The responsibilities of this stage are described by the Manage product category. Manage is made up of multiple groups, each with their own categories and areas of responsibility.
The direction and strategy for Manage is documented on https://about.gitlab.com/direction/manage/. This page (and the category direction pages under the "Categories" header) is the single source of truth on where we're going and why.
We generally follow the Product Development Flow:
workflow::problem validation- needs clarity on the problem to solve
workflow::design- needs a clear proposal (and mockups for any visual aspects)
workflow::solution validation- needs refinement and acceptance from engineering
workflow::planning breakdown- needs a Weight estimate
workflow::scheduling- needs a milestone assignment
workflow::ready for development
workflow::verification- code is in production and pending verification by the DRI engineer
Generally speaking, issues are in one of two states:
While individual groups are free to use as many stages in the Product Development Flow workflow as they find useful, we should be somewhat prescriptive on how issues transition from discovery/refinement to implementation.
Our priorities should follow overall guidance for Product. This should be reflected in the priority label for scheduled issues:
|Priority||Description||Probability of shipping in milestone|
|P1||Urgent: top priority for achieving in the given milestone. These issues are the most important goals for a release and should be worked on first; some may be time-critical or unblock dependencies.||~100%|
|P2||High: important issues that have significant positive impact to the business or technical debt. Important, but not time-critical or blocking others.||~75%|
|P3||Normal: incremental improvements to existing features. These are important iterations, but deemed non-critical.||~50%|
|P4||Low: stretch issues that are acceptable to postpone into a future release.||~25%|
Generally speaking, issues are in one of two states:
Basecamp thinks about these stages in relation to the climb and descent of a hill.
While individual groups are free to use as many stages in the Product Development Flow workflow as they find useful, we should be somewhat prescriptive on how issues transition from "figuring it out" to "build it".
Backlog management is very challenging, but we try to do so with the use of labels and milestones.
The end goal is defined, where all direct stakeholders says “yes, this is ready for development”. Some issues get there quickly, some require a few passes back and forth to figure out.
The goal is for engineers to have buy-in and feel connected to the roadmap. By having engineering included earlier on, the process can be much more natural and smooth.
To do so, engineering managers, engineers, and designers can be pinged directly from the issue. We're currently exploring converting the Manage project into a group to be able to create groups to more easily ping group members.
To find issues that require refinement, please see the Next Up label and its purpose.
workflow::ready for development. By using this "Next Up" label in addition to workflow labels, we're able to see exactly what is being refined, e.g., problem, design, solution. This helps identify which issues are closer to being ready to schedule.
workflow::ready for development.
Directional milestones indicates a level of intent on whether or not an issue will be scheduled in short/mid/long-term segments. They are also indicative to the level of refinement and "shovel-readiness" of a given feature or topic, i.e., something planned 3+ releases for now is likely very unrefined and not likely to be scheduled or implemented any time soon.
It's important to remember that these are not hard commitments, and that this should be communicated with any stakeholders that may be sensitive to seeing an issue get scheduled into a milestone other than "Backlog".
For issues that are actually being committed to the short-term roadmap, please refer to Next Up
The utility in direction milestones is helping to segment the backlog and form a sort of roadmap. See the Import Roadmap board for an example.
Examples of directional milestones include:
Depending on the complexity of an issue, it may be necessary to break down or promote issues. A couple sample scenarios may be:
If none of the above applies, then the issue is probably fine as-is! It's likely then that the weight of this issue is quite low, e.g., 1-2.
As part of breaking down or promoting issues, you may find that there are a significant number of threads and comments in a given issue.
It's very important that we make sure any proposal details, pending action items, and decisions are easily visible to any stakeholder coming into an issue. Therefore, it's paramount that the issue description is kept up-to-date, or otherwise broken down or promoted as per the above section.
Before work can begin on an issue, we should estimate it first after a preliminary investigation.
If the scope of work of a given issue touches several disciplines (docs, design, frontend, backend, etc.) and involves significant complexity across them, consider creating separate issues for each discipline (see an example).
Issues without a weight should be assigned the "workflow::planning breakdown" label.
When estimating development work, please assign an issue an appropriate weight:
|1||The simplest possible change. We are confident there will be no side effects.|
|2||A simple change (minimal code changes), where we understand all of the requirements.|
|3||A simple change, but the code footprint is bigger (e.g. lots of different files, or tests effected). The requirements are clear.|
|5||A more complex change that will impact multiple areas of the codebase, there may also be some refactoring involved. Requirements are understood but you feel there are likely to be some gaps along the way.|
|8||A complex change, that will involve much of the codebase or will require lots of input from others to determine the requirements.|
|13||A significant change that may have dependencies (other teams or third-parties) and we likely still don't understand all of the requirements. It's unlikely we would commit to this in a milestone, and the preference would be to further clarify requirements and/or break in to smaller Issues.|
As part of estimation, if you feel the issue is in an appropriate state for an engineer to start working on it, please add the ~"workflow::ready for development" label. Alternatively, if there are still requirements to be defined or questions to be answered that you feel an engineer won't be able to easily resolve, please add the ~"workflow::blocked" label. Issues with the
workflow::blocked label will appear in their own column on our planning board, making it clear that they need further attention.
