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How do British IT companies use outsourcing to Europe to expand their skills pool?

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/Wright Studio)

Nowadays, every business owner has probably already tried outsourcing, or at least considered it as an option. Be it IT, accounting, or customer support, there are many ways to apply this practice to almost any business.  

Aside from that, how safe is outsourcing and why use it after all? Why look for workers overseas, when you can hire someone next door and have them work in your office?

Well, according to research, there are many reasons why businesses choose outsourcing:

  • Reduce or control costs
  • Gain access to IT resources unavailable internally
  • Free up internal resources
  • Improve business or customer focus
  • Accelerate the company’s reorganisation / transformation
  • Accelerate a project
  • Gain access to management expertise unavailable internally
  • Reduce time to market

Despite some open criticism, India remains one of the top outsourcing destinations. This is especially true for UK businesses, due to the cultural ties between the two countries. Yet, that could be changing soon. Nearshore outsourcing locations, including Eastern Europe, are winning a solid market share offering a number of competitive advantages.  

Why UK businesses prefer outsourcing to Europe over India?

Over the last several years, Eastern Europe has been steadily making a name as a global outsourcing destination. Currently, five out of the top 20 countries listed by AT Kearney’s 2016 Global Services Location Index are located in the region. Among the most attractive countries for outsourcing in Eastern Europe are Poland, Bulgaria, and Romania. Judging by our experience as an outsourcing company, Ukraine remains the most financially attractive outsourcing destination in Eastern Europe.  

The IT industry in the region is quite mature. A huge number of global tech companies already have R&D centres in Eastern Europe, including IBM, Google, Samsung Electronics, Adobe, Oracle, Microsoft, and Accenture.

When talking about the UK companies, they tend to choose nearshoring to Eastern Europe because of its geographical proximity, minimal time difference, and cultural affinity.

Other benefits of outsourcing to the region include:

  • Full compliance with the International Standards for software development and general business operations
  • Safe and convenient financial transactions
  • Cultural compatibility and sound international business ethics
  • Huge IT talent pool (formed by high popularity of tech education and large number of higher education institutes, and combined with insufficient inner demand for these specialists)

However, some companies are still hesitant when it comes to outsourcing. 

The most common concerns when outsourcing to Eastern Europe

● Eastern Europe, including Ukraine, is geographically distant. It is difficult finding a reliable provider half-way across the globe, especially when it comes to such a vital business process as software development.

Solution: As mentioned above, outsourcing is a common business practice these days, used by large corporations to small companies worldwide. Regardless of your location, you can tap into the global talent pool and choose the best suited mix of skills and expertise for your project. To find a reliable provider, you can study their portfolio, or use websites like or to see honest customer reviews and feedback.

With only a 2-3 hour flight from most Western European countries, including the UK, travelling to Eastern European countries is easy and convenient. Personally meeting with the development team to discuss all questions related to the project is important to most clients, and is considered by most to be an essential aspect to the development of a strong customer/client relationship.

Geographical proximity also means an insignificant time difference. For example, the Ukrainian time zone is GMT+2, which was very convenient for our clients from the UK. You will always be in sync with your team, which is only 2 hours ahead. When you start your day at 9 am, your team will already be hard at work.

● Outsourcing is too troublesome. Why look for developers overseas if it is possible to find someone local to do the job?

Solution: Regardless of the company’s location, prior to starting any business relationship you will need to do some background research online. Finding the references and portfolio of a Ukrainian company takes as much time as searching for the corresponding info about your local provider. 

On the other hand, when choosing local providers, you are limited in the skills  & experience that you can source on-site. With outsourcing you are not bound to any particular country, so you can easily find the specialists of any level or experience, even in a very specific knowledge domain. 

● I’m afraid that the quality of the product will be substandard. I’ve heard about Indian developers. The software will have bugs and performance issues, the code won’t be documented and the company will steal and re-sell my source code. They might even vanish halfway through the project and I wouldn’t even be able to file for any damages.

Solution: All these questions denote only one critical issue - trust. Indeed, it’s hard to rely on a company/team that you haven’t even met in person. However, outsourcing wouldn’t have become so popular if these problems were impossible to solve.

The quality of software is ensured with the help of solid QA processes and proper coding standards, which include code documentation. You can request a code sample or review the company’s previous works to assess their quality. Again, honest clients’ feedback or personal references can tell you all you need to know about the company and their work. 

If you are able to contact the company’s previous or current customers, this means that you won’t be their first or their only client. Thus, they won’t disappear in the process or ignore your calls. 

As for the IP rights and code ownership, we always recommend signing a standard Non-Disclosure Agreement that will help you protect your property. Moreover, no reputable company will put its good name at stake by trying to make money out of your property rights. 

Transparency is a vital element to the success of an outsourcing project. Talking to your team regularly and monitoring their progress is achievable through the use of modern communication tools, tracking systems, and cloud-based collaboration platforms. That is why it doesn’t matter where your team is located, as long as all the processes are properly set up.  

How to outsource software development the right way?

While there is no silver bullet or one size fits all approach to outsourcing software development, choosing the right partner is a huge step toward success.

To make sure your provider can be trusted, ask the right questions when hiring a software development company. While experience and references are extremely important, you should also make clear of such routine issues as testing, support, and communication. 

Transparency and professionalism should be fundamental for any provider. Having a reliable and skilled team with transparent internal processes on board, even if they are working from another country, is the key to success.

Alexandra Titova, chief evangelist and product manager, Eastern Peak
Image source: Shutterstock/Wright Studio

Alexandra Titova
Alexandra Titova is a chief evangelist and a product manager at Eastern Peak, a custom software development company in Ukraine. Meet with Eastern Peak at Apps World London 2017.