Technical Account Management

Technical Account Management Handbook

On this page

What is a Technical Account Manager (TAM)?

GitLab's Technical Account Managers serve as trusted advisors to GitLab customers. They offer guidance, planning and oversight during the technical deployment and implementation process. They fill a unique space in the overall service lifecycle and customer journey and actively bind together sales, solution architects, customer stakeholders, product management, implementation engineers and support.

See the Technical Account Manager role description for further information.

Advocacy

A Technical Account Manager is an advocate for both the customer and GitLab. They act on behalf of customers serving as a feedback channel to development and shaping of the product. In good balance, they also advocate on behalf of GitLab to champion capabilities and features that will improve quality, increase efficiency and realize new value for our customer base.

Values

Management

Technical Account Managers maintain the relationships between the customers and GitLab. Making sure that everyone is working towards pre-defined goals and objectives.

Growth

Technical Account Managers help to bring GitLab to all aspects of your company, not just software development. They can do this by showing other business unit's how to use GitLab for their day-to-day tasks and to advocate for new features and functionality that are in demand by other groups.

Success

Technical Account Managers make sure that the adoption of GitLab is successful at your company through planning, implementation, adoption, training and regular healthchecks.

Responsibilities and Services

All Premium customers with a minimum ARR of $100,000 are aligned with a Technical Account Manager. There are various services a Technical Account Manager will provide to ensure that customers get the best value possible out of their relationship with GitLab and their utilisation of GitLab's products and services. These services include, but are not limited to:

Relationship Management

Training

Support

It is also possible for a customer to pay for a Technical Account Manager's services in order to receive priority, "white glove" assistance, guidance and support as well as more time allocated to their account on a monthly basis. There are also additional services a Technical Account Manager will provide to the services listed above. These are currently to be determined and will become available before the end of the second quarter of 2018.


Engagement Models

There are three models currently offered for Technical Account Manager engagement. These are broken into tiers that currently use Annual Recurring Revenue as a metric for determining a manageable volume for a single Technical Account Manager and the depth of involvement during the engagement.

Table of Technical Account Manager Engagements

Technical Account Managers focus on large and strategic accounts, small business (SMB) and mid-market accounts are typically handled by Account Managers.

  TIER 1 TIER 2 TIER 3
Minimum ARR $500,000 $250,000 $100,000

Managing the Customer Engagement

Technical Account Managers will typically manage customer engagements via a GitLab project in the account-management group. This project will be based off a customer collaboration project template and then customized to match the customer's needs as outlined above. The project is pre-loaded with milestones, issues, labels and a README template to help kick off the project and outline a proof of concept, implementation and customer onboarding.

To start a new customer engagement:

  1. Somewhere between step 3 and step 7 of the customer journey sequence, a Solutions Architect should create a project for the customer in GitLab and include an Implementation Engineer and Technical Account Manager who're best aligned with the customer account.
  2. Go to the customer collaboration project template project.
  3. Follow the steps in the PLEASE-READ-THESE-INSTRUCTIONS.md file

Using the customer project for communication

Once a customer project is setup and all principles have been invited, it is more convenient as the primary method of communication rather than email. Issues should be created for meetings and tasks. This makes it easier for the TAM to include other GitLab employees and is a more transparent communication model than email.
If the customer wants to use email, GitLab's Service Desk feature should be enabled which will allow the automatic creation of issues based on the email.
Please NOTE: The customer project is not to be used for support requests. Anything requiring communication with a GitLab support engineer should be initiated via the Support Portal or the designated support email address.

Where does a Technical Account Manager fit in?

During the pre-sales process, a Solutions Architect owns the project with assistance from the Strategic Account Leader and should include the Implementation Engineer if there is one assigned. During the pre-sales project, a Technical Account Manager is involved but only for visibility. Until the account becomes a paying customer, the project remains in pre-sales. Once the customer has paid, the Strategic Account Leader will set up the Welcome to GitLab call along with the key GitLab employees (SAL, SA, IE and Technical Account Manager) and the customer. There is a preloaded issue for this in the project template.

This call will introduce the customer to the Technical Account Manager and begin the handover process. The Technical Account Manager will then lead the rest of the call and own the project going forward. The project is then moved from a pre-sales project under the pre-sales account-management group to a post-sales project under account-management group.

