The open project management methodology PM2 is the best alternative to PMI and PRINCE2

Read why the free and open project management methodology PM2 is a superior alternative to proprietary and expensive frameworks such as PMI and PRINCE2.

Our mission at OpenProject has always been to enable project teams to achieve great things together. OpenProject partners with the PM2 Alliance to provide project teams a powerful methodology at minimum upfront effort and costs.

Last week I was invited by the Hellenic American Union to speak at the 14th international project management conference in Athens. The claim for this conference was to get your project on track.

When I prepared my personal experiences and best practices I was overwhelmed by very strong emotions. I felt pain, I felt frustration, and I felt anger. Let me tell you more about this and how this lead to our decision at OpenProject to support the PM2 methodology:

Repetitive PMO tasks are painful

After I graduated from university, I started my career at a large consulting company. So they put me on a plan and sent me to a global technology corporate. There I had to support the project management office in a large change management project. I will never forget how much PAIN it was.

Keep it lean and elimnate waste

During that assignment I spent months of my life with tasks like.

  • Collecting status information from the project team.
  • Creating status reports in PowerPoint.
  • Updating the work plan in Excel.
  • Collecting topics for meeting agenda by email.

So this went on for months. Back at that time I started dating a colleague. A wonderful lady.  So while I was working long hours in the evening doing these monitoring and controlling tasks my opportunity costs were extremely high. I hated it. I almost quit the job.

High entry barriers are frustrating

The next assignment was much more interesting. My job was to get a technology project back on track. So one of the first things I did was to ask the PMO to send me their project plan. So they sent me a large work plan that was created in MS Project. When I tried to edit it the FRUSTRATION started:

I had to use the client’s computers for security reasons. Unfortunately MS Project was not installed on this laptop. The IT department couldn’t install this software because they didn’t have licenses left. And they weren’t allowed to purchase any new ones. So I guess after paying all the consultants they had to save money on the tools.

High entry barriers of PMI and PRINCE2

So paying 1.000 € for a software is a quite high entry barrier. Managers will always try to avoid these kind of costs. I was frustrated that the organizational and technical barriers made it so hard to get the project back on track.

Big brother is watching you

In 2013 another strong feeling came up: That was the time when Edward Snowden revealed the global surveillance programs run by the NSA. I felt ANGER. I really felt like I am in George Orwell’s novel 1984 big brother is watching you. Pain, frustration and anger can be a very strong motivation to change things.

So I analyzed the problem together with my brother Wieland who just finished his Master in Computer Science. We came to the conclusion that open source software can be part of the solution. So the key aspects were:

  1. It needs to save time in my everyday job. We wanted that the software allows their users to spend more time with their loved ones.
  2. It needs to have very low entry barriers. It should be as easy as possible to collaborate with all project stakeholders. So it needed to be web based and open source.
  3. And we want to give our users the full control of their data.

Some years before we sold Netzzeitung.de so we are able to hire Wieland’s student mates from Hasso-Plattner-University. We started developing OpenProject. And guess what: the two corporates were our first blue chip clients.

With open source and open mind

So since 2013 we have proudly delivered 130 releases, each release with another feature that was bringing us closer to our mission:

“Enable project teams to achieve great things together.”

Currently we have more than 50.000 active installations worldwide. It is very fulfilling to see organizations such as Greenpeace, the Red Cross Austria, the Linux Foundation and the United Nations University to use OpenProject to collaborate in their projects I bootstrapped the company from the very beginning. We offer professional services to companies that use OpenProject in mission critical environments. We are profitable, we are growing and we are hiring.

So let me repeat our mission: “Enable project teams to achieve great things together”. So the longer we were building this software we realized one very important aspect:

“A fool with a tool is still a fool.”

A project management software itself does not solve any problems. Even the best features cannot guarantee project success. To keep your project on track you not only need to have a good software but also well implemented processes and methodologies. We realized that we need to train our users. We realized that we need an effective project management methodology integrated into OpenProject.

So I came across PMI. And again: I felt this pain. I felt frustration. I felt anger. Even the foundational standards of the PMI methodology are behind a high paywall. So I went on and had a look at PRINCE2. The same. They also wanted me to pay to learn about their standards. OpenProject has very low entry barriers by design. It is free and open source. So it is critical for us that the project management methodology is free and open, too.

So I went on searching and finally I came across the PM2 methodology. I felt like I am coming home from a long nasty business trip. It is obvious:  Our name was already part of their claim! So that was love at first sight.

PM2 is lean. It is open. It is free.

We share the same vision. And that is why we decided to join forces with the PM2 Alliance. And I can tell you it has been a great decision.

Let’s get back to this statement for a second: A fool with a tool is still a fool. You know I am a big fan of technology. I am the CEO of an open source company. So let me add a big BUT:

“Without a good tool project management is slow, bureaucratic, and inefficient.”
Stefan Hagen

So the good news are: OpenProject already supports a significant part of the PM2 methodology, mainly in the operational monitor and control section. And this is just the beginning. We will increase this support with every new release.

So let me come and end and summarize my key points:

  1. No software in the world can guarantee project success. Project teams need to share the same mindset. And they need to be trained. Invest time to implement processes and methodologies. A fool with a tool is still a fool. PM2 is an excellent fit because it is powerful, it is lean and it is open.
  2. Project management without a good tool is slow, bureaucratic and inefficient.
  3. Avoid effort that does not create any value. Keep it lean and eliminate waste.

So, we redesign project collaboration: a powerful software together with a strong methodology – to enable your project teams to achieve great things together.

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