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Why becoming a software testing hub is a vital part of Malaysia's Digital Economy

AvantiKumar | April 10, 2017
The Malaysian Software Testing Board (MSTB) President Mastura Abu Samah announces a new milestone in its goal of helping Malaysia capture 5 percent of a US$50 billion global market by 2020.

Software development (GraphicStock)

Credit: GraphicStock - Software Development


  The Malaysian Software Testing Board (MSTB), which first unveiled its vision of developing Malaysia as a major regional software testing hub in 2009, has announced a new milestone.

To set the stage for the latest announcement, MSTB president Mastura Abu Samah (pic below) said that "Malaysia's aggressive push into the digital economy relies heavily on software-driven systems and applications. These form the lifeline of related economic activities, and so these systems and applications must be at internationally-accepted levels of quality and integrity."

Mastura - MSTB - done

 When MSTB was established in 2008, Mastura Abu Samah said that most software testing practitioners at that time tended "to carry out testing as if it is 1978, not 2008. Common practices lag best practices by 30 years: these practices need to be raised to the next level of best practices as set by the International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB)."

Since then several milestones have bolstered the body's intention of Malaysia capturing 5 percent of a global US$50 billion software testing market by 2020, and a part of the Digital Economy drive by the government and driven largely by national ICT agency Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC). [See a recent interviw with MDEC CEO - Deep Dive into Malaysia's Digital Economy with CEO Dato' Yasmin Mahmood]

The latest news from MSTB is that two Malaysian-made software products become "the firsts to obtain certification under the Quality Software (QS) Product Certification scheme."

The two software products, both developed by Custommedia, are Nutriemart, a dietary planning/monitoring application for health professionals and health-conscious individuals; and Collaborative Portal Platform (CPP), a platform that helps create a secure environment for multi-tracked communications and collaborations between internal and external individuals or groups over private or open networks.

With the QS certification, which is based on ISO standards on software quality and evaluation methodologies, the two products now have international-level recognition from quality aspects.

The QS scheme also helps give certified products access to foreign markets through various Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs), which are formed by government-to-government (G2G) negotiations.

What is QS certification?

Professor Dato' Dr Aziz Deraman, the chair of QS Decision Committee, said that the QS Certification scheme was developed by MSTB as one of the key initiatives under the Malaysia Software Testing Hub programme.

MSTB complements local expertise with foreign expertise such as transfer of technology through collaboration with the Korea Testing Laboratory, which has been operating a similar certification scheme since 2001.
"QS certification provides documented assurance on the quality of the software," said Prof Dr Aziz. "This in turn gives customers deeper confidence in the software as well as increases competitive advantage in the open market."
"Offering good quality products will companies realise better returns as maintenance costs and customer issues will be reduced," he said.

The QS Certification Scheme generally covers all types of software products including Commercially-off-the-Shelf (COTS) and custom products, as well as embedded and hardware appliance software. The Scheme caters to both Made-in-Malaysia and foreign developed software and software-driven products.

Quality evaluation for the QS Certification Scheme is carried out by Q-Laboratory's Systems Test Lab, which is accredited to MS/ISO 17025 standard (software testing lab).  The evaluation (testing) exercise results in an independent report covering areas of Functionality, Reliability, Usability, Efficiency, Maintainability and Portability. The report is then presented to the QS Decision Committee, made up of industry representatives.

A bigger picture

"Without the quality and integrity of the systems and applications, the nation would be vulnerable to high risks of systems failures, which may lead to serious economic losses," said MSTB's Mastura. "The QS scheme, which provides independent quality assessment on the software products, can help to mitigate such risks."
"In the bigger picture, the QS scheme, supported by the appropriate policies, could also boost the growth of Malaysia's software industry," she said.

Mastura pointed to Korea's experience. Korea introduced its Good Software (GS) certification scheme in 2001 and it has proven to be an effective form of 'intervention.'

There has been rapid improvement in the quality of Korean-made software, she said. Together with supporting policies, set and practiced by the government, the GS scheme is seen as a contributor to the growth of the country's software industry.

She cited reported figures for 2011:  Korea's domestic market for software was then estimated to be worth US$5.9 billion while its software export was estimated to be worth US$18 billion. In 2001, the country's software expenditures were reported to be worth US$1.47 billion while the export was only US$290 million.

An industry-driven national body, The Malaysian Software Testing Board (MSTB) represents the industry's interests in software quality assurance and promotion of software testing as a profession. MSTB is a member of the International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB), an exclusive partner of the International Requirements Engineering Board (IREB) in Malaysia, and a member of the Asian Software Quality Network (ASQN).

The latest version of this article is at Computerworld Malaysia.


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