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Plan:Project Management Backend Team

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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
Sean McGivern 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 Backend Engineer, Plan:Project Management
Alexandru Croitor Backend Engineer, Plan:Project Management
Eugenia Grieff Backend Engineer, Plan:Project Management

Stable counterparts

Person Role
Annabel Dunstone Gray Product Designer, Plan
Donald Cook Frontend Engineering Manager, Plan
Fatih Acet Senior Frontend Engineer, Plan
Kushal Pandya Senior Frontend Engineer, Plan & Geo
Winnie Hellmann Senior Frontend Engineer, Plan and Intern Backend Engineer, Plan
Amarbayar Amarsanaa Senior Site Reliability Engineer, Create, Plan, Monitor
Rajat Jain Frontend Engineer, Plan
Scott Stern Frontend Engineer, Plan
Coung Ngo Frontend Engineer, Plan
Walmyr Lima e Silva Filho Senior Test Automation Engineer, Plan
Michal Wasilewski Site Reliability Engineer, Create & Plan
Holly Reynolds Senior Product Designer, Plan
Alexis Ginsberg Senior Product Designer, Plan
Gabe Weaver Senior Product Manager, Plan:Project Management
Russell Dickenson Senior Technical Writer, Plan

Hiring chart

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


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 #g_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
5 Large, will take a major portion of the milestone to finish

Anything larger than 5 should be broken down if possible.

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. To weight issues, they should:

  1. Look through the issues on the milestone 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
12.3 2019-08-07 Felipe Cardozo Heinrich Lee Yu
12.4 2019-09-07 Charlie Ablett Mario de la Ossa
12.5 2019-10-07 Brett Walker Alexandru Croitor

Picking something to work on

The Plan backend board always shows work in the current release, with the left column being items that are:

  1. In priority order, with priorities set from the Product Manager.
  2. Not assigned to anyone in the Plan backend team. (They may be assigned to people from other teams; for instance, if an issue needs backend, frontend, and UX work, then the frontend and UX parts may already be assigned.)

It's OK to not take the top item if you are not confident you can solve it, but please post in #g_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 #g_plan - if not even more widely (like in #development or #backend).