Once an issue has been estimated, it can then be moved to
workflow::scheduling to be assigned a milestone before finally being
workflow::ready for development.
We plan in monthly cycles in accordance with our Product Development Timeline. While meeting this timeline is up to the discretion of individual groups, a typical planning cycle is suggested to look like:
workflow::planning breakdownlabel applied to make estimation easier and be marked for the coming release as
Deliverable. Issues of particular significance to our stage's strategy should be marked with
quad-planning::readylabel to all
featureissues and assigns them to the SET counterpart for the group.
workflow:ready for development).
We strongly believe in Iteration and delivering value in small pieces. Iteration can be hard, especially when you lack product context or are working in a particularly risky/complex part of the codebase. If you are struggling to estimate an issue or determine whether it is feasible, it may be appropriate to first create a proof-of-concept MR. The goal of a proof-of-concept MR is to remove any major assumptions during planning and provide early feedback, therefore reducing risk from any future implementation.
The need for a proof-of-concept MR may signal that parts of our codebase or product have become overly complex. It's always worth discussing the MR as part of the retrospective so we can discuss how to avoid this step in future.
Everyone at GitLab has the freedom to manage their work as they see fit, because we measure results, not hours. Part of this is the opportunity to work on items that aren't scheduled as part of the regular monthly release. This is mostly a reiteration of items elsewhere in the handbook, and it is here to make those explicit:
When you pick something to work on, please:
#s_manageto encourage transparency
After the Kickoff, the Manage stage conducts an asynchronous retrospective on the prior release. You can find current and past retrospectives for Manage in https://gitlab.com/gl-retrospectives/manage/issues/.
We're currently exploring group-specific retrospectives, in order to create a private and safe environment for group members to share thoughts, feedback, and concerns amongst group members they work more often with.
The Access group are responsible for several product categories that attract a significant amount of scrutiny from a security perspective. An outcome of this is that we see a higher number of new security issues being created compared to other groups, which over time has caused the security backlog to grow. To help tackle the backlog, from milestone 13.3, we will assign 2 Backend Engineers per milestone to a security rota.
The goal of this new process is to achieve more consistent progress in burning through the backlog. Historically we have focussed on solving high severity (S1/S2) issues, while trying to maintain a pragmatic balance with other concerns in the team - but this hasn't been effective in reducing the overall backlog. By dedicating capacity each milestone we can separate the planning of security issues from the main milestone goals, with the aim of introducing a more optimal process.
Engineers who are part of the rota should work from this board.
|Release||First Engineer||Second Engineer|
To help with milestone planning, we encourage asynchronously weighing issues to help get them
ready for development.
workflow:ready for developmentor not. Clarifying questions are asked on the issue. Product Manager adjusts description and scope as needed. This process may take a few days and the objective is to have an issue defined well enough to be estimated.
workflow:ready for developmentlabel. Alternatively they should raise their concerns in the issue.
While group Import follows the Manage's process described above, we utilize additional flows that help us better prepare issues for scheduling into milestones.
In order to assign an incoming issue to a milestone or close it, the product manager may require input from the engineers.
To facilitate an asynchronous triage question and answer flow, the issue is labeled with the
triage question label and the team members are invited into a thread where the question is discussed. Any team member can answer the question and mention the product manager in the answer. If the product manager has enough information to triage the issue, the
triage question label is removed and the issue is assigned to the appropriate milestone or closed as infeasible.
For an issue to be deemed
workflow::ready for development, the issue goes through a refinement stage, where the engineers, the product manager, and other stable counterparts are able to evaluate the issue, ask any clarifying questions, and discuss potential approaches. At the end of that conversation, the issue can be deemed
workflow::ready for development, marked for further breakdown or even canceled if determined not feasible. As the team creates context around the issue, they also estimate the weight during this phase.
All issues considered for the next 1-3 milestones need to go through the refinement, in order to be ready for scheduling into a specific release. Refining issues that are being considered for releases further in the future than the next 3 milestones is not recommended, as it may lead to throw-away effort.
To place an issue into refinement, the issue is labeled with
workflow::refinement. A comment thread is created in the issue to invite the team members to evaluate the issue asynchronously and vote (using emojis) whether the issue is ready for development or not. Any "no" votes are explained and further discussed in comments until the vote becomes a "yes", or the issue is removed from consideration.
