Hiring Software Developers From Poland - What Do You Need To Know?
Apr 6, 20229 min read
Co-founder and CEO of Ideamotive. Entrepreneur, mentor and startup advisor.
The impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine has been reflected in neighboring countries, most of which have been popular IT outsourcing destinations for western companies.
Poland has played a vital role in the West's efforts to protect Ukraine and has also taken in more than two million refugees.
Western companies withdrawing from Russia and Belarus are picking what country to switch their software development too.
Here we’ll see what are the benefits and challenges of choosing Polish software developers.
Software development in Poland: essential stats
Just a couple of decades ago, technical experts associated offshore software development mainly with India or the Philippines. However, today the offshore talent pool has expanded significantly, covering the countries of Eastern Europe.
Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus had roughly one-third of the IT services outsourcing in the CEE region. But the Russian attack on Ukraine is causing a great reshuffle in the IT services market. Due to reputation claims companies from the west working with Russia and Belarus are switching to other destinations like Poland or Romania, at the same time waiting for their Ukrainian devs to resume their work. (If you are interested in working with Ukraininan developers, you can read our last article about hiring software developers in Ukraine.)
According to data compiled by Stack Overflow, the number of programmers in the region of Central and Eastern Europe is 1 million people. About a quarter of them live and work in Poland (250,000 people). Next comes Ukraine with 166,000, followed by Romania (118,000) and the Czech Republic (100,000). Elsewhere, the number of coding professionals is less than 100,000.
Poland's IT industry has the largest number of professionals in Central and Eastern Europe, which is one of the most important factors for technology companies competing worldwide for the best team members (a Gartner survey shows that a global talent shortage is currently a major problem faced by organizations). For this reason, tech giants, numerous small and medium enterprises, and start-ups from all over the world (mainly from Europe, North America, and the Middle East) open their branches in Poland.
Isn't that a good reason to outsource software development to Poland?
Here are some proofs that this country is one of the ever-growing IT markets and the best country for outsourcing:
In Poland, 1.4 people per 100 people are software developers.
Every year, Poznan University of Technology graduates about 15,000 students specializing in information and communication technologies. At the same time, about 70,000 students are currently studying to become software developers. This means that the country receives a constant, ever-growing wave of technical talent every year.
Poland is ranked 14th among the top 20 digital countries according to the Tholons Globalization Index 2021. In addition, the same index reports that Krakow is in the top 20 super cities in terms of digital innovation.
(The report does not include Ukraine, a non-EU country that, according to other studies, ranks second in CEE, with about 35% fewer software developers than Poland).
According to ABSL, Poland has seven large IT centers that employ more than 85% of all IT professionals in the country, with most of them living in Krakow, Warsaw, and Wroclaw.
In the chart above, you can also find information about the areas where technical experts and developers work in Poland. The majority of Polish developers work in Global Business Services (GBS) and Information Technology (36.3% and 31% respectively).
Women in the Polish IT industry
Speaking of statistics, an interesting point is the rather large number of women in the Polish IT industry. According to the Geek Girls Carrots report already in 2018, 30% of professionals, engineers, and programmers in the industry were women, and 63% of all women in IT were involved in software development.
The top three most popular technologies among developers in Poland are JS, Java, and Python, with over 200,000 developers listing these programming languages on their LinkedIn profiles. Poland also has a significant number of PHP and .NET developers. In addition, Polish app developers ranked first in the SkillValue ranking.
In addition, software developers in Poland are well known for their professional achievements. For example, SkillValue ranks Polish developers among the top three experts in the world, along with Slovakia and Mexico.
Polish specialists have a very high level of English proficiency. They ranked 16th in terms of English proficiency, ahead of many European countries. Thus, it is easy for American and European clients to communicate with them.
ICT education in Poland
Poland owes its large pool of available IT professionals to factors such as the growing popularity of engineering degree programs at many universities. Every major Polish city has a technical university, and there are more than 20 in total.
