Agency life is full of tough deadlines, endless feedback loops, and blown budgets. Thankfully, the right agency project management tools can address these obstacles and more. Agency project management software helps streamline even the most complex workflows and processes by making things like request intake less complicated and time-consuming.
But how can you tell whether you’ve found the best agency project management tools for your organization? Before discussing what to look for in your agency project management software, let’s identify some of the major challenges agencies face.
Read on even further to discover the features and capabilities you need in order to meet deadlines, stay on track, and improve client retention.
Common challenges within agency project management
As a project manager, you know all it takes is one setback to snowball, wreak havoc on your team's productivity, and waste valuable resources in the process. If a project doesn't deliver the anticipated results and quality, it can hardly be judged as successful.
We rounded up the common challenges project managers face that derail project management.
- Lack of properly defined goals
How can a project succeed if it doesn't properly have a clear scope and definition of what it aims to achieve? It is essential to establish the clear scope and goals of the project before starting to execute it.
- Inadequate communication
Poor communication leads to unsettled conflicts and can have a dire impact on any project. It could also harm any team collaboration efforts. When this happens, the project will likely experience delays, which poses a considerable risk to the entire project.
- Impractical deadlines
Having an unrealistic deadline is yet another project management challenge that can substantially affect the quality of the end product.
- Scattered information
Not having accessible, available, and accurate information leads to errors and interruptions on the project. Multiple versions of the timeline sheet, folders, and heaps of emails can result in mismanagement and confusion.
As long as an agency is fully aware of the project management challenges and tackles them appropriately, it can easily overcome them. The advantages of using agency project management software are clear.
What to look for in an agency project management tool
Agency managers are responsible for a lot, including coordination between departments, communication with clients, juggling dozens of priorities, and many other responsibilities.
You need a project management platform that can help you stay on top of it all. Here are some tasks it should help you with:
- Planning and scheduling
The right agency project management software consolidates all your assignments on a single interface. This way, you can know at a glance which projects are on course for completion and which ones require urgent attention. After all, it is necessary to have your team members' tasks and responsibilities clearly outlined and visible. So, make sure your project management software comes with proper planning and scheduling tools.
- Prioritize tasks
When you have loads of projects to look after, it's essential to know where to begin. A feature that allows you to label and prioritize tasks is incredibly simple but useful for project managers.
So make sure that your agency project management software comes with a built-in prioritization labeling system that organizes the tasks by their importance and urgency. Moreover, you can quickly make room in your schedule without manually reorganizing the whole project plan.
- A streamlined dashboard
What is a project dashboard? A custom dashboard comes in handy when you want to view all your projects on a single screen.
Furthermore, it lets you apply different filters to shortlist projects by their status, members, progress, and other variables. This provides you with quick updates, enables you to shift focus on a dime if needed, and prevents you from missing deadlines.
- Shared team calendar
A team calendar to schedule and organize meetings, track tasks, and even note team PTO is another must-have tool for agencies. A shared team calendar helps you synchronize and stay informed on project due dates, team priorities, and events.
In typical project teams, each member works on a specific set of tasks according to their expertise. Quite often, team members will need to access their co-worker's tasks and share documents or files to get their work done.
Good agency project management tools have clear and accessible communication channels that are important for engaging employees and teams.
- Team communication
When multiple teams are collaborating, it is best to have a feature that lets members exchange messages, files, and ideas. They must also be able to transfer and share information quickly for easy access when required.
Furthermore, your project management software should allow managers and employees to upload links to relevant resources, attachments, etc. The tool should send an email notification to ensure everyone is informed and on the same page.
The best agency project management tools have robust reporting
To successfully manage and get an overview of your project's progression, you need to be able to use insights to your advantage. For solid, actionable insights, you need the following reporting tools in your project management software for professional services automation.
- Customized reports
The best project management tools for agencies include reporting tools that collate your previously inserted project data and enable you to create customizable reports. It should also allow you to create reports and choose the parameters and categories you would like to include on the graph or chart.
For instance, with Wrike, you can create reports for employees' performance, completed tasks, expenses, overall project budget, etc. This way, you get a quick overview of the teams and employees who have outperformed and vice versa.
- Project KPI dashboard
A project dashboard is the quickest way to keep track of the progress of your projects. Useful project management software allows you to get real-time updates about your project and gives valuable metrics and insights.