Typically this project template isn't used for small business or mid-market accounts. However, if an Account Manager feels this could be useful to assist their relationship with the customer, then they can utilise it and edit down as needed.

Account Triaging

In order to prevent customer churn and improve retention of our customers, we have an Account Triage project in GitLab.

Account Triage Project

If customer at risk of non-renewal, i.e. with a health score of Amber or Red in SFDC, create an issue in the Account Triage project.

All TAM's meet weekly to review the issue board for current "at risk" account activity. The meeting is a peer review of new at risk accounts to make sure activities are followed up on and owned across the business and is also a chance to discuss tactics/strategies on those accounts in case anything different should be done.

The triage team also needs to check the health score report to ensure that all Amber and Red accounts have indeed been added to the board, and to make sure that all issues in the project have the correct health score according to SFDC. If the scores do not match, reach out to the TAM to find out why and rectify it.

Generally, this account is for Amber and Red accounts. If a TAM has an account that is Yellow, and feels they need help and support on that account from their team / the triage team described below, then they may add an issue on the triage board for that account.

When an account is added to the issue board, assign it with a 'triage team', which should include:

This team will have responsibility for managing the account as a team until renewal point.

The objective here is to try and retain customers, and reduce churn whilst balancing that with the demands of the rest of the business. For example, if a customer is at risk over a feature that needs to be built, that cost on engineering/product time needs to be balanced with the commercial attractiveness of the customer. For that reason it is a good idea for a representative of the product team to also attend the review meetings, as required.

Having such a process in place ensures that we are being proactive about managing our churn risk. It also means that we gain good visibility of potential churn in advance. If there are commonalities to churn risk customers, that will also help with visibility and prioritisation of any work required - or of any other problems.

If you move an account to Green or Yellow from Amber or Red, close it. Make sure you close it AND add the label so we can see the history in the issue.

This project/process is a work in progress and can always be improved. If you have suggestions on how to improve it, please leave add your thoughts to this issue.

Labels:

Health scores (https://gitlab.com/gitlab-com/customer-success/cs-metrics/issues/6)

Rough guide below on what the health of an account in a certain category looks like:

~Red

~Amber

~Yellow

~Green

Triage Labels for at risk (~red) accounts

See Churn Classification for more info on these labels.

Workflow labels

Every new issue will have the ~New label. Use the "Colours" board as your main view when viewing issues via an issue board. Once you have reviewed the issue, remove the ~New label.

Customer Onboarding

We should include a pre-defined set of professional services in each initial purchase. This aims to improve the customer onboarding experience across for all customers whilst setting a precedent to how all customers are managed (with regards to outreach, support, technical account management etc.) throughout the duration of their experience and relationship with GitLab.

Technical Account Managers and Implementation Engineers should work closely together throughout the onboarding process, with support from Solutions Architects and Strategic Account Leaders/Account Managers where appropriate.

Please note that these gemstones are NOT intended to replace sales segmentation, they are a way of categorising customers in a way that's relevant to Customer Success.

Below is an outline of the ideal onboarding experiences that we want to deliver for our customers based on deal size. This is intended to be included as part of the customer's GitLab purchase at some point in either Q1 or Q2 2019 (TBD) once we have enough headcount to deliver it. Expectations MUST be managed with the customer early on that anything outside of these strict boundaries must have a Statement of Work attached and be paid for before any of the additional work is delivered.

Customer onboarding is a 45 day time period. All implementation and training must be scheduled to be delivered within the first 30 days of purchase. The Technical Account Manager is responsible for ensuring that this happens.

