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22 September, 2021updated 24 Nov 2021 07:52

How Costa Rica emerged as a leading provider of software partnerships

As competition for digital talent intensifies, enterprises are fostering partnerships with Costa Rica’s innovative software ecosystem to help bridge the digital skills gap.

By Irenie Forshaw

Increasing numbers of overseas companies are choosing to forge lasting, high-value partnerships with Costa Rica’s pool of talented software developers. (Photo courtesy of PROCOMER)

Like never before, companies are embracing digital solutions to retain a competitive edge. Software skills are an essential component in helping businesses to improve efficiency and thrive in this rapidly evolving environment. However, the demand for developers is soaring and competition for talent is fierce.

As part of the WEF’s 2020 Future of Jobs Report, software and application developers ranked among the top ten roles increasing in demand across industries, with digital transformation specialists and information security analysts taking 7th and 8th place, respectively. A survey from the same report found that business leaders consistently cited difficulties with hiring AI and machine learning specialists, and software and application developers.

Closing the gap

At Mixpo, growth had created just such a predicament: the Seattle-based advertising software developer was struggling to find the necessary talent locally to fulfil its commitments.

Deciding to cast a wider net, Mixpo began to look for a scalable, cost-efficient development partner with plenty of experience in IoT and integration. It was a search that ended in Costa Rica with San José-based digital design company Arweb.

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The partnership flourished. Arweb assigned four interactive developers proficient in programming and animation to the project. Following a two-week training programme, the developers were integrated into the team, quickly turning around creative, high-volume video ad campaigns.

“When Mixpo wanted another creative developer, we were able to introduce another team member and continue without any delays,” says Arweb’s CEO, Antonio Roldán. “We successfully mastered our client’s proprietary platform, but our team members also contributed much more with their capacity for innovation and creativity.”

Nearshoring software development

For businesses looking to swiftly scale up their specialist teams, reduce operational costs and gain access to a wider pool of engineering talent, outsourcing software development work to a partner overseas can prove invaluable.

While eastern Europe and Asia continue to make the most noise in offshoring discussions, Costa Rica has also emerged as a key player in this space. The country’s geographic and cultural proximity to the US, an abundance of talent, and comparatively reasonable hiring costs are garnering attention.

Furthermore, Costa Rica boasts a high-quality and established high-tech ecosystem. A multitude of international software companies have chosen to put down roots, including Microsoft, Oracle, Dell and Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Intel chose Costa Rica as the location for its MegaLab, where it employs 900 engineers in charge of pre and post-silicon function and software development, final testing and validation for all of the company’s product portfolio.

In 2019, the country’s digital technologies labour force grew by 29,000 employees and had a compound annual growth rate of 17%. This success is built on the highly skilled, educated and multilingual workforce available.

The US-based software company, Real Green, enlisted the help of a Costa Rican provider after struggling to find web/app development and quality assurance services close to home that fitted with its budget and timeline requirements.

“After continuing to have staffing challenges, we decided to look at a nearshore model,” explains director of software engineering at Real Green Brian Draper. “Of the nine companies that we screened across Latin America, DNAMIC stood out in the crowd. Their roots as technologists, their commitment to partnership, and their dedication to their employees were evident.”

In the ensuing four months, Real Green was able to add 13 developers and QA professionals to the team working on multiple platforms, from mobile to web projects. “DNAMIC has been a great partner to us,” reflects Draper. “I speak to them daily in regards to ongoing staffing needs and logistics, but also touch base with them regularly to stay in sync on our current and future business needs. They are always quick to offer their insights and expertise in areas we are considering exploring.”

female-IT-programmer
In 2019, Costa Rica’s digital technologies labour force grew by 29,000 employees and had a compound annual growth rate of 17%. (Photo by Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock)

The founder of San José-based DNAMIC, Arturo García, adds: “The challenge was very appealing to us since day one. Real Green did not have previous experience hiring resources from a nearshore outsourcing company, but their VP of technology did. It was very clear to us that the main focus here was not just providing additional help, but guidance, and so we did. Today, Real Green thinks of us as a strategic partner rather than a service provider.”

For Canadian start-up AceAge, fostering a partnership with a Costa Rican developer also proved to be particularly fruitful. The nascent business had designed an innovative smart medication dispenser that reminds patients when to take a dose and notifies their doctors when their supplies are running low. However, AceAge needed help with IoT integration to bring the product to market.

Heredia-based software engineering company QXD developed a single core piece of software for all of AceAge’s products, simplifying maintenance of the platform, and set up the base for the company’s continuous integration pipeline. It also tied in automated testing to help speed up the delivery process. Following several internal trials, AceAge was able to test the device with patients and healthcare facilities.

Projects like this demonstrate the value to be found in leveraging Costa Rica’s talented software developers to create lasting, high-value partnerships. For companies willing to embrace offshore service providers, there is an opportunity to bridge the digital skills gap and keep up with constantly evolving business demands.

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