Bring ML from Research to Production: the 5-stage

Applied Research & Product Development (Source)
  • a small consultation project might take a few meetings, a few weeks, or two to three months. Such projects are usually initiated from Product to Research.
  • a joint research conference paper might take a quarter or two. Such projects are usually initiated from Research with some participation from Product to test the idea with real data.
  • an investigation into a proof of concept or demo purposes might take a hackathon, a sprint, a few months to a quarter.
  • You will often hear “It worked! We should get it in our product immediately.”
  • As a PM, you can help the team in the following: prepare the PRD, find supporters, identify infrastructure dependency or data block up front and negotiate for resources.
  • You will often hear “We are under resource and another project is taking higher priority. We will see what we can do.”
  • As a PM, you can help the team in the following: review product and modeling hypothesis, review learnings and pivot or improve your hypothesis; chat with TPM or Eng to find potential resources; find evidence to continue or stop.
  • I heard “What??!! Logistics Regression is better than our deep nets. Wait? Our net can’t beat GBDT?”
  • As a PM, you can help the team in the following: educate your Product counterpart about expectations, understand modeling challenges and data assumptions, dissect the data/results to validate/invalidate your hypothesis, shield the team from pressure and give as much space and time for your research team to iterate quickly (data volume, architecture, hyper-parameters) — leave no stones unturned.
  • It makes your day when your researcher/engineer ping you via chat ‘look at this <A/B URL or screenshot>’ and you don’t see the fifteen shades of red across critical metrics.
  • As a PM, your role is almost done. Talk to your Product counterpart to understand their go/no-go decisions, negotiate productionalization resources and metrics, walkthrough launch readiness, prepare joint launch announcement.
  • I heard ‘it took us 1.5 years, close to 2 years — did you believe?’ We forgot when we started until we put the presentation together. It felt like yesterday.

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