TOP 9 LIST: Project Management Systems for Fashion & Apparel
In an age when studio operations teams are more distributed than ever and utilizing an even greater mix of full-time employees and freelancers, there's a need for digital tools that help teams focus. There needs to be an easy way to manage projects, assign tasks, set schedules, photo shoots, and track progress and hours. That's where project management platforms can offer help to your creative operations team.
The best software has a user interface that makes organization and communication feel more invigorating than nagging. However, if your brand's leadership selects the wrong platform or onboards the team to it in a way that diminishes confidence or morale, productivity will plummet. But with the right choice of project management system (PMS), your creative team could find mundane acts, like time tracking and reporting, a bit more joyful (and effortless).
Remember, no matter if you're in the fashion industry, tech companies, development projects, or even a single fashion project, you and your team would immediately benefit from some kind of software to make it all make sense. And no doubt, the apparel or fashion project manager who brings a great piece of software like this to the team is going to no doubt, be smiled upon!
What Fashion and Apparel Brands Need From Project Management Platforms
There's a danger that comes from having a project management platform for the fashion industry selected by the wrong stakeholders, like the C-suite, business, or sales teams, when it's the company's marketing team and creatives who will need to live within the platform, day in and day out.
That's why we recommend giving priority to project management platforms that have developed their user interface to meet the expectations of a more visually discerning crowd in this industry. Power without style is worth next to nothing because team members will dread using the PMS at all.
So in the list below, which we've laid out alphabetically, with no bias or self-interest, the top project management platforms for marketing and creative teams. Follow the links. Check out some screenshots. And, most of all, find out what your creatives think about the systems they'd be working with every day.
9 Platforms That May (or May Not!) Fit the Needs of Your Creative Ops Teams
Please read on to get our overview of 9 leading project management platforms. Many of the big names have reached their status by putting user interfaces and experience at the forefront of their development, while a couple of the major platforms serve as cautionary tales—interfaces that you need not inflict on your dear creatives.
Also a relevant digital asset management (DAM) system for fashion and apparel brands, Airtable offers project management capabilities. "Create a single source of truth that's tailored precisely to how your teams work," says the Airtable website. "Include everything you need, nothing you don't."
There's even a feature currently in its beta form, Interface Designer, to help you take control of your user interfaces. "Build visual and interactive interfaces that give each and every teammate the information they need, and a simple way to take action," says the website.
Relevant customers: Levi's, Spotify, Netflix, intuit, shopify, TIME Airtable.com
"Managing projects is hard work," says Asana's website. "Even harder if you don't use software or have work spread across too many tools. It's easy to lose track of all the moving pieces—and tough to stay up to date. That's when things fall through the cracks. Use one tool to organize projects, make communication easy, and meet deadlines."
Relevant customers: Amazon, Under Armour, Accenture, P&G, Adobe, Dr. Martens asana.com
Honored by G2 as one of 2021's 90 fastest-growing products, ClickUp puts Gantt charts, email funnels, notepads, kanban boards, mind maps, sprints, and time trackers all under one attractive, minimalist interface somewhat like what we see with Monday (see below).
While ClickUp's list of fashion and apparel clients isn't prominently displayed, it does offer an Apparel Design Management platform intended for your creative operations teams to ideate. "Facilitate your apparel design process from idea to production all in one place!" says the website. "Keep your lookbook in a Doc view for easy reference, or hop over to the Board view to visualize your apparel in each stage of design with a simple drag-and-drop."
Relevant customers: Samsung, Stanley Security, Booking.com, IBM, Padres clickup.com
Calling itself "the world's first democratic project management platform," Hive is built by users, for users, via a feedback forum. What have users created through their input? Features include native chat and the ability to proof creative assets from within the platform.
Relevant customers: Google, Comcast, EA, Starbucks, Toyota hive.com
An agile planning app that's popularly used for project management, Jira, from Atlassian, offers not only the much-heralded kanban views but also scrum views.
"Scrum is an agile methodology where products are built in a series of fixed-length iterations," says the Jira website. "There are four pillars that bring structure to this framework: sprint planning, stand-ups (also called daily scrums), sprints, and retrospectives. Out-of-the-box, Jira Software comes with a comprehensive set of agile tools that help your scrum team perform these events with ease."
"No need to guess the future workload," reads the website for Monday.com, one of the globe's foremost project management platforms. "Everyone in the team will know where things stand at any given time."
The platform is robust, with more than 200 workflows and seemingly every integration imaginable. Yet it wins on design, with a highly customizable but clean user interface. That aesthetic appeal to guide the user experience may be why, as Monday.com reports, 84% of users feel happier when using the platform.
With a suite of collaboration tools, ProofHub offers a robust, end-to-end solution for managing creative projects from idea to deliverable, claiming to have: "all the tools your team needs put under one roof."
It has the potential to streamline your projects by replacing "6-7 apps" your teams are currently using so be prepared for greater efficiency and in-context communication. Also, be sure to have a change management plan in place to navigate the transition affecting various creative operations teams and stakeholders as a result of that significant change too.
Trello's user interface defaults look far different from many of the examples on this list, favoring a sticky note layout, and even boasting that "core features are as relatable as organizing sticky notes on a wall." Within this drag-and-drop format, users can create project lists with due dates and dependencies.
Relevant customers: coinbase, John Deere, Grand Hyatt, Visa, Zoom trello.com
Think of Adobe's project management platform, Workfront, as the choice for the PC-over-Mac crowd—it leads with functionality, which it contains within a relatively brutalist interface that may not be intuitive for, or favored by, the creative class.
So go ahead and enjoy the PMS's seemingly unlimited ways to communicate, from project maps to templates to calendar views. Just be patient as you sift through menus in search of the function you're looking for.
Appropriate for startups but enhanced enough for big brands, Wrike is a viable option for fashion and apparel brands that want to scale. "Wrike provides the tools your teams need for future growth," its website says. "Set up your teams for success and instill best practices across your entire organization."
Itscustom request formscould be effective for fashion and apparel brands to streamline creative briefs sent to content studios.
The Creative Operations mantra should be to free your creatives. Let them do their best work, without having their spirits suppressed by stuffy software. So apparel or fashion project managers, please include them in your next project management platform choice for your brand. Project management in footwear, apparel, fashion, or any other creative field needs it. Make sure that the workflows your creatives will use most often are easy to find and that technology won't add steps to their most frequent tasks. And when in doubt, go with the one that your creative team sees as winning with design.