Nearshore Tech Team in Eastern Europe for UK EdTech Company
Launched in 2011, CORE is the world’s largest collection of open access research papers. The service is based at The Open University, United Kingdom. CORE provides access to the collection of over 207 million open access articles. After its launch, the project started growing exponentially. Qubit Labs helped CORE establish its remote research and development center in Ukraine to keep up with its goals and strengthen the project with qualified tech specialists.
About the Project
The CORE is the Open University’s child that harvests research papers from institutional and subject repositories and open access and hybrid journals. At the outset, it aimed to become a single one-stop solution for researchers, academics, and commercial clients by providing open access to all published scientific research available in the UK.
As of January 2019, CORE had over 10 million monthly active users and was among the top 6k websites globally by usage, according to Alexa Rank.
When CORE started growing, the Open University faced an immense workload and required help to make their project work as it should. They needed specialists to add development capacity for regular technical operations to deliver CORE.
They suffered from a severe lack of developer staff because the project’s popularity and resource attendance rose quickly. Meanwhile, the CORE project’s team had just 3 in-house developers.
However, when the company decided to hire nearshore development center, it faced the problem — the UK developer rates were too high for a university budget to afford.
That’s why they decided to hire a remote team. But freelancers weren’t the right option because CORE wanted its staff to work in one office, communicate and collaborate, share knowledge, and grow together.
Ukraine became their go-to location because of the small-time difference, reasonable cost-benefit ratio, and developer rates that were 5 to 10 times lower than in the UK.
Solution Provided by Qubit Labs
Qubit Labs provided full control over the hiring process at CORE, ensuring a good balance of staff and employees’ benefits and responsibilities. We provided CVs for the client prescreening, managed all hiring and firing issues and covered the compiler team’s fees for office space and equipment. We helped to facilitate the cooperation between the in-house and remote teams by emphasizing daily stand-up meetings via Scrum. Since our cooperation with CORE is still ongoing, our company keeps onboarding all new team members in person and giving developers access to cutting-edge technology within the project.
Hiring Developers in Ukraine: The Open University’s Insights
During the interview, Dr. Petr Knoth, a Senior Research Fellow at the Open University who leads the R&D team, shared his impression of working with Eastern European developers. Here are some most impressive parts of cooperating with Ukrainian software engineers based on Petr’s answers:
- In Ukraine, we were able to choose from developers who have advanced knowledge of English. This helped to facilitate the collaboration and avoid misunderstandings that might have hindered the performance. Ukrainian programmers seamlessly integrated into our team as if they’ve always been a part of it.
- Ukrainian developers are quite similar to their English colleagues in terms of working culture. People come to work (they attended the office every day before the quarantine took place), stay available during their working hours, and finish the working day the time they’re expected to do so. They work overtime in certain cases when there’s an urgent project to finish.
- The expectations I put on Ukrainian developers are always fulfilled. The only difference I’ve noticed between the software engineers in the UK and Ukraine is that Ukrainian developers have a more formal approach to communication. What I’m saying is that English team members are more agile, while Ukrainian specialists are being more “official.” But I try to eliminate such attitudes and treat the team members like friends. For example, we tell jokes to each other and aim to be some kind of a family.
- Both the remote Ukrainian developers on my team and Qubit Labs specialists I’ve worked with are flexible, agile, professional, and trustworthy. Thanks to the company, we can sustain a widely popular service that benefits users around the world, all while staying within budget.