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How to Train an AI with GDPR Limitations

Intellias

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Learn how AI companies can comply with the new European data protection regulation

In May 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into force. This European Union regulation aims to protect the privacy of EU citizens. And it affects not only Europe-based companies but all companies processing and holding the personal data of those residing in the EU. In essence, GDPR imposes new data regulations on modern technologies. But the regulation’s severe limitations are a real game-changer for AI and machine learning development. Let’s take a look at what challenges have arisen for the development of artificial intelligence in Europe with GDPR.

In this article, you’ll read about:

  • Why the GDPR affects AI development
  • The main challenges which arise due to GDPR limitations on AI
  • How to develop GDPR-friendly artificial intelligence

Why the GDPR affects AI development

Why does the GDPR have a significant impact on artificial intelligence? This regulation touches the two main aspects of machine learning (ML). First, it enhances data security. It poses strict obligations on companies that collect and process any personal data. Machine learning is closely connected with big data. Most AI-based systems require large volumes of information to train and learn from. Usually, personal data is among these training datasets. Which means that the impact of GDPR on machine learning and AI development is inevitable.
How to Train an AI with GDPR Limitations
Source: AppMachine

Second, the regulation explicitly addresses “automated individual decision-making” and profiling. According to Article 22, a person has a right not to be subject to either if they produce legal effects concerning him or her. Automated individual decision-making here covers an AI’s decisions made without any human intervention. Profiling means the automated processing of personal data to evaluate certain things about the data subject. For instance, an AI system might analyze a user’s credit card history to identify the user’s spending patterns.

The GDPR provides for the right not [to] be subjected to a decision made entirely devoted by a machine, with some exceptions.

Giovanni Buttarelli, European Data Protection Supervisor

What challenges arise from GDPR limitations on AI?

How will GDPR affect AI? GDPR has six data protection principles at its core. According to a report by the Norwegian Data Protection Authority, artificial intelligence faces four challenges associated with these principles. AI development has problems fulfilling purpose limitation, data minimization, fairness, transparency, and the right to information.

Six core principles of GDPR
How to Train an AI with GDPR Limitations
Source: Network ROI

    • Fairness and discrimination

The GDPR fairness principle addresses fair processing of personal data: in other words, data must be processed with respect for the data subject’s interests. Also, the regulation obligates that a data controller take measures to prevent discriminatory effects on individuals. It’s no secret that many AI systems are trained using biased data. Or that their algorithmic models contain certain biases. That’s why AI systems often demonstrate racial, gender, health, religious, or ideological discrimination. To comply with GDPR, companies have to learn how to mitigate those biases in their AI systems.

    • Purpose limitation

The purpose limitation principle states that a data subject has to be informed about the purpose of data collection and processing. Only then can a person choose whether to consent to processing. The interesting thing is that sometimes AI systems use information that’s a side product of the original data collection. For instance, an AI application can use social media data for calculating a user’s insurance rate. The GDPR states that data can be processed further if the further purpose is compatible with the original. If it isn’t, the data collector should get additional approval from the data subject. But this principle has a few exceptions.

Further data processing is always compatible with the previous purpose if it’s connected to scientific, historical, or statistical research. Herein lies a problem, since there’s no clear definition of scientific research. Which means that in some cases, AI development may be considered such research. The rule of thumb is that when the AI model is static and already deployed, the purpose of its data collection can’t be regarded as research.

    • Data minimization

This principle controls the degree of intervention into a data subject’s privacy. It ensures that the data collected fits the purpose of the project. Collected information should be adequate, limited, and relevant. These requirements encourage developers to think through the application of their AI models. Engineers have to determine what data and what quantity of it is necessary for the project. Sometimes, this can be a challenge. It’s not always possible to predict how and what a model will learn from data. Developers should continuously reassess the type of and minimum quantity of training data required to fulfil the data minimization principle.

    • Transparency and the right to information

The GDPR aims to ensure that individuals have the power to decide which of their information is used by third parties. This means that data controllers have to be open and transparent about their actions. They should provide a detailed description of what they’re doing with personal information to the owners of that information. Unfortunately, with AI systems, this may be hard to do.

