How should I choose my software development partner in Romania?

Avangarde Software
Software outsourcing to Romania.
March 18, 2017
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August 23, 2017
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How should I choose my software development partner in Romania?

Like all the countries that provide remote software development services, Romania has this market shared by freelancers and companies.

The main pro of working with freelancers is the price, which can get as low as half of what you would pay to a company for specialists with little experience and to 60-70% of the company rate for senior developers. As there is a catch to any good thing, lower costs mean higher risks, such as those of being left in the sun by the freelancer with code that nobody else understands or violations of your intellectual property that you cannot prove.

Working with a software development company is safer but a little more expensive. If one developer leaves the project, the company will replace them as soon as possible with one of similar experience, at no extra cost to you. In addition, companies are likely to strictly enforce Intellectual Property Protection, since failing to do so can bring them hefty penalties.

For the purpose of this article I will assume you opted for a software house. Listed next are a few questions you should answer before engaging in a software development partnership with a Romanian software house.

What size should my IT partner in Romania be?

Some may be tempted to believe that a client can only get the close attention it craves from a small company. While it is true that any provider of remote software development services loves customers that need big teams for long periods of time, few of them get more than half of their revenues from such clients. This means that to keep their businesses healthy, software houses must treat all their customers equally. In case of a shortage of people, the provider will definitely feel the urge to increase the teams for which it gets the highest margin with the least sales effort invested first. As such an approach risks to hurt the image of the company, any smart entrepreneur will refrain from doing so.

Another aspect you should have in mind as far as the provider’s size is concerned is their ability to scale. If you wish to grow the project team at a rate of 2 to 3 software developers per month, small and medium sized companies are unlikely to comply for reasons having to do with logistics and talent availability in the market. The promise of stability from big companies weighs heavily in the minds of the Romanian developers when choosing their employer.

The maturity of the company is another important aspect. If you want a partner with well tuned processes, it must have at least 5 years of experience in software development and a very strong management team. To stay on the safe side in this respect, better go for a big company that has been on the market for over 10 years.

If creativity and freedom to act out of the box is what matters most to you, please be aware they are usually inversely proportional with the size of the company. Small companies tend to do much better in this respect than the big ones, where strict processes and templates can become suffocating.

The sum it up, if you only need a team of 1 to 3 creative people and little in terms of processes, almost any software house with over 10 employees can be a good choice. If, on the other hand, you do software for highly regulated industries such as healthcare or automotive and need teams of 5 or more software developers, better go for one of the biggest Romanian providers.

What type of software development company in Romania can best understand the business logic of my application?

If the software application you wish to develop is for an industry with many specific and difficult to grasp rules and regulations, such as the automotive or financial industries, it may pay off to shortlist for further checks Romanian software housesĀ  have been developing applications for that particular industry. Even if a company can show you examples of projects similar to yours, you get no guarantee it will actually assign to your projects people with the expertise you seek, so make sure you request the CVs of all the suggested candidates for inspection prior to adding them to the team. Even if the candidates are not familiar with the solutions’ area of application, other software engineers from the software house under investigation might transfer the business knowledge to them at no extra cost to you. Make sure you check this aspect before rejecting a CV.

Keep also in mind that many components of software applications are industry-independent and that most of the experienced software developers have been exposed to a variety of industries and can therefore adjust almost effortlessly to new requirements, which at one point in time become mere combinations of previous situations.

How can I check if a Romanian software house may be a match for us?

You may do this check in stages. First, you should request and analyze process documentation and contract frameworks from the shortlisted companies, have phone calls with their key stakeholders to understand their work practices and find out how well you can communicate with them, both from a logistical and from a physical point of view.

Was it easy to set up the call? Did they reply promptly? Is their English good enough? Did they make themselves understood with ease? Did they understand you? These are questions which you can answer easily.

The more difficult part starts with the analysis of the documentation provided by the software house at your request. If their contract frameworks are balanced and require little negotiations to make them suited to your purpose it means the company either has a good legal department or extensive experience with software development projects. Along the same line, you can normally find good process documentations at companies that have well tuned processes and are efficient, as finding and paying people to write and audit those processes is no easy feat. Make sure the processes do not exist only on paper, but are followed and audited periodically.

