Offshore Product Development: Eastern Europe, Latin America or Asia? 

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MARYNA DEMCHENKO

Published: 29 Nov 2021

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Choosing the best destination to farm out your software product development can be challenging. As a company that builds tech teams for North American clients in Ukraine, we at nCube know for sure that lots of factors can affect your choice, from location and talent availability to ease of travel, English proficiency and offshore product development rates. With that in mind, we conducted this research in the hope that it will complement your own vision of the most suitable offshore development destination and help you size up the opportunities and potential challenges that await you in each location. 

Offshore custom software development: Eastern Europe

The hallmark of Eastern Europe as an offshore IT development location is its reasonable quality to price ratio. Consisting mostly of developing countries, the region made great strides in improving its business climate and attracting investors in recent years. The region’s hotspots of offshore software product development are: 

  • Ukraine
  • Poland 
  • Czech Republic
  • Hungary
  • Bulgaria
  • Romania
  • Belarus
  • Moldova

Let’s review this region in more detail. 

  • Education

Education is a prime factor in driving the IT sector in Eastern Europe. In fact,  54 out of 454 top European universities are scattered across the countries of the region, which provides lots of opportunities to obtain advanced education in STEM disciplines. Overall, Eastern Europe boasts a solid system of tech education, yielding thousands of degree holders per year with a strong background in Mathematics and Engineering. For example, 95% of engineers at nCube are university degree holders who are successfully taking up offshore software product development opportunities for our US-based clients. 

  • Time Zone 

The difference in time zone between Eastern Europe and North America can range from 5 to 12 hours ahead, allowing for a minimum of 3 hours overlap, which is a solid time window for real-time communication. In fact, many developers prefer to shift the start of their working day a few hours ahead for better synchronization with their offshore counterparts. Moreover, working with an offshore custom software development purveyor from this region fosters continuous development, as two teams separated by a 5-12-hour difference provide you significant coverage: In a 24-hour timeline, your local and offshore teams will work on your project, 8 hours each. This way, you get 16 hours of work on your project per day. That’s one of the key benefits of offshore software development in this region. 

READ ALSO: How to Build an Offshore Software Development Center

  • Developer availability 

According to various sources, Eastern Europe boasts from 1M to 1.3M developers. Let’s take a look at the number of developers in our reviewed countries:

  • Ukraine: 200,000 developers
  • Poland: 250,000 developers
  • Czech Republic: 100,000 developers
  • Hungary: 80,000 developers
  • Bulgaria: 66, 000 developers
  • Romania: 77,000 developers
  • Belarus: 32,000 developers
  • Moldova: 13,000 developers

Most of these developers are involved in the export of offshore software product development services, which means they are already experienced in working with international companies. 

  • Cost

According to Accelerance, offshore software programming rates in Eastern Europe vary from $21 to $118. It’s worth mentioning that countries such as Ukraine, Moldova, and Bulgaria are more affordable due to lower cost of living. According to Clutch.com, an offshore software development firms aggregator, the average rate per hour for software development in Ukraine, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Romania and Moldova is $25-49, not including taxes and fees associated with a provider of offshore software product development. In Poland and Hungary, such companies charge between $50-$99 for an hour of developer’s time. 

  • Culture fit

The culture that dominates the region can be best described as Western-like, with lifestyles and values akin to those prevailing in North America and Western Europe. It means that local developers have a strong work ethic, open mind, and a knack for innovative thinking. Offshore product development organizations maintain a laser focus on the client’s needs and transparency when it comes to processes and communication. 

  • Team visits

Eastern Europe’s tourist magnets like Kyiv, Warsaw, Budapest are known for their ambiance of historic cities with well-developed tourism infrastructure. 

Visiting your offshore custom software development partner in Eastern Europe will be comfortable due to a variety of flight connections with major North American cities. The travel time between major cities in Eastern Europe and the East Coast is 10-12 hours, whereas it will take up to 15 hours to get to the West Coast of the US. 

  • English proficiency level

According to EF English Proficiency Index, the countries we review have obtained the following results: 

  • Ukraine: full working proficiency
  • Poland: advanced
  • Czech Republic: advanced
  • Hungary: advanced
  • Bulgaria: advanced
  • Romania: advanced
  • Moldova: full working proficiency

We should acknowledge that English proficiency among the population tends to be lower compared to the proficiency of software developers who have vast experience working with international clients. For example, located in Ukraine, where English skills are ranked as moderate/full working proficiency, we at nCube always source software developers who speak English confidently, as it’s crucial for building relationships in an offshore development setup. 