That’s because AI is essentially a black box. It’s not always clear how the model makes certain decisions. Which makes it impossible to explain an AI’s complicated processes to an everyday user. Naturally, when AI is not entirely transparent, the question of liability arises.

According to the GDPR, a data subject has the right to an explanation of an automated decision. So data controllers have to figure out ways to give one.

How to develop GDPR-friendly artificial intelligence

Like it or not, IT companies have to ensure all their processes are compliant with GDPR. Data processors and data controllers who violate this regulation will have to pay significant fines. Luckily, there are several ways of making AI compliant with GDPR. Take a look at these GDPR-friendly methods of AI development.

We need to find a way to design and use machine learning algorithms in a way that is compliant with the GDPR, because they will generate value for both service providers and data subjects if done correctly.

Alessandro Guarino, Senior Information Security Professional at StudioAG

GANs (Generative Adversarial Networks). Today, the trend in AI development is to use less data more efficiently rather than to accumulate lots of data. A GAN reduces the need for training data. Its main idea is generating input data with the help of output data. Basically, with this method, we take the input and try to figure out what the output will look like. To achieve this, we need to train two neural networks. One is the generator, the other is the discriminator.

The generator learns how to put data together to generate an image that resembles the output. The discriminator learns how to tell the difference between real data and the data produced by the generator. The problem here is that GANs still require lots of data to be trained properly. So this method doesn’t eliminate the need for training data; it just allows us to reduce the amount of initial data and generate a lot of similar augmented data. But if we use a small number of initial datasets, we risk getting a biased AI model in the end. So generative adversarial neural networks don’t solve these issues fully, though they do allow us to decrease the need for initial data.

Federated learning is another method of reducing the need for data in AI development. Remarkably, it doesn’t require collecting data at all. In federated learning, personal data doesn’t leave the system that stores it. It’s never collected or uploaded to an AI’s computers. With federated learning, an AI model trains locally on each system with local data. Later, the trained model merges with the master model as an update. But the problem is that a locally trained AI model is limited, since it’s personalized. And even if no data leaves the device, the model is still largely based on personal data. Unfortunately, this contradicts the GDPR’s transparency principle.

The AI model is personalized on the user’s phone. All the training data remains on the device and is not uploaded to the cloud.
How to Train an AI with GDPR Limitations
Source: AI Google Blog

Transfer learning is a method that enables the effective reuse of prior work and leads to the democratization of artificial intelligence. In this case, the AI model doesn’t train from scratch. Instead, it takes an existing model and retrains itself using it to meet the current purpose. Since the AI model uses a pre-existing model, it takes significantly less computing resources and requires less data. But transfer learning works best when the previous model has been trained on a large dataset. Also, the previous model has to be reliable and not contain any biases. So transfer learning can minimize data use but doesn’t exclude the need for data fully.

The explainable AI (XAI) method helps to reduce the black box effect of artificial intelligence. The goal of explainable AI is to assist humans in understanding what’s happening under the hood of an AI system. With this method, an AI model can explain its decisions. It can also characterize its own abilities and give some insights about its future behavior. Explainable AI cannot directly reduce the need for data, but it allows us to understand which exact data is required to enhance model accuracy so researchers can extend the training dataset with required data only and not add a lot of meaningless data.

XAI concept
How to Train an AI with GDPR Limitations
Source: Darpa

The simple truth is that all of these AI training methods we’ve mentioned are somewhat limited. They may comply with one GDPR principle but contradict another. This means that to train AI models properly and achieve great results, you’ll have to combine several methods.

All in all, artificial intelligence and GDPR are closely connected. The data privacy regulation affects not only the development of artificial intelligence (AI) in Europe but also any company whose AI system processes the data of EU residents.

No doubt the impact of GDPR on machine learning will be huge. Tech companies have to revise their data privacy and artificial intelligence policies. Data controllers have to ensure that their AI systems don’t violate the regulation. Luckily, there are several methods of making AI compliant with GDPR. GANs, XAI, federated learning, transfer learning, and differential privacy can help you develop a GDPR-friendly artificial intelligence system.


If you’re thinking about making your AI compliant with GDPR, contact Intellias. Our experts will help to ensure your system meets the new data privacy requirements.

