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How to blow $23K on Video Production Project Management Software

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the “Top 10 Project Management Software Tools” (there are thousands of these articles already in existence). Rather, this is a chronological snapshot of how a Melbourne video production company came to adopt the project management workflows to streamline tasks, be more creative, and take on bigger clients. We hope the information contained within can in turn help you grow your video production company. 

Why you need a project management tool

For both Producers and Marketers, Video Production without a clear plan for project management is like taking a kebab into the cinema. It’s ill-conceived, messy, and the awkward rustling annoys everyone. To stretch the analogy, a video production that does use project management software is like taking a Bento Box to the cinema. It’s neat, tidy, and significantly increases the chance of a second date (with your client). 

While true that video production companies managing a single client project at any given time have less of a need for project management software, if you plan to grow your production company (and you should), sooner or later you’ll be handling multiple video projects simultaneously. For this, you’re going to need tools to ensure the production is executed on time and on budget. Doing so alleviates stress on the production crew, the production company and the client; ensuring all three are willing to work with you again. 

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How we blew $23K on project management software

Having looked at our books, over the past three years we’ve blown over $22,860 of company revenue on project management software. That’s a lot of kebabs and regret. While $23K worth of regret is difficult to quantify, it’s equivalent to the HECS bill for your undergraduate communications degree or roughly 3,000 late night garlic sauce kebabs (something you might regret as much as your degree).

How exactly did a Melbourne video production company manage to spend almost $23K on project management tools? We’ve calculated the financial cost of the subscriptions in addition to the time costs researching, negotiating and onboarding solutions at our day rate charged to clients (the opportunity costs of our company director not pursuing new clients would easily exceed $100K).

ExpenseHoursCost
Researching subscriptions120 hours$12,000
Negotiating subscriptions10 hours $1,000
Payment of subscriptions$5,860
Software onboarding40 hours
(10% instructing the team how to use the tool, 10% instance that the team log their hours, 80% convincing the team that this is the final project management tool)
$4,000
Total$22,860

Why we spent big

The reason we’ve spent so much on the software is that, while we saw the value in a project management solution, we couldn’t find one that met the needs of our video production campaigns. As both a video production company in Melbourne and a business that engages in our own video marketing, we’ve been through an exhausting process of trial and error, using expensive project management tools that burnt us; just like trialling a fiery new kebab sauce at 3am leaves you much wiser. 

Having gained credibility in this area through a scientific process of selection known as “setting fire to a burning pile of cash”, whether you offer event video production or corporate video production services, save yourself money and learn from the mistakes of this Melbourne video production company. 

Project Management Tools

  1. Google Calendar / Gmail
  2. Wrike
  3. Accelo
  4. Task World
  5. Streamtime
  6. Monday
  7. Asana
  8. Zoho Projects

Google Calendar / Google Sheets (2013 – 2015)

Duration used: 2 years
Amount spent: $0

Summary: Google for project management was full of promises. We were a team of two working on only one job at any given time. Adopting Google Calender to schedule corporate video production shoots (which we continue to use to this day), we used Google Sheets for tracking IOUs and the creation of Gantt charts we would screenshot and send to clients.

Pros: Free.

Cons: Google Sheets for project management is manual, tedious, and very rudimentary. While it can be used for video productions, we didn’t have the knowledge or inclination to go deep into customising the Google Suite for Project Management. Instead, we required an off the shelf PM solution, starting the odyssey discussed here…

Wrike (2015)

Duration paid: 3 months
Amount spent: $700 AUD (5 Users)

Summary: Our first introduction to PM software, Wrike seemed the strongest with the most features. We were conscious of a need for software and panicked, choosing it without real consideration.

Pros: Offering a collaborative environment, Wrike offered great GANTT charts to gain larger client projects. Additionally, this was our first use of Kanban boards.

Cons: Wrike was far too big (in pricing and features) for our small video production Melbourne team of three. Lacking cost/budget allocation for individual projects, we battled with their sales team on pricing. Due to its scale, of those on the list Wrike is most suited to larger, corporate video production teams.

Accelo (2015 – 2016)

Duration paid: 12 months
Amount spent: $1,600 (5 user)

Summary: We thought “hey, we’ve found the perfect software!” so we signed up to Accelo for 12 months. Then we thought, “okay, now how do we use it?”. Then we realised our desperation for a PM tool had blinded us into purchasing a tool. we were not skilled enough at point of use. Three months into adoption we abandoned the software. We’re still getting retargeting ads.

