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|
|priority::1||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%|
|priority::2||High: important issues that have significant positive impact to the business or technical debt. Important, but not time-critical or blocking others.||~75%|
|priority::3||Normal: incremental improvements to existing features. These are important iterations, but deemed non-critical.||~50%|
|priority::4||Low: stretch issues that are acceptable to postpone into a future release.||~25%|
(Sisense↗) We also track our backlog of issues, including past due security and infradev issues, and total open System Usability Scale (SUS) impacting issues and bugs.
(Sisense↗) MR Type labels help us report what we're working on to industry analysts in a way that's consistent across the engineering department. The dashboard below shows the trend of MR Types over time and a list of merged MRs.
In the short term, we are aiming to spend 40% of our capacity on feature work, 30% on maintenance issues and 30% on bugs.
Our team mostly follows the [Product Development Flow]((/handbook/product-development-flow/#workflow-summary) and the Product Development Timeline as our group is dependent on the GitLab self-managed release cycle.
|Planning Phase||From the 6th to 15th|
|Development Phase||From the 18th to 17th of Month N+1|
The breakdown phase will be used for:
Timeline: Planning breakdown happens continuously according to the refinment process.
~"workflow::refinement"list of the Refinment Board
PM and EM add
~"ready for next refinement" to top priority issues every week by Thursday end of day.
~"ready for next refinement"label on Refinement Board
Definition of done
~"workflow::Ready for refinement"label are weighted & have a rough technical plan if weight is above 2.
~"workflow::ready for development", and set weight for each.
Timeline: Starts on the 6th, ends on the 15th of the Month
ready for developmentissues by priority (by the 8th).
ready for developmentissues considering total Milestone weight or weight per available Engineer.
~"Deliverable"label to all relevant issues.
Definition of done:
~"Deliverable"issues if they will miss.
~"Deliverable"issues as a priority.
~"workflow::ready for development"and unassigned then label them with
~"workflow::in dev". Issues get assigned once an engineer starts working on it
~"workflow::verification"to MRs and Issues
~"Deliverable"is unlikely to ship during current Milestone
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 discovery/refinement to implementation.
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.
We have a weekly refinement process which consists of the following steps:
ready for next refinement.
ready for next refinementcolumn over a sync call (Tuesday, 08:30am CET). The discussion should be time-boxed and we aim on spending ~10mins per issue.
ready for next refinementissues and bring up any questions in the issue.
workflow::ready for developmentlabel should be added. Also, the
ready for next refinementlabel should be removed afterwards. This will automatically add the issue to the build board.
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 affected). 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. We should challenge ourselves to break this issue in to smaller pieces.|
|8||A complex change, that will involve much of the codebase or will require lots of input from others to determine the requirements. These issues will often need further investigation or discovery before being
|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. When applying the
workflow::blocked label, please make sure to leave a comment and ping the DRI on the blocked issue and/or link the blocking issue to raise visibility.
For engineers, you may want to create an implementation approach when moving an issue out of
~workflow::planning breakdown. A proposed implementation approach isn't required to be followed, but is helpful to justify a recorded weight.
As the DRI for
workflow::planning breakdown, consider following the example below to signal the end of your watch and the issues preparedness to move into scheduling. While more straightforward issues that have already been broken down may use a shorter format, the plan should (at a minimum) always justify the "why" behind an estimation.
The following is an example of an implementation approach from https://gitlab.com/gitlab-org/gitlab/-/issues/247900#implementation-plan. It illustrates that the issue should likely be broken down into smaller sub-issues for each part of the work:
### Implementation approach ~database 1. Add new `merge_requests_author_approval` column to `namespace_settings` table (The final table is TBD) ~"feature flag" 1. Create new `group_merge_request_approvers_rules` flag for everything to live behind ~backend 1. Add new field to `ee/app/services/ee/groups/update_service.rb:117` 1. Update `ee/app/services/ee/namespace_settings/update_service.rb` to support more than just one setting 1. *(if feature flag enabled)* Update the `Projects::CreateService` and `Groups::CreateService` to update newly created projects and sub-groups with the main groups setting 1. *(if feature flag enabled)* Update the Groups API to show the settings value 1. Tests tests and more tests :muscle: ~frontend 1. *(if feature flag enabled)* Add new `Merge request approvals` section to Groups general settings 1. Create new Vue app to render the contents of the section 1. Create new setting and submission process to save the value 1. Tests tests and more tests :muscle:
The DRI is highly recommended to ping a relevant counterpart or domain expert if an issue covers multiple
disciplines (for example backend and frontend) before moving the issue to
workflow::scheduling. This gives
the domain expert the opportunity to approve the implementation plan or raise any potential pitfalls or
concerns before work begins.
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).
The Import group has an existing threat model to assist in identifying issues that may have security implications, but there are other considerations.
An Application Security Review should be requested when the issue or MR might have security implications. These include, but aren't limited to, issues or MRs which:
For issues which need to be announced in more detail, a release post can be automatically created using the issue. When working on an issue, either in planning, or during design and development, you can use the release post item generator to have the release post created and notify all the relevant people.
If you do not want an issue to have a release post, make sure that the issue does not have a
release notes section or do not use a
release post item:: label.
We strongly believe in Iteration and delivering value in small increments. Iteration can be hard, especially when you lack product context or are working on 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 the 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
While group Import follows the Manage's process described above, we utilize additional flows that help us better prepare issues for scheduling into milestones.
Note: We are currently iterating on a more formal process to improve communication and set more accurate expectations when handling customer escalations: Escalation Triage Process.
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.
To place an issue into refinement, the issue is labeled with
workflow::refinement so it appears in the relevant list on our kanban board. To ensure a steady flow of work that is ready for development, engineers should attempt to refine an issue that is
workflow::refinement before picking up their next
workflow::ready for development issue. For issues with high urgency, issues can be assigned directly to engineers asking them to complete the refinement process as a top priority so it can be moved to
workflow::ready for development faster.
Our refinement process is asynchronous and encourages input from all team members. We 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.
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|
|Monthly||Planning meetings||Product Managers||See Planning section|
For one-off, topic specific meetings, please always consider recording these calls and sharing them.
Agenda documents and recordings can be placed in the shared Google drive (internal only) as a single source of truth.
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 group:
|Magdalena Frankiewicz||Product Manager, Manage:Import|
|Evan Read||Senior Technical Writer, Create (Gitaly), Manage (Authentication and Authorization, Compliance, Import)|
|Andrejs Cunskis||Senior Software Engineer in Test, Manage:Import|
|Carla Drago||Senior Backend Engineer, Manage:Import|
|George Koltsov||Senior Backend Engineer, Manage:Import|
|Martin Wortschack||Engineering Manager, Manage:Import & Manage:Integrations|
|Nick Malcolm||Senior Security Engineer, Application Security, Manage (Compliance, Import), Plan (Optimize), Data Science (AI Assisted, Anti-Abuse, MLOps, DataOps)|
|Rodrigo Tomonari||Senior Backend Engineer, Manage:Import|