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Difficulty dealing with a person when porting a project

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Lead Machine Learning Engineer at Taro Community5 months ago

I have been tasked to port a project of porting a ML project that has been running on someone's laptop to the cloud and make it production ready. It is very difficult for this person to give the full picture of the process.

This could be due to he is not actually remembering very well, given that the project has been actually done 1 year ago, or he doesn't like to lose the single point of failure / control situation.

I actually don't care about the reason and I want to get this project to success.

How may I deal with this situation?

Current blocker is that I am unable to properly estimate the time it may take for this project.



  • 4
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    Tech Lead/Manager at Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    5 months ago

    Are you trying to get the info in a meeting or asynchronously? I'd think about using both to make more progress with this knowledge transfer.

    • Put a date on the calendar for reviewing the ML project, for 2-3 weeks out. You're effectively creating a deadline.
    • If he needs more hand-holding, you could schedule a "working session" for an hour or 2 with 1-2 people where you dive into it together.

    You could create a template of the information you need and start filling it out to the best of your knowledge. You can then rely on tried-and-true human behavior: people like to correct others more than they like to propose an idea. Your attempt at filling in the details may spur him to start contributing.

  • 3
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    Eng @ Taro
    5 months ago

    Can you set up a meeting with them where you can at least get their code to run on your own laptop?

    • You can document the process along the way to set up the project
    • You can walk through the code with them so you'll be able to understand what's happening
    • You can plan out the tasks that will be required to port over the project to the cloud
    • You can get their POV about what they would do differently if they had a redo on the project
  • 2
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    5 months ago

    This seems like a pretty straightforward task to me: You need to get their code onto GitHub and attach some sort of README to it so people can understand how to run/extend it.

    As Charlie mentioned, I think just having a meeting is best. Frame it as a collaborative exercise:

    • Bad: "Can you please upload your project to the company GitHub soon?" - This sounds selfish and feels like you're just throwing a work burden onto them.
    • Good: "I'm really excited to work on this project with you and make it better! Are you open towards spending some time pair programming through it and getting to know one another? We can upload what you have to GitHub so it's easy for both of us to contribute and add some documentation as well to really polish your work." - This sounds like an equivalent exchange of value with the tone of a positive team-player.

    The important thing (as always) is to communicate with empathy, which I break down more in my Effective Communication series: Alex's Guide To Effective Communication

  • 3
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    Lead Machine Learning Engineer [OP]
    Taro Community
    5 months ago

    Hi everyone,

    Thank you very much for your feedback. I like these pointers. Since my last comment, I have made some progress.

    I managed to setup the code and run it on my local machine, which helped me to understand some aspects of the code. Furthermore, I worked on a possible architecture and involved him in the discussion.

    These steps helped me to progress. It is not done yet, but I am making significant progress now.

    Thank you.