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Solutions Architects

Solutions Architect Handbook

Solutions Architects (SA) are the trusted advisors to GitLab prospects and customers during the presales motion, demonstrating how the GitLab application and GitLab Professional Services address common and unique business requirements. SA's add value to GitLab by providing subject matter expertise and industry experience throughout the sales process.

SA's identify and propose comprehensive solutions to complex business problems and workflow scenarios after compiling inputs from customer conversations. Desired inputs include pain points, role-based visibility concerns, opportunities for improved efficiencies, current technologies and tools, corporate initiatives, target outcomes and more. SA's also act as the technical liaison between the sales team and other groups within GitLab, engaging GitLab employees from other teams as needed in order meet the needs of the customer.

On this page

Role & Responsiblities

See the Solutions Architect role description

In addition to core responsibilities, Solutions Architects may assist in other client-facing activities aligned to Content Marketing or Product Marketing such as blogs, videos, webinars, presentations and industry trade show presence. Some examples are listed below:

Demo Readiness

Solutions Architects are occasionally called on at a moments notice to give a demo or join a call to show a prospect or customer specific GitLab functionality. A best practice for being prepared for these demo requests is to have a minimized browser window with various content preloaded into the browser tabs. Examples of common environments utilized are listed below. Note that accessing some of these links is only enabled for GitLab team members.

Working Agreements

Solutions Architects typically support two sales teams made up of Sales Development Representatives, Strategic Account Leaders and Technical Account Managers. When joining a sales team, establishing working agreements is critical to providing optimal service to the customers as well as the GitLab team. A sample template of working agreements is found below to help facilitate conversation and establish these agreements:

  1. Customer response time for emails and meeting followups I will always do my best to provide same-day responses to customer inquiries and follow ups unless otherwise noted. I like to provide customers top-notch service, but interruptions can affect that target. I will use my out of office when traveling so customers can expect delayed responses during those times. Feel free to contact me if it's approaching the end of the day and you didn't see me address a customer request. Slack is the easiest way to find me most of the time.
  2. Calendar Schedule things as necessary right on my calendar during working hours - I'll do my best to keep my calendar up to date. However, if you see only one empty slot for a day or if it looks like the meeting would be back to back with something else, please check with me before confirming dates and times with the customer. If you want me at my best for you, I will need time to prepare and followup. If we schedule back to back, I've found I'm often late to arrive due to the last meeting, flustered as I context shift, lacking answers for known questions, unprepared with demo environments that were altered in the last call, etc.
  3. Regular communication A weekly strategy hour-long call with the SA, SAL, SDR and TAM is preferred. If more frequent synchronous communication is desirable or required, we should work together as a team to identify a viable cadence, required attendees, convenient time and agenda for those calls.
  4. Elevated conversations The more we focus on value and stay away from very deep technical and troubleshooting conversations, the more I can help you achieve target sales. I'm happy to review and contribute to business plans so we remain in sync.
  5. Professional Services I'm happy to recommend and propose services for prospects and customers. I will write the initial SOW and get approvals from the Professional Services team.
  6. Travel While strategic enterprise sales absolutely require travel, each day on the road can increase the volume of work and calls on other days of the week as my dialogs with customers often require extensive time commitments to research and model specific customer solutions. Please plan strategically when looking at on-sites, considering that I support at least two sales teams. Additionally, please do what you can to avoid scheduling on-site visits less than one week out to help me be able to commit to family and local things.
  7. Notes Unless otherwise directed, call notes will be linked to a Google document from Salesforce. Email communication with customers will also be bcc'd to Salesforce. If you prefer to record notes and actions differently, please let me know what that collaborative method is.
  8. Continuous learning Things at GitLab move really fast, and I need time to keep up. I'll block a few hours on my calendar coincident with releases to absorb the latest GitLab feature set, but new technologies and competitive products also appear regularly. Please expect that I will need to allocate additional time to learning about those on a regular basis to sufficiently support our customers.

Engaging a Solutions Architect

1) Qualification

2) Preparation

3) SA/TAM engagement overlap

The SA owns all pre-sales technical relationships and activities. The SA quarterbacks technical conversations prior to the sale. TAM involvement prior to the sale models the expectations for customer relationships after the sale. TAM involvement should supplement, not displace, SA pre-sales ownership of the account.

TAM engagement prior to the sale should occur in the following situations:

The TAM owns the account post-sale. SA's are to remain involved in the following situations:

When and How to Engage a Solutions Architect

The SA should either be included in a discovery call or provided with Outcome / Infrastructure / Challenges information uncovered by prior interactions with the account. Occasionally, SA's may support a combination call of discovery and technical demonstration/deep-dive on a single call, but this is suboptimal as the latter approach does not allow the SA time to prepare for and/or tailor the discussion.

The SA is also responsible for any pre-sales technical customer inquiry or audit from associated accounts, including RFI, RFP or security audits. For details on the audit process, proceed to the Security page.

Strategic Account Engagement Model

SA's are aligned regionally with Strategic Account Leaders and aligned in their respective account activities. Each team collaborates according to their own Working Agreements.

As a general guideline, no more than 2 Solutions Architects should join any single client-facing call, whether it be assistive for the topic or for learning / shadowing.

Mid-Market Engagement Model

An SA can be requested by an Account Executive or Strategic Account Leader using the process described below. See the following video: How to engage Solutions Architects using GitLab (available only for GitLab employees) for a brief overview.

1) Navigate to the SA Service Desk Board

NOTE: The board is located in the Group “Customer Success” and the name of the project is named “SA Service Desk.”

2) Create a new issue

3) Use one of two templates

4) To help the SA group ensure success for the client, the following information should be made available prior to SA engagement

5) (Optional) Associate one or more of the following labels as needed

Weekly SA Triage Assignment

Each week, a Solutions Architect volunteers to be the "Triage SA" for the week. This is indicated both in the SA Triaged label (e.g. SA Triaged - Feb 12-16 - @dt) as well as in the '#customer-success' channel in Slack.

Triage of Issues

The "Triage SA" will monitor the SA Service Desk Board and/or the '#sa-service-desk' channel in Slack for incoming work and will contact the appropriate Customer Success team members via Slack, email or cellular depending on required skills, schedules and availability.

The Customer Success team attends a triage call once each week. Each week, the volunteer "Triage SA" facilitates this call. The call is on Friday at 1pm EST (10am PST). Anyone at GitLab is welcome to join these calls via Zoom

Board Label Descriptions