Event raises profile of Russian outsourcing

Lower wages than in the US and an abundance of highly skilled computer programmers make Russia a good option for companies aiming...

Lower wages than in the US and an abundance of highly skilled computer programmers make Russia a good option for companies aiming to reduce development or lower development costs.

Representatives of Russian companies came to Harvard University to raise the Russian profile as a low-cost destination for high-quality software development.

The second annual event, known as "Russian IT Seasons" featured short presentations by the companies to representatives from major US corporations and software engineers looking for career opportunities.

The sophistication of Russian programmers allows the country to occupy a niche in the IT outsourcing market, supplying customers with talent capable of more sophisticated design and development work, which often results in novel and patentable technology, claimed Valentin Makarov, president of Russoft, a professional association for software developers which helped organise the event.

A series of speakers from both US and Russian firms reinforced Makarov's core message, painting a picture of Russia as a "more stable" country with tremendous human resources eager to help US companies tackle difficult technical challenges.

Len Erlikh, chief technology officer at Russian IT outsourcing company BridgeQuest, said that his company helped US company Relativity Technologies overhaul its signature product, which helps developers maintain and enhance Cobol code.

More than 90% of the 90-person research and development team used by Relativity was based in Russia, with the remaining 10% based in the US.

Erlikh said that he found the Russian engineers to be highly motivated.

"The cultural barriers to outsourcing are breaking down," Erlikh said. "It's more common that major companies today are [outsourcing] or looking into it than that they're not, and companies that aren't considering it risk are losing their competitive edge."

Robinson said there are a growing number of Fortune 500 companies opening research and development centres in Russia to tap into the country's deep pool of programming talent.

However, Erlikh cautioned that companies also need to set up a formal management structure and communications channel with their Russian development teams.

As in the US, procedures need to be in place that govern the design, development and release of new technology, he said.

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