— Which are the products most sought after by business, both small and medium-sized, on the software market?
— If we are talking about the corporate sector, then, apart from the usual mobile applications, the most prevalent are industry solutions. This is of particular importance to retail, government, financial organizations, the media, the manufacturing sector, and other large industries. People want to simplify bureaucratic processes and make the production process as efficient as possible.You really can’t imagine how many millions corporations save just by introducing a single software product to automize their business. To survive in a harshly competitive environment, business processes need to be constantly modernized using the best IT practices.
— How is the global software market structured? What proportion is made up of Russian developers?
— Up until the start of 2015, it was possible to identify several key areas of development in the global IT market: portability, cloud services, and security. The international IT outsourcing market, according to expert evaluation, is maintaining a positive dynamic with an annual rate of growth of up to 3%, and by 2014 had reached a level of $288bn. More and more, the focus of attention of investors and players in this sector is business from developing countries, including Russia. According to official statistics, Russian software accounts for around 2% of the global market. However, large Russian exporters often decline to participate in ratings, as this would require them to reveal data concerning their turnover and profits.
— What effect is the devaluation of the rouble having on the Russian software market?
— Many Russian programmers work only in an outsourcing capacity: a reduced interest in such services from Russian companies is expected as a result of the crisis. The Russian IT community is more oriented towards western customers, added to which this is now very profitable for developers as projects, on the whole, are priced in dollars. So, for the customer, the cost stays the same, and the developers exchange dollars for roubles at a completely different rate(over the last three months the dollar has virtually doubled in value against the Russian rouble). At the same time as Russian experts have started to treat western projects more seriously, down to the fact that they bring in more money,accordingly, developers’ responsibility for their own product has grown.
— Are the sanctions against Russia taking a toll on the software market?
— Unfortunately, yes. But in a somewhat unforeseen way. I have good relations with the director of one of the biggest Russian IT companies for mobile application development, Infoshell. They sell and promote their product mainly on the Russian market, but, not so long ago, they decided to venture out into foreign parts. There was an unexpectedly negative reaction on the part of the Russians’ potential partners. They told them that they would not be working with the company purely on the grounds that they were from Russia. Without any regard for their outstanding portfolio or fantastic management. So, that there is already a matter of loyalty for western businessmen.
— What is the hourly rate(weekly, monthly) for a programmer in Russia, Europe, America, China, India?
— There is no one answer to that question. The man-hour costs depend on the expert’s qualification level and on the overall difficulty of the product being developed. Throughout the world, there is the misconception that the cheapest developers are to be found in India. In actual fact, you wouldn’t call their services cheap. The best value today comes from signing a contract for Russian experts to do the developing: the devaluation of the rouble has taken their entry into the market to a new level.
— What level of training do Russian developers have? What would you say are their most striking achievements?
— The training level of highly qualified Russian developers is no worse than that of their European counterparts. In terms of most striking projects, what immediately comes to mind is one of the internet’s largest search engines, Yandex. Internationally recognised are also Parallels – a market leader in cross-platform software and solutions in hosting and cloud services, Acronics – system software products for managing data storage –and, of course, Kaspersky –the producer of antivirus software, known the world over.
— Do Russian developers speak English, or do you need an interpreter to communicate with them?
— In principle, it is folly to enter the international market without a knowledge of English. My project was coordinated at every stage by an English-speaking manager responsible for the overall progress of the development. Smooth-running management allows the process to be controlled just as if I was talking to an American company in the next street.I value my time highly. For me, what was important was the speed at which decisions are taken, and clearly defined project reporting. All the more so as all projects at the foremost Russian companies are run according to the flexible software development strategy, SСRUM. What did this mean for me? I was able to see the results every week, to make changes to the product(to think up a new functionality and add it to the existing project, to refine the product in view of changes to the economic situation), to monitor the production process.
— How obliging and business-like were your Russian partners?
— I worked with contractors according to a flexible methodology for running projects which advocates weekly conferences. Every Friday, the manager and I would set out a number of operational characteristicsfor the product which the company is obliged to introduce into the app during the course of the week.There was never any break in these weekly briefings. In addition to which, the guys adjusted to American time, a difference of 8 hours. They came to work a couple of hours earlier purely so as not to inconvenience me with the time difference.
— If a western company decided to turn to Russian software developers, what should they do to find a suitable partner?
— First, I would advise them to ask their acquaintances about their good experiences of collaborating with Russian IT companies. You could get hold of usable contact details for competent specialists from your friends. You should most definitely keep an eye on the Russian ratings for leading developers in Russia: pay attention to the ratings from c-news, ruward, and CMS magazine. The ratings are in Russian, but there are always links there to the sites of developer companies, and it is there that you will find the information in English. Have a look at the portfolios of the top ten companies. It’s a big plus if the developers have already delivered similar projects in your industry. First of all, the team which worked on equivalent projects will fulfil your objectives quicker on account of the experience accumulated by the managers and developers. And secondly, it may be possible to use several ready-made elements from previous projects in your project, which may bring you some decent savings on the cost of the developing.
— What problems could crop up for the western businessman when cooperating with Russian software developers? And how can they be avoided?
— The very same problems which could occur when dealing with western specialists: a lack of adequate qualifications, failure to meet deadlines. So, I do advise, when looking for a contractor, to look at the Russian ratings. They are compiled using the company’s experience, any awards, their achievements, and the individual figures for their products in the market.