Being a project manager involves keeping track of a lot of moving parts all at once. While this is never an easy task, it’s much more difficult when you don’t have the right tools to work with. Fortunately, there are lots of inexpensive (or even free, depending on the size of your team!) web-based project management tools out there. As we come into 2021, more people than ever are working from home, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This means that many projects are taking place with no in-person collaboration. Project managers have to be more organized than ever to keep everything running smoothly in today’s virtual workplace. With that in mind, here are some of the best tools for project managers in 2021—and why they’re so essential. The Importance of Efficient Project Management Sometimes, project management can feel a lot like herding cats. Why? Because left to their own devices, even the best employees won’t meet all their goals. When you’re working with multiple personalities on one major project, it becomes even more complicated. Efficient project management matters because poorly-managed projects don’t meet their deadlines and cost businesses money (and reputation). A project manager facilitates, problem-solves, and makes sure everything stays on track. Each individual on a project has a role to play, and the project manager must make sure that those roles are executed on time and on budget. Why Use Project Management Tools? Project managers in the past got along without the web-based software we use today. But why wouldn’t you want to use new tools that make everything easier, more efficient, and more streamlined? A good project manager should be able to get by without using these tools, but they shouldn’t HAVE to. Here are just some of the benefits of cloud project management software: Improve communication between everyone on the project Streamlined delegation Project tracking features Central data storage Automated tasks, like invoicing Efficient file-sharing Individual time-tracking Advanced reporting capabilities A virtual “paper trail” for accountability Most project managers today swear by their favorite management software. Using these tools, they can cut down on unnecessary meetings, lead more efficiently, and ensure that everyone is clear on their individual responsibilities. Top Project Management Tools Everyone has their own needs and priorities when it comes to choosing project management tools. While there are some tools that we consider to be “the best,” every project manager needs to try out different options and find out what works best for their work style and organization! For instance, some teams need to focus on analytics and hard data, while others need customizable features and collaboration. Here are some favorites in 2021. Asana For collaborative teams, it doesn’t get much better than Asana. This project management software offers flexibility, automation, and an intuitive workflow. It’s a great option for project managers with complex or custom needs because you can create recurring tasks and custom fields and workflows. With that said, it’s also great for anyone who needs a flexible, easy-to-use tool! Even better? Asana allows unlimited guest users, making it perfect for project managers working with different freelancers and clients. Wrike With Wrike, you can share files, communicate with team members, and keep deadlines top-of-mind. Unlike many other project management tools, however, Wrike also offers methods for analyzing progress and visualizing data. If you need to track your progress using more than tasks completed, Wrike might be the tool for you. Trello Simple to use but surprisingly full-featured, Trello has a similar “board” design as many other project management systems but also offers options for analyzing project progress. With options for charts, reports, and other data visualization tools, Trello combines collaboration with data tracking. Airtable Airtable allows you to create databases in spreadsheet format. It’s highly customizable and offers different viewing modes to suit different work styles and team needs. You can track tasks and deadlines in calendar, grid, gallery, or even Kanban views! The biggest drawback to Airtable is that there aren’t many reporting options—but depending on your project, you might not need this feature. Leveraging Technology for Better Management It’s hard to keep track of everything and hold people accountable when working on a large project. While these tools won’t do all the work for you, they can help you stay organized and ensure that important tasks and deadlines don’t slip through the cracks. Let technology do some of the heavy lifting in 2021!