Pros: Extensive features

Cons: Features come at the expense of usability. Steep learning curve. 

TaskWorld (2016 – 2017)

Duration paid: 12 months
Amount spent: $1,000 (5 user)

Summary: Burnt from our Accelo experience, we desired simplicity. With ability to track time and user friendly Kanban approach to task management. TaskWorld looked great. For some reason however, nobody in our team were using the tool. 

Why? For some reason, we think it was because TaskWorld wasn’t intuitive enough to integrate with the workflow of our creative team. This led to incorrect time tracking data, which led to enormous budget blowouts (nearly running the company), which in turn led to incorrect business decisions  Time tracking in Taskworld felt an “afterthought”. Without a good daily planner, our team got lost in the software and were flooded with microtasks.

Pros: Time tracking, ability to break large projects into individual tasks, burndown charts. 
Cons: Huge onboarding process. 

Streamtime (2018 – Current)

Duration paid: 12 months (Current)
Amount spent: $1600 (5 users)

Summary: Streamtime unified our project expenses, time and planner in a simple to use interface. Their design challenges traditional micro-managed time tracking applications with a non-invasive time blocking process. While not perfect, Streamtime has a clear product roadmap for new features and the company is small enough that we have a direct line of dialogue with the product managers. For these reasons, we became early adopters and have centred our entire project management workflow around the online software.

Pros: Native integration with Xero (send invoices). Breakdown our team’s tasks in a single dashboard. Able to finally see profit margin per job (not just profitability as a company i.e Xero P&L). Simple to-do list. Easy to drag time-blocks (so creatives can easily log hours). Plenty of Zapier endpoints for API integrations.

Cons: No chat feature (for both internal conversations and client comms). While we overcame this by developing a client portal hosted on our WordPress site, this is something we hope to see on the horizon. 

Monday (2018)

Duration paid: 1 month
Amount spent: $110 AUD (5 users)

Summary: Even while we were happy with Streamtime, we had to try the most obnoxiously marketed project management software on the market. Despite their relentless video retargeting ads and pretty bright colours, Monday couldn’t convert us.

Pros: Clean, simple. Unlike Asana it had native time tracking management. Integrates with Xero (but only through middleware like Zapie).

Cons: We felt like a 10 year old playing with a box of crayons rather than an expensive piece of business software. 

Zoho Projects (2019)

Duration paid: 12 months
Amount spent: $250 AUD (5 users)

Summary: While on the search for a robust CRM platform we came across Zoho One and its inclusion of other business apps like Zoho Projects. There’s a lot to like about a monolithic environment for all your business software. But when you trust your entire business and all its data with a single platform, what happens when it’s down?

Pros: Cheap. Single environment that integrates with a whole suite of platforms and tools. To draw benefits from this however you would actually have to start using all their tools.

Cons: Not only anarchic, the UI design felt soulless. Who is Zoho? What does he want with our data? Can we trust him?

Asana (2019)

Duration paid: 6 months
Amount spent: $600 AUD (5 users)

Summary: To fill Streamtime’s shortcomings, we needed (i) a place for client communications outside of the email inbox and (ii) an intuitive tool to use for non client work ( Admin/Internal Tasks).

Pros: With the best UI we’ve seen, Asana was easy enough to skip the extensive onboarding. 

Cons: Using this in conjunction with another project management tool like Streamtime was to confusing for the team. Likewise, while Asana offered support for time tracking via integrations, it was simply another login for a team that just wanted to do creative work. For the time tracking tools available (like Everhour, Harvest), there were built in such a way that staff felt they needed to log every minute for tasks. We didn’t want to micromanage (creatives are like that), instead using time blocks. 

Conclusion

Ultimately, it’s crucial your video production company uses a project management that is both specific to your production needs and that you can rely upon. You’re essentially trusting your business’s existence on the premise that this fundamental tool (just as you are with accounting, marketing, sales and website hosting) won’t be abandoned by its developers when you switch on your Macbook one morning.

It took us three years to find a platform that our business could rely on and use on a daily basis. To join Streamtime and receive a 10% discount on your first order, use our referral link.

Looking for video production and video marketing services in Melbourne? From explainer videos to promotional videos and everything in between, check out client success stories.

Enamoured Iris is a creative video production company producing online video content marketing for lifestyle brands in the Travel, Health and Entertainment industries. The company’s head office is known as “The Owlery” and is based in Melbourne, Australia.

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