We came to the office of the Transcarpathian IT company TranSoftGroup on a weekday. The goal is to meet the best IT professionals in the region, see how they work and get an explanation of such a paradox: despite the fact that IT industry in Ukraine has the largest brain drain, young and experienced employees of this company do not even rush abroad. "And why shall we?," developer Mykola Malovanets asks me, "when you work with the interesting projects at home, grow, and earn the same as in Germany?"
At the same time, the company says that they feel a shortage of staff and currently TranSoftGroup is planning to expand in the Ukrainian and Western IT markets, focusing on Ukrainian software developers.
The market is external, the staff is internal
The history of TranSoftGroup goes back to 1991 starting with the KEEPER system - a software product that provides enterprise accounting (integrated system for managing accounting, production, personnel and management tasks, etc.). Back at that time, the programmers worked for a local Transcarpathian business company, whose computer network once reached 800 PCs. Now TranSoftGroup continues to develop this type of activity, because KEEPER allows you quickly build an IT system for a company in any kind of business… Subsequently, the company began to develop Internet access services, test Hungarian company’s software that entered the Transcarpathian market. Recently, most of TranSoftGroup projects have revolved around the development of websites using Magento platform - the company's developers support regional websites, as well as work on Ukrainian projects - ALLO and YAKABOO online stores.
Today, TranSoftGroup numbers almost 200 employees. The vast majority works in Mukachevo, others - in branches – Kyiv and Uzhhorod. They develop online stores, websites, provide quality assurance services, as well as office computerization and business automation. Currently, the company seeks to grow in directions of staff expansion as well as expanding production. And when searching customers the company is more interested in the foreign market, the Ukrainian market remains priceless because of the staff recruitment.
Three problems of the Transcarpathian IT
There is a problem with personnel in the region. The situation is being facilitated by several factors. The first is that there are many IT companies in the region that work on the basis of so-called outsourcing: when the customer is in Kyiv or abroad, and employees are in the region (this is profitable because the owners thus save on wages). Another factor is that the company with the staff of 200 people has exhausted local human resources on the local market, which is why they practice remote work with developers from the other regions of Ukraine, primarily from Kyiv, Kharkiv and Dnipro. There are also people working remote from Zaporizhzha, Cherkasy, Vinnytsia and Sumy. Well, the third factor is related to the so-called "brain drain" (IT sphere is one of those where this outflow is most noticeable), because the stereotype that somewhere abroad you can earn more still works here.
Following Elon Musk’s example
In order to soften the impact of these factors on the company's development, TranSoftGroup follows a long-established approach of training and working with staff with almost no outflow of personnel. Here, in fact, they are rarely fired, because the company has invested a lot of time and resources helping them grow. On the contrary, the company values everyone as the salary here is at the level of the capital and even western IT companies. Therefore, it makes no sense to flee to Kyiv or abroad because of the high salary rates. Secondly, for those who fancy living in the capital – you are welcome to join the team in the Kyiv office, and in the near future a similar office will be opened in Western Europe.
The third thing is that TranSoftGroup "grows" staff following Elon Musk’s advice, who says that to work in his companies you need no special education - you can learn everything during the course and directly at the workplace… Training courses at TranSoftGroup are organized twice-three times a year. Applications are accepted from about 150 people, 35 of them are selected to learn programming for three-four months. If a young person has great results, he/she is offered a job as a QA Engineer immediately after the course. Well, if in the future there is still a desire and skills, they are offered to go further - to become a developer… People of different age come to the courses, mostly 20 and 30-year-olds, but some of them already are at the age of 40 +… Currently due to the quarantine, the company has suspended courses because the high risk of spreading the virus. But with the stabilization of the situation, TranSoftGroup will resume the courses as a lot of applications were received before the pandemic. Moreover, it is planned to launch an IT academy for teenagers aged 12 and older where they will be taught logic, basic programming and IT English.
From the workplace - to the gym, and even a family doctor is nearby
Well, another impressive thing is that the office is built on the principle of the Western companies, when a comprehensive infrastructure is created for your comfort. In fact, the company's headquarters consist of several campuses, and offices are located on the principle where the specialists working on same project are gathered in one room. In addition to working areas, the campuses have conference and meeting rooms, a cozy lounge zone with armchairs and books, a dining room where delicious free lunches are served and a tennis hall. In the near future, a hairdresser, massage and medical office will start operating, which will serve the company's employees and monitor their health on the principle of a family physician. The company annually provides insurance for its employees and conducts a detailed medical examination in the most modern private clinic in the region "Diamed". The team building in the company is also at the high level: the TranSoftGroup team participates in the local Transcarpathian mind game, hikes the mountains and goes rafting, to the cinema and theater, celebrates the New Year and Company’s anniversary altogether having a family picnic.
