Does Norway need Polish software development?
Yes, it does!
Recently, I've traveled to Oslo for a couple of days. My aim was to meet people involved in startups in Norway, get to know their ideas for businesses, the need for software development, and what is the market’s approach towards working with teams from Poland.
I have to admit that people are positive and open to help - and hardworking.
First of all, Norwegian approach to startup development is very reasonable - start locally, aim globally. Organizations such as Innovation Norway try to activate and assist in the development of small businesses and also want to emphasize global approach to achieving goals.
Norway as well as Sweden, Finland and Denmark are the perfect places to start your business. The market is very reactive, diverse and quickly revises all the ideas. It gives the advantage to the reasonable pivoting when necessary. Probably this is one of the reasons why Nordic startups are one of the most successful and innovative. Oslo provides access to several organizations that will quickly help you find the right environment for growth.
One of the most important are: Innovation Norway, StartupLab, MashUp in Oslo. An excellent list of things that you can do and organisations providing help can be found on Startup Norway website, and for some extra info check hub.no.
ENGINEERING IN BLOOD
In Poland, the development of start-ups is also quite rapid. However, it is more challenging for Polish startups to make their first steps here as the investors are more risk aversive and conservative. Usually bootstraping is the only way to start fast here.
The Polish thing is specializing slightly more in providing different types of services from which IT/software development is its one of the strongest and well-known areas. Two main sources of software development qualities are technical universities that create highly educated software engineers and software development schools where the knowledge is passed from the software engineers.
It is worth mentioning that those schools have a strong tradition from past times where being smarter and better in tech gave the international advantage over others - and not only as a PR propaganda. That is why it should make sense to you why Polish software engineers are on top with Russia and China. The other thing is that Poland is a western country that sucked not the only western lifestyle (maybe not all of it) but accessed to innovative mindset even more and possibilities without limits (almost).
Most of the engineers start their commercial career during their technical studies by international grants and being hired by high-end technology corporations. Those engineers then start their career in software development around the world for big and small.
Software Development Schools
This is a relatively new phenomenon in Poland (a couple of years). It started small with one company offering software development lessons for non-engineers by software engineers. More and more candidates started working in commercial products right after graduating those schools. What was surprising was that many talented people started to be software developers without being in technical schools and they were great. Afterall all the best practices were given by highly-educated and experienced specialists.
But let’s get back to the beginning - from the point of view of a Norwegian startup.
Software development for startups
Startups need software development.
Most of the startups are based on software solutions. That is a big challenge especially when there aren’t any IT members in founders team and You have to find someone to write solid MVP description for the product - choose technologies, create features first and estimate development time and cost.
Starting from Founders.
The best start is to have software developer in the founder's team especially a developer that can perform multiple functions: a coder, quality controller, head developer, as well as PM. In general, he should have a good knowledge of IT, which in the long run he will be able to use as a CTO (a person responsible for the technical development of the product). A founder is cheap, as he has shares in the business and works twice as much than hired developers. Additionally, in most of the cases, the startup idea is his / her passion, so … yeah.
Hiring software developers for in-house development.
The second common approach is hiring developers dedicated to the project. In the beginning usually, one or two additional team members are enough, if funding is big enough.
The main advantage is that developers will be on-site, which will make the communication easy and all the problems can be solved within physical space if necessary.
Disadvantage is the cost of the software developer itself. In case of limited funds at the beginning (at least for MVP creation) it can be a startup killer. (of course, it concerns only those countries where the minimum wage for software development is above 50$ per hour).
Part In-House & Off-Shore development.
This solution is actually similar to the last one but gives the opportunity to hire additional, cheaper off-shore developers for a small part of starting budget. In this case, the team members or in-house developer can lead the off-shore team or cooperate to develop the project simultaneously.
The advantage of this solution is faster MVP production, and it also saves some part of the budget.
The disadvantage is the difficulty to select good off-shore team members. You have to be very strict about what You need. The best team members would be those who code quality with the diversity of skills (stack developers are probably the best at the beginning). They also need to communicate fluently in English, and it would be great if they could work in the same timezone as the founder's team.
Full off-shore development.
The perfect solution for startups in the early stage, where budget is a crucial thing. It is also vital for the teams that lack a software development experience. In this case whole development is on the neck of an off-shore team.
Advantage here is that You have a dedicated and affordable team that will take full responsibility for the quality.
Disadvantages are similar to the ones in earlier solutions. Language barriers, imprecise communication rules, unclear principles of team-work and roles definition (who is the product owner, PM, head dev. etc.). Good team should clarify all the factors mentioned above, but also have an experience not only in software development, but also in business development and most of all - in product design. Full stack development + business awareness define the best ones.
Off-shore team selection
The best teams usually carry out workshops with founders to create an adequate description of MVP, which will be the base for further development with timetables and costs calculations - the most crucial thing for the founders and investors. You should call them CTO of Your project or at least a support for your in-house development team. The good team should even provide strategy for future in-house development if necessary.
What a perfect development for the Norwegian (and Swedish, Finish, Dutch etc.) startups should be like?
It needs to be disciplined - check if company has a playbook, guidebook etc. Something that describes how they work - which methodology do they use, how long the sprints are etc.
They need to have experience - it’s obvious – not only with coding, but also project management and cooperation with other experts or product owners.
They need to be able to communicate well and be mobile - choose countries that have easy access to Internet and that are close to you, so the team members can move to Your location if necessary.
As I mentioned at the very beginning Poland is specialized in IT, but the specialization is about quality and innovation and not about quantity or cheap labor. Polish IT higher education is one of the best in the world. Many of the technologies and open source solutions has its Polish roots. Currently, it is said that Poles know three languages: Polish, English and Programming. So what defines development companies from Poland?
- Quality - a lot of experienced teams with wide range of specialization from hardware to software.
- Price - Polish economic is one of the cheapest in Europe - so the development is cheaper.
- Location - Warsaw is one hour flight from Oslo, Stockholm, Helsinki etc.
- Timezone - UTC/GMT +1 hour,
- Lack of language barrier - English is our 2nd language.
What defines Polish approach to software development is the difference between things that are said when meeting You for the 1st time:
for most of the other countries it is:
“We have 50/100/400 developers for Your project that can do everything”. ,
Poles start with:
“What's on Your Mind?”