Goal to upgrade quality of software
Over 1,500 certified software testing engineers in the country
IT takes a lot of moving parts working together to get a car moving smoothly. Likewise, it takes a lot of different initiatives and areas of focus to create a world-class technology ecosystem.
And, just like when you peek under the hood of a car and certain parts tend to grab our attention -- but yet there are others which toil away in obscurity tending to critical aspects of keeping the engine humming -- it is the same in the tech ecosystem too.
We are all familiar with the effort and work done by the likes of Multimedia Development Corporation, Malaysia Venture Capital Management Bhd, Malaysian Debt Ventures, Mimos Bhd, Malaysian Technology Development Corporation and Cradle Fund Sdn Bhd.
But mention the Malaysian Software Testing Board or MSTB and you will likely draw a blank look.
Yet the impact of the work done by the MSTB, in the words of its president, Mastura Abu Samah (pic), has been equally significant.
“There has been tremendous outcome from the work put in by everyone involved with the MSTB,” she says.
One attention-grabbing stat: When they started promoting software testing in 2008, there were just a handful of certified software testing engineers. Today there are over 1,500 certified software testing engineers in the country.
“All of them are doing well and are in demand,” claims Amiruddin Jaafar Sidek, a director of MSTB.
Indeed business is also booming for the handful of mostly foreign software testing companies in Malaysia. However, it is only a matter of time before local entrepreneurs step up to the plate and grab larger slices of this business for themselves.
What’s unique about MSTB is that it began life around 2006 as a private sector initiative formed out of the passion of like-minded people from the industry who wanted to address a market failure they saw – that is, the lack of qualified software testers and quality software.
“It was just about a group of us from the software industry who got together and felt we had to do something to improve the quality of the software industry and the talent going into it,” says Mastura.
They organized an inaugural conference on their own. Fortunately, they broke even and realised that there was strong supply-side market demand for higher quality software products and engineers.
Also fortunately, they came to the Malaysian Government’s attention in 2009, in the form of the Economic Planning Unit.
“They wanted to know what we were doing and were happy to support an effort aimed at improving the quality of software, both from a product and human capital perspective, after that,” says Mastura.
The subsequent strong support from the Government has helped the MSTB to accelerate the work it is doing and has helped Malaysia gain recognition as a country determined to improve the quality of its software and related human capital.
MSTB is a member of the Asian Software Testing Alliance (ASTA), a regional alliance comprised of member countries of the International Software Testing Qualifications Board. The regional headquarters for ASTA is based in Malaysia with the MSTB functioning as its secretariat.
All this activity and industry-building have helped attract multinationals to establish their software testing hubs in Malaysia, with between 10 to 12 such set-ups.
It has also brought Malaysia into the radar of leading industry figures. For example, at the upcoming Softec 2012 conference from July 10 to 12, MSTB has been able to attract the leading figures in the world of software testing as speakers.
And, it has been doing so regularly for its conference over the past few years. This year’s conference is the fifth year it is running. Thus far, slightly over 200 people have confirmed their attendance. The expected final attendance figure is around 350. The first year it attracted 113 people.
To Mastura, this is not a numbers game but one of high value and quality. “Before the MSTB was formed in 2008, you never heard of specific tenders making software testing a requirement, but now it is starting to become more accepted.”
Mike Cornelius, also director of MSTB, adds that “software testing is certainly on the agenda now. The only question is, how high up the agenda is it?”
He is confident that it eventually will be a board-level discussion in Malaysia, as it is in the United Kingdom already.
He claims that the various activities organised by the MSTB as being the levers that have helped make this happen.
(Note: A paragraph with incorrect information has been removed from the original version of this article. We sincerely apologize for the error).
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