Computer science is currently the most popular field of study in Poland, as per the Polish Enterprise Development Agency. The situation is similar with related professions: according to the Polish Statistics Office, the share of graduates from science, technology, industry, and construction-related professions in relation to the total number of university graduates increased by almost 6% in the 4 years when the indices were last measured: share was 22.8% in 2013/14, rising to 28.5% in 2017/18.
Consequently, in 2017, Poland ranked 3rd among the 28 countries of the European Union in terms of the number of graduates in science, technology, and information technology per 1,000 people aged 20–29 (Statistics Poland).
Polish universities of information and communication technologies and their graduates are known for their high standards of education. In 2020, 75,000 ICT students and nearly 17,000 graduates were ready to be recruited.
ICT graduates are from the Warsaw University of Technology, the Jagiellonian University, and the AGH University of Science in Krakow, as well as the Wrocław University of Technology.
The fact that so many young Poles dream of a career in IT is obviously due to the prestige of working in this industry and the higher and constantly increasing wages compared to other industries.
Consequently, the cost of hiring Polish IT professionals today is not one of the lowest in the world. According to the 2021 report "IT landscape of developing countries: the future of IT", the average gross salary in the ICT sector in Poland is currently 2190 euros per month (all ICT positions are taken into account).
However, it remains far more attractive to employers than most countries in the Global North, according to HackerRank's 2020 Developer Skills Report. The salary of software developers in Poland is about 63% lower than in the US, 54% lower than in Australia, 44% lower than in Canada, and 37% lower than in Germany and the UK.
Moreover, the same report indicates that the income of software developers in Poland is lower than in countries such as South Africa, Indonesia, Ukraine, Mexico, and Brazil.
Benefits and challenges of outsourcing custom software development to Poland
Why start software development in Poland
Competitive rates. The cost of living in Poland is lower than in neighboring Western European countries, so salaries are 20-50% lower than in Western Europe or the USA. As for developers, the average annual salary of a software engineer in Poland is $23,800.
According to HackerRank, this is almost 5 times lower than the same salary in the US. However, the quality of software development services remains the same as in the US or Western Europe.
Convenient location. Poland, located in the heart of Europe, is close to major European financial centers such as London, Paris, and Frankfurt with convenient flights to these and other destinations. In addition, the time zones of Poland and most European countries are the same or differ by up to 2 hours.
Thriving IT market. The IT sector in Poland consists of three interrelated sub-segments: hardware, software, and IT services.
Apart from that:
The software sector is expected to grow at 7.4% per year.
Poland has the largest pool of IT professionals in the entire CEE region.
Its broad ecosystem of start-ups, entrepreneurs, and enterprises, combined with a robust digital infrastructure, has inspired many global companies to move their activities to Polish outsourcing centers.
EU membership. Poland is a member of the European Union, which makes cooperation with specialists, including software companies and software engineers from this country, stable, reliable, and safe. EU membership is especially beneficial for fintech start-ups, as it is important for them that an offshore or coastal country complies with the EU regulatory structure. In addition, like other EU members, Poland is currently subject to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This means that the client's data will be safe in case of cooperation with Poland.
Stable economy. Despite the hard times that Poland went through during the struggle for independence, now the Polish economy is the most stable among the Eastern European countries. In addition, as of today, Poland is among the ten countries in Europe with the highest GDP. Since 1990, Polish GDP has increased by more than 7 times, which is the largest GDP growth in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and in Europe.
Similar norms of cultural and business etiquette. Culturally, the Poles have a very Western mindset, despite their communist past. There are no significant cultural differences between Polish and American or Western European developers, as, for example, between software developers from India or China. There may be some minor differences that won't have a big impact on business development teams in Poland. Being part of the European Union for almost two decades, Poland has absorbed the Western mentality and is now ready to cooperate with clients from Western cultures.
Professional service and English-speaking developers. The Polish information technology market is growing, and software companies are widely offering outsourcing services. Thus, the majority of Polish web developers are ready to work with foreign clients and demonstrate excellent knowledge of the English language, which means that there will be no communication problems.
