Whatever global rankings you check out (HackerRank, SkillValue, etc.), Eastern European countries place somewhere between position 5 and 10 of the top 10, and between 12 and 15 in the top 20 worldwide, putting many other countries in the shade when it comes to program engineering.
The various rankings may have local or community biases related to overexposure to one country or another. But they all systematically rank Poland, the Baltic States, Russia, Moldova, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria and other Eastern European countries in the top 20 worldwide.
When it comes to code cleanliness, they are within sight of the top 10. Only Switzerland and China score higher in all rankings.
So – why?
Clearly, these performance ratings have nothing to do with the way that Eastern European brains are physically configured! Equally, they are not due to the education system –maybe something we could have said about the old Soviet system and the place it gave to math.
In fact, education systems in the East might even be a bit behind the times, struggling to prepare students for the multidisciplinary world that a career as an engineer requires.
The sweet spot of American startups
And yet, the facts are there: on average, the code is cleaner than anywhere else in the world; and, by a long shot, more people, percentage-wise, have skills in the latest technologies.
Companies in the US, with California in the lead, continue to rely heavily on these developers in a Europe that is just a little further away.
Initially, they came here mostly for cost, but also because of a shortage of qualified programmers in their own ecosystems. But that’s not where we are now. Through numerous collaborations working on the essential cores of products with the most advanced technologies, developers in Eastern Europe have become the most reliable in the world, and this image has now come into sharp focus for Anglo-Saxons, Germans and the Nordics.
Fluently English-speaking and with worldwide networks created through the diasporas of the former Eastern bloc, with a generally friendly fiscal framework … in short, a very favorable performance / labor cost ratio.
Here’s another side of the problem. The countries of the East and their citizens must continue to fight inside a Europe that they often deem arrogant, and they face sometimes openly corrupt rulers. To improve their lives requires not only excellence, but sometimes temporary exile, as they go abroad to the United States, England, Switzerland or perhaps Germany before returning home.
This helps to construct relationships of excellence, and the ones who go far away often play a role in helping their country to develop. This is particularly the case in high-tech. Pentalog Software Factory makes tens of millions of euros in sales thanks to Romanian and Moldovan diasporas all over the world.
All these people have a single working language: English, which they speak perfectly and which gives them a way to fit organically into international projects.
When you add into the mix countries that welcome technology, but with inadequate freelancing regimes, plus tax exemptions here and there, and state aid to tech companies, and you end up with a very competitive framework. Efficiency, quality, price – it’s all there.
Our advice: change your perspective on your programming activities
Above all, Eastern Europe represents a chance for a Western Europe that is working in a context of lack of resources and constant increase of the backlog.
With almost no time difference and world-class agile practices, these developers represent an easy-to-integrate capability, but also a source of inspiration and quality of the first rank, balancing costs in a way that remains favorable, even with economic catch-up doing its work.
Finally, it should be noted that companies from EU member countries are, by their membership in the Union, compatible with the national tax rebate systems (such as the French CII/CIR), in this way avoiding the distortions from competition between member countries.
If you have an IT project and want to test the coding skills of an Agile team in Eastern Europe, let’s get in touch to learn more about your options.