 

FinTech Industry Leader

Anna Oleksiuk

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Design Thinking methodology

SoftServe

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Since before the advent of the computer, people have been addressing complex problems using Design Thinking, its principles founded in the fields of architecture and industrial design. Now many organizations adapt the methodology to address problems as complex as machine learning applications and enterprise IT solutions. Different organizations implement Design Thinking in various ways, but commonly follow the guiding principles of a human-centered research, involving cross-functional representatives, and with a focus on prototyping.

At SoftServe, we have defined our design thinking framework into five steps, called Learn, Interpret, Ideate, Experiment, Evolve.

Team members progress through these modes of working over the course of a project, sometimes shifting back and forth nonlinearly depending on the immediate needs. The framework is primarily a guideline to aid teams to structure their own approach based on best practices. To make the steps more memorable, we symbolize each one using a simple shape.

salesforce-ci

Learn

The first mode of working is called Learn and is symbolized by an expanding triangle (think of a beam of light spreading out, searching the surroundings for information). A team in learning mode is exploring in all directions to rapidly research the problem and its surrounding context. The team objectively gathers unbiased information to later analyze. Projects typically begin with a research phase, staffed with a lean team of experts from areas such as design, solutions, and engineering—each viewing the research from a different lens. The research team is responsible for collecting the raw observational data to inform the creative process.

Interpret

The focus of the Interpret mode is to synthesize takeaways from the raw research data. We symbolize it with a square (think of putting things back in the box, drawing boundaries around what is important, and what isn’t). The research team will typically unpack all field documentation, spreading it out in a physical or virtual workspace. We comb through interview transcripts, review photos and video, and begin to highlight patterns. The Interpret mode is essentially an exercise in structuring meaning out of neutral data. The end goal is to have a unique and valuable point of view based on the research observations.

Ideate

Ideation is creative thinking in action, and it’s symbolized with a forward-facing arrow (think pushing a play button or shooting an arrow). Now that the team has validated problems, they can start to brainstorm solutions in earnest. They generate new ideas—that didn’t exist before—to fuel the creative work. At SoftServe, we emphasize participating with stakeholders and end users, to capture genuine suggestions grounded in context. The cross-functional participants may use several ideation methods, such as brainwriting, solution sketching, and future-state journey mapping.

Experiment

The Experiment mode is symbolized by a circle connoting the cyclical prototyping process. For the design process to achieve results, prototypes should be made early and often, to rapidly validate the assumptions. We only put in enough detail for it to be tested, so that the project doesn’t burn too much time and resources before identifying early design flaws while learning from the mistakes. Working in tight cycles of prototyping and validation lowers the risk of project failure by keeping the designs rooted in human-centered testing.

Evolve

After experimentation sufficiently lowers risk, projects must shift into Evolve mode to develop real, significant results from the concepts (think of a circle evolving into a more complex hexagon). Experts can now elicit requirements, and plan for development. The design artifacts provide context, and enable the development team to empathize with end users. Design remains integrated in the agile development process, the team working in cycles to prototype, test, and build the feature set, so that every decision brings value to the users and business.

Conclusion

Design Thinking celebrates ingenuity and progress, and at SoftServe we have adapted the guiding principles into a framework that works for our demanding software development projects. The five modes—Learn, Interpret, Ideate, Experiment, and Evolve—provide a structure for planning an approach suited to unique project needs.

For more in-depth analysis of our Design Thinking methodology see The Critical Standard for Design Thinking by Snizhana Bezhnar.

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How to find, hire, and partner with an offshore development team

N-iX

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The key to outsourcing success is finding an offshore software development team that has enough engineering capacities and experience to help you meet your specific business problems. But how do you find the right one that has the tech and domain expertise you need, fits your budget, and which you can rely on?

To help you, we’ve compiled a guide on how to find, hire and successfully manage an offshore development team. It covers such aspects as what outsourcing destination to choose, how to select the best offshore development partner, what legal questions to consider, and how to work with your remote team.

WHY HIRE AN OFFSHORE DEVELOPMENT TEAM

Setting up an in-house software development team is a challenging task. It requires a lot of time, effort and overhead costs to hire the experts you need and to manage them. That’s why so many businesses choose to focus on their core business functions and delegate software engineering to an offshore development team.

