Support Global Groups
The Support Global Groups way of working is based on the knowledge that people are much more successful when working in small self-organizing groups than when working in large ones. GitLab Support is definitely a big group, and it’s only getting bigger! So now it has become very difficult for Support Engineers in this large, global environment to connect with other team members, to know who to contact when they need help, to feel heard, and to be successful in their work.
With the introduction of Support Global Groups (SGG) in May of 2022, we aimed to create for all Support Engineers a smaller, safer space for belonging, which still maintains their full access to the support, knowledge and experience of our global Support Team. Another important aspect of SGG is that it provides for each SE a less intimidating, easier to grasp, more manageable set of work for which they share responsibility with their small, close group.
In this environment, we have observed and received feedback from our Support Engineers during SGG trials that they feel less work-induced stress and more happiness and job satisfaction overall. With that happiness comes greater energy, more and better innovation, greater efficiency, and better results for our customers and our company. We see SGG as a strong foundation for success as the Support Team continues to scale.
For a little more of an introduction to SGG, please see this 9-minute video created by four Support Engineers who participated in the SGG Trials: Andrew, Ryan, Daniel and Ben.
- There are 5 Support Global Groups - this number will go up over time as the
Support Team grows
- each group has about 1/5 each of the SaaS and SM SEs from each of the three regions
- each group has a representative blend of tenure and skill level
- product expertise is distributed reasonably between the groups
- the groups are all named after trees from around the world:
- Inbound support tickets are automatically distributed in a round-robin
fashion to the groups
- there is a separate distribution for SaaS, Saas-Account, Free-user and SM tickets - if there are 5 groups then each group will get 1/5 of the SaaS tickets, 1/5 of the SaaS-Account tickets, 1/5 of the Free-user tickets, and 1/5 of the SM tickets
- any supported ticket is routed via SGG except: L&R tickets, GitLab Incidents tickets and Emergencies tickets
- Each group works primarily out of a single Zendesk view, named
SGG: [group name]
- the view shows only the tickets that were distributed to the group
- the view shows all non-solved, non-pending tickets for the group
- the view is grouped by ticket stage to support prioritization of FRTs and Needs-Org
- the view is visible to everyone in Support to aid in collaboration
- A ticket is assigned to a group by setting the value of the
SGGfield to the name of the group
- A Support Engineer is assigned to a group by adding text in the format
SGG: [group name]to the
Groupssection of their entry in the support-team.yaml file
- Each group has its own Slack channel named
- Each Slack channel is public
- Pinned to each Slack channel are:
- a link to this page
- a link to the group’s handbook page
- a link to the Support Team page showing the group’s membership
- a link to a permanent Zoom room for that group to use in collaborating
Daily Stand-up Bot
The SGG Slackbot’s Daily Stand-up posts each morning for each region regularly, in a number of channels to advise global groups of different information. For further details of the different variations, please refer to the SGG handbook page of the group you are curious about.
Daily Stand-up Bot for Licensing and Renewals in APAC
In the APAC region, team members who have a shared focus on the Licensing and Renewals work also utilises the Daily Stand-up Bot, posted to the #support_licensing-subscription channel in Slack, which supports them in ensuring support coverage reliability of the Licensing and Renewal tickets across APAC Support hours.
Modifying your group’s Daily Stand-up Bot
To request modifications to the Daily Stand-up Bot in your channel, please create an SGG Slackbot issue.
SE Responsibilities and Priorities
»»»» The primary responsibility of each Support Engineer is the success of their group. ««««
“Success of their group” means
- Achieving our target of delivering a meaningful first response on tickets assigned to the group within SLA at least 95% of the time
- Delivering timely and meaningful updates on all tickets assigned to the group, resulting in high quality resolutions
- Working together to fulfill the group’s responsibility to manage and resolve
all tickets that are assigned to the group. This includes things like:
- monitoring the view and distributing the tickets
- maintaining progress on tickets when the assignee is unavailable
- reaching out to managers or other groups when help is needed to fulfill this responsibility
- collectively taking responsibility for escalated tickets within the group
- All group members participating on a daily basis in supporting the rest of the group by sharing knowledge, assisting on tickets, and contributing to group process development and improvement
- Recognizing and seeking additional help from managers and other groups when capacity is at risk due to OOO, on-call, or increased work loads. Suggestions include:
- Strategizing as a group ahead of time (if you see capacity is at risk)
- Asking for manager help in the #spt_gg_forest Slack channel
- Initiating a branch out session to ask other groups for help
- All group members participating in onboarding new group members
to ensure that newcomers feel comfortable asking questions.
