10 Reasons Why Costa Rica is the Ideal Place to Outsource Software Development
Traditionally known as a tropical paradise, Gorilla Logic discovered that Costa Rica is also the ideal place to outsource software development after establishing a development center there in 2013.
The leadership team at Gorilla Logic had extensive experience outsourcing software development projects to countries like India and the Ukraine. Outsourcing to the other side of the world can work for some projects. However, for Agile development projects that require ongoing communication and collaboration within a similar time zone, offshoring can hinder project velocity. We needed a better option.
Outsourcing software development to Latin American was an intriguing alternative. After evaluating several countries, we were confident that Costa Rica was the best choice. We first opened a development center in 2013 with just four Costa Rican software engineers. Word spread quickly about our deep technical expertise and highly motivated Gorillas. By the end of the first year, we had 25 software engineers handling the surge in client demand. Over the past five years we’ve grown our developer base ten-fold and our current client roster includes half a dozen Fortune 500 companies. Today we have more 250 developers in Costa Rica and are continuing to hire. The reasons we originally put down roots in Costa Rica are still valid today. And our clients’ ongoing trust in our engineers – or their “Tico” Teams as they like to call them – is behind the continued expansion of our Costa Rican Development Center.
Why Costa Rica is Ideal for Software Development
1. Costa Rica’s Location Makes it Perfect for Agile Development
We live in a software-driven world. Companies rely on a mix of off-the-shelf and custom software applications across their enterprise to accelerate growth initiatives, proactively address security and compliance mandates, and deliver new and hyper-relevant customer experiences. Developing and delivering customer-facing apps in real-time or near real-time can mean the difference between market success or losing out to more nimble competitors (just look at what Netflix did to Blockbuster).
In addition to consumer-facing mobile apps, businesses need the right tools and applications to streamline operations, expand into new markets, increase their business agility, and make smarter decisions, faster. They rely on our Gorillas to develop flexible, scalable web and mobile enterprise applications that are at the crux of our clients’ business operations.
What is the key to success in a complex, customer-driven business environment? Custom software applications built using an Agile Software Development approach. If you want a flexible, transparent development process that is responsive to changing market conditions and accelerates your time to market, then Agile is the way to go. Sounds great; is there a catch? Agile development requires clear, frequent communication on a daily basis. Vastly different time zones and cultures may contribute to communication challenges with an outsourced team in India or the Ukraine. These challenges can impact project timelines, approvals, and deliverables, which ultimately affect the bottom line. Costa Rica’s nearshore location makes it an attractive option for outsourcing Agile Development.
2. Time Zone Matters
The world has gotten smaller and business is “open” 24x7x365. But let’s be honest. No one wants to have a business meeting at 6:00 am or 10:00 pm. And no one can lose a day waiting for responses to simple questions. Teams that operate in dramatically different time zones must address team members’ availability and location at any given time during the project. Costa Rica’s central time zone is ideal when real-time collaboration during work hours is a must. Your Costa Rican development team can participate in daily stand-ups with your internal team or jump on a video call for a screen share. Real-time collaboration is possible all day long. No more sleepless nights just to communicate with your teams in Bangalore or Kiev.
3. Costa Rica and the U.S. Have Similar Cultures
While Spanish is the native language in Costa Rica, it is one of the most westernized, bilingual countries in all of Latin America, boasting a 97.98% literacy rate. Additionally, Costa Rica has aligned itself with North American culture through its business practices and dedication to science and technology education. The tech community also pursues certifications that are valuable to North American businesses, such as PMP, Six Sigma, ITIL, and more.
4. Real-time Collaboration Helps Projects Run Smoothly
Two factors that contribute to the success of Agile Software Development are communication and collaboration skills. The “Tico” culture lends itself well to building the type of integrated team that can collaborate in real time so your software projects are delivered successfully under a tight deadline. Don’t believe me? We know from experience that our clients have difficulty discerning between their U.S. team members and the Costa Rica-based ones during daily stand-ups, ongoing dialogue between team members, and clear, focused decision-making during critical project milestones.
Ticos are passionate about helping their clients succeed. Our Gorillas readily brainstorm, problem-solve, and suggest alternatives to ensure the success of a project. If there is a better way to accomplish something, Gorillas will gladly show you how.
5. Costa Rica Has a Vibrant Developer Community
Costa Rica has a strong developer community, similar to what exists in the Silicon Valley. From meetups to hackathons, and through programs such as MenTe that are designed to involve women in science and technology, Costa Rica’s vibrant and innovative software culture has attracted many companies eager to establish development centers in the country. The developer community has also contributed to a burgeoning startup ecosystem which is a benefit to U.S. companies wanting to tap into a culture of creative problem-solving and out-of-the-box thinking.