Offshore custom software development: Latin America

The IT sector in Latin America has expanded exponentially in recent years. Similar to Eastern Europe, the key driver in this region is a growing pool of tech talent and as an added bonus, the proximity to North America. The hotspots of offshore IT development in this region are:

  • Brazil
  • Mexico
  • Argentina
  • Colombia
  • Chile

Let’s take a closer look at what these countries can offer to a tech leader in search of an offshore software programming vendor.

  • Education

According to the World’s top universities ranking, 99 out of 454 top universities are located across Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, and Chile. Moreover, Argentina takes first place in the Global Skills Index according to 2019 Coursera research thanks to its best-in-class education system. To propel the industry to new heights, educational institutions in the region offer a wealth of courses in information technology. One such example is Plan Vive Digital, a program launched by the Colombian Ministry of Technology that has funded the training of over 6,000 students in 2018. Not only do such initiatives help nurture new talent, but also help drive salaries and cost of living thanks to foreign investments. 

READ ALSO: Overcoming the Fears of Hiring an Offshore Development Team

  • Time Zone 

The difference in time zones between North American and Latin American countries is negligible, which enables the two sides of offshore software development partnership to operate within their regular business hours. While almost a full overlap in working hours reduces the effort needed for arranging working through time zones, it eliminates the benefit of continuous development you can find in Eastern Europe. 

  • Developer availability 

Estimates vary on the number of software developers involved in offshore development in this region, but the ballpark figure is nearly 1M developers. In the countries we are reviewing, we estimated up to 900K developers,  according to the data from StackOverflow and LinkedIn. Here’s the country-by-country breakdown:

  • Brazil: 500,000 developers
  • Mexico: 225,000 developers
  • Argentina: 115,000 developers
  • Colombia: 62,000 developers
  • Chile: 61,000 developers

The number of developers in these countries is basically the same as in Eastern Europe, however, some countries like Brazil are true giants when it comes to their pools of tech talent. 

  • Cost

Accelerance report shows that in Latin America the cost of offshore software product development is in the range of $28-$105 per hour. According to Clutch data, the average offshore development services cost more in Brazil ($50-$99) than in the rest of the reviewed countries ($25-49), excluding fees and taxes associated with an offshore development firm. 

  • Culture fit

Unlike American and European culture, most of Latin American cultures are more high context, which means they tend to rely on context and implicit messages in communication, as well as maintain strict social and workplace hierarchy. It means that there will certainly be some adjusting if you choose to work with an offshore software product development vendor in this region. 

  • Ease of travel

 The geographical proximity is a prime reason why this region attracts North American companies. Working with teams in this region may seem to be more convenient due to reduced travel time, especially if your offshore IT development unit is located in Mexico, which is only a 4-hour flight from Los Angeles. However, if you’re based in New York and want to visit your team in Buenos Aires, your flight will take up to 12 hours. Thus, if team visits are crucial for your offshore product development venture, it’s best to put in some deliberate consideration when choosing the destination. The most optimal options in this regard can be Mexico and Colombia. 

  • English proficiency level

According to the EF English Proficiency Index, only two countries, Argentina and Chile, stand out with an advanced English proficiency level, whereas the rest of the countries offer either intermediate or pre-intermediate proficiency among the adult population. It means, it can be potentially more challenging to find software developers who speak English fluently, which as you know can be crucial for alignment with your offshore product development squad. 

  • Brazil: intermediate
  • Mexico: pre-intermediate
  • Argentina: advanced
  • Colombia: pre-intermediate
  • Chile: advanced

Offshore custom software development: Asia

Offshoring has traditionally been associated with Asia where the pool of tech talent is larger than in any other region. The countries that spearhead offshore custom software development in this region are:

  • India
  • China
  • The Philippines
  • Vietnam
  • Pakistan 
  • Thailand
  • Malaysia

Nowadays, these countries face increasing competition from Eastern European and Latin American growing pools of technology talent where the providers of offshore software product development focus on reliability, service quality, and building lasting relationships with their clients. 

  • Education

Asia can boast a wealth of opportunities when it comes to advanced education in technical disciplines. According to the Times Higher Education World University Ranking, India is home to 58 acknowledged institutions with STEM programs. China offers 80 top universities for pursuers of advanced education in STEM disciplines. Overall, 121 out of 454 top universities are spread across the reviewed countries, including Peking university and Tsinghua University which are among 25 best universities in the world. Moreover, China and India are the leaders among all countries in the world in terms of the number of STEM graduates, with 4.7 M and 2.6 M graduates annually. 