The group can decide how they want to approach it.
This can include things like:
- regular group crush/pairing/coffee chat sessions
- identifying tickets that would help push a new group member out of their comfort zone
- encouraging a new group member to ask for help
- All group members holding each other accountable for contributing appropriately to the group’s success
- Ensuring that all tickets are assigned at the time of first response
- Ownership is important for delivering a great customer experience and for keeping tickets moving toward resolution
- In SGG, assigned tickets remain visible in the group view, so everyone can and may contribute
Each Intermediate and Senior Support Engineer should generally be prioritizing their daily work according to the following list. Interviews, training, special assignments and other time-bound commitments are examples of good temporary exceptions to these priorities. Your group might also determine a different workflow or distribution of work that would create a different prioritized list.
You should think of this list as a tool for helping you to make decisions. When there are multiple things to be done, these priorities should guide you toward deciding which of them to do first.
- Emergencies if you are the Support Engineer On-Call, or if the Engineer On-Call needs help
- Incidents if you are the CMOC
- Account escalations if you are a DRI or contributing member on an active escalation.
- Handle STARred tickets that are assigned to you or your group.
- Make sure that all new tickets in your group’s view receive a meaningful first response within SLA
- Make sure your assigned tickets are all up to date and progressing appropriately
- Make sure there are no unassigned tickets in your group by:
- Taking assignment if you have capacity
- Asking others in the group to do so if you don’t
- Bring the ticket to managers if the group is at capacity
- Help on tickets assigned to others in your group by:
- posting an internal note with relevant helpful information, OR
- answering questions from the assignee in your group Slack channel, OR
- asking the assignee if they’d like to pair on the ticket, OR
- responding directly to the customer, preferably only if a response is needed urgently AND the assignee is unavailable to work the ticket
- Assist with Slack requests in Support Pods you participate in (if applicable)
- Attend to indirect ticket work you have to do, such as:
- docs updates
- issue creation or contributions
- Help on tickets within your Support Pods (if applicable) by:
- posting an internal note with relevant helpful information, OR
- asking the assignee if they’d like to pair on the ticket
- Help on tickets outside of FlexiPods and assigned to other groups (Seniors may recognize if other groups are struggling and can decide if a group has the capacity to help)
Maximizing group success
- Get to know each other! Make connections! Build relationships!
- have coffee chats
- have weekly meetings just for fun, maybe cross-regional
- discover each other’s skills
- consider inter-regional handover calls
- use the group’s Zoom room for pairing sessions
- ask the group for help on tickets
- respond to requests for help even if you have to say “I can’t”
- Talk to each other in your Slack channel:
- find out who is in today, and talk about covering for those who are out
- decide who will keep an eye on the queue and when
- Get organized - initiate and participate in conversations about things like:
- how the group will manage tickets and the queue when group members are on PTO or have other commitments
- how to handle preferred region in tickets
We are all part of a global team of 100+ support engineers and in SGG we have the benefit of both working in a small familiar group and of the broad experience and expertise of our full global team. Flexipods is one example of cross-group collaboration, some others are:
- pairing sessions
- crush sessions (including branch out sessions)
- sharing questions to a broader audience in #support_gitlab-com and #support_self-managed and #support_team-chat
Escalate to Unblock (Asking for Manager Help)
Managers are here to help and support SGG team members. If you or your global group feel blocked, and want help on any of the following, we’ve created #spt_gg_forest for all SGG team members to use in collaborating more closely with Support managers:
- provide guidance around SGG strategies
- help identify and discuss challenges that require manager attention and/or support
- highlight successes across SGGs
- provide support around particular customer situations in an SGG (handover assistance, difficult customer handling, etc.)
For a timeline table of the history of SGG and the many issues involved, please see this SGG History Google doc for a summary.
For answers to the most common questions about SGG, please review the SGG FAQ page.
Training Plan for launch May 2022
Please see the Training Plan page