Emojis are also used to vote for the issue weight. Any outlier votes are discussed in comments until a compromise is reached. Large estimates are also discussed to determine if the issue can be broken down further.
If the issue has all "yes" votes and has a weight estimate, it is deemed
workflow::ready for development.
Prior to the planning meeting, a milestone priority is assigned to each issue. To avoid collisions of the milestone priorities with the P1-P4 bug and security priorities, we use the
milestone::p4 labels. This process is experimental and will be finalized once we are able to evaluate and discuss the usefulness of these labels.
Although we have a bias for asynchronous communication, synchronous meetings are necessary and should adhere to our communication guidelines. Some regular meetings that take place in Manage are:
|Weekly||Group-level meeting||Backend Engineering Managers||Ensure current release is on track by walking the board, unblock specific issues|
|Every 2 weeks||Stage-level Product/UX||@jeremy||Collaborate on WIP design, brainstorm together on specific problems|
|Every 2 weeks||Stage-level Product/Engineering||@jeremy||Collaborate across groups on specific issues, discuss global stage-level optimization (process, people)|
|Monthly||Stage-level meeting (Manage Monthly)||@jeremy||Stage-level news, objectives, accomplishments|
|Monthly||Stage-level social call||@dennis||Getting to know each other|
|Monthly||Planning meetings||Product Managers||See Planning section|
For one-off, topic specific meetings, please always consider recording these calls and sharing them (or taking notes in a publicly available document).
Meetings that are not 1:1s or covering confidential topics should be added to the Manage Shared calendar.
All meetings should have an agenda prepared at least 12 hours in advance. If this is not the case, you are not obligated to attend the meeting. Consider meetings canceled if they do not have an agenda by the start time of the meeting.
The following people are permanent members of the Manage stage:
|Matt Gonzales||Senior Product Manager, Manage:Compliance|
|Haris Delalić||Senior Product Manager, Manage:Import|
|Melissa Ushakov||Senior Product Manager, Manage:Access|
|Nick Post||Senior Product Designer, Manage:Analytics & Apprentice Product Manager, Manage:Analytics|
|Daniel Mora||Senior Product Designer, Manage:Access|
|Amanda Hughes||Senior Product Designer, Manage:Import|
|Austin Regnery||Product Designer, Manage:Compliance|
|Mike Jang||Senior Technical Writer, Manage (Access, Compliance, Import, Analytics)|
|Drew Blessing||Backend Engineer, Manage:Access|
|Dennis Tang||Frontend Engineering Manager, Manage:Access & Manage:Compliance & Manage:Import|
|Martin Wortschack||Frontend Engineering Manager, Manage:Analytics (Interim)|
|Brandon Labuschagne||Frontend Engineer, Manage:Analytics|
|Michael Lunøe||Senior Frontend Engineer, Manage:Analytics|
|Ezekiel Kigbo||Frontend Engineer, Manage:Analytics|
|Illya Klymov||Senior Frontend Engineer, Manage:Import|
|Jiaan Louw||Frontend Engineer, Manage:Compliance|
|Robert Hunt||Frontend Engineer, Manage:Compliance|
|Peter Hegman||Frontend Engineer, Manage:Access|
|Liam McAndrew||Backend Engineering Manager, Manage:Access & Manage:Import|
|Alex Pooley||Senior Backend Engineer, Manage:Access|
|Imre Farkas||Senior Backend Engineer, Manage:Access|
|Manoj M J||Backend Engineer, Manage:Access|
|Adam Hegyi||Senior Backend Engineer, Manage:Analytics|
|Sebastián Arcila-Valenzuela||Senior Backend Engineer, Manage:Access|
|George Koltsov||Backend Engineer, Manage:Import|
|Josianne Hyson||Backend Engineer, Manage:Import|
|Magdalena Frankiewicz||Backend Engineer, Manage:Analytics|
|Sanad Liaquat||Senior Software Engineer in Test, Manage:Access (Primary) and Manage:Import (Secondary)|
|Małgorzata Ksionek||Senior Backend Engineer, Manage:Access|
|Pavel Shutsin||Senior Backend Engineer, Manage:Analytics|
|Aishwarya Subramanian||Backend Engineer, Manage:Compliance|
|Dan Jensen||Backend Engineering Manager, Manage, Manage:Analytics & Manage:Compliance|
|Kassio Borges||Senior Backend Engineer, Manage:Import|
|Tan Le||Backend Engineer, Manage:Compliance|
|Max Woolf||Senior Backend Engineer, Manage:Compliance|
|Mike Long||Product Design Manager, Plan & Manage|
|Jeremy Watson||Group Manager, Product Management, Manage|
|Andrzej Wieckowski||Senior UX Researcher, Manage and Plan|