6. Costa Rica Boasts a Highly Educated Workforce
Costa Rica made a commitment to free, universal education to all its citizens in 1948. Their investment in higher education has paid off handsomely. The Global Innovation Index lists Costa Rica as one of the most highly educated countries in Latin America. There is steady growth in the number of university graduates since 2010 according to the Costa Rica Investment Promotion Agency’s analysis of data from CONARE and University Registry Departments. The high education level makes it an ideal place to outsource the kind of complex software development needed to compete in an app-driven world. English language skills are a priority for the Costa Rican Ministry of Education. Costa Rica ranks ahead of countries like Brazil, Chile and Mexico in English proficiency according to the 2017 EF English Proficiency Index. Costa Rica also ranks second in innovation, behind Chile. As we continue to grow our presence in Costa Rica, we appreciate the increasing numbers of highly educated Ticos.
7. Costa Rica Has a Stable Business Environment Based on Years of Peace and Democracy
Did you know that Costa Rica doesn’t have an army? Costa Rica abolished the army in 1948, and it has been a beacon of peace and prosperity ever since. It is one of the most politically and economically stable countries in Central America, garnering international praise. Costa Rica is a development success story in many respects. Considered an upper middle-income country, Costa Rica has experienced steady economic expansion over the past 25 years. According to the Costa Rica Business Investment Promotion Agency’s analysis of data from the World Bank, Costa Rica ranks well versus other countries in Latin America:
- Among the highest in political stability
- In the top five for “ease of doing business”
In addition, Costa Rica is a global leader for its environmental policies, such as the Payments for Environmental Services (PES) which focuses on promoting forest and biodiversity conservation (World Bank 2018) and is one of the safest countries in Latin America according to the 2018 Global Peace Index.
8. Travel to Costa Rica is safe, easy – and fun!
It’s always a good idea to visit your development team on a fairly frequent basis. Yet not all “nearshoring” countries are equal when it comes to travel. Traveling to Costa Rica is safe and easy. Travel time from Dallas to San José is only four hours, and there are over 1,000 international flights every week. Compare that to flying over 20 hours to some offshore outsourcing locations on the other side of the world. Keep in mind that not all nearshoring countries are actually near – flight times between Dallas and Buenos Aires are about 10 hours.
Be sure to factor some time to explore Costa Rica after your business is done. Take in the breathtaking natural beauty of the country. You can check out this video from the Costa Rican Investment Promotion Agency, that describes Costa Rica as an “Alluring concentration of beauty, rainforests, beaches and biodiversity.” Honestly, the video doesn’t do it justice. You have to visit for yourself!
9. Costa Rica’s Concentration of Talent
Despite Costa Rica’s small size, and perhaps by virtue of this, the talent pool works to differentiate itself on quality. It ranked as one of the leaders in innovation in Latin America according to the Cornell, INSEAD, and WIPO 2017 Global Innovation Index. As I said on a panel on Costa Rica for Nearshore Americas: “Costa Rica’s concentration of skilled human resources, ability to articulate value and our history of peace, democracy, sustainability, human rights, and quality of life are aspects that will continue to attract the type of companies that have been attracted to the country thus far, and that is Costa Rica’s value proposition.” And for the past five years, Gorilla Logic’s clients have been pleased to discover that the caliber of talent we offer equals or exceeds that in the U.S.
10. You’re in Good Company – Check Out All the Industry Leaders that are Outsourcing to Costa Rica
The word is out about all the benefits that companies reap when outsourcing to Costa Rica. As a result, the list of companies that choose to nearshore in Costa Rica continues to grow. Tech giants such as IBM, HP and Intel have all established offices there. Clients such as Arrow Electronics, Finish Line and NBC have also leveraged development teams in Costa Rica, learn more. Many of them take us up on our offer to visit our Costa Rica development center to experience the passion, work ethic and unparalleled expertise our Gorillas bring to every client project. As Alex Jennings, Product Manager at Pro1 describes his experience, “Gorilla Logic’s Costa Rica development center could’ve been in any tech hub in the U.S. The Gorillas were prepared to make our time productive. We sat in a conference room with a whiteboard and got straight to work – it was easy.”
As the team here at Gorilla Logic thought about all the reasons why we opened our Costa Rica office, we realized there were easily 10 solid reasons. There are plenty of reasons to outsource software development to Costa Rica. In fact, we keep coming up with more (have you ever tried gallo pinto? It’s awesome). Can you think of additional reasons? Please share your experiences in the comments section below.
*Originally published February 6, 2016, Updated July 2, 2018.