Additionally, you can create multiple KPIs for different purposes. For example, project performance, financial KPI report, shared team dashboard, etc.
- Project budget
It's essential to document and manage larger budget projects. Your agency project management software should assist you in managing this budget. Relying on an excel spreadsheet alone isn't a good idea.
- Automated invoice and budget reports
You need a project management tool that will keep track of your expenditures and provide a detailed budget performance report. It would be best to look for a project budgeting tool that gives you timely information on your project's expenses.
Furthermore, the right project management tools for agencies should generate and compile invoices automatically, as they can take a considerable amount of time. Fortunately, effective project management software often comes with tools to help automate invoicing and save a significant amount of time for project managers. You can find more useful tips in the Wrike billing guide.
Resource management tools ensure on-time and on-budget delivery
- Project resources
The best project management tools for agencies must include a feature for project resource management to help you outline and define how the resources should be allocated. With this tool, a project manager can efficiently allocate resources, assign tasks, and ensure that everyone has the necessary resources to complete their respective duties.
Furthermore, project management software should notify when the resources are overused or are being mishandled.
- Document management
Documentation is a critical component of any project management software, so every element throughout the entire project management cycle must be documented and recorded.
- Centralized data
All your project data, such as customer info, bills, and calendar events, should be centrally available to your team.
Comprehensive agency project management software lets you easily share critical data with your team without the need to switch between multiple folders to find bits of data.
The bottom line is to watch out for the project management software tools that cover all the features necessary for you and maximize the benefits. There is no one size fits all software, but you can come pretty close to it if you do your research correctly.
What benefits can agency project management tools bring?
The primary purpose of agency project management tools is to eliminate the headaches associated with managing projects.
Here are some of the great benefits agencies can derive from implementing work management software for your marketing agency:
- Streamlines project planning
Advanced software automates and simplifies the project management cycle. It also helps establish a solid foundation for your projects by providing you with tools to scope out the milestones and key deliverables.
- Promote team collaboration
Project management solutions are designed to empower and improve team collaboration. With the right software, you can make sure that everyone stays in the loop and informed about their duties. It keeps managers aligned with the team and also reduces rework.
- Real-time updates
Agency project management tools allow you to monitor your team's work progress, which is crucial to attaining long-term success. A dedicated project management software can provide you with real-time information and insights.
- Seamless internal and external communication
Another considerable advantage of project management software is that it develops a funnel both internally and externally for your clients while also keeping communication lines open.
Altogether, all these and many other benefits of agency project management tools can overhaul business operations massively. Plus, it enables the project-centric agencies to effortlessly manage and monitor their budget, scope, and quality – simultaneously.
Can agency project management tools help save money?
Of course, the entire purpose of using planning software is to speed up work and make it more accurate and cost-effective. So, with strong agency project management tools in place, you're essentially saving money in the long run.
An all-in-one project management solution like Wrike can provide essential project management features so you can save money that would otherwise be spent buying many apps.
Why is marketing agency project management software great for clients too?
It is no doubt that project management software enables agencies to share and collaborate with clients in addition to employees. Using project management software can provide your clients with the ability to log in and gain access to project files. This way, clients can also provide direct feedback and review project progress in the same place.
Introducing the best project management software for agencies
Wrike is a leading project management tool that is used by the likes of Google, Airbnb, and Snowflake. It allows you to strengthen internal collaboration and enables you to effortlessly manage and track projects, deadlines, schedules, and other processes.
Gantt charts, custom dashboards, user workload view, and an intuitive experience are just some of the reasons Wrike is the best project management software for agencies. Wrike also integrates well with other platforms such as Google, Microsoft, and more.
Want to organize your projects by department, team member, function, or client? Wrike lets you do it any way you need or want to.
Choose the best agency project management software for you
Project management for creative teams can be a challenge. You need to keep your client projects on track, but you'd rather spend more time ideating and creating than overseeing timelines and resources.
This is where your planning software comes into play. Finding the right software for your agency can take a lot of the burden off your plate (while simultaneously improving your relationships with your clients). What could be better than that?
Still struggling to decide which project management software for professional services automation is right for you? Check out how creative agencies are using Wrike to improve the way they work. And while you're at it, read up on What to Look for When Evaluating Design Project Management Tools.