The IT Industry in Sri Lanka: Companies, Insights & Data

by Dan Irascu

The IT Industry in Sri Lanka: Companies, Insights & Data

Sri Lanka is and has been for some years always considered in the top 50 countries to outsource services, this is also related to the IT industry being one of the most important industries in the country. The history of the industry in Sri Lanka started in 1976 with the creation of the Computer Society of Sri Lanka, but the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry started around the year 2000 and its development has been increasing since then to become one of the top destinations for foreign countries to outsource their services. 

The country is a development center for many big companies from all over the world, such as J.P. Morgan & Co, Qatar Airways, Microsoft or Google, and other companies from countries like Japan, Sweden, Norway, North America, Australia, or the UK. It is estimated that the profit of outsourcing services to Sri Lanka can cost 70% of the price It would cost in the same country as the companies.

The next projection of the future for the country is to reach 5 USD Billion dollars in exports by 2022 and creating 200.000 jobs, related to this data, the country also achieved a target of 1 USD Billion dollars in the year 2016. With the fast growth of the IT industry, the government took action to boost the possibility to be able to learn IT-related technologies in the country and improve IT education in the country. Sri Lanka also ended the Indo-Sri Lankan “Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement” because it was causing unemployment for Sri Lankan professionals.

Why you should work with Sri Lanka Companies.

Some of the reasons for working with IT companies from Sri Lanka are the low costs of outsourcing the services there, and also the good education of the country’s professionals. It is estimated that the costs can be 30% lower, also the minimum wage in Sri Lanka is €63.3, we will talk in-depth about this in the following section. 

The education in the IT sector is rich in knowledge because the IT industry is one of the most important ones in the country, you can find highly educated graduates and also there’s one more aspect to talk about, and It is the law.

The law about foreign business and commercial law follows the principles of British commercial law and has an independent judiciary. Sri Lanka has also signed some international treaties about intellectual property rights, electronic transactions, and computer crimes, and It is one of the most rigorous about this in their region. In addition to this, the country has signed a Free Trade Agreement with Singapore (SLS FTA) that eliminates 80% of all tariff lines through staging periods of up to 15 years, and this has come into force since 1st of May 2018.

Their English level is better in relation to other neighboring regions, especially in the city zones, and they are friendly by nature, and this makes doing business so much easy.

What you should be aware of when working with IT companies from Sri Lanka.

When thinking about working with IT companies from Sri Lanka, you have to be aware of the geopolitical situation of the country and its past, as well as the current situation of the sector. First of all, when talking about minimum wage in Sri Lanka being €63.3 a month (the equivalent of 10.000 rupees, the official coin of the country), you can think about why there’s only a 30% difference between outsourcing the projects to this country with such a big difference in salaries, and the answer is lies in the difference in purchasing power and payment gap between employees and employers that earn a huge profit from these operations. This means that you can have workers of a certain quality but not always comparable to more developed countries with also better salaries and work conditions.

Also, you need to be aware of the country past and present history, and this includes a very recent civil war that lasted 26 years (from 1983 to 2009), a sometimes unstable security situation in relation to the terrorist attacks suffered from moderate frequency, the last one was on April 2019 and talking about this last attack, Sri Lanka is also a very conservative and religious country, especially for women (Buddhism is part of life in 70% of the people). 

Instability, the wage gap between the richest and the poorest, and common scams, not only for tourists also for business, are things to be aware of when doing business with IT companies from Sri Lanka.

How reliable are IT companies from Sri Lanka?

To answer this question, we will have a look at some studies and other parameters to be able to measure the reliability of  Sri Lanka IT companies. We have to refer to a 2008 study by the University of Moratuwa in Sri Lanka, which we will take with a grain of salt for the few objective references that can be found on this subject and the source of the information, we will also take in account other aspects in relation with the other questions we answered above.

There’s a case study called “Reliability of effort estimates in offshore software companies in Sri Lanka” that can be found in the Digital Library of the University of Moratuwa. The goal is to find out the reasons affecting the reliability of projects in Sri Lanka offshore IT organizations and recommendations made as a result of this research study.

This case study concludes that the credibility and reliability of IT companies in this sector are subordinated to subjective beliefs of concrete experiences of prejudice, although from the data we know, not all unreliability is due to this, as Sri Lanka is a country where common scams are certainly frequent, this can apply to the IT industry but not with the same magnitude.

To conclude this section, we will say that the reliability of IT companies is certainly compromised by the fear of fraud, but as in every region or country, there are always good companies and bad companies, it is advisable to find companies with proven reliability to avoid fraud and that they work with the international standards of quality.

How does the IT industry from Sri Lanka relate to the neighboring regions/countries?

To start developing this section we will analyze one important and basic aspect of outsourcing projects to this type of country that is still developing. Internet access could potentially curtail the industry’s growth. Although local telecoms' operator Mobitel has developed the implementation of 4.5G LTE technology. The average connection speed is 7.3 Mbps in the country, in relation to other countries: Indonesia (6.7), India (5.6), Malaysia (8.2), and Vietnam (8.3). 

Another aspect that can influence the industry development is the high rental prices in Colombo’s commercial property sector, which is the most populated city in the country, although it is not the capital of Sri Lanka when outsourcing services one of the most important things is cost reduction, so this is an important aspect to talk about. This aspect in the neighboring countries is less problematic because their development of the industry is bigger at this time.

Sri Lanka is surrounded by one of the giants of outsourcing services which is India, a very powerful country that remains untouchable in position number 1 for BPO in accordance with the 2016 A.T Kearney Global Services Location Index, where Sri Lanka remains in number 14.


The final conclusions of this short analysis on Sri Lanka IT industry are as follows, Sri Lanka is one of the top 20 best Business Process Outsource destinations, and the biggest industry activity is outsourcing services, you have to be aware of the unstable situation and the specific characteristics of this country such as internet connection, reliability of the industry, IT level of education of the graduates in this country and of course prices, for this it is recommended to work with companies that have proven reliability to be sure that any frauds will occur, and take advantages of lower costs of outsourcing services to this country.

Dan Irascu

Head of Marketing

Researching, analyzing, and writing insightful stuff is what I do for a long time now at Mobiteam. At TechBehemoths, I put all my experience and knowledge work for IT companies and businesses and help them reach each other.