Let’s imagine that a new olympic sport is introduced: programming. Who would be a winner? The answer seems pretty easy: the USA, on the back of Silicon Valley, birthplace of Google, Apple and Microsoft. The most prominent figures in the IT industry–Larry Page, Jeff Bezos or Mark Zuckerberg, to name three–are all Americans, and all household names. Finally, countless talented developers live and work in the States. Among their ranks may be counted Robert C. Martin (colloquially known as “Uncle Bob”), the creator of the Agile Manifesto and Joel Spolsky, who in collaboration with Jeff Atwood launched the programmer Q&A site Stack Overflow.
While all of that may suggest the gold medalist would be a foregone conclusion, we’re not prepared to jump to that conclusion ourselves. Read on to see why Poland may be the El Dorado of developer talent your business needs to heed.
Olympics for developers
HackerRank, an online platform allowing developers to practice their coding skills and tech companies to recruit programmers, conducted research to determine where the best devs come from. The research was based on coding challenges published regularly on the platform. These challenges cover many domains, from Python to algorithms to security to distributed systems. Devs from all over the world try to solve them and are scored and ranked based on how fast they can provide accurate solutions. At the time of the research, 1.5 million developers were ranked.
The results of the research are fascinating and show that the best devs are from China, Russia and…Poland. The US, despite providing (together with India) the greatest number of devs ranked, were ranked only 28th (India was ranked 31st). When we take a closer look at the specializations, we see that Poland ranked 1st in Java, and 2nd in Python and algorithms. In Shell and Ruby, we took the 4th and 5th places, respectively.
Apart from hard skills, to become a successful programmer you need to possess certain soft skills, e.g. be goal-oriented and determined when confronting difficulties. These qualities were also measured by HackerRank. When developers give up on a challenge before making any progress, they earn a score of zero. When the total percentage of zero scoring users were counted, Poland showed its teeth, returning the third-lowest score. In other words, Polish devs are among the top three most tenacious programmers in the world!
If Polish programmers rank so high in the world, why not outsource to them entire IT software projects?
A cradle of IT talent
Polish programmers regularly take part in coding contests. In 2019, a team from the University of Warsaw took 4th place and won one of the four gold medals at the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest in Porto (Portugal). In the same contest, students from the University of Wroclaw took 6th place and brought home silver. In 2017, a team from UW took 2nd place and won a gold medal in the ACM ICPC World Finals in Rapid City, South Dakota. In 2014, the Polish team Need for C made up of a student, a graduate and a researcher from Poznan University of Technology won the Hello World Open, the world’s first computer coding championship held in Helsinki. In 2017, CodiSec’s CTF team captured the most flags–and the title–at the SecurityFest conference in Göteborg, Sweden. In 2014, Dragon Sector, a team of Polish hackers, one of whom was a CodiLime employee, won the international Positive Hack Days competition held in Moscow. In all of these contests, it was a university team that succeeded. This clearly shows that higher technical education in Poland is high quality.
Moreover, in recent years Poland has witnessed a flood of students pursue degrees in IT. More and more people want to start their IT careers as a programmer, data scientist or tester. Many of them are changing the current industry for more prestigious and better paid IT. In response to this growing demand, many coding schools have been created, offering programming courses that range from intensive 7-week boot camps to complex 1-year courses. These schools also help their alumni find their first dream job in IT.
Last but not least, it is impossible to successfully deliver an IT project on budget and on time without proper project management skills. Here too Poland is no slouch: it offers a dynamic community of reliable professionals armed with considerable experience managing IT projects using Agile methodologies. Should a specific need arise, they can also adjust to project requirements and use more traditional methodologies like waterfall. They are also eager to develop their skills through training, certification and conferences. For proof of their engagement, look no further than the numerous IT management meet-ups that take place in Poland’s larger cities, where managers share their experiences and knowledge on how to manage IT projects successfully.
Healthy and growing economy
Over the last 30 years, from 1989, when the Communist regime finally collapsed, Poland shifted from a centrally planned to a market economy. In 2004, the country became a member of the European Union. Thanks to EU membership, Poland obtained funds equivalent to nearly twice the country’s annual budget. These funds were mainly invested in infrastructure (highways, railways, airports, sewage treatment plants, etc.). In 2018, Poland’s GDP per capita was 81 percent higher than in 2003, before joining the EU. In 2019, GDP growth was 4.7% in the first quarter and 4.5% percent in the second quarter. In comparison, the average expected GDP growth rate in the EU in 2019 is 1.4.%. Given these facts, it is no wonder that such tech giants as Amazon, Samsung, Intel, IBM, Cisco, Nokia Siemens Networks and Fujitsu have built R&D centers in Poland.
In business today, the ability to communicate fluently in English, the language of business, is a must. And Poles are aware of this. According to the 2018 edition of the EP English Proficiency Index, which ranks countries and regions by their English skills, Poland ranks 13th in the world (out of 88 countries) and 11th in Europe (out of 32 countries). Poland scored 62.45 on the EP Index, which puts it in the highly proficient contingent.
No culture gap
To ensure smooth communication in a project, it is important not only to know the language, but also to share the same values and codes of business conduct. Poland is a part of the Western world and has been an EU member for 15 years. Integrity, professionalism, hard work and a can-do attitude are values we share with Western countries. Co-operating with a Polish IT company means that you can be sure that your business partner thinks in the same way you do and is always looking for a win-win strategy.
Time zones & geographic proximity
The last reason is a technical one, but it is of great importance. The time difference between Poland and Western Europe and the USA is not that big. It is pretty easy to organize online meetings and calls with Polish companies. It goes without saying that cooperation is much easier when partners can talk with one another. It is not uncommon for Polish IT companies to work with clients from time zones that are a couple of hours earlier than the zone Poland is in. Should you want to meet in person, the travel distance is also surprisingly short. Warsaw is a mere 2.5-hour flight from London. To reach Warsaw from Berlin it is even less: 1.5 hours.
There is no lack of evidence for why moving IT projects to Poland is an idea worth considering. You can expect to find here dedicated, highly qualified IT partners who will help you achieve your business goals and gain a competitive advantage. CodiLime is among them.