Recently Global Sourcing Association (GSA) named Ukraine “Offshoring Destination of the Year”. Indeed, Ukraine remains one of the leading software development outsourcing destinations in Europe. It offers a great price to quality ratio and an abundant pool of tech talents. However, there are so many aspects to consider and so many questions to answer before choosing an IT outsourcing vendor.
With this in mind, we’ve decided to answer the most common questions that we receive in RFIs from our potential business partners. So if you want to outsource your project to Ukraine or set up a nearshore dedicated development team, this Q&A will definitely come in handy.
- How easy is it to hire good talent in Ukraine?
- What are the most common delivery models in Ukraine?
- How easy is it to travel to Ukraine?
- How fluent are Ukrainian software developers in English?
- Which technologies do Ukrainian software development teams have experience with?
- How are Ukrainian developers trained in new technologies?
- Can Ukrainian IT specialists work flex hours or do overtime?
- How many days per year of vacation is normal for Ukrainian IT employees?
- How familiar are Ukrainian developers with Agile/Scrum methodology?
- What is the configuration of networks/system security in Ukraine?
- How do Ukrainian software development companies protect sensitive data?
Talent shortage is a rare thing when it comes to the software development market in Ukraine. Ukrainian IT is booming with around 130,000 specialists employed in 1,000+ IT companies across the country. Around 85% of local software engineers are concentrated in a handful of big cities: Kyiv, Lviv, Dnipro, Kharkiv, and Odesa. Moreover, tens of thousands students graduate from local tech universities every year, joining the Ukrainian talent pool.
Hence finding qualified candidates for the majority of positions is achievable, especially when the provider has a decent track record and a well-deserved reputation. On average, it takes 4-6 weeks to build a team of about 5 qualified engineers. Of course, projects that are using rare or legacy technologies could require more time to be staffed since the talent pool is smaller.
Source: DOU.ua survey 2017
The most common software outsourcing business models in Ukraine are as follows:
- Dedicated development team (often called staff augmentation or team extension)
This delivery model is the best choice for long-term projects (12+ months). It allows the client to get fully involved in building the team, interviewing the candidates, and choosing the best people for the project. Thus a software development vendor gathers a team tailored to the customer’s specific requirements and scales it when necessary. Such team is fully dedicated to this project so the customer gets maximum control over product development. Moreover, this type of cooperation allows your offshore software developers to gain the necessary domain knowledge and experience.
- Time and material model
This model is used when a project cannot be estimated in advance and the scope of work may change in the process. It allows to create new specifications during the development process and involve IT professionals with different skill sets when needed. It is most commonly applied to short mid-size projects.
- Fixed price model
This delivery model is most effective when the scope, objectives, and requirements of the project are clearly defined. Fixed price excludes flexibility and won’t work if the client plans to continuously adjust the product to the market changes. It is mostly applied to smaller projects (up to 6 months of development).
Ukraine has a favorable geographical location and a big number of international airports that have regular flights to major European and US cities. For instance, it takes a two-hour flight to travel from Amsterdam to Kyiv and approximately 7 hours from the US. The most popular and developed airports in Ukraine are Kyiv Boryspil Airport (IATA: KBP), Kyiv International Airport (Zhuliany IATA: IEV), Odessa International Airport (IATA: ODS), Lviv Airport (IATA: LWO), etc.
Additionally, Ukraine has a visa-free entry for citizens from the EU, the US, the UK, Canada, and a number of other countries. Moreover, for the majority of local IT companies, onsite visits are a typical part of cooperation with the client. Ukrainian development teams can easily travel to their clients too, when needed. In this case, the provider’s travel department often takes care of the visits arrangement including visas, flight, and accommodation.
The majority of Ukrainian software development companies have developed a Western business culture, where English proficiency is a must. Around 75% of Ukrainian developers have a good command of English with more than 42% of IT professionals having fluent English skills and 33% – solid intermediate level. Some of them also speak German, French, and other languages.
Moreover, most engineers in Ukraine cooperate with the US, Western European, Asian companies so they are familiar with various business cultures.
English is the language of the Ukrainian IT community. Many local IT conferences such as IT Arena, GDG DevFest, PyCon Ukraine, AGILEE use English as an official language. In addition, it is used in most companies’ corporate communication. Most Ukrainian software development companies arrange free English courses and speaking clubs for their employees to develop this essential skill.
