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Fulfillment Backend Team

Vision

For more details about the product vision for Fulfillment, see our Fulfillment page.

Fulfillment manages several product categories:

Category Description
Licensing (license.gitlab.com) Covers all aspects of our licensing model, from how we count seats and conduct true-up to how we count active seats and keep the customer informed on their seat utilization.
Transactions (customers.gitlab.com) How customers pay for GitLab. Licensing is about how we package GitLab as an offering, whereas Transactions is about how we fulfill those business relationships and how we make doing business with GitLab a great experience for both self-managed and GitLab.com.

Team members

Person Role
James Lopez Engineering Manager, Fulfillment and Telemetry
Rubén Dávila Backend Engineer, Fulfillment
Aishwarya Subramanian Backend Engineer, Fulfillment
Corinna Wiesner Backend Engineer, Fulfillment
Tyler Amos Senior Backend Engineer, Fulfillment
Shreyas Agarwal Senior Backend Engineer, Fulfillment

Stable counterparts

Person Role
Vitaly Slobodin Senior Frontend Engineer, Fulfillment
Timothy Noah Senior Product Designer, Fulfillment
Chris Baus Frontend Engineering Manager, Fulfillment
Emily Sybrant Product Designer, Fulfillment
Ragnar Hardarson Senior Frontend Engineer, Fulfillment
Ammar Alakkad Frontend Engineer, Fulfillment

How we work

Development workflow

graph TD; A(Planning and prioritization) -->|Estimation | B[Ready for development]; B --> C[In dev]; C --> D[In review]; D --> E(Verification); E --> F(Closed fa:fa-check-circle);

Planning

We plan in monthly cycles in accordance with our Product Development Timeline. Release scope for an upcoming release should be finalized by the 1st.

On or around the 26th: Product meets with Engineering Managers for a preliminary issue review. Issues are tagged with a milestone and are estimated initially.

Prioritization

Our planning process is reflected in boards that should always reflect our current priorities. You can see our priorities for backend.

Priorities 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%

You can read more about prioritization on the direction page.

Estimation

Before work can begin on an issue, we should estimate it first after a preliminary investigation. This is normally done in the monthly planning meeting.

When estimating development work, please assign an issue an appropriate weight:

Weight Description (Engineering)
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.

Issues that may take longer than 2 days or have a weight of 3 or more, may require additional splitting (either in smaller issues if the requirements can be simplified, or by creating separate MRs for the same issue).

This will ensure that we can reach 10 MRs per dev per month, therefore increasing throughput.

During the release

If a developer has completed work on an issue, they may open the prioritization board. and begin working on the next prioritized issue (First P1s, then P2s, and so on…).

An issue will have 4 stages, and they should be moved accordingly using the Fulfillment workflow board

These are:

Deployment

We use CD (Continuous Deployment) for the transactions portal and a MR goes through the following stages once it gets merged into the staging branch:

graph TD; A(Merged) --> |Green tests| B(Staging); B --> C[Verification]; C --> D(Auto deploy to production in 3 hours);

If something goes wrong at the Verification stage, we could create an issue with the label production::blocker, which will prevent deployment to production. The issue cannot be confidential.

For MRs with significant changes, we should consider using feature flags or create an issue with the production::blocker label to pause deployment and a allow for longer testing.

Feature freeze

The feature freeze for Fulfillment occurs at the same time as the rest of the company, normally around the 18th.

App Feature freeze (*) Milestone ends
GitLab.com ~18th-22nd Same as the freeze
Customers/License ~18th-22nd Same as the freeze

(*) feature freeze may vary according to the auto deploy transition document.

Any issues not merged on the current milestone post feature freeze, will need to be moved to the next one (priority may also change for those).

Measuring Engineering Throughput

One of our main engineering metrics is throughput which is the total number of MRs that are completed and in production in a given period of time. We use throughput to encourage small MRs and to practice our values of iteration. Read more about why we adoped this model.

We aim for 10 MRs per engineer per month which is tracked using our throughput metrics dashboard.

We also have a general quality dashboard for the whole Fulfillment team.

Meetings (Sync)

We hold optional synchronous meetings biweekly on Tuesdays 03:30pm UTC. These meetings are used to make sure the backend team is collaborating effectively and ask any general questions as well as mention any progress updates relevant to Product.

We hold optional synchronous social meetings weeekly, every Wednesday at 03:30pm UTC. In these meetings we chat about anything outside work.

Retrospectives

After the 8th, the Fulfillment team conducts an asynchronous retrospective. You can find current and past retrospectives for Fulfillment in https://gitlab.com/gl-retrospectives/fulfillment/issues/.