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Customer Reference Program

Customer reference program at GitLab

The goal of the Customer Reference Program is to provide opportunities for customers to share their story on how GitLab has helped them overcome the challenges, blockers and pain points within their organizations. The Reference Program Managers work as a conduit to help connect customers with opportunities by balancing customer requests with company demands. By providing a single point for outreach to customers, the CRP team prevents customer burnout, sales team burnout, and ensures a diversity of customer stories are shared publicly.

Who we are

Team of Experienced Customer Reference Professionals who are focused on building relationships within GitLab and with customers.
The team gathers and builds information and relationships with the purpose of distilling these impactful insights into action.

Strategic driver of the Customer Reference Program

To manage our customer reference relationships like the precious resources they are to the maximum, quantified & qualified benefit for both customers and GitLab.

Goals of the Gitlab Customer Reference Program

Customer Reference Types

Some examples of the types of assets we'd use as customer references once we have approval from the customer:

Creating new issue for Customer Reference Program

To create a new issue around the Customer Reference Program, open an issue on the Customer Reference Program Board. Make sure it has the label Customer Reference Program. Feel free to add any applicable labels around the request. Assign to Reference Program Manager as needed.

Customer Case Studies

The most recent customer case studies are found on the GitLab customer's page. When we build case studies, we need to have quantifiable metrics and business value to help describe how GitLab helped a customer achieve a significant business result. Our case studies should align with our customer value drivers. Find below a sample of the customer value drivers that we need to find in a good case study.

Increase Operational Efficiency

Deliver Better Products Faster

Reduce Security and Compliance Risk

If a proposed customer case study doesn't have at least one metric to include, then we consider working with the account team to help identify a solid metric before building the case study.

Common Interview questions

Interview Questions: (Select the questions we should ask)

Why GitLab

What if

Feedback on GitLab

Impact of GitLab

Value Driver 1 - Increasing Operational Efficiencies

Value Driver 2 - Deliver Better Products Faster

Value Driver 3 - Reduce Security and Compliance Risk

Metrics of GitLab

Customer Use Case Questions

Source Code Management (SCM)

Continous Integration (CI)

Continous Delivery (CD)

Development, Security, and Operations (DevSecOps)

Agile Project Management (Agile)

Simplify Development Operations / End to End DevOps (DevOps)

Cloud Native Approach to Applications Development (CloudNative)

Infrastructure as Code (GitOps)

Publishing to the website

  1. Start by opening a public issue and an Merge Request in the www-gitlab-com project.
  2. Create a .yml file in /data/case_studies directory under Marketing site repo (www-gitlab-com project). This can be accomplished in the Web IDE.
  3. Keep the name of file same as company name (this is not mandatory but it is easier to manage), for eg; if company name is "Foobar", create a file as /data/case_studies/foobar.yml.
  4. Once created, add contents of the file using the sample Case Study template, or by scraping the content from an existing case study, and then update the values of each property based on case study details, remember, do NOT change property names.
  5. Add images to the same MR. This ensures they show up in the preview app. To accomplish this, stay in your MR and on the left rail open the selected file. Upload the file to the specific directory by hovering over the file and selecting upload file. The Cover image needs to be a .jpg and put in 'source/image/blogimage' directory. The company logo needs to be a color .SVG image and is placed in the 'source/image/case_study_logos' directory.
  6. In the Web IDE, you can view generated Case Study page in the generated App under the URL, for eg; http://localhost:4567/customers/foobar.
  7. Once the case study is ready to publish, remove the WIP label from your MR and ask an approved publisher to post.

Customer references collection

Our written customer case studies are found on the /customers page Our video customer case studies are found on the YouTube site on this playlist

To initiate a formal case study process, follow the process listed here

Reference Program Process

Adding a new reference customer (Note the process is currently different for SALs) ** Commercial and SMB process**

  1. AE nominates customer for the program to Customer Reference Manager by adding an issue to the Customer Reference Program Board
  2. CRM AE Briefing - Key Info needed
    • Industry/ Vertical
    • Geo/ Region
    • Tier (Core/Starter/Premium/Ultimate)
    • GitLab Use Case
    • Customer Segment size (Strategic/ Commercial/ SMB)
    • Deployment Size (licence quantity)
    • Customer story ( Why GitLab?, key metrics)
  3. AE introduces CRM to their customer and the CRM engages with the customer with regards to the Reference program
  4. CRM updates Referenceable customer field in SFDC with information

SAL Process

  1. SAL nominates champion from the contact record from the button at the top of SFDC
  2. SAL fills out the GitLab version customer is using, stages the customer is using and any information about the tech stack
  3. CRM team is notified of nomination in SFDC
  4. If additional information is needed, CRM team will outreach to SAL

Sample Interview Questions/topics for Customer joining the Reference Program

* What led you to GitLab, what problems were you trying to solve?
* Why did you choose GitLab and what other tools were you using or considering?
* What has been your experience with GitLab?  
* How did you make the business case for GitLab and what metrics have you seen improve?
* What have you heard from the GitLab users, what was the adoption curve like?
* What has been the most unexpected success you have experienced? Adoption rates? Improved speed?