Here are just a few reasons why you will benefit from hiring offshore developers:

  1. You can tap into best talent across the globe and are not limited by location;
  2. Partnering with an offshore development team makes the implementation of new technologies easieras vendors usually have versatile expertise and a large pool of specialists;
  3. Alleviated HR, administration, and infrastructure pain;
  4. You can build your offshore development team according to your business needs and can scale it down or up whenever you need it;
  5. You can choose different types of cooperation ( extended team, managed team, outsourced team) depending on the level of control and supervision you want to keep.
  6. Teams of offshore dedicated developers are fully committed to your project and act as units attached to your existing onshore teams;

The benefits of such a partnership are tempting. However, you have to consider a few aspects to find, hire and establish successful cooperation with an offshore development team. So, let’s begin with choosing the most suitable outsourcing destination.

WHERE TO FIND AN OFFSHORE DEVELOPMENT TEAM

Usually, businesses choose outsourcing destinations taking into account the geographical location, billing rates, cultural compatibility, and time zone difference. According to these criteria, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and Asia are known as the hottest spots to find offshore software developers.

Where to hire offshore developers: Eastern Europe

This region has a well-deserved reputation of a reliable IT outsourcing destination thanks to its growing talent pool, cost-effectiveness, and the constant growth of the IT industry.

Ukraine, Poland, Belarus, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Moldova, and Romania are the top Eastern European outsourcing destinations. The number of software developers in the region surpasses 1,051,000 experts with over 50K ICT graduates entering the market every year. The two countries with the most significant number of professional developers are Ukraine and Poland. Whereas, Ukraine has the largest number of offshore development companies in the region (1,600 ), followed by Poland ( 500+), Bulgaria (500), and Belarus (500).

Many influential sources have placed Ukraine among the top software development outsourcing locations: the PwC report, the Statista research, the A.T. Kearney research, etc. Moreover, the country was recognized by Gartner’s top 30 offshoring and outsourcing destinations in Europe. Businesses worldwide can benefit from the talent pool of more than 180, 000 software developers.

Where to hire offshore developers: Latin America

Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico are the best outsourcing countries by the number of professional developers in the region. However, Chile has made it to the 27th place in the HackerRank rating of the most skilled developers in the world.

Where to hire offshore developers: Asia

Asia houses almost 4M software developers. India, China, and the Philippines are the countries with the most significant number of professional developers. The numbers are 2.75M in India, 590K in China, and 190K in the Philippines.

HOW TO FIND THE BEST OFFSHORE DEVELOPMENT PROVIDER

Your business success depends on who you choose to work with. So, here are some steps which will help you to make the right decision:

  1. Compile a long list of offshore development companies you will review in terms of their services quality, expertise, and security standards.
  2. Take into account the reviews, references, success stories, video testimonials of the vendors you consider as potential partners. You can find this information on their websites, LinkedIn accounts, ranking platforms (Clutch, Manifest,Goodfirms, etc.);
  3. Consider the size of the vendors and their recruitment capabilities, as mid-size and large providers are more likely to have resources you need internally than smaller companies;
  4. Opt for the vendor that has a powerful employer brand and provide opportunities for professional growth. This way, the company will be able to find experts for the project promptly and scale up teams quickly.
  5. Look for a company that has a solid experience in building dedicated teams that deliver software products similar to yours, preferably in your industry;
  6. Pay attention to administrative facilities, equipment, and other infrastructure of your potential partner;
  7. Make sure your potential outsourcing provider complies with international security standards such as ISO, PCI, HIPAA, and has an effective security policy;
  8. Ask your potential vendor these questions to be sure that the provider is reliable.
  9. Assess their level of communication and enthusiasm. Choose the vendor that takes effort to understand your business needs, sets up extra calls with you and sends you follow-ups. The eagerness of a vendor to clarify with you all the aspects and nuances ensures the success of your partnership in the long run.

HOW TO SIGN A WIN-WIN CONTRACT WITH YOUR OFFSHORE DEVELOPMENT COMPANY

So, you have chosen the vendor that suits all your requirements, and you start the negotiation process. Signing a contract is the next step to cooperation with the best offshore developers. There are, however, different types of contracts, based on three cooperation models: dedicated development team, time & material, and fixed price. You have to understand their peculiarities to choose the one you will benefit the most from.

