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How to be a Support Manager On-call


The Support Manager On-call helps coordinate responses to urgent and important situations that arise within the scope of delivering a quality experience to GitLab customers.

The Support Manager On-call is one of the rotations that make up GitLab Support On-call.

Expectations for Support Manager On-call

As part of GitLab Support on-call, Support Managers serve in a rotation. The support manager on-call is responsible generally for:

  1. Ensuring customer emergencies are handled promptly and accurately, according to SLAs
  2. Handling customer-related escalations during business hours according to the support escalation definitions of urgency
  3. Acting as a notification point for security incidents
  4. Providing direction and assistance with regards to Live Upgrade Assistance Requests initiated during the shift
  5. Help ensure new tickets don't breach by keeping an eye on the Needs Org / FRT view. Ping your region in #support_team-chat if tickets are building up to remind people to take new tickets. See Meeting our FRT SLA for details of how we meet our FRT SLA.

Handling customer emergencies and incidents

The Support Engineer on-call is the first responder for customer emergencies. Managers support this work as follows:

Support Escalations are handled by the Support Manager on-call.

Your responsibilities are as follows:

  1. Triage and investigate tickets and internal-requests that are announced in #support_escalations.
  2. Establish ownership and assignment for escalated tickets.

You can use Support Team Skills by Subject to find appropriate engineers to assign.

NOTE: GitLab team members may attempt to draw attention to tickets in regular support Slack channels (#support_self-managed, #support_gitlab-com, #spt_managers). Any such attempt constitutes an escalation. Redirect the team member by responding to their post with only the :escalate: emoji, which will send an automated and anonymous reply describing the correct process.

NOTE: There are two other distinct situations, not discussed on this page:

  1. Escalated Customers
  2. Emergencies that become Escalations

Mechanics of handling escalations

Some steps of escalation management are handled by bots and auto-responders. The text **BOT** is used below to show these steps.

  1. When someone declares an escalation using the support escalation form:
    1. BOT: Creates a new Issue in the support escalation issue tracker.
    2. BOT: Slack announcement is posted to #support_escalations, with an @mention of the current on-call Support Manager's name.
    3. In many cases BOT adds an internal note to the Zendesk ticket and escalation issue, documenting the escalation.
  2. Add the :eyes: emoji to acknowledge you are looking at the escalation.
  3. In the Zendesk ticket, if there is no automated note, add an internal note by copy-pasting the text from the Slack announcement.
  4. Assess the ticket, and the business case behind the escalation (triage).
    • Questions to the escalation initiator can be put in Slack (synchronous) or in the escalation Issue (asynchronous).
  5. If you need input or help from engineers, initiate a new thread in #support_gitlab-com, #support_self-managed or #support_licensing-subscription. Then return to the thread in #support_escalations and comment that all technical ticket-related discussion is happening in the ticket (or in the new thread). This helps ensure all technical discussion stays in one channel/thread.
  6. Resolve the escalation thread.

Rejecting an escalation request

There are times when an escalation request does not meet the threshold for escalation. In such situations, return to the thread in #support_escalations and notify the escalation initiator.

Resolving an escalation

An escalation is considered resolved when the correct next-step is identified and underway; it does not require the Zendesk ticket to be Solved or Closed.

When an escalation is resolved:

  1. Apply a :green-check-mark: emoji to the escalation notification in #support_escalations.
  2. Update the associated escalation Issue with an appropriate comment, and Close it.
  3. Consider applying an appropriate label, such as one of the scoped label examples below, to help categorize and track trends in escalations.
    • ~Escalation::License-Issue : Identifies the core issue at hand resolves around licensing / subscriptions
    • ~Escalation::Response-Time : Useful when the purpose of the escalation is to expedite a response to an issue or case

Act as a notification point for security incidents

When GitLab experiences a security incident, the Support Manager on-call is responsible for triaging and responding to customer communications stemming from the security incident. This may include involving the CMOC.

Provide assistance with Live Upgrade Assistance Requests

Live upgrade assistance requests are currently triaged by engineers as part of the Working on Tickets but in some cases the triaging agent(s) may need assistance from Support management.

Example situations and potential solutions

Reassigning or swapping your on-call shift

If you will be unable to handle on-call for a few hours on a weekday due to being engaged in a customer call or otherwise, arrange for another manager to handle on-call responsibilities temporarily:

  1. Ask a specific manager to cover; if that doesn't work,
  2. Post a request in #spt_managers for any manager to volunteer to cover.

To swap your on-call duty with someone, follow the steps listed under Swapping on-call duty.

Manually triggering a PagerDuty notification

At times, you may receive an escalation where the customer is reporting a situation that qualifies for emergency support under our definitions of support impact. In such cases you may elect to trigger an emergency directly, rather than asking the customer to open a new emergency ticket.

You can trigger a PagerDuty notification by using the Support::Managers::Trigger manual emergency macro in Zendesk.

Alternatively, you can manually trigger a PagerDuty notification through PagerDuty itself.

Login to and select + New Incident from the upper right corner. Then fill out the form as follows:

No other fields need to be filled out, therefore you may then click Create Incident

Manually triggering an emergency

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