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Why Project Management Software is Vital for Creative Agencies

Creativity is our passion, but meeting goals is our responsibility. If you work for a creative agency, now is the time to adopt project management software to help streamline your team’s collaborative efforts and keep everyone on the same page.
project management software
By Caitlin Wittlif May 19, 2020
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Does it ever feel like you’re playing five games of tag at once? You owe updated feedback to your video department from your client. Your graphic designer owes you a new logo for a different client. You’re in an ongoing back-and-forth with your content lead, who is working on a blog post for your agency. And how many meetings have turned into more meetings because of a forgotten stakeholder? 

It’s not just a feeling — businesses in the U.S. alone spend $37 billion on unnecessary meetings, and 21.8 hours a week are wasted on low-value activities. Chasing down versions and searching through emails, spreadsheets, and checklists takes time away from doing the creative work you’d like to do, and leaves way too much room for error. 

This is why it’s so critical for a creative agency to invest in online project management software. And yet, few marketing enterprises are — as of July 2019, roughly 9% of advertising firms surveyed by Capterra were utilizing online project management software.

Creative agencies that adopt a creative collaboration process are 252% more likely than their peers to report project success. Specifically, gains are made in areas like the number of projects completed on time, workload visibility, and team collaboration. If it sounds like it might be time to adopt online project management software tools at your agency — it probably is.

What is creative agency project management software?

Let’s start with the basics. Simply put, online project management is an organizational tool used to coordinate your team, assign and track progress towards deadlines, and communicate with stakeholders and employees. It provides visual, tangible updates on project KPIs, and can keep your entire project team on the same page as things change throughout the life of a campaign. Think of it as a way to kick your creative collaboration up a notch. 

From a marketing perspective, there are a lot of moving parts to each campaign you run. Considerations include big rocks, like the different mediums that will be used, regional differences for global campaigns, and which departments from your own company you’ll need to involve. But there are nuances, too.

Which version of a client’s logo would they like used in the email campaign versus the video? What fonts should all departments use for the client? Keeping track of details both big and small can be much easier when the right software project management tools are used.

How do I choose the right software / project management tools?

There’s lots to consider when you’re deciding on the best project management for creatives. Broadly across industries, project managers look for three top features when deciding on which software to use: reliability, ease of use, and ease of integration.

Many companies now use SaaS platforms as their system of record, so reliability is a must. You need to be able to trust that the information you’re putting into your project management tools is safe and secure.

From a satisfaction perspective, the number one cause of unhappiness for dissatisfied users of project management for creatives is difficulty of use. If a tool is hard to use, you’ll have trouble getting adoption from your team and your clients, and you’ll probably have to invest a lot more in training.

When you think about it, some of the most important considerations for marketing campaigns share a lot in common with questions project managers ask their clients. In both cases, the end goal must be defined — and time bound. Responsibilities will need to be assigned across the teams, progress tracked, and clients informed of that progress. So, it makes sense to utilize software that will help you address these considerations all in one place.

Let’s get SaaS-y

Not only will project management software keep your client feedback, employee progress, and campaign assets all in one place, but your business will also gain benefits from adopting a project platform. Like all great software, project management tools are a vital way to bring your company’s collaboration into the present day, and account for the realities of the modern workplace. 

Here are just a few more reasons to invest in creative agency project management software.

  1. It’s what employees want — and expect

As workplaces hire more and more millennials into their ranks, expectations of a highly connected, collaborative working environment will continue to increase. In fact, 49% of millennials support social tools for workplace collaboration and 42% say they’ll quit their job if the technology available to them is substandard.

These workers are looking for ways to positively impact their business — they want to be able to participate in creative collaboration. This is especially the case in the advertising industry, where there’s a large demand for project management dedicated to creatives. 

But it’s not only millennials who expect technological networking. Around 70% of employees from global businesses across industries believe that they will be spending more time on collaboration platforms moving forward. Those who already use these apps are more likely to describe their office as connected — and that connection can mean the difference between employee retention or employee turnover

  1. It will improve your communication

Getting every project member on the same page can feel a little — or sometimes, a lot — like herding cats. Emails and updates fly in from a variety of sources, and playing the game of Fwd: Re: Re: Fwd can be dizzying. 

Everyone feels it: 97% of employees and executives feel that a lack of team alignment impacts the outcome of a task or project. What’s more, expectations for a fast response are higher than ever: 80% of workers expect colleagues to answer their emails as quickly as possible, and 74% prefer the ability to send real-time messages at work.

A significant portion of an average worker’s day is spent on unproductive tasks, like trying to contact customers, partners, or colleagues, or duplicating information. The more that communication can be centralized, and the less it is siloed, the better your team will feel and the faster they’ll be able to move forward on a task.

  1. It will help you prioritize — and cut down on clutter

Beyond the unproductive nature of ineffective communication, creative agency project management software can cut out the fat of campaign management. Those employees using appropriate SaaS platforms have seen a 48.6% reduction in email, 30% fewer scheduled meetings, and a 25% increase in customer satisfaction.

By allowing your clients to proactively check statuses of their projects, provide feedback, and approve versions, you’re also allowing your team to work more seamlessly without having to wait on a middle man. And you’ll have one less game of email ping-pong. Everyone wins.

  1. It will improve your team’s performance

By fully implementing collaborative platforms, companies have the opportunity to raise their teams’ productivity by 20-25%.

Established, successful creative directors everywhere are seeing benefits from utilizing online project management software at their creative agencies. 

“Creative project management software is essential for any business that handles lots of creative projects,” says Nate Walters, Group Director for Brand Partnerships at Dabbl. “Without the proper system in place, businesses are at risk of losing time and money on a daily basis. Not only does an effective system increase workflow efficiencies, but it allows businesses to form stronger partnerships with clients through more productive collaboration, which can lead to increased revenue.”

If you’d like to try online project management software to see what it can do for your business, CROOW is currently offering a free trial — and you can sign up for a demo by clicking here.