services and collaboration tools, creating an all-purpose creative agency project management software platform.

Bonsai also offers a range of free resources, from contract creation to feedback collation. The intuitive interface makes it simple for clients, freelancers, and agency personnel to collaborate and create beautiful results. Use Bonsai as a central hub for all your interactions and effortlessly scale your creative agency.

Organizations across North America waste $123 million in every $1 billion due to poor project management. Avoid becoming part of that statistic by investing in software that empowers your teams to succeed. Create a free account or start a free trial of the Bonsai platform here.

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