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What's the best tool for keeping track of all the moving parts of a creative business? I'm looking to be able to see the status & details of clients, prospects, projects, action items, documents & conversations all in one place. Does that even exist?

What do you use? How does it work for you?

Thank you!

  • It really depends on your current and future needs if you can define them. I have tried many Project Planners, To Do Lists and dozen other different way to try to keep things organized but though it would partially do the job - I still was not satisfied due to growing needs and refactoring of my ways of keeping everything organized. Being a full stack developer i went the following route: I do web design - I have clients, leads... e.t.c Each client has one or more projects I do for them. So I wrote it all out and created a database and the frontend and any time I need to add a new feature I do – Alexey Shevelyov Feb 6 '17 at 23:04
  • I used Google Calendar API to implement the Scheduling and Notification functionality. You can buy an Admin theme and customize it to your needs. I soon realized I need a Credentials feature to store client's usernames, passwords. Soon can To Do list / Per Project so I knew exactly what needed to be done for each project. I even took it further and created an annual goal JS widget where you set how much you want to earn this year and it tells you how much you have coming, already earned, predicted (Project bid sent). – Alexey Shevelyov Feb 6 '17 at 23:17
  • All these work completely my way - so I am supper happy. Hosted Locally - No need to pay anyone. If I ever need any additional functionality - I will simply code it. Google Calendar is hosted with Google so you still get you event notifications and all. Let's say something is going to change - you can adopt it easily. Any other tool tries to be as generic as possible to fit the needs of the most - and that makes total sense. – Alexey Shevelyov Feb 6 '17 at 23:21
  • The problem at times is that it never fully fits one. Most of us will be happy if the tool fits us 80%, 70 or even 40%. I know people who pay monthly fee just because app has one feature that they use. Good Luck and hope this information helps! – Alexey Shevelyov Feb 6 '17 at 23:21
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This is a very wide subject... You can search online for CRM/ERP/Fiscal Management softwares for Creative Agencies/Studios. You'll find hundreds of solutions, guides and software comparisons.

By the way if you are a single freelance you'll hardly need any of these. Sometimes a well organised spreadsheet will do the work of keeping track of the ongoing works, tasks, deadlines, etc.

Personally I use some online spreadsheets (with daily backups) and a small fiscal management software for invoices and similar documents.

In the past I tested a few softwares but I always found them an added layer of complexity in my daily work after a while, I just wasted time (and money) over them and they did not solve me any problem or improved my productivity, in my case.

Unless there are very good reasons to use these kind of softwares (large number of clients, big agency, sales departments, etc) I usually discourage to use them for a single freelance.

Also I always adhered to the "KISS principle", which stands for slightly different and very good advices like these:

  • Keep it simple and stupid.
  • Keep it short and simple.
  • Keep it simple and straightforward.

... keeping that in my mind always avoided me many complications.

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My company has recently started using Teamleader, you might look into that. It has all the basics a freelancer needs: CRM, Invoicing, Timetracking, Project and Milestone Mgt, etc.

Context: just a satisfied user, not affiliated to Teamleader in any way.

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  • When recommending products or services, it is much more helpful to offer information relating the product, such as special features or requirements. What sets it apart from other systems? – Canadian Luke Nov 8 '16 at 18:52
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I currently use Freeter for all the projects on which I'm working, whether or not they're for a particular client. It was developed by a freelancer who had the same needs as you, and even though it's $30 (will be $40; it's 25% while it's in beta), I'd say it's definitely worth at least downloading the free trial and seeing for yourself.

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  • When recommending products or services, it is much more helpful to offer information relating the product, such as special features or requirements. What sets it apart from other systems? – Canadian Luke Nov 8 '16 at 18:51
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I'd research open source software. I googled 'open source project management software' and came up with some solutions. The advantages are obvious.

Microsoft office also does the job.

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