The SA organization uses process mapping as a framework for structured and continuous improvement. LucidChart is used to document SA execution workflow and details; in other words, what we do and how we do it is documented as a visual process map. This provides a single location to find reusable artifacts, enablement, and tooling.
The goals of SA process mapping are inclusive of the following:
SA process mapping is not meant to restrict creativity, experimentation, or improvement. As part of the SA Learning Organization, SAs are encouraged to challenge our mental models and focus on solving problems as a team. If something can be done better, please try it out and share your learnings. Contribute to our process maps and to the supporting handbook pages.
To following process maps are best viewed in full screen. Please note that many of the map nodes are clickable, leading to other maps, handbook pages, or other supporting artifacts.
Solutions Architects record all customer and prospect activity to promote transparency and collaboration. By consistently capturing our customer facing activity, we can perform analysis for further reporting to establish efficient decision making for GitLab's business. More information on this process can be found on the SA Activity Capture page.
We have a standard meeting notes document that is formatted to enable the activity capture in Troops which should be utilised for each customer engagement
Follow the process detailed in the Working with Professional Services handbook page.
Simplified process description:
Follow the process detailed in the GitLab's Customer Assurance Activities handbook page.
Optional Considerations when engaging the Customer Assurance team:
Enterprise Solutions Architects typically support sales teams made up of Sales Development Representatives, Strategic Account Leaders and Technical Account Managers. Commercial Sales Solutions Architects support Mid-Market Account Executives and SMB Customer Advocates in a pooled model. 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:
Account planning helps the SAL and the SA elevate opportunity-driven conversations into value-based conversations that focus on the customer's value drivers. It is a critical step in strategically supporting the customer at the account level, and facilitates more efficient opportunity planning. See the Using Gainsight for SAs page for details.
The entire cross-functional team should help in the preparation of the QBR content that either the Strategic Account Leaders or Commercial AEs will present during the QBR, and should participate in the QBR session. SAs should offer proactive assistance in matters related to articulation of technical win and success criteria details in the Sales reps owned QBR slides. It is often helpful to perform a dry run of the QBR with the area sales manager prior to the actual meeting, to review the content and timing of the presentation.
Solution Architects may participate in initial qualifying meetings (IQM's) or allow the SDR and SAL/AE to manage the initial call and utilize information gained during it for additional preparation. Teams can handle this on a case by case basis.
Once objectives and expectations have been established following the command of the message discovery, we suggest a recommended review as an account team of information gathered. This will help us determine if qualification criterias have been met to proceed with further technical discovery or that the account requires further discovery of their outcomes. Solutions Architects oftentimes will have a unique perspective in a given opportunity and it is vital that this information is distilled and shared out, preferably through the command plan, to the rest of the account team.
The perceived size of a given opportunity is not always reflective of the amount of effort that an SA ought to put into a given customer. The requirements listed below are aimed at:
When reaching out to engage SAs during opportunity qualification, discovery, and technical evaluations, please provide the below information. This will enable the SAs to accelerate execution, enable success, and promote consistent and quality opportunity outcomes aligned to the varied Sales roles and adopted strategies. The SAs reserve the right to decline the meeting if the below information is missing/not provided after being asked & if the correct personas are not engaged. We will review the exceptions on a case-by-case basis in case the below information is not provided and/or not qualified.
Poorly positioned opportunities where the SAs has been engaged at the wrong time or without enough context will lead to SA burnout, stalled or prolonged sales cycles, and misalignment with the customers needs. It is critical that SAs are engaged when the Command Plan is leveraged, specifically the Why Now/Identify Pain are in sentence format.
Solution Architects should participate in technical discovery after lead qualification is complete and in other activities during the sales process that lead to a technical win, e.g.
SA's may also work in tandem with a TAM to support existing customers, especially when expand opportunities exist within the account. And SA's may also have regular touch points smaller customers who do not have a TAM assigned.
Further details can be found here: (https://about.gitlab.com/handbook/customer-success/#overlap-between-solution-architects-and-technical-account-managers)
The Solutions Architect, in order to tailor conversations and demos to demonstrate value as well as address current problem areas, will want to understand the following information, and may request further technical discovery() prior to any demo:
Qualification criteria typically involves both Business requirements and Technical Functional/Non-Functional requirements *(i.e, Functional requirements explain how the system must work, while non functional requirements explain how the system should perform.
