You’re probably asking – do we really need project management tools or resourcing and scheduling tools? The answer is probably no, and yes. No, you probably don’t need it – you could get away with not having it. But yes, if you had the best project management tools, you could probably run your PM team and deploy your resources more effectively and efficiently. As agencies and studios grow, the systems and processes that worked for a small agency often struggle to scale. Excel and Google Docs are great, but the best project management tools and resource scheduling tools out there that can help you work even smarter.
Working smarter with project management tools and resource scheduling tools
Project management tools can help plan, organise, and manage projects as well as your agency resources – whether they’re people, rooms, or phonelines. Project management tools can be used to develop resource plans and create resource requirement forecasts. Depending the sophistication of the software, they can also include tools for estimation and planning, scheduling, cost control and budget management, resource allocation, and documentation storage.
The challenge with these tools is that there’s often a lot of overlap. Resource management, time tracking, project communication, expenses, storage, Professional Services Automation (PSA) and Services Resource Planning Software (SRP) can all find themselves bundled together – this can be good, but if you need to integrate with or replace legacy systems, things can start getting complicated.
Personally, my preference is for tools that do one thing really well rather than a catch-all tool which does lots of things, but none of them are quite right. Below are some great options for project management tools and resource scheduling tools.
12 great project management tools for studios and agencies
1. Hub Planner – http://www.hubplanner.com
Hub Planner is a sweet looking resource planning and management tool for PM’s to plan, schedule, track and book their teams of resources. The tool focusses around a high-level view of resources, their capacity and utilisation, and also gives PM’s the power to deep dive into projects to at a glance establish progress, billability and profitability. Within the tool are some powerful tools and features for resource scheduling and planning – with drag and drop and filtering, timesheets – to analyse schedule vs actuals, and reporting – with smart report templates and custom reporting capability. Helpfully, it also has an API so you can plug it into your other systems too. Hub Planner costs from $69/10 users/month.
2. Resource Guru – http://resourceguruapp.com/
Resource Guru is a dedicated resource management tool. With a great visual calendar style interface, it shows what everyone’s working on and clearly displays availability so you can maximise utilisation. The tool allows Project Managers to make bookings simultaneously with no chance of stepping on each other’s toes. Clashes are automatically prevented. Bookings can be added to a waiting list and used for capacity planning later. Each staff member gets their own resource dashboard so they can log in and know exactly what they should be working on. And to monitor business performance, powerful reports monitor utilization of your team and help with capacity planning. Resource Guru costs from $2.50/user/month.
3. 10,000ft Plans – http://www.10000ft.com/
10,000ft Plans is a tool designed give you the big picture (hence the 10,000ft) of your business, teams, and projects. Armed with this information, you’re then able to make better strategic decisions based on this real-time, complex data. The tool is based around a project dashboard, a schedule for projects and resources, time tracking, and analytics. The project element gives top-level project information across different types, clients, and states. Custom fields can also be added for easier connection with the API. The resource view of the schedule lets you spot who is available and update assignments. The time tracking component shows each team member which projects they should be working on and suggests hours based on the schedule. The analytics component gives a great overview of forecasted vs. actual project hours, utilization, budget tracking, and estimation accuracy. They have a great overview of the product on their site here: http://www.10000ft.com/plans/
4. Clarizen – http://www.clarizen.com/
If you’re looking for an enterprise level and fully tailored project management toolkit solution, check out Clarizen – a complete professional services automation (PSA) platform with a great set of tools for managing projects, tasks, resources, and budgets – wrapped in a single product. Clarizen brings together project management, configurable workflow automation, in-context collaboration and a tailored, role-based experience that simplifies work, reduces communication overload, and provides visibility so everyone can work more effectively and adapt to changes. It centralizes release plans, release backlog data, bugs, documents, communications and more into one system, helping you to deliver releases efficiently, track and prioritize incoming tickets and schedule them for iterations with stacks of handy built-in reporting. Clarizen costs from $30/user/month.
5. Admation – http://www.admation.com
Admation has been designed specifically for advertising and marketing teams to streamline the process of delivering of high volume creative campaigns. It includes tools for briefing, workflow, mark-up and approvals to simplify the madness of delivering large-scale campaigns and comes with integrated asset management for Ad Storage and an Asset Library so all your collateral can be stored in one place. With the resource and project management module, you can create project timelines and templates, manage project teams and track projects online. The resource management module allows you to track utilization and capacity along with timesheets and schedule and brief your resources. Admation costs from $25 USD /user/month.