Fixed price contracts are the best option for small and medium projects with clear requirements. Let’s say, you have a certain budget but not enough capacity to do it in-house. So, you fully entrust the project to the vendor that bears all the responsibility of the project’s success. This is, however, the least flexible model, as any changes in the project plan require the complex change-approval process.

In a case with a dedicated development team model, you hire offshore developers entirely focused on the project. You can either take part in team management or entrust it to the vendor. This model is highly flexible and leads to the most viable results.

T&M model is usually used when a client needs an expert on a project temporarily. For instance, if you need the expertise of a DevOps engineer on demand, it doesn’t make sense to allocate these specialists full-time, because it will lead to unnecessary expenses. So it is more effective to pay these experts only for the work done.

No matter which type of contract you choose, there are some vital aspects to heed on to avoid risks:

  1. Defined strict deadlines for issuing an invoice and invoice payment and the outlined consequences for missing payments;
  2. Liability clauses which define clear limits of responsibility for both parties;
  3. Warranty clauses which guarantee the certain quality of provided services;
  4. Notice periods – time frames associated with the project kick-off as well as scaling up and scaling down a team. Vague notice periods or their absence can affect project execution and delivery
  5. Data protection rules, namely the deidentification, reidentification, and anonymization of data;
  6. Client’s ownership of the code, when it is delivered and paid for;
  7. Agreeing on the law of which country will be governing if the contract is international.

Now, we are moving towards the next step – how to establish successful cooperation with your offshore development team.

HOW TO PARTNER WITH AN OFFSHORE DEVELOPMENT TEAM

Successful knowledge sharing

Don’t underestimate the importance of knowledge transfer. Unshared knowledge costs money, especially when we are talking about IT outsourcing projects. Knowledge loss could result in lots of organizational waste when the whole process gets reworked from scratch.

There are two types of knowledge transfer flows: from a client to a vendor, or from a previous vendor to a new vendor. No matter which case is yours – the knowledge transfer plan stays the same. It all starts with a demo and the investigation and ends with setting up the environments, taking over business-as-usual, and the first successful release.

The successful knowledge transfer in IT outsourcing is about people, processes, and a product. The vendor has to understand what the product does, how it operates, and what people are responsible for specific tasks, to deliver on the client’s expectations. So, choose the vendor that has a robust knowledge transfer plan. It will make the entire journey smooth and safe.

Building effective communication

The more effective your communication with your offshore developers is – the more successful your collaboration will be. But to avoid misunderstandings and unmet expectations from both sides, be ready to create an effective working environment.

There are some ground rules which are vital for fruitful cooperation with offshore developers. The unification of coding practices within the team, establishing channels of communication, promoting knowledge transfer among developers are some of them.

Here are key tools that will help you to communicate with your offshore development team efficiently.

WORKING WITH AN OFFSHORE DEVELOPMENT TEAM: SUCCESS STORIES

There are many large tech companies and enterprises that have successfully hired offshore developers, shaped strategic partnerships with them and benefited from the cooperation. Here are a few examples:

1.Lebara

Lebara is a global telecom that has shaped a long-term partnership with N-iX. Our software engineers have helped Lebara with software development, quality assurance, database administration, application and infrastructure support, and more. We set up an offshore development center for Lebara (100 + experts) and worked on such products as LebaraPlay, MyLebara, LebaraMoney, Bluepipe, and others.

2. Currencycloud

Currencycloud is a global payment platform that enables companies to send and receive cross-border payments all around the world. The company started an ongoing partnership with N-iX in 2013. Our development team has worked on migration to microservices, enhancing the functionality of the platform, including APIs, core banking and payment services, customer-facing features, and more.

3. Fluke

Fluke Corporation is a world leader in the manufacturing industry and a global producer of electronic equipment. N-iX offshore development team has been working with the company on developing enterprise automation solutions. The products are used by such leading companies as Honda North America, Toyota UK, Volkswagen, and many others.

These are just several instances of global businesses that have decided to hire offshore software developers and enjoyed the results.

WRAP-UP

A lot of businesses hire offshore developers to fill the skill gap, boost their capabilities and bring their products to market faster. Despite a thorny way of finding the offshore development team, it is worth the struggle.

However, there are some crucial aspects you have to pay attention to know that a particular vendor is a reliable partner.

