When you’re dealing with multifaceted integrated marketing, project management software is just as important to a marketing agency as the team members who contribute to the actual work. These tools lay the groundwork for entire projects, from start to finish, and the right tools allow for the seamless management of team members, clients, budgets, and deliverables.
In essence, project management software is necessary to the success of the overall project. While most project management software tends to be one and the same, there are a number of standout platforms on the market that offer unique sets of features that make them more attractive to many project managers.
Having a defined list of requirements for the type of software your organization needs will help you navigate any conversation with a project management software salesperson as well as provide a clear sense of direction and purpose when testing the software in a sandbox environment.
In this post, we’ll take a closer look at four of the best-regarded project management software platforms on the market and summarize the key features specific to each.
Pricing: $25/month – $299/month
With ActiveCollab, every user has their own dashboard that displays only the tasks that are assigned to them. This feature prevents dashboards from being flooded with company-wide or irrelevant tasks and allows team members to focus on their priorities.
Anyone assigned to a project in ActiveCollab can track the status of the budget throughout the course of the entire project. This eliminates any hunting or guesswork and holds all team members accountable for being on or under budget.
ActiveCollab also offers a variety of task labels so a user can see the status of each task (New, Needs Info, QA, Closed, etc.) from their dashboard. These labels are color coded to help team members identify the status and priority level of each task.
Time tracking is integrated into ActiveCollab through a free time tracking app. Users can add time manually to individual tasks or use the timer to automate time tracking. Project budgets are adjusted once a team member submits their time.
Pricing for an ActiveCollab subscription depends on the number of users an organization requires and ranges from $25/month for 5 users to $299/month for unlimited users. Every pricing bracket includes a file storage cap but all plans include unlimited projects and clients.
Pricing: $29/month – $3,000/year
Basecamp is probably the most popular project management software available and is highly praised for its ease of use and intuitive design. Their newest version, Basecamp 3, launched in late 2015 and offers several new features that make their platform even more attractive to project managers.
One of the biggest challenges marketing agencies — and all organizations — face these days is managing the vast number of communication channels available for team members. Between instant messaging services such as HipChat and Google Chat, email, and project management software, it’s easy for conversations to become cluttered and for crucial communications to become buried. With Basecamp’s Campfire tool, though, these quick conversations can happen directly within the platform — allowing for a more integrated and collaborative experience between team members.
Basecamp 3 also offers a completely separate client-based experience, which is key when you want to keep certain to-dos and conversations private.
Basecamp’s pricing is a bit different in that it isn’t based on per-user fees. Their smallest package of $29/month is actually $29/month regardless of how many users a company requires. Instead, Basecamp offers three pricing tiers designed for specific audiences:
- Basecamp For Us, their lowest tier, is primarily reserved for companies that aren’t actively involved in client work.
- Basecamp For Clients, the middle tier, is aimed at agencies with heavy involvement in client work.
- Basecamp Big, the top-tier offering, is priced at $3,000 for the year (about $250/month) and is considered their enterprise plan.
Pricing: $19/month – Custom
A big part of project management is scheduling and managing resources. It’s important for project managers to know exactly who is on deck for what, how long it will take, and when it should be done. New or additional work is always being added to the queue and having an understanding of the resources available is critical to the success of the task/project, as well as the management of client expectations.
Aside from being a strong example of project management software, Mavenlink also offers built-in resourcing features to assist with team visibility. Resourcing reports can be pulled on a project level or by individual team member to provide insights into the potential resources available for new and existing projects.
One of the more appealing aspects of this platform is the cascading changes feature that tracks alterations to a project or timeline. Because project scopes and timelines are constantly changing, project managers need to be able to adjust tasks at a moment’s notice and take into consideration how these shifts will affect any deadlines. In Mavenlink, dragging and dropping changes within a project Gantt chart will automatically update any dependent tasks and deadlines as well.
Mavenlink provides four levels of pricing starting at $19/month for five users without its distinguishing financial monitoring capabilities. The next level up, the Professional tier, which includes financials, is $29/month per user. The remaining two tiers — Premier and Enterprise — are customized to an organization’s specific needs and user count and will require a conversation with a Mavenlink sales representative to develop a custom quote.
Pricing: $12/month – $249/month
Teamwork’s simple interface makes it easy for project managers to create and assign tasks to team members. Each task comes with traditional attributes such as due date, time estimate, file attachment, and priority level. This project management software also lets you designate task followers and create dependencies between tasks, which can help create visibility among team members and organize workflow.
Teamwork integrates with a variety of tools including Box, Google Drive, and DropBox in order to keep files organized and maximize storage capacity. More tools and apps can be integrated into the platform via its partnership with Zapier. It’s important to note that some of these integrations may only be available for certain pricing plans.
All Teamwork plans include unlimited users, which makes it appealing to companies both small and large. Instead, Teamwork’s pricing tiers are based on the number of projects, storage capacity, and additional features or integrations a company may need.
Choosing the Right Project Management Software
Whether an agency is looking to incorporate project management software into its business for the very first time or seasoned project managers are looking to revamp existing tools, choosing the right software can take time. Research must be conducted and several platforms should be assessed in order to determine which project management software is right for a particular company.
While the number of options available may seem daunting, it’s important to remember that project management software should be anything but overwhelming. These tools are meant to help streamline processes, hone in on team collaboration, guide resource and budget allocation, and execute projects. Therefore, consider eliminating any contenders that exhibit poor usability, outdated/distracting design, or an unnecessarily complex interface.