Pie manifesto.

The industry of project and portfolio tools are driven by the idea of turning people into resources. Enterprise applications shouldn’t be hard to use, stifle creativity, or track us like machines. These tools shouldn’t arbitrarily pump out results for the sake of marking stuff done.

We believe project teams and the consumers of the end projects deserve better.

We believe that people who are given the right tools to use previous knowledge, identify new ways from lessons learned and creativity, will make better recipes for executing projects and delivering awesome end results.

In addition, we believe that the consumers of the end project will be more happy with great results, whether or not the project was on time or on budget. Because they have to live with it and they’re human too.

You are not a resource.
You are a person with ideas and action.
You are human, and Pie will always be made for humans.


The story.

A large publisher of scientific journals had problems. The IT people were scattered across the world and doing different processes. No one shared and all worked in “silos.” 

They hired a consultant to fix this. The end result was a global standard. But a new problem arose. Once the standards were stored on the server, the employees forgot they existed. Many staff members continued to reinvent the wheel, worked through a barrage of issues, and ended up disengaged from their projects. 

That consultant was me, Paul Dandurand, founder of PieMatrix and designer of Pie. My experience with this consulting gig showed me how important it is not only to have good frameworks, but also to make them flexible, available at your fingertips, scaleable, and organic so they have a life of their own for ongoing improvements. These critical factors will also help engage team members.

If I were to list the key challenges organizations face, I would say they:

  1. Don’t have flexible frameworks to drive great processes

  2. Focus too much on time and budget, forgetting about end results

  3. Want benefits of “agile”, but feel constrained or don’t know how to get there

  4. Are unable to scale and improve from lessons learned

  5. Can’t keep people engaged and motivated

  6. Don't have transparency in what's going on in real time

  7. And have too many project/process tools that are too complex, expensive, or not used.

The world has changed. Today, more and more people are being assigned to projects, working in teams for the first time, and working with people they’ve never met in person. No wonder lots of people are checked out. A Gallup study found that 63% of people are “not engaged” with their jobs. According to a study from Aon Hewitt, one of the top reasons for this disengagement is a lack of recognition. How can we get people engaged?

There’s got to be a better way to engage people to produce extraordinary project results. After my consulting project with the publisher, I searched the market for a technology solution that would encourage people to think of new ways to get work done and give them a place to capture and share knowledge. It had to be easy for everyone to chime in, making processes better over time. And it has to be an experience that’s captivating and as intuitive as possible.

Although, there were some popular project management tools, such as Microsoft Project, I didn’t like what I saw and used. So, I went on to build something new.

My product is called "Pie". The first product was launched in 2009. Luckily, I was able to kick-start the company and product development with my proceeds from a sale of a previous start-up I co-founded and successfully sold.

With my experience in process I learned from Ernst & Young and my visual passion with photography and the visual arts, I designed Pie's user interface to resemble how many people draw processes on white boards. I made the Pie design for people like me who learn faster from visuals rather than a list of text like in all other project management tools. I also wanted something for repeatable type projects, since that’s what most of us do.

The first product found a niche in the market of people who saw value the way I did. We signed up many different types of organizations, but found an affinity with the consulting industry and the new product development (NPD) sector. Both relied heavily on repeatability and successful results for their end-clients. This became our sweet spot.

Overtime, we got by-passed by volume hungry startups who managed to raise tens to hundreds of millions of dollars from VCs. They spent a ton on marketing and, in my honest opinion, not so much on user experience.

So, times got challenging with all the new noise. However, I persevered since I believe in my vision and our customer stories and successes.

The other unforeseen problem was the technology I chose at the beginning. We decided on Adobe Flex for the front end and Java for the backend. At the time it was the best option. Little did I know that Steve Jobs would decide to lead the market into killing Flash Player, which is what Flex is built on. I had to change.

As you know, all major companies like Microsoft, Apple, and others re-write their architecture from the ground up every 5-10 years. It’s not always necessary, but it was for Pie.

That left me with a decision to do two major shifts. One is to start over with a new technology. Two is to redesign a new Pie that will be even more friendly than the first and figure out how to combine agile with process. In early 2017, I started to redesign the application from the ground up, but still keeping our loved “pie” paradigm. At the end of 2017, we started a new secret development project called “New Pie”. As I write this, it’s early 2019 and I’m extremely happy with the design direction and the incredible progress of my new development team. (Yes, I had to start back up with a team too. It was painful, but for the better.) The new technology chosen is the React javascript framework for the front end and Elixir language with the Phoenix framework for the backend. Wow! What a combo punch! In the old days we would spend 80% of our time fixing bugs and 20% building new features. Today, it’s more like 90% new features and 10% bug fixing. This is because of both the technology and my great team!

My strategy with the New Pie is similar to the Legacy Pie as it still has the same “pie” model. However, a big difference, aside from the efficient and cool underlining technology, is the new simpler user interface and user experience. As I quietly kicked it off with a few people in my network, they have been referring others and the base is starting to grow without any marketing. This is telling. The feedback I get is that people with no project or project tool experience say no training is required. My plans is to have Pie be easily used by BOTH the simple small project freelancer or tiny startup team to the big-ass corporate enterprise cast of thousands with large capital project budgets. Because at the end of the day, those enterprise folks are just like you and me — humans.

Please give the new Pie a try and send me your feedback.

- Paul Dandurand, Founder and CEO

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About the founder.

Paul Dandurand has a background in starting and growing companies. Prior to PieMatrix, he was co-founder of FocusFrame.

Paul helped position FocusFrame as the market leader with process methodology differentiation. FocusFrame was sold to Hexaware in 2006. Previously, he was a management consulting manager at Ernst & Young in San Francisco, prior at Siebel Systems (now Oracle) in Amsterdam. Paul enjoys photography, cello, skiing, and going to off-beat places. He earned a B.A. degree in Economics from the University of California at Berkeley.