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Plan:Project Management Backend Team

Plan:Project Management backend team

The Plan:Project Management backend team works on the backend part of GitLab's Project Management category in the Plan stage.

For more details about the vision for this area of the product, see the Plan stage page.

From an engineering perspective, we are also responsible for the code backing our GraphQL API. This does not mean we own everything about the API - each team is responsible for implementing its own resources in GraphQL - but we are responsible for the overall stewardship of this API.

Team members

Person Role
New Vacancy - John Hope (Acting) Engineering Manager, Plan:Project Management
Brett Walker Senior Backend Engineer, Plan:Project Management
Mario de la Ossa Backend Engineer, Plan:Project Management
Patrick Derichs Backend Engineer, Plan:Project Management
Heinrich Lee Yu Senior Backend Engineer, Plan:Project Management
Alexandru Croitor Backend Engineer, Plan:Project Management
Eugenia Grieff Backend Engineer, Plan:Project Management

Stable counterparts

Person Role
Donald Cook Frontend Engineering Manager, Plan
Simon Knox Frontend Engineer, Plan:Project Management
Justin Farris Group Manager, Product, Plan
Scott Stern Frontend Engineer, Plan:Project Management
Coung Ngo Frontend Engineer, Plan:Project Management
Walmyr Lima e Silva Filho Senior Software Engineer in Test, Plan:Project Management (primary) & Plan:Portfolio Management (secondary)
Holly Reynolds Senior Product Designer, Plan:Project Management
Gabe Weaver Senior Product Manager, Plan:Project Management
Marcin Sędłak-Jakubowski Technical Writer, Plan

Hiring chart

This chart shows the progress we're making on hiring. Check out our jobs page for current openings.

Plan:Project Management BE Team Vacancies Overdue

The following Plan:Project Management BE Team vacancies are overdue to be filled. They are counted toward today on the chart above.

Role Start Date
Engineering Manager, Plan:Project Management 2020-01-01

Team metrics dashboard

We have a metrics dashboard for the Plan:Project Management backend team. This is intended to track against some of the Development Department KPIs, particularly those around merge request creation and acceptance. Below is a single metric from that dashboard: MR Rate, scoped to this team.


You can see how we work as a stage at the Plan stage page.

For the backend team specifically, we use the standard GitLab engineering workflow. To get in touch with the Plan:Project Management backend team, it's best to create an issue in the relevant project (typically GitLab CE) and add the ~"group::project management" label, along with any other appropriate labels. Then, feel free to ping the relevant Product Manager and/or Engineering Manager as listed above.

For more urgent items, feel free to use #s_plan on Slack.

Capacity planning

We use a lightweight system of issue weighting to help with capacity planning, with the knowledge that things take longer than you think. These weights are used for capacity planning and the main focus is on making sure the overall sum of the weights is reasonable.

It's OK if an issue takes longer than the weight indicates. The weights are intended to be used in aggregate, and what takes one person a day might take another person a week, depending on their level of background knowledge about the issue. That's explicitly OK and expected.

These weights we use are:

Weight Meaning
1 Trivial, does not need any testing
2 Small, needs some testing but nothing involved
3 Medium, will take some time and collaboration
4 Substantial, will take significant time and collaboration to finish
5 Large, will take a major portion of the milestone to finish

Anything larger than 5 should be broken down if possible.

We're discussing a possible change to the weight scale we use.

We look at recent releases and upcoming availability to determine the weight available for a release.

Planning rotation

To assign weights to issues in a future milestone, we ask two team members to take the lead each month. They can still ask questions - of each other, of the rest of the team, of the stable counterparts, or anyone else - but they are the initial. This is currently shared across the three Plan backend teams: Project Management, Portfolio Management, and Certify, so people will be asked to weight some issues outside of their immediate team.

We're discussing whether or not we want to scope this down to individual teams in March FY21.

To weight issues, they should:

  1. Look through the issues on the upcoming milestone and those in ~workflow::"planning breakdown", filtered by Weight:None.
  2. For those they understand, they add a weight. If possible, they also add a short comment explaining why they added that weight, what parts of the code they think this would involve, and any risks or edge cases we'll need to consider.
  3. Timebox the issue weighting overall, and for each issue. The process is intended to be lightweight. If something isn't clear what weight it is, they should ask for clarification on the scope of the issue.
  4. If two people disagree on the weight of an issue, even after explaining their perceptions of the scope, we use the higher weight.
  5. Start adding weights around a week before the weights for a milestone are due. Finishing earlier is better than finishing later.

The rotation for upcoming releases is:

Release Weights due Engineer Engineer
12.8 2020-01-13 Felipe Cardozo Mario de la Ossa
12.9 2020-02-13 Charlie Ablett Heinrich Lee Yu
12.10 2020-03-13 Jarka Košanová Alexandru Croitor
12.11 2020-04-13 Jan Provaznik Brett Walker
13.0 2020-05-13 Felipe Cardozo Patrick Derichs
13.1 2020-06-13 Charlie Ablett Eugenia Grieff

Historical Capacity

Points of weight delivered by the team on the last three milestones, including rolling average. This allows for more accurate estimation of what we can deliver in future milestones. Full chart here.

Picking something to work on

The Plan:Project Management Build board always shows work in the current release, with workflow columns relevant to implementation. There is an additional column to show in-progress community contributions. Filtering it by ~backend shows issues for backend engineers to work on.

It's OK to not take the top item if you are not confident you can solve it, but please post in #s_plan if that's the case, as this probably means the issue should be better specified.

Working on unscheduled issues

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:

  1. We expect people to be managers of one, and we use GitLab ourselves. If you see something that you think is important, you can request for it to be scheduled, or you can work on a proposal yourself, as long as you keep your other tasks in mind.
  2. From time to time, there are events that GitLab team-members can participate in, like the issue bash and content hack days. Anyone is welcome to participate in these.
  3. If you feel like you want to have some specific time set aside, but aren't interested in the topics of an existing event, feel free to label issues with "For Scheduling" and copy your manager for visibility.

When you pick something to work on, please:

  1. Follow the standard workflow and assign it to yourself.
  2. Share it in #s_plan - if not even more widely (like in #development or #backend).