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OpenProject’s Chief Operating Officer on remote work, AI, and a love for customers

Temps de lecture estimé: 5 minutes

Robin Wagner is OpenProject’s Chief Operating Officer. He has been with the company since the early days and is celebrating 10 years this year with OpenProject. Let’s learn more about his perspective on remote work, AI, and a focus on customers in this employee spotlight.

5 things about Robin

  • Current location: Berlin
  • Favorite music genre: Electronic
  • Favorite activity outside of work: Biking and the gym
  • First job out of University: OpenProject
  • Favorite open source principles: Collaboration and sharing

Cette vidéo est disponible en anglais.

Meet Robin Wagner, the COO of OpenProject

Robin is responsible for operational topics at OpenProject. His day-to-day responsibilities include managing the sales and support teams as well as the training team.

Believe it or not, his first job out of University was with OpenProject in 2013. Ten years ago, he met Niels Lindenthal, CEO and co-founder of OpenProject, in Berlin when the company was around 15 employees and the cloud and enterprise versions of OpenProject were not yet released. A lot has changed since then.

On remote and in-office work

Robin lives in Berlin and works at the Berlin office most days. He enjoys the flexibility of remote as well as the comradery of office mates. Robin’s thoughts on remote work when some large tech companies are demanding relocation to their headquarters or hubs, focus on productivity as well as employee happiness.

“I think being a remote-first company is a huge positive for us. We, as a company, have focused on putting the right processes in place to support remote employees and the team at-large for learning and working together,” said Robin.

“There’s a lot of coordination, and of course there’s a certain level of trust that is required. It works for us. Our company culture is one that is intentional about how we hire and form relationships with our employees.”

“We just held an offsite in Berlin two weeks ago (Spring 2024) and one last fall (2023). Employees from around Europe as well as the US, Central America and Africa made the trek, and that means so much to all of us to get to know each other on a human level.”

“Remote-first also allows OpenProject to hire the best people from around the globe, and it allows us to be present in different time zones. It’s a win-win.”

On using OpenProject internally

Internally at OpenProject we dogfood our own product because it helps us organize our remote and on-site teams and work, but it also allows us to uncover bugs, report inconsistencies, and surface new ideas that benefit customers.

“All of our teams use OpenProject for communication, coordination, and tracking projects. It’s great to create, use, and sell a product you are proud of,” said Robin.

“We also track our development roadmap with OpenProject. We make that available to users on the Community platform now, and released a blog post going into the details. Everything we do is to solve a problem for the customer or user.”

On AI + OpenProject

OpenProject creates a development roadmap for the year that is focused on solving problems that the users and customers have reported they have, not features and issues that we believe they have or want. So, for AI, and all the hype around it, OpenProject strives to hold these two truths in balance:

  1. AI is important and will be a part of the OpenProject’s future in some way
  2. OpenProject will incorporate AI as it reveals itself to be valuable to the users and customers

“We are definitely looking into ways of using AI within OpenProject. For example, AI could help us identify duplicate work packages across different projects,” said Robin.

“One thing I love is the AI feature that summarizes notes from the video/audio recording of a meeting. With how integral meetings are to our clients’ project management processes, there could be an interesting integration here down the road. But these are just ideas for now. Our focus is to make sure that we are problem-driven and that we solve actual issues for our users.”

On a love for the user and customer

Many of OpenProject’s users and customers love the fact that the software is open source. They can customize it based on their preferences and requirements. They can contribute to it, and OpenProject provides a high level of security and data privacy through the option of running OpenProject on your own server.

Plus, many clients want an easy way to test it out, so they choose the Community edition to get started. Oftentimes, they realize they love it and want the Enterprise features, so they have the choice to choose on-prem or cloud.

“One thing that I find really exciting is seeing how OpenProject is adopted more and more by our users,” said Robin. “Awareness is spreading quite a bit. Many of our clients are in the public sector across multiple industries, and just seeing how widely it is used brings me joy. I love talking with these customers and learning how they use it day-to-day, learning how it benefits their teams and departments.”

“We also love being a part of an open source ecosystem of tools within these organizations. From openDesk to Nextcloud and others, OpenProject fits together nicely with these other open source tools. We’re seeing initial adoption of an open source ecosystem of tools in the public sector in Germany and expect that to grow!”

Wrapping up

We enjoyed chatting with Robin about his work with OpenProject as well as how he’s looking forward to seeing OpenProject grow.

Stay tuned for more employee interviews where we chat with the team behind the scenes!