Dark DAO of Communicating With Ukrainian Developers: How to Get 110% Performance out of Your Team

MARYNA DEMCHENKO

Published: 12 Jun 2019

building virtual teams

MARYNA DEMCHENKO|12 Jun 2019

in this article

The world’s technology giants like IBM, Samsung, ABBYY, Huawei and startup unicorns like GitLab and Bitfury choose Ukrainian developers to benefit from strong technical skills and low software development costs.

The recent review shows that the IT industry rose up to $3.6B over the last year. The current number of engineers is approaching 200,000  – it's gaining momentum.

Virtual team communication and mutual understanding are among the most important things that define the success behind remote IT engagements. In fact, there is no point in going ahead if you can’t run an outsourced team as effectively as in-house. Hopefully, this article serves as a guide to effective communication with Ukrainian developers. 

Understanding Ukrainian developers

software development team Ukraine nCube

Communication style

Whether you want to be formal and follow the communication guidelines or relaxed and friendly when interacting with the team – it’s totally up to you. Ukrainian developers are pretty flexible and can quickly adapt to your company’s communication standards.

In our experience, the style of communication is shaped by each company individually. We Ukrainians don’t have formalization defining our daily activities like a siesta in Spain or Japanese social hierarchy and attitude towards those higher in rank. As a nation, we are pretty adaptive, so the client can choose a company and instill a desirable atmosphere inside the outsourcing group. The reality is, in the same room, you can find teams having different communication patterns. The same holds true for NCube. With us, it’s the client’s company who sets the tone for the remote software development team.

Mutual understanding

Ukrainian developers have a positive mindset, high levels of responsibility, and open-mindedness. Most importantly, the developers already have experience working with clients from Europe and North America. Many of them have worked abroad or took over wide distributed projects. Ukrainian developers can exceed the client’s expectations in terms of work, but it takes effort, a great deal of attention and the right people.

English proficiency

English is the official language of Ukrainian IT sector – nearly 80% of specialists have Intermediate or higher proficiency. Due to the fact that almost all developers need to communicate directly with the client, English skills are vital to be considered for a position.

Outspokenness

Ukrainian developers are straightforward and ready to share their ideas and concerns about the project and risks with the client directly. This peculiarity makes them stand out from their Asian counterparts. A stable feedback mechanism will let you take the temperature of the team so you will always be in the know about what’s going on with the team members and predict possible mishaps.

Ukrainians are open to those who are ready to lead them. The above-mentioned skills make them utmost useful in an environment where the client needs to nurture ideas and come up with new solutions or even contribute to RnD endeavors of a large company.

The exposure to all things new does a lot for distributed teams. Ukrainians are willing to share their experience with their Western colleagues whereas some nations prefer to keep the knowledge inside the social groups.

Time difference

While Europe-based companies are usually okay with a 2-hour time difference, North American companies have to find ways to handle asynchronous communication. With 8-12 hours time difference, the cross-over hours occur early in the morning EST. Ukrainian developers usually are open to shift the start of their working day to the afternoon. However, it will probably take extra effort from the client to arrange meetings in line with available communication windows.

Many Ukrainian companies deliver a mediocre level of service, fortunately, NCube is not one of them. Therefore, as a client, you may benefit from having a key to the next challenge.

Your communication survive strategy

As a tech leader, you need to be on top of the team’s progress all the time. You probably use timesheets, some tracking tools, or even have a dedicated project manager on site as a point of contact. Still it happens so that the client is the last one to know about the issues that occur inside the team. There are several tell-tale signs of problems with your remote team:

A developer stopped responding

If a developer uncharacteristically shows paucity in responding to your emails or messages, he or she may miss a critical deadline, too. In our experience, most Ukrainian developers treat their projects in all seriousness and respond to messages after hours and on weekends, unless something completely unexpected happens. In this case, consider contacting other team members and if the problem persists – let the manager address it.

Missing deadlines

First of all, schedule a virtual meeting with the developer and state the problem. Let them explain and learn the cause behind the lateness – whether the deadline wasn’t explicit or maybe they have encountered some roadblocks along the way. However, if the conversation didn’t have any future effect and the developer continues missing deadlines, it’s the time to escalate to the vendor’s management.

Ignoring meetings

If you have set clear expectations that the developer should be at a  meeting, there is no reasonable excuse for them not to attend it. When it comes to your morning get-togethers, the reason may be in them being late for work. If any developer fails to make it on time to meetings, or keeps ignoring them – you should definitely contact the vendor’s management.

Asking for a raise directly

Sometimes developers ask their clients to sway the vendor to give them a raise. We believe that this is unethical, and when it happens, you should ask your account manager to point to a person who could solve this problem. You can also request to find a replacement, as this is probably an indicator of a developer’s motivation drop.

Aggressive and intolerant behavior

Aggressive employees are uncommon for Ukrainian IT companies. If such employee comes your way, most likely due to a recruiter’s mistake. The right thing to do is to escalate the problem and ask the vendor to find a replacement for this developer.

What can be done to improve cross-team communication?

If you are interested in this topic, here are our bits of advice about improving communication in a distributed environment.

  • Create a clear guideline for communication that includes the roles, meetings, reporting rules.
  • On-site team visits will increase the effectiveness of communication.
  • Assigning a PM, Product Owner or Business analyst as a single point for contact for the distributed team.
  • Back up all decisions and tasks in writing, even if team members claim to have remembered every word uttered in the meeting.
  • Sharing your company culture and treating them as part of your core team will undoubtedly sustain their motivation and interest in the project and, as a result, bring your communication to the next level.

If you have made it to this point, you are probably interested in remote teams. Let’s schedule a call so we can walk you through the process.

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