Hi Masl, thank you for your time. You have been a part of Checkmk since August 2016 and are therefore one of our “old hands”. Starting as a consultant, at that time still at Mathias Kettner GmbH, with system and customer support, you have been in product management since January 2020.
What made you decide to start at Checkmk?
At the end of 2015, I started to convert an old monitoring system consisting of many different components to Checkmk. So I came to Checkmk as a user and I didn’t want to miss the chance to join a company that deals with the entire IT.
How did you get into product management via consulting?
As one of the early employees, I also worked on many tasks from product management right from the start; for example, in the context of development requests that I processed. Due to my proximity to both consulting and development, my focus then emerged very naturally. I know the customer side very well and, conversely, I have also programmed to a greater or lesser extent. At some point, it became clear that we needed colleagues who officially only work on the further development of our products. And so, at the beginning of 2020, I laid the foundation for the “Product Management” department.
What fascinates you most about your job at Checkmk and what are your tasks?
On the one hand, I still learn something new about Checkmk every now and then. And on the other hand, I get a lot of insights into the most diverse areas of IT, such as networking, virtualization, microservices and much more.
Of course, this is also the essence of my current responsibility as a product manager. I often enter a specialist area in which my counterpart is the expert. Together we then work out a common understanding in order to be able to further develop Checkmk in this specialist area. The fundamental understanding of these sometimes very specialized areas in IT is essential and at the same time very challenging.
In the other half of my time, I lead the team that creates our documentation. We have a very high and unusual standard, which we then try to implement together.
What does a work week look like for you?
Due to my history at Checkmk and my split responsibilities, every week is very different. I often work very closely with colleagues from development or with customers on projects. Especially the latter often require a high degree of flexibility due to the different ways of working in order to be able to coordinate.
On other days, I work more on the future of Checkmk by sorting and prioritizing our ideas and those of the customers and then pouring them into a roadmap together with my colleagues.
Basically, my days are very much about sharing internally, as well as externally. Bringing departments and customers together with each other takes up a large part of my work. I gain my expertise in these discussions, or by taking a look at our support.
What tools/technologies do you work with in your team?
I work a lot with Jira, as this is where we map most of our work. Of course, I also use Zoom and Google’s office suite, and I use Checkmk every day. Since I talk a lot with different departments, I also use their tools regularly. Be it Jenkins, Git, Python or Gerrit from development, the CRM tools used by our sales, Jira Service Desk from support, etc.
For everyday exchanges, we have tools like Slack.
Describe in your words the relationship between Checkmk and customers? What makes this relationship?
I was not aware of it at the beginning. But I have come to appreciate very much the partnership work between Checkmk and our clients. To be able to talk to each other on one level, to design solutions together that are really helpful, is a very rare commodity. This becomes clear again and again at our conference and in the other conversations around it: The self-image of working together on a product and sharing the results of this work with all other users is something very special.
Is there anything that currently bothers you about your job?
We have so many ideas and improvements and so little time. Because of our close contact with the real world at our customers, I would love to implement so many more new features than we actually can. This can be frustrating at times, when we clearly see the benefits and yet know that we have to decide against it. Mainly because there is a lack of motivated, new colleagues who are very interested in the breadth of IT and who see the unknown as a challenge rather than a threat.
What makes Checkmk so special?
The opportunities for advancement are immense. Not so much related to a career. Others certainly offer that as well. But mainly from the content point of view. Every day there are opportunities to deepen one’s knowledge – or to build up completely new knowledge.
That takes away the pressure of having to know something already and opens the way to being able to continuously acquire knowledge. For me, who likes to learn new things, this is a dream job.