Open source project management is the future

Open source project management is the future

Chances are that you’re familiar with the concept of open source software in some capacity — many of our users find us because they are specifically looking for an open source project management system. Open source software is software code has been published to the public and shared in a way that encourages collaboration on development and is intended to democratize how we (the world) use software.

Here at Leantime, we see open source project management as the future of project development and business success.

Definition Word Text in Dictionary Page


Open source: “Open source software is code that is designed to be publicly accessible—anyone can see, modify, and distribute the code as they see fit. Open source software is developed in a decentralized and collaborative way, relying on peer review and community production.” – Redhat

Leantime as an Open source Project Management System

If you ask Marcel, teasingly, he will tell you that he doesn’t understand how my brain works. He’s an expert at Legos; capable of building one element or section at a time and I see big picture; having to get the high level view before I can narrow in. This is what makes a great team: differences in the view. The differences in our brains ended up being significant enough that it drove a good sit down and evaluation of our own project management styles.

Project Management for Success

The purpose of project management is to increase the success and outcome of anything we want to accomplish; whether at business, life, with peer groups, at school. When we set out to accomplish something, it is typically because we are solving a problem, want, or need. As we evaluated what we needed, what we knew was best practice, and then looked at the systems out in the market, we found many of them guided us straight to the doing — right to task management.

Straight to “doing” creates misalignment & “shiny object syndrome”

Project management systems assume that you’ve done the pre-project work and then they lean on our natural instincts of get sh*t done. You get a small piece of project management in your PM (project management) system but project management isn’t just a “what you do,” it’s a skill. Project management is a “how you do it.”

Good project management skills help solve for bad strategy, inconsistencies, missteps, and timed delivery. You cannot start with doing and get reliable, predictable, and cohesive results. If you do, it’s because you’re doing the right things outside of your system, you’ve got an incredible team carrying the weight, or the project complexity is low.

How do you decide what to work on first? What guides your choices? What are you working towards? Is there value to this goal? How much will it cost? Is this task worth doing? Does this project get us where we want to be in a year?

Now add in another person. Starting with doing is a free for all. In our case, that means Marcel prioritizes what he wants, I pick what I want and we cross our fingers and hope we meet in the middle. You will, even with good project management, inevitably make assumptions about the work.

Or worse…

“Shiny Object Syndrome”

The term shiny object syndrome is often used when people mistake something small and focused and fixate on it to the extent that they lose the big picture.


Misalignment and chasing things that sound like a good thing can quickly become the death of the good thing that you’re actually working towards.

Using Leantime to make room for Project Inception

People are do-ers. It’s biological — we see a lion running at us, we don’t stop to plan an escape route. We just run. We have a goal or a target; we do. Our default state overrides the plan and it takes deliberate skill to not get lost in distraction.

Projects need strategy first

Whether you’re the type to get distracted or the type to get overwhelmed by all the potential outcomes, increasing a project’s success starts at the start of the project. Starting with the north star, the why, the strategy, the how we get there.

You need to know why you’re building before you build.

Teams will either need to drink lots of kool-aid, becoming ingrained into the goal & strategy — or it needs to be constantly in front of you. For businesses, this was easier when employees were in offices. Now that we’re remote, we make decisions based on documents in far away folders, away from the work, and in zoom calls.

Enter frameworks and Leantime feature development.

leantime project management open source progress

Design Thinking, Agile, Lean Project Management

We live in a world of separation and specialization. Concepts are black and white with little gray.

You’re all agile or all waterfall. Healthcare, you’re all Lean six sigma. The reality, though, is that the best solutions are a blend of the best of things and are done with balance in mind.

Enter project management blasphemy here: things are not one size fits all with people or with companies.

For project management systems, though, “one size doesn’t fit all” leads to feature and customization overload. Users ask for a feature because it’s “how they want to do it” and companies say OK! to the tune of a GAAP loss of 288.3 million dollars this year (looking at you, Asana).

Project management, being a skill, also means you know when to say no and are both decisive and protective of your north star. Features within project management need to be blended in with the best practices for the best outcomes.

The more complex project set up becomes, the more you wonder if you’re doing it right, the more you get distracted and then the harder it is to stay focused.

Leantime combines Lean startup & lean manufacturing concepts (path of least resistance, decreasing cognitive loads), design thinking (staged strategic approaches) and the benefits of agile (iterative processes).

While we look at every feature request with genuine consideration, these three concepts are ingrained to our foundation.

Ok, then but what does this have to do with open source?

So great, right? We’ve got this idealistic concept of how project management should work based on years of our own experiences and learnings.

It’s not enough. Project management systems are everywhere and it’s the same “value propositions”. Do quicker! See all your tasks at once! Varying levels of feature overload. The systems aren’t decreasing cognitive load in a world overloaded with cognitive demands. And they’re expensive.

Project management isn’t simple and if it was, we could all survive on notebooks and sheets.

How we do project management is still evolving

We are still hunters and gatherers in our core. Balancing our bias for action takes hard work. It’s easy to oversimplify; to miss steps. Anticipating the next thing is hard. Tasks aren’t easy to estimate.

What does it mean to be done, anyway? Then add in 2020, 2021, 2022… the new hybrid & remote workforces and never ending inflation?

We’re limited by resources and scaling is expensive

Good project management practices remain a business luxury.

Studies show that on average, companies spend $218.58 per employee a month ($2,623/yr) on SaaS products. The costs are going up and this means that scaling, planning projects, or just building something cool has become a privilege held captive by inflation.

Business is expensive and we need more business owners

According to McKinsey, Latinos start more businesses per capita than any other racial or ethnic group in the United States. Latino owned firms grow at a rate of 12.5% annually compared to other White-owned firms at 5.3% annual growth. We are less likely to have employees, have less outside support and are more likely to close in the first year.

We are also less likely to have access to capital and are less likely to get funded our full ask at the bank even with the same credit scores. Our businesses get ~2.5% of venture capital.

What happens when things are complicated, we’re spread thin, we have limited resources and sh*t still needs to get done?

Hello open source software.

Open source: above and beyond

The benefit of open source software extends beyond any relationship to cost. Open source software extends the traditional platform of software development and expands it into shared passion, experience, knowledge and community.

Open source means that the platform that you use today has contributions made to it by developers who are also using the software. They created a feature they wanted and shared that feature.

We’ve been both honored to contribute and in receiving contributions from the community. When COVID has taken us so much farther from people, open source is still here bringing us together.

In Summary: Building great ideas is for everyone

If building great ideas is for everyone, then people need access to more than a Kanban board or a to do list to grow into the next big thing.

It isn’t enough, though, that people should just have access to the organizational elements of building. For McKinsey’s statistics to catch up with other groups, we need to also make the principles of project management accessible.

Accessible without an MBA. Without education from the top leading schools. Without trying to balance online certifications while working a job and trying to build their startup.

Knowledge is best learned while being applied because it engages us entirely.

the most successful problem solvers spend mental energy figuring out what type of problem they are facing before matching a strategy to it

Epstein, from the book Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialist World

Successful project management starts at inception and that success belongs to everyone.

We’re open source.

Thanks for joining us on the journey.


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