Motivation, growth, mutual support and the opportunity to work remote
As part of our acquaintance with TranSoftGroup, we meet the company's leading developers - Mykola Malovanets, Nazar Klovanych, Olga Vasyltsun and Myroslav Dobra. They have been working here for a long time, they have made a career - so they can share some thoughts on development of the IT in Transcarpathian region, its problems and prospects.
- I am attracted by several moments in my work. First, these are so-called open source projects - when you work with colleagues from the US office (TranSoftGroup has a contract with Adobe and participates in the development of the Magento platform), who have their own views on development. Such open work is very cool when you have the right to have your own opinion and realization of some functionality, - says Nazar Klovanych.
- It is stimulating, because their level is much more higher and you have someone to learn from and make progress. Of course, you need to know English well as you need to communicate effectively at work, - says Nazar.
Olga Vasyltsun, for her part, notes that the company has a rule - when you are stuck and do not see how to solve the problem there is always an opportunity to turn to the colleagues and solutions are found together.
- This is true both: for the results of work on the project (because while you deepen into the problem yourself and have no result - you lose time, so the tasks are not done), and also for the team support: it is extremely important to know your colleagues always get your back. Support, mutual respect and help among teammates is an important factor, because no matter how much experience you have, you have to learn constantly in the field of IT: this is an industry where everything flows and everything is changing fast - says Olga.
For his part, Myroslav Dobra notes that the company values motivation a lot.
- It is very important to have internal motivation: the desire for self-development and improvement, a sense of responsibility for the quality and results of the team in order to achieve satisfaction. A decent salary (external motivation) is not enough here. A person for whom salary is the only aim can learn to do his job well like a monkey, but he/she will not become a great and experienced developer. Dedication to your work is very important, Myroslav emphasizes.
- In this sense, I would compare the work of an IT specialist with the creative process of an artist, - adds Nazar Klovanych. - When an artist works on a painting, he does not think about the process and the profit, he achieves a thrill - satisfaction from the result - from his own creation getting delight for the eyes and soul of those who stop to have a look at his painting. Similarly, when you create software - you are detached from the world and completely focused on the result. And this is when it becomes a reality that the pleasure of one's own creation comes. Because you feel that your software creates comfort for people… There are not so many of such IT specialists. They are worth their weight of a gold… I am happy to see such developers appear at our office.
Mykola Malovanets adds: "One of the factors of comfort is the opportunity to work on the customer projects who are in the different parts of the world, but still staying here at home, among the incredible beauty of Transcarpathia with its wonderful nature around us, seductive mountains, playful streams and thermal pools. At the same time you know that in the West for the same work you are not offered more”.
The first office abroad will be opened in Poland
TranSoftGroup says that in the Ukrainian market they position themselves as a strategic partner for whom client’s success in business is the main thing. In the Ukrainian market companies from Kharkiv, Khmelnytsky, Chernivtsi, Lviv – are well known already as there are large IT communities. The fact is that most of these companies are headquartered somewhere in the US or Western Europe, so essentially they are just representative offices. This is how 70% of the Ukrainian IT market works. TranSoftGroup is a Transcarpathian company headquartered in Mukachevo. The firm, on the other hand, is considering opening offices in neighboring EU countries. First of all, such an office will soon appear in Warsaw, because it is now the easiest place to obtain a work permit for developers who want to live in Europe. This is also necessary as there are Western customers who are cautious about working with the Ukrainian IT companies in the sense that we are considered a dangerous country in terms of cyberattacks from Russia (especially after the scandal with the Petya virus). But even when the European office of TranSoftGroup is opened, mostly Ukrainians will work there - this is the company's policy, which is based not only on the implementation of the customers ideas, but also on the support of the Ukrainian developers.
A company is like a family united by common values
TranSoftGroup is currently re-branding in order to intensify its work in the Western markets.
The company has a clear understanding that external image of the company is nothing more than a reflection of its internal state. "On the one hand, we feel that we have become different in many ways, and on the other hand, we are well aware of what still has to be changed in order for us to become what we want to be. When this all happens, the reflection on the outside will change the perception of the company in the market… You know, it's like a woman who cuts her hair: she has already felt the internal changes, she has become different, she wants it to be known and seen to everyone around. And the same happens with the re-branding of the company," says Khrystyna Balog.
TranSoftGroup knows which values its employees should follow. Dedication, quality and responsibility, goal-driven and initiative, self-development and improvement, respect and mutual support are in priority.
The company positions itself as a strategic partner that motivates changes, offers ideas, prevents from making mistakes, adheres to obligations, and most importantly - always does more than the partners expect.
"We want to be more than just a company - we want our team to be like one family that knows exactly what it wants, is well aware of how to achieve it, and works purposefully to make everything planned a reality. ", - say in TranSoftGroup.
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