Source: DOU.ua survey 2017
Apart from the list illustrated above, rare technologies such as Navision and Erlang are also gaining popularity in Ukraine.
Moreover, a big number of Ukrainian IT specialists who mastered Java and other popular programming languages are now learning the ropes of functional programming. This enables them to work with Big Data, build complex architectures and high-load systems. Thus they can work on the most complicated and challenging projects.
Ukraine has a well-developed IT infrastructure – numerous co-working spaces, business centers, coaching facilities, and a variety of tech events. For instance, such conferences as Lviv IT Arena, GDG DevFest, Outsource People 2017, AI & BigData Conference, Lviv IT Outsourcing Forum 2017, Blockchain Summit Kyiv 2017, iForum 2017, Data Science UA Conference 2017, and many others take place in Ukraine annually. They gather speakers from Microsoft, Deloitte, and other global tech giants to share their knowledge and experience.
Additionally, there are many organizations which foster IT industry development in Ukraine, such as BrainBasket Foundation, Kyiv High Tech Cluster, Lviv IT Cluster, Kharkiv IT Cluster, and more. The majority of local IT companies offer a variety of training programmes in different technologies and business domains. All this enables Ukrainian developers to substantially upgrade their expertise, network with experts and develop new skills.
The majority of Ukrainian companies have a flexible schedule and cooperate with offshore clients from the US. Thus they aim to provide at least 3-4 common work hours and adjust their working day accordingly. Regarding cooperation with European clients, the time overlap is much bigger and allows to have at least 6 common work hours.
Also, a lot of local software development companies cooperate with clients from Australia. Despite the time difference, Ukrainian development teams manage to establish effective communication via digital channels, slack, skype, confluence, jira etc. and build efficient processes. Moreover, working extra hours if needed is a common practice for many local tech companies. However, this extra time has its special payment rates negotiated with the client.
On the whole, Ukrainian IT specialists are entitled to a minimum of 29 calendar days of paid annual leave. These include 18 paid vacation days and 11 days of National Holidays (which are often moved to a next working day if they overlap with Saturdays or Sundays). Whereas for the majority of European countries like Hungary, France, the Czech Republic, Estonia, and others the number of minimum paid vacation days can reach up to 36 days per year.
The majority of development teams in Ukraine follow Agile methodology, use Scrum and incremental product development. This methodology helps them maintain a focus on the rapid delivery of business value with the help of manual code reviews, pair programming, daily stand-up meetings, etc. All of this results in significant reduction of the costs and risks associated with software development.
Depending on the product stage, some Ukrainian teams practice Scrum, others – Kanban. Furthermore, some IT outsourcing providers have experience in working with other methodologies like RUP and waterfall. In this case, your trusted IT partner can advise on the best methodology or engineering practice to follow depending on your project specifics.
Reputable IT companies in Ukraine are concerned about providing the highest level of security and privacy to their clients. Hence they apply the most effective practices to ensure their network/system security remains at the appropriate level. For instance, all laptops/workstations are encrypted (Bitlocker or equivalent) and the network is protected by a dedicated firewall (WAF or similar). All employees must log in with domain credentials before accessing any system or work remotely using VPN tunnel.
All systems within the company should have active, updated antivirus installed and running. Moreover, it should have documented processes and procedures for reporting security breaches, virus infections, etc.
A big number of established IT providers in Ukraine work with businesses operating in very sensitive domains such as HealthTech, FinTech, Security, etc. Thus they realize the importance of a well-defined information security policy. These companies usually have a developed Information Security Management System and an implemented security plan for business continuity and disaster recovery. Moreover, any trustworthy vendor should be certified to comply with industry regulations.
For instance, N-iX is a certified partner of ISO/IEC 27001:2013, which means it meets all legal, statutory, regulatory, and contractual requirements. The company has allocated a dedicated team for information security which consists of administrative and technical security professionals. All of them act in accordance with the ISO 27001 standard requirements. What’s more, N-iX and other leading IT providers in Ukraine are implementing security initiatives to remain compliant when the new GDPR standard comes into effect. They evaluate their security levels at early stages of development, perform thorough gap analysis, and assess all the potential risks.
All in all, Ukrainian software development industry is growing steadily. It offers an extensive talent pool, wide-ranging tech expertise, vibrant R&D activity, and well-developed IT infrastructure. Therefore, Ukrainian developers have become highly sought-after internationally.
If you want to find out more about top IT outsourcing destinations in Eastern Europe, read our latest report.