Software Developers in Ukraine: Their Location, Mentalities and Personalities

What you should know before outsourcing software development to Ukraine

Overview of Ukraine as an Outsourcing Destination

In this article, I share my experience of having spent several years operating from and collaborating with a wide range of Software Development companies in Ukraine.

Over these years I’ve traveled throughout most of the west of Ukraine, having been to the capital Kyiv numerous times and also have visited some of the East of the Country. I have enjoyed my time here so much I have even taken to studying it’s grammatically complex mother tongue (it’s a little different to Australian English) ;).

Ukrainians speak usually two languages – Ukrainian and Russian. The level of their English is, on average, fairly high particularly in the IT industry where it is almost a mandatory requirement and especially in Kyiv, Lviv, Kharkiv which are the key cities associated with outsourcing software development. The majority of the developers in Ukraine have an intermediate or upper-intermediate level of English proficiency.

Education level & quality are very high as compared with the GDP per capita of the country.

Generally speaking, Ukraine does have some issues with stability and corruption. However, in comparison with neighbouring countries such as Belarus, Moldova, Russian Federation, it is pretty stable, as the government is comparatively predictable and it is not authoritarian. Despite these occasional political instabilities, outsourcing software development in Ukraine is a growing market, which continues demonstrate its immunity to political fluctuation.

Personalities & Identities of Ukrainian IT Specialists

An increasing number of Ukrainian cities are adopting European values, spearheaded by Lviv (cultural capital) and Kyiv (Administrative/Political Capital).

In terms of the personalities of people who work in the tech sector, I would say they are mainly quite down to earth and friendly.

Another thing about negotiating with Ukrainians is that they are more upfront with pricing and setting other project expectations, than their Indian counterparts for example (from my experience so far). Many Ukrainian software development companies report receiving requests from clients who have moved on after a less than ideal experience with development firms from the sub-continent.

Ukrainian development firms typically are more focused on establishing long-term relationships instead of trying to make a quick buck. There are countless examples of large companies which outsource software development to Ukraine for long periods, some for more than a decade. So overall Ukrainians in technology are honest and trustworthy. You will find R&D offices of global corporates like Ericsson, Samsung, Siemens, Magento, ABBYY, Yandex, Huawei here.

A snapshot from TechMagic office based in Lviv

Mentality

Ukrainians, especially in the west of the country are increasingly interested and engaged in what is happening in developed countries. Many of them travel into Central and Western Europe to go on holidays or to attend Tech Conferences.

They often travel to US as well, because 80% of clients outsourcing IT work to Ukraine are from the US. Many of the outsourcing companies are incorporated, have Sales Offices and client relationship officers in countries like the US or the UK, so if there are issues on your project you can meet them in person to work out a resolution.

Having spent time here I note that there is a substantial difference in the mentality of people who grew up in the Soviet Union to those being born after it’s collapse. This is particularly evident within the software industry where the workforce, technologists, management and executives are relatively young. They are also much more proactive and less socially conservative than their parent’s generation. Because younger professionals run the vast majority of Ukraine-based software development companies there are no significant cultural barriers in communicating with Ukrainian developers.

Although younger Ukrainians have quickly become more open-minded, their communication skills and social competencies are, on average, not quite as well developed as some of their Western counterparts.

Overall Ukrainians tend to be more introverted and humble so they can seem reserved and distant. At the same time, developers in Ukraine are aware of the limits of their abilities and are able to communicate and manage expectations during negotiations.

Having traveled to Belarus and Moldova I can see that more sophisticated Ukrainians, often those involved in technology, are more independent in their thinking. They do not just accept and follow stereotypes, they question what’s on the media and tend to apply critical thinking, which is a very important characteristic to look for when selecting effective team members to extend your development team.

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Technical Skills

Ukrainian developers have a very strong skill set, both in technology and problem-solving. They are tech savvy and up to date with recent innovations. Still compared to the neighbouring countries Ukraine offers more competitive outsourcing rates. Their management skills are decent but not as advanced as in the UK for instance. However, Project and Product Management institutes and meetup groups are starting to pop up around the country so the gap could begin to close relatively quickly.

In the terms of communication, and strategic thinking Ukrainians don’t quite match their Western counterparts, but in most cases, their skill levels are adequate for the job at hand and if you need to hire more advanced staff, they can be sourced relatively easily from within Ukraine. Due to their location Ukrainians do not possess a complete understanding of Western business practices, but this is changing and they are heading in the right direction.

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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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