Personas describe the ideal target for GitLab. They help us define our messaging and marketing delivery. They are theoretical people to target. By defining their concerns and where they go for information, we can best spend our marketing dollars and sales efforts by focusing on this ideal target.
Roles are distinct job titles. These are the real people you will encounter while selling. You will find a contact at an account with a specific role. Understanding the challenges faced by each role in IT, along with what they care most about, is helpful to deliver the right value proposition to the right person.
Personas are a generalized way of talking about the ideal target we are aiming to communicate with and design for. They help us not only define our messaging and marketing delivery, but also our product. Keeping personas in mind allows us to use the correct language and make the best decisions to address their specific problems and pain points. GitLab has both buyer and user persona types.
Buyer personas are the people who serve as the main buyer in an organization or
a champion within an enterprise that drives the buying conversation and
coordinates various teams to make a purchase.
While personas describe ideal targets, roles are the real people in job titles you will encounter while selling. Understanding the challenges faced by each role in IT, along with what they care most about, is helpful to deliver the right value proposition to the right person. It will help you know:
a) if they are even someone who may have an interest in GitLab (don't waste time),
b) what questions to ask to learn more and qualify the lead,
c) what value prop they'll want to hear that could get them to a demo, discussion, or POC.
When writing content, always remember to use the GitLab voice regardless of the persona.
Never alienate other personas. You can appeal to a buyer without buzzword bingo.
Look at who uses a channel most (twitter & docs: user, webinar linkedin: buyer) when shared (website) guide them /features for users /solutions for buyers.
User personas are people who actually use GitLab. They may or may not be the person in
the organization who has the authority and budget to purchase Gitlab, but they
are heavy influencers in the buying process.
Parker (Product Manager)
Alternative Job Titles: Program Manager, Project Manager, Technical Product Manager, Head of Product
I am responsible for defining and scoping features, incorporating company objectives into the product roadmap, and giving developers and designers the requirements they need to deliver strong features. Whether I’m making sure I have the right skill-sets on the team, prioritizing feature requests, or ensuring that we deliver on time, my job is to set my team up for success.
When company objectives shift, I want to have a standard process for communication in place, so that I can be in sync with all team members.
When development begins, I want to see an overview of all the relevant information related to a feature or project, so that I can monitor progress throughout a cycle.
When I’m planning for the next cycle, I want to see a history of how accurately the developers on my team estimated their capacity, so that I can be sure that key features will be delivered on time.
It can be difficult to know the status of certain requirements, when my team members do not take the time to update the various tools we use.
I often have trouble balancing feature requests with capacity.
It can be difficult to give clients a reasonable timeframe that is not off-base, since a cycle is often unpredictable.
It’s challenging to explain why certain features have been delayed or deprioritized, when customers and upper-level management are not working closely with the team.
Delaney (Development Team Lead)
Alternative Job Titles: Technical Manager, Software Engineering Team Lead, Technical Team Lead, Software Development Director, Development Lead
I am responsible for meeting with the product management team to discuss and schedule features, so we can convert concepts into practical solutions. I ensure that capacity is properly estimated, create program specifications, and often mentor junior developers.
When discussing feature requests, I want to receive clear requirements from the product and design teams, so my team can deliver on time and reduce back-and-forth communication.
When assessing team resources, I want to see a history of how accurately developers on my team have estimated their capacity, so that I can assign them to the right tasks.
When important deadlines are approaching, I want all team members to reliably update our tools, so that I can track progress without having to search for relevant information in other communication channels.
It can be difficult for my team to do thorough code reviews in a reasonable timeframe, while still making progress on their own assignments.
When demand surpasses our current capacity, it can be stressful to resolve issues while not creating new ones that result from hasty work.
I am not always aware of the best way to explain technical limitations to stakeholders who are not involved in the development process.
My goal is to translate the product’s mission into an effective, empathetic, and efficient user experience. I am responsible for understanding user needs and product requirements, in order to conceptualize and design the graphic elements and components needed to shape the user interface. I collaborate primarily with product managers and developers, in addition to working with other stakeholders such as UX research and marketing.
When a deliverable is requested, I want to have clear, up-to-date requirements that I can reliably refer back to throughout the design process.
When collaborating with other designers, I want to be able to see who has edited a file so that I can confirm whether changes were made intentionally.
When presenting deliverables to stakeholders, I want to be able to make updates to a design without having to edit a series of files in various tools.
When developers are implementing my designs, I want to easily keep track of changes that go live in production, so that I can alert them of any needed fixes.
It’s frustrating to have to create a file in one tool, export the file, create a prototype in another tool, and use a separate tool to handoff the design to developers.
It can be difficult to ensure that stakeholders are looking at up-to-date designs, when carrying out an iterative feedback process.
It can be challenging to get access to more resources, when my company does not have a defined way to prove design value to stakeholders.
Sasha (Software Developer)
Alternative Job Titles: Software Engineer, Application Developer, Digital Solutions Developer, Consultant, Database Developer, Mobile Developer
I spend the majority of my time focused on completing planned development tasks, with roughly 30-40% of time taken by meetings, planning for the next sprint, and fixing bugs or customer requests as they arise. I work off of JIRA tickets and have a regular stand-up with my team.
When I’m planning work, I want to have better communication between stakeholders, so I can deliver something they really need and use.
When I’m on-call, I want to be the expert on some part of the system, so I know that I’m a valuable part of the team.
When collaborating with a large number of developers, I want to see a record of everyone’s changes, so we can pinpoint and unwind mistakes.
When I’m pairing with my teammates, I want to learn new tools and skills, so I can keep growing in my career.
I’m frustrated when requirements change after work has already begun on a project.
I’m frustrated when work is inaccurately scoped, because it causes stress and eats into time planned for other work.
I’m frustrated when I come across brittle code and something that should be an easy fix requires a lot of rework.
I’m concerned that by taking longer than expected on a task I may be judged or seen as blocking others’ work.
Devon (DevOps Engineer)
Alternative Job Titles: Application Developer, Operations Engineer, Systems Engineer, IT Consultant
I provide support for our infrastructure, environments, and integrations. I split my time between coding to implement features and bug fixes, and helping developers deploy, build, and release as efficiently as possible.
When developers plan a project that requires my support, I want to be notified, so I can avoid unnecessary reactive work.
When I resolve problems, I want to be able to track impact and other important success metrics, so I can raise my profile in the organization.
When I create a solution for developers, I want to see it being used, so I know that my contributions are reliable and valued.
When I’m facing a new or novel challenge, I want to whiteboard it with a teammate, so I have the satisfaction of helping solve a problem that has no manual.
When I’m advocating for a new process or tool, I want to point to a metric or test, so I can support my case with something objective.
It is hard for me to quantify my efforts and convince others of time that will be saved in the future by investing time in proactive tasks in the present.
I'm frustrated by the avoidable crises, caused by a lack of communication, that derail my work and burn up my resources.
I dislike frequent context-switching and being responsible for some tasks that I feel I am not good at, because of the many hats my job requires me to wear.
I'm frustrated by the politics of convincing people to adopt my recommendations.
Sidney (Systems Administrator)
Alternative Job Titles: Systems Engineer, Database Administrator, Infrastructure Engineer, Site Availability Engineer, Site Reliability Engineer
I maintain and scale our infrastructure and configurations, and my priority is to automate as much as possible. When needed, I also build servers and help developers deploy to them.
When I get asked for help multiple times on the same task, I want to automate that task, to save time and avoid mistakes in the future.
When I’m on-call, I want to receive tiered notifications, so that the true emergencies don’t get lost in the noise.
When I’m releasing an improvement, I want no one to notice, so I know that it has gone smoothly.
I'm frustrated by the large volume of reactive work that I face.
I'm frustrated by the number of channels (email, Skype, SMS, Slack, pager) on which I receive on-call notifications.
I'm frustrated when I get inundated by requests from people who have not followed the correct process.
I'm frustrated when developers do not implement my recommendations, and I’m responsible for fixing their preventable problems anyway.
Sam (Security Analyst)
Alternative Job Titles: Security Consultant, or an Application Security Specialist
I wear lots of hats, but the majority of my time is spent monitoring and flagging events, running down high priority tasks and working with other teams to implement new systems.
When I’m monitoring my dashboards, I want to see everything I am monitoring in one tool, so I can do my job easier and more efficiently.
When security testing, I want to be more proactive than reactive, so I can anticipate potential threats or vulnerabilities before the bad guys do.
When I've done all I can do proactively, I also want to be able to enable reactive tools and investigate the data from them as a final layer of defense.
When on the job, I want to stay up to date on the latest information and education in information security, so I can grow in my career.
I’m frustrated I don’t have the resources to complete this project to its specifications.
I’m frustrated when I know how to fix a security issue but the red tape at my company doesn’t allow me to in a timely manner.
I’m concerned that what I don’t know, I don’t know and my company can be attacked in any manner of ways at any time.
I’m concerned that I might miss something and my company may become compromised because of it.
Rachel (Release Manager)
I need to automate pipelines so that they will run automatically which will save developers and testers time so they can focus on more complex tasks.
I need to ensure all aspects of pipeline builds and testing run on time so subsequent processes can run and other teams who depend on those can move through their work in a timely manner.
I also need to keep a hand in development, creating code and contributing to applications, outside of automation, so I can feel creative and challenged in my development skills. (SMB Release Manager)
I want to make sure everything in the pipeline will work, because it’s the last thing that happens before it’s moved to production. If you ship something into production that shouldn’t be there, that can be catastrophic.
I live for making scripts that facilitate automation
Every time the CI/CD pipelines do their thing correctly, no one else has to do it and they can work on other, more complicated things.
Dealing with archaic infrastructure, such as slow connections and outdated equipment, can make it difficult to ensure everyone has the files they need to contribute and manage the pipeline.
Ensuring enough developers, Product Managers, etc. are available to support projects.
UI testing isn’t automated so that takes time out of the testing process.
Providing developers and managers actionable information on build statuses is important. They need to self-serve so they can fix the issues to ensure the build is going correctly.
I need to get buy-in for pipeline automation from every level of the company and that can be difficult. When we rely on one person to make the go/no-go decision, it creates a bottleneck.
Coordinating all the different teams across a release can be challenging and requires a lot of follow up to ensure they play their part when they should.
JIRA (for tickets from non-technical users)
Trello (for planning issues and communication)
Slack (for communication)
Alex (Security Operations Engineer)
I’m the firefighter of the Security team. My objective is to prevent malicious attacks and mitigate active risks to my organization as they pop up, as quickly as possible. In order to do that, I develop detection tooling that generates trustworthy alerts, and take part in an on-call rotation where I serve as an Incident Responder.
“I need to be jack of all trades: When SecOps get paged, it could be about anything, and there’s a high probability that the incident concerns something you’ve never dealt with before. The sky could be falling and there’s a lot at stake and so the role of a security operations person can be pretty stressful.”
Manage incident response: When I am on-call, I need to respond to and manage incidents as they pop up, so as to mitigate the risk to my organization as quickly as possible.
Real-time documentation: As an incident unfolds, I want to document as much of what is happening as possible, so that later on I could use that information as part of updating or creating a runbook, and possibly creating an RCA (Root Cause Analysis).
Building detection tools: When I’m not on-call, I want to build tools that enhance our detection and alerting capabilities, so as to improve my organization’s security stance.
Short-term project management: As an incident unfolds, I want to assign tasks and coordinate the work of multiple individuals across my organization, so I can move as quickly as possible to remediate the risk.
Skills & Personal Traits
Great ability to divide my focus effectively and deal with interruptions, such as new alerts, new data, and urgent requests from colleagues
Good at thinking quickly on my feet and maintaining my composure in stressful situations
Can think like an attacker as well as a defender
Enjoy building tools (has coding skills)
Passionate about improving processes
Effective communicator: articulate both verbally and in writing
Enjoys the variance of SecOps work
Feels relatively comfortable with handling unknown unknowns
It is cumbersome to edit description of timeline in real-time, and it’s especially difficult to do in hindsight. Often the timeline documentation isn’t completed.
Often important parts of the info I need in order to handle the incident are either not communicated fully, or are being communicated in an unstructured manner which makes aggregation and searching difficult.
GitLab Issues: Tracking, documentation
PagerDuty: Initiation standpoint, where pages are sent through
Slack, Zoom, GitLab Issues: Communication
Google Docs: Real-time documentation
Terminal, coding environment: Mostly Python, some Go - for building and/or running tools
The Hive: A security incident management tracking tool
Cortex - part of The Hive, allows for easy automation
A cloud management console: To access the infrastructure
Various tools for triage and mitigation:
Docker - to reproduce security issues and test approaches
Accounts for different environments - to test against
ELK stack - to go over logs
Stackdriver or BigQuery - long-term storage, used for incidents that are open for a long period of time
Internal personas reflect the workflow, needs, and challenges faced by GitLab team members. These personas support and influence the work of GitLab's Fulfillment group.
Dana (Data Analyst)
Alternative Job Titles: Data Analytics Consultant, Business Data Analyst
My goal is to deeply understand the lifecycle of data from various sources and model it in a way that fosters cohesive, accurate analysis. I am responsible for maintaining high quality data, building reports and dashboards, and explaining trends across data sources. I collaborate with stakeholders across the company, providing useful analyses and insights that empower them to build a stronger product and organization.
When directors are assessing key performance indicators, I want to build dashboards with reliable data, so that they can have confidence in the conclusions drawn from the data.
When our product team needs to measure the value of our features, I want to see more granularity and context for patterns in usage data, so that we can develop a better understanding of how people are interacting with the product.
When important company initiatives are being discussed, I want to deliver queryable data and empower my colleagues to run their own analyses, so that they can use data-driven insights to inform critical decisions.
When my colleagues are working on projects requiring data analysis, I want to find ways to optimize queries, so that they can spend more time actioning insights.
It can be frustrating to work with data that is not properly structured and low in quality and confidence as a result.
It can be difficult to know exactly how to approach analysis, when my colleagues are not clear about the questions they have and why they want to explore certain aspects of the data.
It’s hard to trust the integrity of data, when inconsistent tracking results in missing context for key events.
It’s difficult to answer big picture questions about feature usage and user retention, when feature parameters and usage criteria aren’t completely defined.