How to Engage Offshore Engineers

Sowmiya Chocka Narayanan

CTO at Lily App



"My company was an early stage startup, so didn't have much funding, but we wanted to build a product quickly so we could test our hypothesis and go for a bigger round of funding. Because of this, we decided to hire full time contractors offshore in India, as it wasn't possible for us to hire the engineers that we needed in the US. However, while they were specialists in the language and tool that they used, they weren't familiar with the product we were developing and didn't understand why we were doing what we were doing, so didn't feel invested in the product."

Actions taken

"I approached the problem by starting with a brainstorming session. Before going to the session I would think through the problem and come up with solutions of my own. Then, in the session, I would describe the problem to the engineers, and then we would discuss why we were doing an action, who it affected, and what it was that the action was meant to solve. I would then let the engineers think about how they would solve it and would provide them with suggestions of solutions we had thought of. This helped, as it gave them an understanding of why we were doing what we were doing and meant I didn't have to micromanage them."

Lessons learned

"If you want to move quickly, people often think about hiring offshore. However, they are also often concerned about offshore work being lower quality. However, if you invest time into building the offshore team in the same way as you would build a team in the US, and if you give them enough context so they feel like they own what they are doing, it's possible to have the engineers provide the same level of quality of work as engineers based in the US."

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Sowmiya Chocka Narayanan

CTO at Lily App

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