Once a technical discovery has been completed, SA will work within the account team to solidify a path forward (will the customer proceed with a purchase, trial, proof of value?) and idenitfy the corresponding metrics that will be used to determine the success of the evaluation.
U.S. Enterprise 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.
When workload exceeds the SA's capacity or when there is a request from other departments, please submit the request for assistance on either of the enterprise triage boards based on region: US EAST Triage Board or US WEST Triage Board. The issue creation and triage processes are described in detail below.
Initial discovery with sales have led to assignment of 1 SA/new logo account team. The proposed model includes 2-3 SA touches/accounts. SA will play an active role in discovery due to early qualification needed in the account. The SAs reserve the right to decline the meeting if the below information is missing/not provided after being asked & if the correct personas are not engaged. We will review the exceptions on a case-by-case basis in case the below information is not provided and/or not qualified.
Sales Plays that SAs are expected to be involved in includes:
Please submit an exception request here if you need additional support from the SA team. Please include the below information in the new issue.
EMEA Enterprise SA's are aligned regionally with Strategic Account Leaders and aligned in their respective account activities. Each team collaborates according to standard Working Agreements, but they can be adjusted by teams individually.
Default alignment is maintained in the EMEA SAL-SA Alignment page. Exceptions will happen, especially in the case where SAL's work with named accounts.
When workload exceeds the SA's capacity or when there is a request from other departments, please reach out via #emea-sa-tam Slack channel for assistance.
SA engagement for customer interactions, RFP's, audits and more (how to engage a Commercial SA) can be requested by an SMB or Mid-Market Account Executive or other GitLab team-member using the appropriate GitLab issue board. Commercial boards exist for both the Americas and EMEA. The Americas Commercial Triage Board and the EMEA Commercial Triage Board are leveraged by the team in order to ensure coverage for all sales activity. The issue creation and triage processes are described in detail below.
APAC SAs are aligned regionally into regions such as ANZ, SEA (South-East Asia), India, South Korea and Japan in close alignment to the Strategic Account Leaders, Commercial AEs and Channels Managers territories. Teams collaborate to the standards Working Agreements.
The Alliance SA team is global. The Alliance SA's are aligned with Alliance Partner Managers/Directors and the Alliance Business Development Managers. In customer accounts where an Alliance partner technology is involved, an Alliance SA engagement for customer interactions can be requested by an Account Executive / SA / TAM using the appropriate issue board. For more details, click on how to engage an Alliance SA. Here's the Alliance Triage Board and the issue template
The Channel SA's are aligned globally with the Channel program team as well as regionally with Channel Sales Directors and Channel Account Managers. Channel SA's are primarily focused on developing Partner relationships as opposed to direct Customer relationships. Our primary community served are the regional Channel Sales Directors and their Channel Account Managers (CAMs), Partner teams, and our own managment. Generally for direct customer opportunity support, engage the appropriate GitLab SA community for your customer. Channel SA's can provide backup to the Customer SA community in support of a Partner aligned opportunity.
Most Opportunity based enagement should start with the CAM and they should identify the appropriate Channel SA to engage. If you do not know the CAM for your account / partner reach out via the
#channel-sales slack channel for general sales questions about working with partners or finding help with a specific channel opportunity.
In customer accounts where a Channel partner is involved, engagement with the Partner from a Channel SA can be requested by an Account Executive / SA / TAM. For more details, click on how to engage a Channel SA. The details on Channel SA engagement model can be found in this RACI spreadsheet.
The SA team associated with each region will monitor the triage board and/or an associated Slack channel for incoming work and will contact the appropriate Customer Success team members via Slack, email or phone depending on required skills, schedules and availability. SLA for activity is 48 hours unless the issue is marked with an 'Expedite' label.
When technical staff is required for a marketing event, follow the process outlined on the Marketing Events page. SA managers and others in Customer Success should monitor the Event Staffing Board regularly for new events (although Marketing staff will CC the appropriate managers on issues.)
When a prospect or customer have required capabilities that do not map directly to our product offering, Solutions Architect’s first step is to explore solutions or work-arounds that would satisfy their requirements with our current toolset. If the SA is unable to determine an approach that works for the prospect, the next best action is to reach out to the Product Manager. To determine what Product Manager is appropriate, review the Product Categories handbook page.
To be efficient as possible, this is the recommended approach: