|Principles||Processes||Categorization||GitLab the Product||Being a Product Manager||Performance Indicators||Product Leadership|
The GitLab Product team includes team members at various levels of Product Management job titles across our organizational levels with scope at various points in our product hierarchy. As a result there can be instances where peers across layers don't have the same title. We will always abide by GitLab's layer structure.
|Level||Job Families||Hierarchy Scopes|
|IC||Product Manager||Group, Stage|
|Manager||Group Manager Product, Director of Product||Collection of Groups, Stage, Section|
|Director||Director of Product||Section|
|Senior Leader||VP||All Sections|
Invest the majority of your time (say 70%) in deeply understanding the problem. Then spend 10% of your time writing the spec for the first iteration only and handling comments, and use the remaining 20% to work on promoting it.
A problem you understand well should always have a (seemingly) simple or obvious solution. Reduce it to its simplest form (see above) and only ship that.
Once you've shipped your solution, both you and the community will have a much better idea of what can be improved and what should be prioritized for future iterations.
As a PM, you're the person that has to kick-off new initiatives. You're not responsible for shipping something on time, but you are responsible for taking action and setting the direction. Be active everywhere, over-communicate, and sell the things you think are important to the rest of the team and community.
As a PM, you need to set the bar for engineering. That is, to push engineering and the rest of the company. You almost want engineering to complain about the pace that product is setting. Our default instinct will be to slow down, but we can't give in to that.
As a PM you don't own the product; ask other people for feedback and give team members and the community the space to suggest and create things without your direct intervention. It's your job to make sure things are decided and planned, not come up with every idea or change.
The responsibilities for Product Managers, Sr. Product Managers, and Principal Product Managers, Group Manager, Product Management Director of Product, VP of Product and VP of Product Strategy are outlined in our job families pages.
The progression of responsibilities allocation between tactical, operational and strategic is well illustrated by this helpful chart.
In addition, as a Product Manager you're expected to:
data/categories.ymlis up to date, including accurate links based on the defined link hierarchy.
Occasionally, Product Managers are asked to perform the role of "Life Support" Product Manager for a group. When doing so please refer to the Life Support PM expectations.
As we grow, Product Managers can be listed across multiple stages and be asked to perform the role of Product Manager across split or multiple teams in an "Interim" basis. While temporary and based on future hiring, these positions are not considered "Life Support" and thus the standard Responsibilities and Expectations apply.
The product team is responsible for iteration on most of GitLab's products and projects:
This includes the entire stack and all its facets. The product team needs to weigh and prioritize not only bugs, features, regressions, performance, but also architectural changes and other changes required for ensuring GitLab's excellence.
Our product wide, section, stage and category direction pages can be found from our Direction page.
As this document and the direction page shows, there are a million things we want to do. So, how do we prioritize them and schedule things properly? A product group's PM is the DRI for prioritization and per our DRI definition they do not owe an explanation for their decisions because we don't want PMs to fall into a perpetual loop of explaining and prefer a bias for action. However, one responsibility of a PM is to build rapport and align your stakeholders on priorities. It's almost always in a PMs best interest to explain why they are making prioritization calls.
Product Manager onboarding, beyond any product specific steps in your first week onboarding ticket, is defined in the Product projects PM Onboarding issue template.
Onboarding issues can be tracked in the Product Onboarding Issue Board.
Iteration on Product Management Onboarding is encouraged by all team members. To do so, create an MR against one of the above files and assign it to your manager for review and merge.
We track progress through the skills required to be a product manager at all levels via the Product Management Career Development Framework (CDF). The single source of truth for that framework is the table below but you can use this GoogleSheet template to track your career development with your manager.
|IC Title||PM||Sr. PM||Principal PM|
|Manager Title||Group Manager PM||Director PM|
|Validation Track Skills||Adept at qualitative customer interviewing. Familiar with prioritization frameworks like RICE to organize opportunity backlogs. Capable of deriving key insights and patterns from customer interviews, and using that input to clarify problem statements. Proficient at story mapping, to break epics down into smaller Minimal Viable Change (MVC) issues. Proficient at collaborating with Design on protoypes to bring potential solutions to life.||Skilled at qualitative customer interviewing. Excellent at deriving key insights and patterns from customer interviews, and using that input to clarify problem statements. Skilled at story mapping, to break epics down into smaller MVC issues. Excellent at collaborating with Design on protoypes to bring potential solutions to life.||Skilled at qualitative customer interviewing. Skilled at story mapping, to break epics down into smaller MVC issues. Capable of teaching product validation techniques to others.||Ensures consistent execution of validation track skills across a large team.|
|Build Track Skills||Adept at breaking epics and issues down into MVC's. Knowledgeable about GitLab's product and the relevant product domain(s). Knowledgeable about GitLab's architecture, API's, and tech stack. Capable of running a demo anytime. Able to make highly informed prioritization & tradeoff decisions with engineering. Able to discuss & evaluate technical architecture recommendations from eng. Responsible for the health of working relationships with peers in the Group. Familiar and comfortable with agile development methodologies.||Excellent at breaking epics and issues down into MVC's. Deep familiarity with GitLab's product and the relevant product domain(s). Deep understanding of GitLab's architecture and tech stack. Able to elevate performance of the Group through excellent PM outputs.||Expert at breaking epics and issues down into MVC's. Expert in the relevant product domain(s) and capable of teaching others about the domain. Responsible for the health of working relationships with fellow Engineering Managers.||Ensures consistent execution of build track skills across a large team. Responsible for the health of working relationships with fellow Engineering Directors.|
|Business Skills||Understands and communicates the business value of epics and issues. Sets success metrics for epics and issues, and tracks metrics post-launch to guide investment in iterative improvements. Spends up to 20% of time researching & defining category vision & strategy.||Able to ensure activities are consistent with GitLab's go-to-market and business model. Can balance build, buy and partner options for solving customer problems. Can identify new market opportunities & author business cases, as well as forecast the approximate benefits of new features. Spends up to 30% of time researching & defining category vision & strategy.||Expert at business case creation. Capable of managing business results across a range of product domains.||Works cross-stage and cross-functionally to ensure an excellent end-to-end customer experience. Excellent at understanding and managing the business impact across a wide range of product domains. Capable of making key pricing & packaging recommendations.|
|Communication Skills||Capable written and verbal communicator internally and externally. Drives clarity in area. Trusted resource for customer calls and meetings. Builds rapport with stakeholders to align around priorities. Self aware and understands how their interactions impact others. Takes action to improve behavior based on impact to others.||Capable of representing GitLab externally at trade shows, customer events, conferences, etc. Solid presentation skills at all levels of the company. Appropriately influences & persuade others to a course of action.||Recognized as a thought leader internally and externally. Excellent presentation skills at all levels of the company. Escalates issues cleanly to appropriate levels of authority when decisions or progress are blocked.||Visible leader across teams. Establishes compelling team purpose that is aligned to the overall organizational vision. Inspires broader team to achieve results. Identifies disconnects to vision and takes appropriate action.|
|People Management Skills||N/A||N/A||Aligns team with larger Stage vision and goals. Translates and aligns strategy in a meaningful way for team, building a shared understanding of team goals and targets. Uses situational leadership techniques to provide appropriate level of guidance and latitude to team members. Proactively identifies and fills talent gaps. Adept at caring personally for team members and providing candid real-time feedback.||Aligns team with larger Section vision and goals. Provides appropriate level of guidance and latitude to managers and individuals. Experienced at hiring and at managing out underperformance. Excellent at caring personally for team members and providing candid real-time feedback.|
|Typical Reporting Structure||Reports to a Director or Group Manager||Reports to a Director or Group Manager||Reports to a Director or VP||Reports to VP|
|Typical Experience||Two to four years of relevant experience or equivalent combination of experience and education.||Four to six years of relevant experience or equivalent combination of experience and education.||Eight to ten years of experience with at least one year of people management responsibility.||Ten to twelve years of experience with at least four years of people management responsibility.|
Product Management Leadership will perform CDF reviews with their team members on a regular cadence; the suggested cadence is every 2-3 months. Consider creating a recurring meeting dedicated to this topic rather than utilizing existing 1:1 meetings.
A unique and important step in the interview process for Product Management candidates is our Deep Dive Interview. The goal of this interview is to understand the candidate's ability to communicate a long term vision as well as a short term MVC, both verbally during the interview itself, and written via two follow up issues. Once the issues are ready for you to read, it is an opportunity to provide feedback and see how the candidate responds to that feedback.
|You can find more information and instructions on the Deep Dive interview here. For information on our hiring process, head over to our hiring handbook pages.|
The separate page Product Leadership covers how to be an effective leader in the product management organization.
Product Managers must be able to demonstrate a variety of skills across our CDF. We provide additional career development guidance by listing priority competencies for each CDF category.
At the moment we are working building out our Product Management Competencies.
The validation track is the first phase of GitLab's Product Development Workflow. Industry wide, this track is commonly referred to as ideation and research. This phase lays the foundation for designs and solutions. When the business and users problems are well understood, the more likely it is that the product will solve the user's problem and the higher likelihood that those users will enjoy the solution.
Using a competencies model will help Product Managers understand the expectations of the validation track at each level in the Product Management organization. The competencies in the validation track are:
Customer interviewing is essential to clearly defining the user's needs, problems, and jobs to be done. At GitLab, customer interviewing is typically done in partnership with User Experience, including Product Design and User Research. This competency will help Product Managers get stronger at problem identification and curating a solid foundation for user stories, prototypes and solutions to be built upon.
|Level||Demonstrates Competency by…||Assessment|
|PM||Adept at qualitative customer interviewing. Uses templates and already available resources for discussion guides. 50% or greater reliance on UX research for interviewing. Capable of deriving key insights and patterns from customer interviews, and using that input to clarify problem statements. Potentially misses cross-stage or outside primary persona or use cases. Capable of completing the guidelines referenced in the Validation Track handbook page. Low to moderate confidence in conducting and moderating user interviews. Aware of RICE as a priority setting tool and can apply the framework assisted.||Customer Interview Assessment - Individual Contributors|
|Sr. PM||Skilled at qualitative customer interviewing. Actively improves existing resources and templates. 30% or less reliance on UX research for interviewing. Excellent at deriving key insights and patterns from customer interviews, and using that input to clarify problem statements. Independently identifies and brings in cross-stage representation during interviews with non-primary personas or use cases.
Skilled at applying and executing against the Validation Track in the handbook. Moderate to high confidence in conducting or moderating user interviews independently. Capable of applying RICE as a priority setting tool unassisted.
|Customer Interview Assessment - Individual Contributors|
|Principal PM/ Group Manager PM||Highly skilled at qualitative customer interviewing. Coaches and continuously seeks feedback for existing resources on interviewing. Minimal reliance on UX research for interviewing and leverages UX research for consultation of research strategy. Contributes to goal setting and OKR development across the team. Seeks opportunities for cross-stage collaboration and validation from ancillary use cases or personas. Iterates and engages with the Validation Track in the handbook as new learnings arise. Typically conducts or moderates user interviews independently. Capable of applying RICE as a priority setting tool unassisted.||Customer Interview Assessment - Individual Contributors
Customer Interview Assessment - People Leaders - Coming Soon
|Director PM||Ensures consistent execution of validation track skills across product groups. Seeks feedback and continuous refinement of validation processes. Measures and evaluates validation track performance on SMAU to ensure the process is delivering results for the business.||Customer Interview Assessment - People Leaders - Coming Soon|
|Senior Director PM||In addition to upholding director requirements, senior directors work to ensure the validation track appropriately includes external teams like UX, UX research, Design, or Engineering, as necessary. Developing awareness and driving collaboration with the track within R&D.||Customer Interview Assessment - People Leaders - Coming Soon|
|Vice President PM||In addition to the requirements of the senior director requirements, vice president’s proactively inform the validation process, goals, and frameworks with context from the global company and external stakeholders, like investors.||Customer Interview Assessment - People Leaders - Coming Soon|
|EVP/Chief Product||In addition to upholding the requirements of a VP, the executive vice president should advocate for the validation framework and goals across the company. Comfortable representing the way product decisions are informed and designed within and outside of the company.||Customer Interview Assessment - People Leaders - Coming Soon|
Here is our prioritized list of future competencies. We'll add them to our competencies list by starting with the top priority in each skill category. We'll add more detail and content for each one of these as we add them to the PM competencies list.
Validation Track Skills
Build Track Skills
People Management Skills
Every GitLab team member is encouraged to contribute to the list of prioritized Product Manager competencies, as well as the content for each competency via merge requests to this page.