Software Developers in Eastern Europe: Which country suits your project?

Software developers in Eastern Europe differ geographically quite dramatically (or do they?)

In our previous articles, we reviewed the software development market in various Eastern European countries: Ukraine, Poland, Romania, and Moldova. This article summarises and compares our findings and insights into the differences between developers from the best countries for web developers in this region. 

In recent years, Eastern Europe has become a mainstream outsourcing location for software development, because it offers an attractive cost-to-quality ratio, not merely low rates like say in India or China, Eastern Europe.

Eastern European countries such as Poland, Ukraine, Romania etc. are highly rated among preferrable outsourcing destinations by Tholons and A.T. Kearney,  global consulting firms.

Geographically all these countries are in a close proximity to each other and Western Europe. Poland and Romania are the members of European Union, hence, the European standards in data protection and intellectual property are applied. Moldova and Romania have a pretty poor infrastructure while Ukraine is constantly improving its transport and road infrastructure. The political situation in Eastern European countries varies but overall is fairly stable.

Eastern European software developers are proficient in English, have strong technical skills as well as decent soft skills.

Based on both our research and direct experience in outsourcing, we note the following differences between Eastern European countries:

Criteria Ukraine Poland Romania Moldova
English level Intermediate to Upper Intermediate High High Intermediate to Upper Intermediate
TechRank* 11 3 20 28
Pricing $25-49/h $50-99/h $25-49/h $20-24/h
Size of Talent Pool ~ 160,000 ~250,000 ~110,000 ~12,500
Industry focus Startups, custom software development, eCommerce Enterprise FinTech Mid-Size Projects
Core technologies PHP, Python, Java, .Net PHP, Java, .Net PHP, Java PHP

* TechRank on TopCoder and Hackerrank

The Technical skills of the software developers in Eastern Europe are well-regarded. All of the aforementioned countries were heavily influenced by, or indeed Former Republics of the Soviet Union, which left in its wake a legacy of relatively high-quality Technical Education (if not a little too specialised for contemporary tastes). The focus of education in Eastern Europe has made the transition from more of a hardware focus to more of a software focus, in response to the former market expanding and latter contracting. The English level of software developers is highly important for successful cooperation. Overall developers in all reviewed countries have a good grasp of English as it is basically a mandatory requirement for IT industry. Developers work mostly with the international companies where a high or at least moderate proficiency in English is a basic requirement. The second most in-demand foreign language among developers in Poland is German when in Romania French is almost as widespread as English.

To be up to date with new technologies developers need to continue to self-educate and take additional training and courses. Opportunities for further education are becoming more widespread, administered privately by highly experienced practitioners from the IT Industry, i.e Lviv IT School.

Developers from Ukraine, Poland, Romania, and Moldova excel in web development and custom software development. Programming skills of the developers can be measured using data from Hackerrank, TopCoder, which are reputable sources in IT industry.  Poland, Ukraine, and Romania rank highly on both Hackerrank and TopCoder. Moldova is ranked 28th on TopCoder. According to Infoshare, the most popular and hence most widely used programming language in Eastern Europe is PHP.

In terms of offshore software development rates by Eastern European countries, their developers offer fairly low prices as compared to Western counterparts. The highest rates among the reviewed countries are in Poland – $50-$99/hour, which is still lower than in Western Europe. The lowest prices for outsourcing software development are in Moldova – $20-$24/hour. Ukraine and Romania offer intermediate prices of $25-$49/hour.

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Despite the communist past of all of these countries, developers’ culture can be defined as western and progressive. The majority of the developers’ community are young people with more of an open mindset.  In the context of mentality and personality, Romanians and Moldovans tend to be more risk averse which sometimes leads to a lack of innovative approach.

Ukrainian and Polish developers, in turn, have more comprehensive experience working with global technology companies and top software development companies.

Speaking of companies, no matter which country will become your final choice for outsourcing software development, it is important to make sure you have thoroughly screened and pre-vetted your offshore company. The best way to optimise this hiring process is to create a due-diligence checklist which will prevent you from losing sight of important points.

Usually, decisions regarding outsourcing software development to offshore locations are made based on some recommendations or showcases. The birth and evolution of British product can be an example of such a product success being developed by Ukrainian developers.

The size of the talent pool is an essential issue in terms of choosing an outsourcing location. It is often hard to estimate the number of software developers in exact numbers. The official statistics generally display the number of employees both in IT and Communications. Among IT sector employees there are also Q&A engineers, designers, business analysts, project and product managers etc.

Based on the averages of figures reported the ICT industry employs 244 000 in Poland, 110 000 in Romania, 160 000 – in Ukraine, 12 500 in Moldova. Approximately half of these are software developers. There is also a number of software developers from Ukraine for instance who have chosen to work in Poland, as well as Moldovan developers are often recruited by Romanian software development companies.

Each of the observed countries has something specific to offer in terms of expertise in software development. Romania is well known for its engagement in fintech, Poland suits perfectly for R&D departments of the global technology companies, Ukrainian developers are well prepared to work with the most cutting-edge technologies, Moldova is a fairly good choice for midsize projects to outsource.

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Tristan Senycia

Tristan Senycia

Tristan Senycia is a Product Manager at YouTeam - a curated b2b marketplace that matches businesses with dedicated engineers from pre-vetted software development agencies.

He is also the founder of LeverPoint Advisory, which consults in the areas of commercialisation management, go-to-market strategy, High-Tech marketing strategy and customer development. 

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