6. Harvest – http://www.getharvest.com/
Harvest is built around a robust time tracking tool. Harvest allows staff to track time and send invoices from an integrated application. Staff are able to start and stop timers to allow accurate reporting and submit time sheets. The Harvest system then generates visual reports allow you to analyze time and see the distribution of your staff resources at a glance, helping you to keep your projects on budget and estimate for future projects accurately. Harvest also allows you to invoice accurately using the time sheet tracking data. The system provides an integrated invoicing component which generates and tracks invoices and retainers through to payment. Harvest costs from $10-12 /user/month.
7. Teamwork Project Manager – http://www.teamworkpm.net
Teamwork Project Manager is a Basecamp alternative – an online teamwork & project management application to assist managers, staff and clients in working together more productively. Teamwork has components to enable Project Management collaboration, task management, milestone tracking, messaging, file management and time tracking. In short, this is one of the many young upstarts trying to offer a Basecamp alternative. A unique feature of Teamwork PM is The Risk Register where you can post risks and assign it a priority – a great tool for transparency among the team and with clients. Teamwork Project Manager costs from $49 /35 projects/month.
8. Projectplace – https://www.projectplace.com/
Projectplace is a powerful project management, and collaboration tool. More than just another Basecamp alternative – Projectplace has a slew of additional features including issue management, project templates, online meetings, meeting and resource management and organisational reports and analytics. The resource management features in Projectplace give users overview of all scheduled resources in all projects, show the availability and capacity, allow searching and booking of resource, perform scenario planning of resources, identify possible “show stoppers” due to overbooked resources and prioritise resources between projects. Projectplace costs from $29/user/month.
9. Basecamp – http://basecamp.com/
Basecamp is an excellent project management tool that focusses on making collaboration easy. It’s really simply to use and for many years it was the de facto choice of agencies. Basecamp helps you manage multiple projects at a time with to-do lists, file sharing, chatting, messages, calendars and time tracking. As it’s so established there are now many different possible integrations and ways to extend the base product including time tracking, invoicing, accounting, reporting, planning (including Roadmap), file synchronization, bug & issue tracking, source control, creative approval and lots more. Read about them here: http://basecamp.com/extras. There is a trimmed-down free version, which is great for starting out. Basecamp costs from $20/10 projects/month.
10. Float – https://www.float.com/
Float is a simple, resource management and scheduling application used by agencies and brands including NASA, Google, and RGA. It’s a great tool to use alongside other project management tools, when you’ve already planned your projects and need to schedule a team to do the work. Float allows you to easily manage your staff’s workload and upcoming projects from a single place. Workers are updated with their weekly schedule via email and with live notifications so that everyone’s always up-to-date. They don’t need their own login information, which keeps the system simple. There’s also a reporting component so that you can monitor your team’s utilization at any time – report on scheduled hours by individual team member, department, client and project. Float have been evolving their product and so using their API and Zapier you can connect with 100’s of your favorite apps including Basecamp, Asana and Trello. Float costs from $29/10 users/month.
11.Roadmap – http://www.ppmroadmap.com
Roadmap is a project portfolio and resource forecasting tool which plays nicely with Basecamp. At a top level there is project portfolio planning and analytics allowing you to view all projects to see project stats. The resource planning component allows cross-portfolio and individual resource forecasting. The cross-portfolio forecasting allows you to view all resources in traditional calendar view and high information density grid view, filter by specific resources or roles and a team calendar gives you the ability to block-off company-wide events or holidays, and individual resource holidays. The individual resource forecasting allows you to view all work items assigned to a specific resource, by calendar view or filtered by specific projects. Roadmap product costs from $15/25 projects/month.
12. Traffic Live – http://trafficlive.com/
Traffic Live is an online studio management software with an elegant interface, and some pretty amazing scheduling functionality. The system automatically knows the right person for a job, based on their availability and client suitability. It allows you to split tasks and defer until later, or just drag it onto someone else – drag, drop, split, reallocate and park work as you need to balance day-to-day demands and changing priorities. Traffic Live’s point of difference is that it’s built on an open system which plays nicely with lots of other systems including Jira, Maconomy, Outlook and Mailchimp. The Traffic Live product costs from $29 /user/month.
Other project management tools and solutions:
Below is a list of additional project management tools and resource scheduling solutions:
What do you think?
What do you think we’re missing? What else is there to project management and resourcing scheduling tools and software? We’d love to hear if you’ve got any suggestions, tips or thoughts on using this kind of software – why not share them using the comments below?