  • Time Zone 

The time difference between North America and Asia can be up to 15 hours ahead, which doesn’t assume any common time windows. As such, working with an offshore product development partner located in Asia, it’s possible that you’ll have to put in more effort to orchestrate the development process to avoid unwanted delays, bottlenecks, and a sense of zero control over the development process. On the other hand, with the right approach, an Asia-based team can really become an autonomous unit of your organization. 

READ ALSO: Advantages and Disadvantages of Offshore Software Development Services

  • Developer availability 

The leading countries in supplying developers in this region are India and China thanks to their large populations. According to various sources, the number of developers in the reviewed countries are:

  • India: 5,000,000 developers
  • China: 7,000,000 developers
  • The Philippines: 200,000 developers
  • Vietnam: 63,000 developers
  • Pakistan: 125,000 developers
  • Thailand: 33,000 developers
  • Malaysia: 54,000 developers

In light of these staggering numbers, it may seem easy to find suitable developers fast, especially when it comes to India, China, and the Philippines. However, the repository of developers in Asia is often watered down by numerous specialists without commercial experience who may be suitable for minor routine tasks. However, when it comes to a serious endeavor such as offshore software product development that you can only entrust to seasoned specialists, it may take a lot of time and effort to build the right kind of team. 

  • Cost

Accenture shows that offshore software development rates in Asia range from $21 to $80, which is lower in the upper margin compared to Eastern Europe and Latin America. According to Clutch.com, most offshore IT development companies in the region charge $25-$45 per hour of developer’s time (without the fees and taxes imposed by a vendor ), with the only exception of the Philippines, where the majority of such companies charge below $25 for an hour of offshore software development. 

  • Culture fit

Working with offshore software development vendors based in Asia can be quite a challenge due to the risk of culture clash that often materializes between the representatives of Western and Eastern cultures, leading to miscommunication and misunderstanding between the units. Additionally, some notions, which are the norm in Western cultures, aren't accessible or may be misunderstood in Eastern cultures. It imposes an additional challenge you’ll have to deal with when explaining your vision and goals to offshore software product development vendors and developers.

  • Ease of travel

In light of the great distance between Asia and North America, arranging team visits can be hard, as the flight duration can exceed 15 hours. Thus, visiting your offshore software development unit in this region will certainly require planning the budget and time for lengthy stays. On the plus side, the variety of flight connections between major Asian and North American cities will let you travel with comfort. 

  • English proficiency level

Choosing Asia for offshore product development, you should keep in mind that English proficiency levels vary drastically across the region,  from very low through moderate and high. Here’s a breakdown:

  • India: full working proficiency
  • China: full working proficiency
  • The Philippines: advanced
  • Vietnam: intermediate
  • Pakistan: intermediate
  • Thailand: pre-intermediate
  • Malaysia: advanced

As you can see, only the Philippines and Malaysia stand out as regions where it may be easier to source developers with fluent English. 

Wrapping up

No matter the location, offshore software product development is a management-heavy endeavor. Apart from selecting a reliable provider, you should consider other things that can factor in, defining the success of the venture. In our research we reviewed the three top regions where you can access tech talent, taking into account factors like education, time zone, developer availability, rates for offshore software development, English proficiency levels, and ease of travel. Find a short version of our result below:

  Eastern Europe  Latin America Asia

Education: % of top universities in the region

 

12%

22%

26%

Time zone: Number of common hours 

 

0-3 hours

6-8 hours

0-1 hour

Developer availability: Number of developers

 

1-1.3 M

900 K

12.5 M

Cost: Average developer rate

$21–$118

$28–$105

$21–$82

English proficiency

Full working proficiency (2 countries)

Advanced (5 countries)

Advanced (2 countries)

Intermediate (2 countries)

Pre-intermediate (1 country)

Advanced (2 countries)

Full working proficiency (2 countries)

Intermediate (2 countries)

Pre-intermediate (1 country)

Ease of travel: Flight duration

10-15 hours

4-12 hours

15+ hours

Offshore custom software development in the world: At a glance

We at nCube will be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding Eastern Europe as an offshore software development destination, as it’s the market where we’ve been in operation for 14+ years. Contact us.

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