Favorable tax conditions. Large Polish cities such as Krakow are special economic zones that provide interested investors with exemption from income tax. Thus, the state creates favorable conditions for the growth of the IT industry.
Time zone (for US-based companies). Despite having other IT outsourcing challenges the decision to work with Poland will bring you one more drawback. The time zone difference between the US and Poland can be as little as 6 hours, depending on the city.
With such a noticeable time difference, it can be difficult for development teams in Poland and their clients in the US to communicate and collaborate effectively. For example, stakeholders may need to schedule meetings for a specific time period when they are both in the office or prefer to work in the evenings. The time difference can also cause other challenges, such as scheduling daily tasks for mobile developers, especially when working on time-based projects.
Successful examples of projects accomplished by Polish developers
There are dozens of great software products made by local talents. Hence IT outsourcing to Poland should be taken with 100% seriousness both by the Product Owner and CEO.
A professional, reliable solution used for Internet and social media monitoring that tracks the online activity of several thousand brands on the Internet. Using an automatic sentiment analysis algorithm, Brand24 monitors brand mentions across the web everywhere.
It provides easy Slack integration for direct access to all mentions of the brand in question. Founded in 2011 and developed in Poland, it has become popular internationally. It is used by organizations such as Uber, IKEA, and the White House. It is recognized by Entrepreneur, Forbes, and Adweek.
An online car-sharing marketplace created in 2006. BlaBlaCar has raised several rounds of funding, starting with 600,000 euros in 2009 and 100 million dollars in 2014, which has ensured a dynamic development. The app links drivers and passengers who wish to travel together to share the cost of a trip. The company itself is based in France, and some of its software is outsourced to Poland. BlaBlaCar is available in 22 countries and serves 70 million users.
Jeppesen, a Boeing-related company, and Lufthansa, a world-renowned airline, have their development centers in Gdansk, on the Polish coast. Jeppesen, with 200 specialists in its Polish subsidiary, is changing the world of navigation information and data delivery. Lufthansa Systems Poland is a subsidiary of more than 700 specialists in various fields working to improve the performance of aviation processes. Hiring hundreds of developers and analysts, both aviation giants are working to ensure safe air transport around the world.
World-renowned anti-malware solution for Windows, Android, and iOS. Founded by Marcin Kleczynski, a developer of Polish origin, in 2015 Forbes magazine included him in the list of "30 Rising Enterprise Tech Stars Under 30".
Malwarebytes challenged security giants (such as McAfee and Symantec) because their solutions did not provide complete protection against malware. The company, co-founded with the Polish moving spirit, is now an established brand with over 500 employees and a range of user-friendly products.
Founded in 2011, they make healthcare more human. The service is known under various names: Docplanner, Znamy Lekar, Doktor Takvimi, Znany Lekarz.
By combining the powers of the best Polish devs the team created an advanced online healthcare platform that allows patients to find local doctors and book appointments online. Docplanner received a total of $34 million in equity funding over 4 rounds, raising $20 million in its latest round. Docplanner is available in 30 countries in multiple languages, is used by 20 million patients, handles 340,000 orders per month, and lists over 5 million healthcare professionals as measured by over 2 million patient reviews.
By establishing your team in Poland, you will have access to the largest pool of IT professionals in Central and Eastern Europe, which will grow significantly in the coming years.
Another very important factor is the impact on costs, with staff salaries being a key component.
Many think that Poland’s talent pool is not that big. Believe Ideamotive’s expertise, with the growing trend of ICT education and talent inflow from Ukraine Poland’s IT sector, is going to become the greatest one in entire Europe.
Thus, when considering the location of your engineering team, don’t forget to take into account not only income and expenses but also general background conditions in the region and country.
Robert is a co-founder of Ideamotive. Entrepreneur, who with passion spreads digital revolution all around the internet. Mentor and advisor at startup accelerators. Loves to learn and discover new business models.