Colombia, a gem in the realm of outsourced software development, offers a wealth of opportunities for businesses seeking to expand their technical capabilities. With a skilled community of software developers, competitive pricing, and minimal time zone variance from the US, Colombia is a prime destination for outsourcing software development tasks. However, like many Latin American countries, Colombia presents unique challenges when setting up a business due to differences in business and employment laws. Additionally, the country’s history of political and economic instability, coupled with a distinct employee-to-employer relationship, may require some adjustment for American businesses.
Time Zone and Traveling to Colombia
The time zone difference between Colombia and the US is minimal, making it easy for Colombians to align their work hours with American businesses. Traveling to Colombia is also relatively straightforward, with two nonstop flights from Houston daily, allowing for quick and jetlag-free business trips. However, it’s important to note that Colombia has a high crime rate. Therefore, it’s recommended to arrange for a local contact to pick you up from the airport and to stay in safer areas of the cities.
Availability of Technical Skills
Colombia boasts a wealth of highly skilled front-end and back-end developers proficient in technologies such as React.JS, Node.JS, Python, and C#. The country also has competent business analysts and project managers who are fluent in English, with some even speaking with little to no accent. While Colombia’s SAP and Salesforce offerings are growing, they are currently limited. For roles such as Data Engineers and Data Scientists, Eastern Europe may offer more options.
Cultural and Communication Fit
Colombians generally have a good understanding of American culture, thanks to American schools in the country that teach English from K-12. However, the employer-employee relationship in Colombia is quite different from that in the US. If you’re considering opening an office in Colombia, it’s crucial to hire someone familiar with the local work customs. Colombians tend to be more personal in their interactions than Americans. They stand closer, greet each other with a kiss on the cheek, and ask more personal questions in a business setting. When conducting business in Colombia, remember the saying, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”
Financial and Legal
Navigating the financial and legal landscape in Colombia can be a complex task, especially for businesses accustomed to U.S. laws and regulations. If you’re considering opening your own office in Colombia, there are several key factors to keep in mind.
Firstly, Colombia is a very employee-friendly country. The laws here define minimums for vacation time, severances, and bonuses, which are often quite generous compared to U.S. standards. Overtime regulations are also comprehensive, applying to all employees and can be steep.
Secondly, corporate ownership laws in Colombia differ significantly from those in the U.S. These differences can lead to unexpected complications and legal entanglements. Therefore, it’s highly recommended to invest in an international lawyer before signing any contracts or making any commitments in Colombia. This legal professional can help you navigate the local laws and ensure your business operations are compliant.
Lastly, the judicial system in Colombia can be complex and, at times, corrupt. Many Colombians are hesitant to sign a contract unless they have established a personal relationship with the other party. This cultural norm can be a departure from what many Americans are accustomed to, but it’s an essential aspect of doing business in Colombia.
In conclusion, while Colombia offers a wealth of opportunities for outsourced software development, it’s essential to understand the local culture, laws, and business practices to ensure successful operations. A thorough understanding of these aspects can help you avoid potential pitfalls and make the most of your business venture in Colombia.