IT in Colombia: success in challenging times

By Kwinten Wouters January 9, 2018

Colombia is considered by many North American companies as one of the countries with high-performance software developing teams, able to compete with any country in the world in terms of best practices, quality and performance. Though there still remain some challenges.

Colombia is the third largest provider of Information Technology services in Latin America with more than 5,400 companies and record-sales in 2015 close to $2.5 billion. A year ago, its software and IT-related services represented 1.19% of Colombia’s GDP.

Living proof of Colombia’s promising IT-conditions is PSL, a company with offices in Bogota and Medellin that solves complex engineering challenges. It holds a successful history of international recognition and was recently granted another important award.

PSL specializes in the deployment of agile-based, tailored IT services (software development, application development, Web banking platforms, QA services, software maintenance and DevOps deployments).

The purpose-driven company holds a nearshore model, generating 60% of its revenues in the U.S. It’s Colombia’s biggest exporter of software towards the US and partners with large companies like Bancolombia, Deloitte, FedEx and the Panama Canal. Apart from Colombia, it has offices in Mexico and the US.

“Latin America is privileged as a software outsourcing destination because it shares a time-zone with the US, the most demanding software engineering market in the world. Companies in the region have unique opportunities [… ] but need to focus on excellence rather than cost to be able to compete effectively,” says Jorge Aramburo, PSL’s CEO.   

The 530-engineer software outsourcing organization has over 30 years of experience and is recognized for delivering high-quality service. PSL was the first company in a Spanish speaking country to be granted the CMMi-5 level of maturity in 2017.

It wasn’t the only time that the company has been rewarded with renowned international prizes in the field of software throughout its history. In 2006 it received the prestigious IEEE/SEI Watts Humphrey Award, something formerly won by NASA and IBM. And in 2010, PSL won the International Award of Software Excellence of the European Software Institute.

And at the end of November 2017, it was bingo again: Clutch rewarded PSL as Global Leader, a prestigious award given to only a select group of companies worldwide.

Clutch is an online platform that analyzes and catalogues over 7,000 software service firms worldwide. It provides an innovative research process to help buyers of services distinguish qualified companies. Based on in-depth research, it selects the companies that have consistently ranked at the top within a designated category.  

Previously, PSL had received recognition from Clutch as a ‘Leading IT Outsourcing Provider’ and as ‘Top Web & Software Development Provider’ in Latin America.

“Latin America’s contributions to the B2B technology, development, and digital services space are becoming stronger each day as more businesses nearshore business services,” said Ricardo Real Preciado, Business Analyst at Clutch.

But it’s not all puppies and sunshine in Colombia’s IT world. In spite of the remarkable success of PSL, a persistent problem in Colombia is the lack of skilled IT people.

Currently, the country could employ 50,000 more developers. But they are just not available. The problem is related to a deficient educational system. Since it’s expensive to study computer science in Colombia, a lot of interested and talented people are excluded.  

Another related problem is Colombia’s still nascent bilingualism. Less than 5% of Colombia’s population manages to speak English, which is problematic when trying to export software services.

Though Colombia is doing remarkably good IT-wise with strong companies like PSL lighting the way, the path is still bumpy. Colombia might need more inclusive politics, mainly within education, to fully benefit from its promising position.