The second stage usually includes actions you take during your visit at the provider’s site. You can compare there the reality with what the software house sold you. Talking to as many key people of the provider as possible will certainly help. Technical discussions with the people that might be allocated to your project/team are good indicators of the technical prowess and communication skills of the provider’s personnel.

The last stage of your check is the test project, which should be big enough to let you make an objective assessment (e.g. 3 man-months) and small enough to minimize your risks. If all goes well you can scale up knowing you took all the possible precautions and you most likely chose wisely.

Can Romanian software houses meet strict requirements on Intellectual Property and Personal Data Protection?

Romania’s legislation regarding Intellectual Property and Personal Data Protection is in full agreement with EU regulations. This means that you are protected from a legal point of view.

How a real company handles such information depends largely on its management, experience and size. The bigger the company the more likely it is it has been working with demanding customers that rank these issues high on their list of priorities and regularly audit their Romanian partners to make sure they comply. Even small to medium sized software houses that have been around for a long time would most likely meet your expectations.

Checking the templates for Non Disclosure Agreements and Framework Agreements, as well as Personal Data Protection Policies from the companies you shortlisted will give you a clear picture of how they treat this issue.

Can software development companies in Romania send engineers to work at my site for long periods of time?

This is something that almost no Romanian software house can guarantee. Developers with families or significant others in Romania are unlikely to accept a long-term relocation. Taking their families/partners abroad is almost never possible, so the only choice you are left with are engineers aged up to 25-26 years. The others may accept to spend two or three short periods at your site per year. By short I mean one to two weeks. Given the high competition for software experts in Romania, companies cannot coerce their employees to spend long periods of time abroad, as such an approach almost invariably determines the employees to leave the company.

Are there Romanian software houses that accept small projects?

The answer to this question is yes. Big companies almost always have people on the bench which they would happily allocate to paid projects, while for small companies even tiny projects can mean a lot. As most software development partnerships start small, the Romanian providers will expect a successful small project to bring on more work, so it is unlikely you cannot find a provider to say yes to your request, regardless of how small it may seem.

Depending on the type of solution you wish to develop and on your budget, you may need to do with the Romanian development partner only the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) or the full version of the solution and the product maintenance. If you are on a limited budget, you may develop the MVP with the Romanian partner and move to a lower cost provider for the full version. It is highly important to choose a provider that can write clean code and document it well.

What information should I request from the Romanian companies during shortlisting?

If creativity is your main concern, request samples of out of the box ideas the provider proposed and run with them a test project that requires the intense use of imagination and a good deal of free thinking. If processes matter greatly, request process documentations for the areas that matter most to you (e.g. software development, software testing, project management, personal data protection, etc.). Always ask for a contract template, to assess how committed the company is to protecting your IP and providing the level of services you seek.

In addition, requesting a few references from the software house and speaking to the referees is critical, as nothing else can give you a better idea of how the company works. Another thing I strongly recommend is to schedule a brief technical discussion with the team the provider proposes for your project or at least with developers with similar skills and experience.

Furthermore, getting some code, use and test case samples cannot hurt, while visiting the shortlisted companies is a must.

You must see the offices and the IT infrastructure, meet some key people, take a look at the employees’ faces to gage their mood and experience the local infrastructure.

What Romanian cities I should have in mind?

It is advisable to pick a city that has an international airport and many university graduates with technical degrees like Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca, Iasi or Timisoara. Companies in smaller cities have difficulty attracting IT talent due to the lack of options for entertainment and lower wages they can afford to pay.

Conclusions

Pointing out all the dimensions on which to analyze your potential Romanian partner in software development is a daunting task. I therefore chose the ones considered really important by most of the customers I have been in touch with over my 18-year career in the IT industry. What matters most when choosing a long term partner is to shortlist those providers that seem in sync with you from the first email exchanges and phone calls. You should then prioritize the requirements, assign them weights and calculate the weighted scores on all those dimensions for the shortlisted companies. Do not get put off if your potential partner cannot find at short notice the specialist that matches a specific technical profile. Competition on skilled software engineers is so high in Romania that it may sometimes take up to 3 months to recruit the right senior developer. If you must scale up at very high rates (e.g. 10 senior developers/month), Romania might not be the right place for you, while if you only consider adding 1 or 2 seniors to the team per month, there are enough providers that can cope.

If there are important questions of yours we have not answered, please send them via our contact form and we will reply as soon as possible.