Mesiniaga sees its future in software testing
By Karamjit Singh September 13, 2016
- Set to benefit from being certified to run IVV testing for public sector
- Investing in talent, testing tools, testing lab to further software ambitions
ONE of the earliest and biggest supporters of the Malaysian Software Testing Board’s push to promote software testing in Malaysia from 2008 was Bursa Malaysia listed systems integrator, Mesiniaga Bhd. Fathil Sulaiman (pic, right) had just come in as managing director in January that year and recalls that while Mesiniaga was very much a hardware driven company, it was quick to recognise the value of software testing.
Part of the reason was because of the new customer centric focus Fathil instituted. “We choose to make customer enrichment the key value we wanted to deliver as an organization,” he said. The company adopted “Helping Customers Succeed” as its motto.
With hardware clearly not the path to offering better value to customers, nor in scaling quickly, content capabilities became crucial to Mesiniaga, with Fathil likening developing software as “content” customers needed to solve their pain points. Application development capabilities, which were mainly hardware driven up to then, thus began to take on a more strategic role in Mesiniaga from 2008 onwards.
“While we believed in the national agenda of supporting MSTB, it also quickly became a much more strategic agenda for us,” agrees Wan Yussman Wan Yusof, general manager, Application Software Engineering at Mesiniaga.
“We were definitely all in to contribute ideas and setting up a plan to help make software testing a recognized practice and create more value in the software development life cycle that will go beyond borders ie export software testing as a skill,” he adds.
Over the last two years, Mesiniaga has also taken its software testing ambitions to the next level by making investments of almost RM1 million in developing its people, building its own lab and investing in testing tools. “You can describe us as an application house investing in software testing to make us better,” quips Yussman. Currently Mesiniaga has 12 people who are certified as software testers.
“To an extent, we are taking a risk as we are making these investments and hoping the market will be there,” says Fathil who left as MD in end 2013 and is now a non-independent mon-executive director.
At the same time, the writing is also on the wall for Mesiniaga as a hardware SI with revenue declining steeply from RM326 million in 2012 to RM205 million in 2015.
Yet this is where Mesiniaga’s involvement in promoting and developing software testing through the MSTB may just offer it a platform to a new growth segment by virtue of being a Malaysia Software Testing Hub (MSTH) cluster company.
Formed by MSTB in 2014, MSTH is a strategic public-private partnership with the Government to pilot an eco-system that demonstrates the interest of different stakeholders involved and means that are required to ensure a sustainable model to support the MSTH.
“MSTH has had a pivotal impact on software testing,” opines Yussman (pic, left). As part of the MSTH, initiatives such as the Q-Capability programme and the Q-Lab programme have been introduced. The former is focused on building the capability of software testers and requirements engineers with the Q-Lab being the first state-of-the-art lab in the country open to all industries with the objective to promote and facilitate the usage of the testing technologies/practices and related tools used in delivering quality products.
“MSTB has invested heavily in the labs, which are now open to all companies to use, and in getting trainers which can be expensive,” says Yussman.
The various efforts of the MSTB have sent a clear signal of the government’s intention to promote and support software testing and global companies have taken notice with 20 multinationals having regional software testing labs in Malaysia.
The challenge however remains that there are not enough strong local players in software testing. And this is where Fathil sees opportunity for Mesiniaga. “I think we could be a larger software testing company than we are an applications company but it will take time.”
The immediate opportunity lies in the public sector market. Fathil says that Mesiniaga is the only local MSTH Cluster company that is TMMI certified. TMMI or Test Maturity Model Integration provides a framework for assessing the maturity of the test processes in an organization.
“This allows us to be compliant for government projects that require IVV (Independent Verification and Validation) testing,” says Fathil pointing out that Standard Malaysia only recognizes MSTH Cluster companies as qualified to be independent testers.
With the government introducing an IVV element to its software procurement, this spells of an enticing opportunity for any local company that meets the quality standards required to conduct this IVV testing. “There are loads of opportunities for local companies here,” he says confident that the IVV policy helps set the platform from which a Malaysian company can become a global player. “It’s a question of when.”
The favouring of local companies over foreign companies is not unusual in this area of public sector IVV testing. Fathil points out that South Korea has a specific software promotion regulation that mandates any software testing by government has to be given to Korean companies. And with a similar bias in Malaysia, he intends for Mesiniaga to fully grab the opportunity its almost decade long involvement with promoting software testing has brought it.
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