Step one: choose the outsourcing destination which is culturally and (or) geographically close to your country;

Step two: research the companies in the chosen region, regarding their track record, expertise, and security issues;

Step three: sign a contract that will cover all of the possible issues and nuances of the future collaboration: financial side, the quality of the services, etc.;

Step four: establish effective communication with your offshore software development team and share all the needed information with them  to make sure that you are on the same page;

Step five: scale a team up or down, according to your business needs;

Step six: deliver a reliable and secure product in cooperation with your offshore developers.

If you have any questions on how to find and build a successful offshore development team, please drop us a line. We’ll be happy to help you.

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IT team augmentation in Ukraine: 5 searing mistakes to avoid

N-iX

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Ukraine is celebrated for the second-largest engineering talent pool in Eastern Europe (192,100 IT professionals in 2019). And while some companies struggle to scale their team in-house and onshore, others decide to opt for team augmentation in Ukraine. Does it mean that it offers easier recruitment and a more attractive value-for-money ratio? Let’s take a look at the facts:

  • Ukraine (2.9) has better financial attractiveness than India (2.82), China (1.88), Poland (2.05), according to the 2019 Kearney Global Services Location Index.
  • Ukraine is home to 1600 + IT outsourcing companies. It takes the lead in Eastern Europe, followed by Poland (500+), Bulgaria (500) and Belarus (500).
  • Such tech leaders as Microsoft, Mercedez, Siemens, and others have chosen Ukraine for augmenting their engineering teams and benefited from it.

So if you decide to expand your in-house software development capabilities, Ukraine is a viable option and a proven destination for offshore or nearshore staff augmentation.

However, selecting the vendor that provides  IT staff augmentation services in Ukraine and meets your specific criteria is not an easy task. One may get lost in a variety of choices as the vendor landscape is vast and diverse. If you want to have a reliable offshore or nearshore staff augmentation partner by your side, avoid these common mistakes along the way.

#1 Not assessing a vendor’s capacity to gather a team

Many companies offer team augmentation services in Ukraine. Yet, a few of them can boast about a powerful employer brand. In fact, this criterion defines the vendor’s possibility to find software developers for the project promptly as well as its capacity to scale up a team. For businesses that want to accelerate the software development process, it is critical to have such issues resolved within the defined time frame.

So before partnering with a provider, find out whether the company cares about its employees, provides opportunities for professional growth, supports the local IT community, and launches social and educational initiatives.

In Ukraine, tech companies compete for the title of the best employer every year. They apply different strategies to improve employee satisfaction and increase retention rates. Some of them offer great working conditions and decent compensation, others provide mentorship programs, regular performance reviews, real-time feedback, and a clear career advancement roadmap. According to the latest employer rating conducted by DOU, N-iX is ranked among the top 5 best employers in the category of 800-1,500 IT specialists.

#2 Overlooking notice periods in the contract

The next important thing companies usually underestimate is notice periods. Vague notice periods or their absence in the contract can affect the project execution and delivery.

Thus, you should agree with a vendor on the reasonable time frames associated with the project kick-off as well as ramping up and ramping down a team of outsourced developers.

#3 Neglecting the value of the knowledge transfer process

Much of the project knowledge exists in the documentation, but the most valuable knowledge still comes from the person’s experience and insider learning. And if it is not shared across distributed software development teams properly, you can suffer lots of organizational waste when the whole process gets reworked from scratch. It is important to find a team augmentation vendor in Ukraine that will be able to establish an effective knowledge transfer process between the client’s teams.

To avoid duplicating other people’s work, software developers should regularly exchange some well-established workflows and align coding practices. There should be a culture of knowledge-sharing on a project, both in a formal and a learn-at-lunch mode. This could be done not only via documentation but also via regular Q&A sessions, live training, one-one meetings, tech talks, coffee breaks, etc.

#4 Choosing the wrong cooperation model

If you don’t choose the right pricing model for your project, your software development budget could suffer significantly. For example, if you need an expert on a temporary basis on a project (a UX designer, a DevOps engineer, or a Solution Architect), it doesn’t make sense to allocate these specialists under the dedicated development team model on full-time. It is more effective to engage these experts part-time and pay only for the work done based on the hourly rate of an IT specialist. It is crucial to opt for the software development partner that can offer different cooperation models to you and help you choose the one that you will benefit the most from.