Diamond

Accounts categorized into Diamond are all accounts that are greater than 5000 users, OR greater than 2000 users AND using Ultimate/Gold, OR greater than $500,000 in TAV (Total Account Value).*

Technical Account Management Implementation
Dedicated Technical Account Manager Implementation Engineer
60 minute weekly call with TAM and IE Two weeks on-site/remote support - Must be scheduled within 30 days of purchase
GitLab Customer Success project Four one-hour meetings focused around HA implementation support & HA training certification (5-10 attendees) - Must be scheduled within the first 30 days of purchase
Personal outreach & automated outreach GitLab Administration Training & up to three additional training courses of their choice, including train-the-trainer certification if desired. - Must be scheduled within the first 30 days of purchase

Pearl

Accounts categorized into Pearl are all accounts that are not Diamond AND greater than 2500 users, OR greater than 1000 users AND using Ultimate/Gold, OR greater than $250,000 in TAV (Total Account Value).*

Technical Account Management Implementation
Dedicated Technical Account Manager Implementation Engineer
30 minute weekly call with TAM and IE One weeks on-site/remote support - must be scheduled within 30 days of purchase
GitLab Customer Success project Four one-hour meetings focused around HA implementation support & HA training certification (1-5 attendees) - Must be scheduled within the first 30 days of purchase
Personal outreach & automated outreach Up to two training courses of their choice, including train-the-trainer certification if desired. - Must be scheduled within the first 30 days of purchase

Sapphire

Accounts categorised into Sapphire are all accounts that are not Diamond or Pearl AND greater than 1000 users, OR using Ultimate/Premium/Gold/Silver AND greater than $100,000 in TAV (Total Account Value).*

Technical Account Management Implementation
Dedicated Technical Account Manager Implementation Engineer
30 minute bi-weekly call with TAM and IE One week of remote support - must be scheduled within 30 days of purchase
GitLab Customer Success project Four one-hour meetings focused around HA implementation support & HA training certification (1-3 attendees) - Must be scheduled within the first 30 days of purchase
Personal outreach & automated outreach One training course of their choice - Must be scheduled within the first 30 days of purchase

Ruby

Accounts categorised into Sapphire are all accounts that are not Diamond, Pearl or Sapphire AND greater than 500 users, OR greater than $50,000 in TAV (Total Account Value).*

Technical Account Management Implementation
Dedicated Technical Account Manager (Growth focused - smaller accounts) Implementation Engineer
Monthly calls with TAM and IE 5 hours of remote implementation support - Must be scheduled within the first 30 days of purchase
GitLab Customer Success project GitLab 101 Training Course - Must be scheduled within the first 30 days of purchase
Personal outreach & automated outreach  

Quartz

Accounts categorised into Quartz are all accounts left over after Diamond, Pearl, Sapphire and Ruby have been categorised.

*Total Account Value is calculated by adding together the current year’s ARR opportunity and all future renewal opportunity amounts together.

Customer Records and Profiling

The Customer Meta-Record

The concept of a customer meta-record is how a Technical Account Manager develops and maintains a holistic understanding of customer accounts. It is a living record that includes both business and technical information about the customer. The data captured here informs not only the Technical Account Manager, but all of GitLab about critical details to the success of our customers.

Business Profile

The business profile is captured during the discovery and scoping stages in the pre-sales phase of the customner lifecycle. Once an opportunity is set to closed-won, the Technical Account Manager is largely responsible for maintaining this data. The business profile of a customer's meta-record contains data points related to their organizational structure, the internal advocate/champion, the features most compelling to the customer, the "why" of purchasing GitLab, objectives for the implementation and critically, the data captured in the customer feedback loop.

Technical Profile

The technical profile includes objective data points about a customers technical landscape and can be captured at any stage of the customer lifecycle. Specifically, items related to architecture, sizing, scale, security and compliance requirements are captured in the technical profile. In general, solution architects and implementation specialists are primarily responsible for collecting and capturing information for the technical profile. This information is transitioned to the Technical Account Manager once a customer goes live and the Technical Account Manager maintains the information throughout the remainder of the customer lifecycle.

Automated Customer Discovery Tools

A series of data sheets and automation scripts is being developed that will streamline much of the intake, discovery and reconnaissance activities during the pre-sales stages of the customer lifecycle. Decisions surrounding where this data will reside and which information is part of the critical path during customer onboarding are currently underway.

Currently, These profiles and data points are a work in progress and the Customer Success Department are trying and testing how to efficiently do this using various different tools and methods.

Some of these currently include:

We are currently researching various Customer Success Applications, such as Gainsight, with which to fully manage post-sales customer success, reporting and strategy around accounts. Salesforce is somewhat limited in certain areas that pertain to Customer Success so this is becoming more of a necessity and will hopefully become part of our workflow some time in 2019.