Outsourcing expert Dave Hecker begins our country guide series with a look at Ukraine, the number-one outsourcing destination in Eastern Europe. With more than 10 years as an outsourcing destination, it's fair to say there are tons of great developers in Ukraine.
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Ukraine has more than a thousand companies operating there. They have a very good educational system, one that's very rigorous, and they're really good at problem solving. They're very good at math and engineering, which is common for countries of the former Soviet Union.
The culture is also good because Eastern Europeans and Ukrainians like to solve problems in a very aggressive way. They will attack a problem they'll take it head on. So when you run into a coding problem or a very, very difficult challenge, the Ukrainian developers usually are pretty happy about it. They'll work hard on it and they'll be head down for a while and they'll be very proud when they come up with the best possible solution.
Looking at the country as a whole, Ukraine is good because the infrastructure's great, the internet connectivity is really good, the airports are good, the electricity stays on, it's pretty easy to fly over there it's very easy to go to Kiev, you don't need a visa if you are American.
The Russian Soviet style is to treat everything as if it were a space launch, they are not lighthearted about anything, even on a small project, they want to do an elaborate design they want it to be perfect everything very, very serious. When you ask a Ukrainian developer, "Do you think you can do this?," the answer is always going to start with "No," because everything has to be qualified in terms of risk. They are going to say that the sky could fall or their computers could explode, so they can't guarantee for sure an outcome - but they will feel more confident if they can say, "we can overcome some of these risks then we actually can do it."
As a result, the coding is really, really good. Ukrainians are very good at doing Agile, because they understand the Agile mentality, which consists of a lot of speaking up. You want people that are going to identify problems and come out and talk about them.
Ukrainians are great at that, and they love to be in control. In Asia, you have to lead the developers, it's hard to make them Agile because they are very hierarchical. In Ukraine, there's no need to say that.
There are some minor annoyances: They aren't part of the EU, so you have to deal with some of the classic legal and privacy challenges. The banks aren't too bad. English is spoken pretty well among younger people, but it's a little bit spotty especially when you leave Kiev. You'll find a lot of developers who can write English but don't speak it, things like that, but generally speaking, there's good reason that they are the number-one outsourcing destination in eastern Europe. They are really good, they are very, very mature, and I would highly recommend them.
So onto the recent political unrest. It is now July of 2014 and there is somewhat of a war going on in Ukraine. I'm not going to get into the politics of that, but in regard to the safety of sending projects there, I would categorize it as it's pretty safe, I'm not worried about it; just this morning we sent a project to a company in Donetsk, which is kind of the epicenter of where everything is happening right now.
The great thing about IT work is that in the end you've got a bunch of people who go into a building, they hang out on the building for a while and then they come out. There's no shipping, there are no logistics, so it's fairly simple, as long as the Internet and the electricity are working, and people can get to the office.
We don't believe there will be any great disruption in Ukraine, but we're not experts, and that's just a feeling. If you're going somewhere like Kharkiv or to Donetsk, there's more risk than in a place like Kiev, which is really pretty stable. Because of all this, there is somewhat of a fire sale going on in Ukraine this summer.
Ukraine is a great destination. Feel free to send your projects there.
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