Depending on the size of the project, team composition, your requirements, budget, etc., you may choose from the fixed price, T&M, or dedicated development team models. As you can see, the fixed price model is the least flexible but works best for small and medium projects with clearly defined requirements. T&M model is applied when a client needs an expert on a temporary basis on a project. A dedicated development team model is highly flexible and fully adaptable to any changes. So when looking for a team augmentation vendor in Ukraine, make sure they can offer you the best cooperation model that suits your business needs.

#5 Paying little attention to the vendor’s reputation

What do you pay attention to when making a list of nearshore staff augmentation vendors? You probably assess the company size, its location, services, and expertise it offers as well as key clients. This is something that you can easily find on the company’s website. But what about the vendor’s reputation? The best way to find out true information about vendors is to ask a reference from their clients, watch video testimonials, and evaluate their profiles on popular B2B rating platforms, which feature verified clients’ reviews.

A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE ON TEAM AUGMENTATION IN UKRAINE

  1. Make a long list of companies

The first step to successfully select the vendor is to do preliminary research and explore the IT industry dynamics in the region and the key market players. Local media influencers like DOU, MC Today, Liga Tech, IT ID Lviv, Business Ukraine, AIN, NV Techno, etc. as well as IT market reports made by regional IT clusters can help you dive into the Ukrainian software development industry. Also, you can easily find popular vendor’s listing by Clutch, GoodFirms, TopDevelopers on the Internet and take them as the basis for your further research.

  1. Set up clear selection criteria

No one ever partners with a software development provider without reviewing carefully its services, expertise, client portfolio, and references. Little attention, however, companies pay to such criteria as the company’s culture, agility, and employer brand, which in fact are decisive in building a successful partnership. Please take into account these several important criteria when looking for a trusted team augmentation vendor in Ukraine.

  1. Make a shortlist of companies

On the basis of the criteria above, you need to weed out those IT vendors that do not qualify. As a result, you will get just several companies on the list, which makes it easier to study them closer.

This may come as a surprise but please note that large-scale companies may not give your project enough value as they hunt for developing industry solutions, whereas small-scale companies may not have enough software development capabilities to support your project. So if you want to augment your team in Ukraine, it’s better to focus on mid-sized companies ( around 1,000 – 1, 500 employees).

  1. Design a detailed company profile

At this stage, it is important to reach out to these companies and send them a document with a number of questions related to the company, its people, and operations. This will help you objectively assess the candidates and streamline your decision-making process. The key criteria to assess are communication, training acceptance, CSR, knowledge transfer & exit process, tech infrastructure & office facilities.

  1. Negotiate a win-win contract

Signing a contract is the final step on this vendor selection journey. In the world of IT outsourcing, it heavily depends on the type of cooperation model you choose. A poorly assembled contract may affect your business leading to unexpected outsourcing bills, loss of control over the quality, or compromised information security. To avoid such risks, both parties should thoroughly negotiate an IT outsourcing agreement paying special attention to such aspects as payment terms, liability, notice periods, confidentiality, IP rights, non-solicitation terms, the governing law, and a forum for dispute resolution.

Benefits of nearshore staff augmentation with N-iX

If you want to find a reliable company that offers quality IT staff augmentation services in Ukraine, you should do comprehensive research. The overall number of software development staff augmentation companies is growing every year. So choosing a trusted partner becomes a challenging task. Here are a few simple reasons to consider including N-iX on your list of the top team augmentation providers in Ukraine.

  1. N-iX has the reputation of a trusted IT vendor. We are recognized among the top companies by IAOP, GSA, Inc. 5000, Software 500, Clutch.co, and others.

  2. We provide IT team augmentation services to well-known companies around the globe. N-iX partners with Lebara, Currencycloud, GoGo, Travelport, Deutsche Post, Fluke Corporation, HotSchedules, Vable, Origin Enterprises, and many others.

  3. N-iX has delivery centers in Ukraine, Poland, Belarus, and Bulgaria, which allows us to access a pool of over 570,000 professional developers with diverse expertise across finance, retail, healthcare, education, telecom, and automotive industries.

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