Advertising is one of the core pillars of the media and commerce industries. If Amazon’s advertising earnings are any indication (they made $10 billion in ad revenue in 2018), the ad industry isn’t slowing down any time soon. The industry is slated to spend nearly $260 billion in 2021, up from $183 billion in 2015. The brains behind the operation? Advertising agencies. And one of the biggest advantages they can have is access to the right tools to enable successful project management for agencies.

Agency Project Management & Organization

Powerhouse agencies like Dentsu, Ogilvy, and Omnicom Group (a Hive team!) have clients ranging from Budweiser to Microsoft and Chevrolet — some of the biggest corporations in their respective fields. Advertising agencies specialize in the marketing of a product, everything from digital banners and ads, “Out of Home” placements, television spots, and events. There are typically different groups throughout agencies that specialize in each of the aforementioned fields, and agency personnel can either be locked onto one specific client or tasked with working on several different accounts.

Oftentimes, these groups are international, and operating on tight deadlines. That’s where project management becomes their best friend — the Gronkowski to their Tom Brady. Can you imagine vetting several rounds of creative for dozens of ads without a tool or methodology to help you track everything? Since agency work is project based at its core, applying project management products and methods are key. Project management for agencies is critical.

Project Management For Agencies

There are tons of different project management methodologies that can help agencies organize their life — and clients — better.

Time Blocking

One of our favorites is time-blocking, a scheduling mechanism where you block off chunks of your calendar for specific actions and tasks only. For example, some people time-block windows to address their emails, allotting only two hours per day to tend to their inboxes, utilizing the rest of the day for other pending items on their to-do list. 

This is an ideal methodology for someone who isn’t in the midst of an intense round of client approvals, as that would likely require attending to one’s inbox every 15-30 minutes. But if you’re in an analytics or mainly execution-style role at an agency, this could be a great strategy to test out.

Strategic Roadmap

Another project management methodology that would work well for agencies is designing and implementing an in-depth strategic planning process, timeline, or roadmap, to guide a project. By outlining and defining the 4-5 key stages of a project, agency members are able to map out length of time per stage, which checkpoints involve client approvals, and set out specific goals, responsibilities and expectations. Check out a full strategic planning timeline here.

What Does An Agency Project Manager Do?

Since project management is crucial at an agency, let’s take a look at what the specific project manager at an agency would be doing. At an agency, a project manager would be helping oversee all aspects of a project from initiation to completion. They would be responsible for keeping teams on time and on task throughout often lengthy project timelines. The PM would also be the go-between for all the different internal teams working on a specific project.

Some of the most important components of an agency project manager’s job are: creating a project calendar with deadlines and phases, managing project budget and scope, sending all project updates to external parties and clients, and finalizing full project deliverables and vetting client feedback, should it be necessary.

7 Best Agency Project Management Software & Tools

The agency project manager does a lot, and often needs the right tools and software to help their team succeed. If your team is in the market for a tool or product over a general strategy, we’ve got you covered. This is where a tool that enables project management for agencies comes in. Here’s a list of our favorites:

1. Hive 

Hive offers real-time transparent progress on campaigns throughout their lifecycle, as opposed to simple weekly status updates that can become stale and inaccurate. Hive allows individuals, teams and agencies to work together internally as well as externally — with Hive’s external user functionality, agency clients can access specific parts of the Hive dashboard and projects to see campaign progress in real-time. Some of the largest and most influential brands in the world rely on Hive within their agencies to run and execute flawless global campaigns. 

Hive also offers a robust proofing feature, which lets users attach a PDF, JPG and many other files for proofing in-app. It’s perfect for agencies who work on several iterations of creative and need to keep track of each different version.

Try Hive button for blog

2. Papier

Papier is a Google Chrome extension that turns your homepage into a notepad. If you’re looking for a place to collect all of your thoughts, Papier is it. It automatically saves, no CTRL+S needed, and you can even create custom checklists. Papier is best for taking quick notes in a client meeting, or creating a quick client checklist, but if you want a note-taking and project management app combined, take a look at Hive’s note-taking functionality.

3. Teamwork

Teamwork Agency Project Management

Teamwork can be used by agencies of all shapes and sizes. It was built by 2 guys who were running a web design agency and grew frustrated with the lack of project management options for agencies, so they built their own platform. With Teamwork you can manage projects of all shapes and sizes. They’ve also got an option to add unlimited client users. This is great for agencies as it means you can give clients full visibility over your projects, but it doesn’t cost you anything extra to do so.

4. Slack 

Agency communication and project management tool

Slack, a workplace chat app, has changed the way people communicate at work. The app has 10 million active users, and integrates with over 1,500 other tools across the web. Different Slack groups could be used for different projects or teams at agencies, and Slack also integrates with Hive for added project management power. You can utilize Slack to communicate about upcoming projects, due-dates, and share documents and notes within Hive — it’s the best of both worlds!

5. Trello 

Trello Project Management Tool

If you’re in the market for a simple, Kanban style productivity tool, Trello could be your answer. The no-frills boards make it easy to view and plot out tasks by client. Each board is made up of cards, which contain to-dos, checklists, pictures, hyperlinks and files. You can add team members to different Trello cards, and drag and drop cards between sections to mark completion.

To learn about other similar Kanban tools, check out these top Trello alternatives on the market.

6. Rescue Time 

Agency project management tool

Rescue Time is ideal for agency project management because you can determine exactly who spent time on which tasks, as it tracks time spent on applications and websites. You can also block certain websites if you find yourself spending a few too many minutes watching cute cat videos on YouTube.

7. SEMRush

SEMrush Agency Tool

SEMRush is a project management tool for agencies if you’re in the SEO or content space. With SEMRush, you can track SEO and Google progress for specific keywords, complete full competitor audits, and dig into specifics regarding organic, paid and search traffic.

Clearly, simplifying agency work isn’t an easy task, but utilizing some of these project management methodologies, and implementing a few of these tools, can help get agency teams on the right track. Do you know of any major agency-friendly tools that we missed? Let us know in the comments.