|Julia Lukianova, Marketing manager of Metasoft Ltd.
Myth No. 1 – Ukraine is politically unstable
This myth has seen its rise in November-December 2004 during the events around
the presidential elections that led to the Orange Revolution. However,
presently there are no grounds for concerns. During the Orange Revolution, the
Ukrainian people have shown their devotion to the democratic ideals and
prevented the worst scenario from happening, bringing the legitimately elected
president to the power. The new Ukrainian government has clearly voiced its
intentions to move towards the goal of joining the EU and is making logical
steps in that direction. The overall political situation in the country is
stable and predictable. Unlike some popular Asian outsourcing destinations,
there have never been any threats of terrorist acts in Ukraine.
But even during the most critical events in November and December, no threat
existed for the clients of the Ukrainian outsourcing services providers. There
were no power shortages, Internet and telephone lines functioned as usual, and
no danger was posed to the outsourced project. Many companies did join the
national strike that was going on, but the most urgent tasks could still be
done uninterrupted. Ukraine has proved that it is a civilized 21-century
Myth No. 2 – Ukraine’s IT infrastructure is poorly developed
Ukraine’s IT infrastructure is rapidly developing. As the recent research
conducted by the Ukrainian Democratic Initiatives Fund and Kiev International
Sociology Institute has shown, 13.1% of Ukrainians have a computer. 14% use
Internet and/or email either at home or at work. Internet connectivity, being
one of the primary concerns, is also developing rapidly. Telecom is one of the
fastest growing markets in Ukraine, and fibre optics are continually being
laid and new companies are continually opening new connectivity services,
which continually lowers cost. For example, monthly fees for a DSL connection
are lower in Ukraine than in India. It is considered indispensable for an IT
company to have a broadband Internet connection and several telephone lines.
Furthermore, there is no shortage in high quality hardware, and IT companies
provide their development teams with powerful, modern computers and servers.
Myth No. 3 – Ukraine is software pirates’ paradise
WTO ascension is a top 2005 priority for Ukraine’s government. As Ukraine
moves towards this, its intellectual property laws are being revised to comply
with WTO standards. While a lot of private users may still be using the cheap
pirated copies of the most popular software products on their home computers,
companies specialized in software development are under severe control, and to
avoid problems with law, switching or have switched to licensed products.
Those companies who can’t afford the price of more expensive software products
choose Open Source solutions, but the problem is being tackled in one way or
another anyway. Ukrainian companies are looking to work legally and don’t want
to risk their good reputation.
Moreover, a large part of professional software aimed specifically at software
developers has never been available as pirated copies in Ukraine, hence it has
always been used in its legal, licensed form (take IBM RationalTM products as
an example, as well as many others).
Myth No. 4 – Ukraine is not secure when it comes to sensitive
Special measures must be taken to protect sensitive information no matter
where your project is developed. However, according to the recent reports,
India is much more dangerous than Ukraine when it comes to sensitive
information leaks or theft. While it is reported that it is difficult to run
background checks on employees in India, it is not that problematic in
Ukraine. It has become a common practice in Ukraine for the outsourcing
customers to sign NDAs with every member of the development team. Additional
security policies can also be implemented to protect your sensitive data.
Myth No. 5 – Ukraine’s IT sector lacks support from the
The new Ukrainian government is showing its extreme interest and support to
foreign investments into the country's economy and international cooperation.
While Ukraine moves towards joining the EU and WTO, the laws, including those
covering the IP issues, are being revised to create better environment for the
economy’s development and growth. This applies to the software development as
well, IT being the most rapidly developing sphere of the Ukrainian economics.
According to the reports, the volume of export of Ukrainian IT services and
products rose by US$ 40 million or 57% to US$ 110 million in 2004. The export
of the IT sector of the Ukrainian economy is the most dynamically developing.
At the same time, the total number of IT specialists operating on the market
reached 15,000 toward the end of 2004. This was an increase of 50%, compared
Myth No. 6 – Ukraine’s IT workforce is cheap
Ukraine’s IT salaries level used to be low, but as the country’s economy
develops and integrates into the European and world market, it is growing,
even though it is still lower than the salaries of EU and US IT specialists.
The Ukrainian programmers possess high level of education and skills, as the
IT sphere of the Ukrainian economy develops the demand for them increases,
hence their highly intellectual labour cannot be cheap. However, outsourcing
customers need to realize that cheap workforce is not a good reason to choose
an outsourcing provider, as it is likely to cause problems in the long run
that will lead to an increase in expenses instead of savings. The reason
behind many outsourcing failures is actually the customers going for cheap
workforce and overseeing the quality and efficiency issues.
Outsourcing is seen as a way to cut down the development costs, but this
should not be done at the expense of the developers’ salaries and therefore,
quality. There are better and more effective ways to save. If a company
employs methodology allowing for faster development, better quality source
code, automated code generation, less developers involved, etc., this actually
does reduce the development costs while still providing a satisfactory
Myth No. 7 – The language and cultural barrier
It is certainly important to be able to communicate with your outsourcing
development team on a level allowing for a smooth development process, and the
language and culture differences can be an obstacle.
However, Ukraine is a European nation, and the mentality of people does not
differ greatly from that of your country, be it anywhere in Western Europe or
the US. There is no striking difference as you would encounter in some Asian
countries. Besides, before outsourcing software development came to Ukraine on
a large scale, many Ukrainian IT specialists used to go to the Western Europe
and USA and work for IT companies there, which means they are familiar with
the approach traditional for Europe and America and the procedures used for
software development in those companies. Moreover, different international
agencies are now offering courses in management providing necessary management
skills to the Ukrainian specialists. Thus, all the business processes in a
development team can be organized according to the international standards.
While English is not the native language to the Ukrainian developers, this
issue is also being actively dealt with. English is the language of choice in
the universities and in the schools it is now required from an early age.
Several universities are conducting their entire programs in English. Oral and
written comprehension is high among software engineers, given the amount of
text they have to read for their degree and work programs and the amount of
English language programming available in the country. Communicating with the
Ukrainian developers through online chats, instant messaging and e-mail in
English should not be a problem. While not all the development team members
might be completely fluent in English, those who communicate directly with the
international customers will speak, read and write in English at the proper
level. Many companies conduct in-house English language training programs to
improve the language skills of their personnel. Specialists speaking other
languages, such as French or German, can also be found, though these languages
are not as popular as English.
So as we see, not everything looks as bad as it can be assumed. Care should be taken when planning an outsourcing deal, as is in any business move, but if done wisely, outsourcing to Ukraine can leave you satisfied and meet your expectations.