Marcel Arentz

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?

When I started at Checkmk, there was a clear division of roles. So I worked in support, or as a consultant. Almost from the beginning, I also helped out in development. There, it was quite normal to also take on product management tasks and coordinate implementation decisions with customers.

Due to my proximity to all departments, my focus then emerged very naturally. I know the customer side very well and, conversely, I have programmed some requests also direct. 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 and maintain 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. The common thread comes from close collaboration. I often work closely with colleagues from all departments from development and of course or with our 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. Or through conversations with our Users.

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. Besides that I work and use daily Checkmk. 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 quickly came to appreciate the partnership between Checkmk and our customers. Being able to talk to each other on an equal footing and to jointly design helpful solutions that are really helpful is a very rare commodity. This becomes clear to me again and again at our conferences and in the other direct conversations around them: The self-image of working together on a product, valuing the competencies of the other party and then 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 of our customers, I regularly see opportunities for improvement that I would love to implement all. I would love to implement as many new features as we actually can. This can be frustrating when we clearly see the benefits and yet know we have to decide against it. I very much dislike saying "no" to our customers - but have to do so far too often. I'm sure this is mainly because there is a lack of motivated new colleagues who have a strong interest in the breadth of IT and see the unknown as a challenge rather than a threat.

What makes Checkmk so special? 

The opportunities for personal development are immense. Every day is like a new. Not so much in terms of a career. Others certainly offer that as well. But primarily in terms of content. Every day there are opportunities to deepen one's knowledge in an area of IT - or to build up completely new knowledge. This also creates a sense of cohesion among colleagues, since everyone is immersed in different areas and you can only make progress as a team and through mutual support.

This takes the pressure off me to have to know everything already, and at the same time opens the way to being able to continuously absorb knowledge. For me, who likes to continuously learn new things, this is a dream job.

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