We're publishing our new Intersog Client interview with Eitan Weisbeker, CTO at Fido Solutions Limited. Eitan has kindly shared with us his offshore project story and explained why he chose to build a software development team in Ukraine, how long it took him to find and hire the right IT specialists, how he manages his team in Ukraine and what technology stack they use for Big Data development.
Eitan, can you please describe your original project need and explain why you made a decision to outsource your project development offshore?
Eitan Weisbeker (E.W.): Well, it was a classical case of software product development when FIDO had to set up a software development team from scratch and had concerns about quality versus budget. I asked myself the following question: is my budget enough for recruiting a team in Israel (where we’re based) as opposed to going offshore and saving costs without losing any product quality? I realized that building a team in Israel would require a high budget, so we had to consider setting up a team in a lower-cost country.
Wrapping up, we had the following project needs:
- Set up a dev team from scratch without compromising with quality
- Speed of recruitment
- Cost of development should be at least 30%-40% lower than in-house
And why did you choose to go with Intersog as your development partner?
E.W.: I already had one project team with Intersog in Odessa, so for me the decision to go with Intersog was quite easy. I was exploring other companies in Ukraine, but eventually came back to Intersog. Yet, with this new project I had a requirement to have my team set up in Kyiv, not Odessa. The reasons are as follows:
- Kyiv is a larger technological hub
- Kyiv has more dev resources than Odessa, so it should be easier as far as recruitment
- Kyiv has a more convenient air connection with Israel (I can take a direct flight from Tel Aviv at 7 am, arrive at Kyiv at noon, spend some time with my team or solve urgent issues and fly back home in the evening!)
Speaking about recruitment, how would you compare time to hire in Israel versus Ukraine?
E.W.: Because I was always scouting around for the best software engineers (experienced senior guys with strong domain knowledge), time to hire wasn’t very short. In general, it takes almost the same time to find and hire a top-notch developer in Ukraine and Israel.
For instance, Intersog started search for candidates to join my project in December 2015 and I got my first hire - Andrey - in March 2016. So, it took us 3 months to rake through hundreds of resumes, interview 25 or 30 people and make a decision to hire Andrey.
But as I’ve mentioned above, for us quality was always more important than time, so we were OK to have our time to hire longer than expected. When you want to hire the best of the best, more time is always needed as far as recruiting! We were ready for this.
And how did you learn about Intersog for the very first time?
E.W.: I used to work with the Philippines developers before and didn’t want to deal with time zone differences any more.
I was searching online for recommendations about offshore development centers in Eastern Europe as a whole, but then focused specifically on Ukraine due to the following reasons: good talent availability, no time zone difference with Israel, affordable costs, flexibility to easily scale the project.
I didn’t want to engage with a large service provider, as I was looking more for a boutique-type agency with a personal touch where I’d have a direct communication with technical management instead of having to communicate with sales departments and doing a lot of paperwork with them.
So, I searched in Google for providers with operations and offshore development centers in Ukraine, checked the size and main expertise of each dev center and made sure the company has a good screening process put in place.
As I started reaching out to offshore development providers, communication left a lot to be desired. I even sent my request to companies that had representative offices in Israel and some would never reply, while others would take a month or so to get back to me.
Communication with Intersog was great. Since I had some specific requirements, Intersog was able to fully meet them.
Can you briefly describe your current project with Intersog?
E.W.: FIDO’s business is in consumer lending space in West Africa, we give out loans to consumers, not SMBs, and the way consumers interact with our service is via mobile. As such, I was looking to build a team with expertise in mobile, web, back-end and Big Data. My current team is comprised of a lead developer (back-end developer), a software developer (web), a mobile developer (Android) and a data engineer / scientist. It’s not a homogeneous team, as you can see.
And how are you planning to use Big Data on your project?
E.W.: We’re going to use it in two ways:
- Data engineering - right now, FIDO has a lot of data coming from different sources and we need to aggregate it in one place. Instead of having 5-6 different databases (e.g., Amazon, SQL, CRM) and various dashboards for, say, admin or managerial purposes, we want to keep all of our data in one place.
- Data analysis as part of our predictive analytics.
What technology stack are you using for Big Data development?
E.W.: We currently use RedShift, offline tools for predictive analytics, Python for machine learning algorithms (will also use Kinesis to work with Spark, dynamodb, s3, kafka, and spark ML). Our key focus is on AWS Cloud services and it’s our tactical decision. Most of developers have some knowledge of AWS, so it’s easier to hire data analysts with this skill than look for skills in Azure or Google and have hard time with recruitment.
"AWS is a market leader that currently holds 60% - 70% of the Cloud landscape. As they said in the 1980s, if you go with IBM, you can’t go wrong. Even if someone had a better offering, most still chose IBM technologies for their projects. So, you can’t go wrong if you’re using AWS these days."
Eitan Weisbeker, CTO @ FIDO
What stage of development is your project in right now?
E.W.: It’s currently in production now. We have an old legacy system in production, it was upgraded already twice this year. We’re planning our next release in a month or two to basically get rid of the old code used in legacy system and move to a completely new system developed from scratch by the team in Ukraine.
We have thousands of customers using our upgraded system now. We did it in stages: we made the first improvements in February, then Andrey (team lead) joined in March, so we introduced the second improvement in April and since then we’ve been working on a 3rd generation which is a complete overhaul of the system. We’re due to launch our new-generation system in late October or early November this year.
What tools do you use for offshore team management?
E.W.: We use Jira and Confluence, both are Atlassian tools. We use Slack for internal communication. Our whole team is currently spread around a few continents, we’re based in Israel, run operations in Ghana, have a product manager in San Francisco and the entire development team in Ukraine, so we set up different channels for different topics we communicate on.
Also, check out the FIDO project case in our Portfolio!