Requesting a Reference for a sales call

Commercial and SMB process

  1. AE submits an issue on the Customer Reference Board with the label "Customer Reference Checks".
  2. CRM reaches out to AE for additional information and with recommended sales references

SAL process

  1. SAL selects "Find a reference" button from the selected opportunity
  2. Filter to find the most appropriate reference for your needs.
  3. Fill out required information and include any customer forms that may be required.
  4. Hit submit and wait for the approval for the call from the champion's account owner

Requesting a Reference for an event

Local Field Marketing event

  1. Please open an issue on the Customer Reference Board with the label "Customer Speaking Requests" a minimum of 45 days before the event.
  2. Please send a slack notification to the regional Customer Reference Manager with a link to the issue.
  3. CRM will pull a SFDC report of customers in billing city/state/area to view an applicable pool of speakers as well as a report in Reference Edge.
  4. CRM will create a table from the report in the issue listing AE/SAL and customer accounts. CRM will tag any additional AEs/SALs in the issue.
  5. CRM will work with AEs/SALs to identify customer stories (if known).
  6. CRM will co-ordinate with Field Marketing to refine the speaker pool.
  7. CRM and AE/SALs will reach out with speaking request to customers giving customers a minimum of 30 days before the event to respond.
  8. If customer accepts, introduction to field manager is coordinated.
  9. If customer outreach is unsuccessful, CRM will coordinate with Field Marketing on internal alternatives.
  10. When the customer agrees to present; the Field Marketing manager should open a SM Request issue for content support with the PMM team.

Note: If travel is required for a customer speaker, it is covered by field marketing.

Partner/Alliance Associated event

  1. Please open an issue on the Customer Reference Board with the label "Customer Speaking Requests" a minimum of 65 days before the event. Ideally 90 days.
  2. Please send a slack notification to the regional Customer Reference Manager with a link to the issue.
  3. In the issue, please identify Partner/Alliance organization and anticipated outcome.
  4. Requestor to identify tier of customer requested. (Enterprise, Commercial, SMB)
  5. Customer Reference Manager identifies pool of proposed customers with Reference Edge, SFDC, and Alliance customer stories.
  6. CRM distributes pool to requestor and works with them to identify a short list of customers to request.
  7. CRM reaches out to appointed SALs/AEs of customers to verify timing of request.
  8. CMR or SAL/AE outreach to customer a minimum of 60 days before the event.
  9. If customer accepts, introduction to the alliance manager is coordinated.
  10. If customer outreach is unsuccessful, CRM will coordinate on internal alternatives.

Note: If travel is required for a customer speaker, it is covered by different parts of the org. (Determined on a per request basis.)

Requesting a customer for a webinar

  1. Please open an issue on the Customer Reference Board with the label "Customer Speaking Requests" a minimum of 60 days before the event.
  2. Please send a slack notification to the regional Customer Reference Manager with a link to the issue.
  3. CRM will pull a SFDC report of customers to view an applicable pool of speakers as well as a report in Reference Edge.
  4. CRM will create a table from the report in the issue listing AE/SAL and customers. CRM will tag any additional AEs/SALs in the issue.
  5. CRM will work with AEs/SALs to identify customer stories (if known).
  6. CRM coordinate with Field Marketing to refine the speaker pool.
  7. CRM and AE/SALs will reach out with speaking request to customers giving customers a minimum of 30 days before the event to respond.
  8. If customer accepts, introduction to the marketing manager is coordinated
  9. If customer outreach is unsuccessful, CRM will coordinate with Field Marketing on internal alternatives.
  10. When the customer agrees to present; the Marketing manager should open a SM Request issue for content support with the PMM team.

Requesting a customer for analysts

Requesting a confidential request (Customer not named in report)

  1. Analyst Relations team adds label "Customer Speaking Requests" to the report as soon as issue is opened.
  2. Analyst Relations team adds a slack message with the issue in the "Customer_References" Channel.
  3. Customer Reference Team will work with Analyst Relations manager to narrow down the pool of potential customers based on used stages etc.
  4. CRM to review previous customer references for the specific report. CRM to identify 1 speaker to show growth and maturity of product to speak for report again.
  5. CRM to outreach to SAL/AEs for customers to get approval to speak for report.
  6. CRM to outreach to customer for request to speak for report.

Requesting a customer for Public Relations activities

  1. Please open an issue on the Customer Reference Board with the label "Customer Speaking Requests"
  2. Please send a slack notification to the regional Customer Reference Manager with a link to the issue.
  3. CRM will review the request and suggest customers for the PR activity to the requestor
  4. CRM will partner with the AO's for the customer outreach to request their participation in the PR activity.
  5. CRM will introduce the PR Manager to the customer to liase with them on the PR activity.

Customer Logo Permission Form

Purpose: To reflect our customer base we use customer logos to promote organizations that are using GitLab

Customer logos appear on our website and other marketing and promotional materials. To respect the intellectual property of companies that use our product, we request a signed permission form to use their logo. To request logo usage from a customer, please send the Logo permission form to the appropriate member of the customer organization.

  1. Once we have received back the signed logo form, send the form to the Customer Reference Team.
  2. The Customer Reference Team will attach the signed form to the account on SFDC.
  3. The Customer Reference Team will add the customer to the Reference Edge software with logo usage selected.
  4. The Customer Reference Team will then add the logo to the customer approved locations (including website and or promotional presentations.)

GitLab Customer Advisory Boards

Information about the GitLab Customer Advisory Boards is found on the CAB page

Peer Reviews

Learn about our Peer Review Management Program

Customer Anecdotes

Customer anecdotes are short, "snackable" customer stories. These can be used on a call or in a meeting to share a point about GitLab by validating it with the customer story. An anecdote can be a summary of a formal, attributable case study or just an anonymous story from a conversation you had with a customer. It's important to keep customers anonymous unless we have explicit approval to use their name.

Remove the complexity of multi-tool environments

A communications company recently shared how they built their technology stack. "GitLab checks so many boxes for us that we don't need other tools." The company then explained they they are operating with a team of 2 people because GitLab makes the environment so simple. They said another organization would probably have to employ 15 people to accomplish what they can.

Administrative overhead

We hosted a dinner for customers and prospects to mingle with each other and share stories. When the topic of managing the DevOps toolchain came up, the Head of Risk at a large US bank mentioned that she had a team of 20 to keep SDLC tools running in her org. A GitLab customer, the managing director of a product group for a global investment management corporation said, "this is going to break your heart, but I have 1 guy that spends 25% time to keep GitLab up and going for my team of 1500 devs."

Deliver value faster

Pinterest is not a GitLab customer, but uses Kubernetes together with Jenkins. Because there's no native kubernetes integration for Jenkins they needed to dedicate a team of 4 spending 6 months to build a custom system to control access management and allow teams to self-serve builds. This is functionality that comes out of the box on day one with GitLab.

Adoption at an incredible pace

A large enterprise in the software space is a recent GitLab Premium customer wanting to replace Perforce. They predicted that it would take them 3 years to hit 6K active users. But, the developer experience was so superior that they ended up hitting 6K active users in only 8 months.

Security is at the center

A publishing firm is utilizing GitLab best of breed CI/CD functionality and with upcoming product advancements they have informed us that GitLab is a mission critical application for them. They also chose GitLab over the competition because security is currently the biggest aspect they want to improve on internally.

Removing the wait

A financial services company recently stated that their teams went from two week releases to six times per day using GitLab. They are able to release this quickly because they do not need to wait for infrastructure.

No babysitter required

An online gaming development house has a team of 9 looking after its toolstack for SDLC. GitLab is one of the tools in the stack, but is self-sufficient enough that they only deal with it every six months.

Providing happiness everyday

A large media company recently stated that GitLab is the best architected application they have ever used. According to this company, "This product is a joy to use. We cannot believe how much incremental value you crank out with each release."

Customer Case Studies

Ticketmaster - 15x faster build time

Ticketmaster is a global event ticketing leader with one of the world's top five e-commerce sites, getting almost 27 million monthly unique visitors. Ticketmaster was using Jenkins for continuous integration. Weighed down by plug-ins and legacy development, their pipeline was taking 2 hours to complete. After getting stuck late on a friday night waiting for the build to complete, their ops team began exploring other options. They were able to run their pipeline on GitLab CI/CD in 8 minutes for a 15x increase.

Axway - 26x faster release cycles

Axway, is a global enterprise software company with over €300 million in yearly revenue. Axway wanted to adopt DevOps practices but their legacy Subversion toolchain was blocking them. By moving from Subversion to Git using GitLab as their Source Code Management (SCM) solution they were able to implement DevOps integrating GitLab into tools like JIRA, for issue management and Jenkins for continuous integration. They increased deployments from once-a-year to every two weeks.

Paessler - 120X increased QA efficiency

Paessler AG provides the award-winning PRTG Network Monitoring software used by over 150,000 IT administrators in more than 170 countries. QA engineers were manually testing software with a routine set of tasking taking an hour to complete. By implementing GitLab pipelines they were able to automate QA tasks requiring only 3 minutes of effort for a 120x efficiency increase.

Equinix - increased DevOps agility

Equinix is a leading global data center company. Their client-side development teams are responsible for building software products and business critical applications, increase development speed, self-serviceability, and ship fixes and features quickly. Equinix needed a version control and continuous integration tool for distributed workflows to support globally distributed development teams.

Other customer case studies

Which customer reference team member should I contact?