The ISV Quality Certification program will help Indian technology companies improve their software development processes and provide independent validation of product quality, fostering confidence and growth in India’s software economy.
Quick Take What: A partnership between Microsoft and India’s National Association of Software and Services Companies to help Indian software-product companies establish best practices in software development. Why: To help Indian IT companies enhance the quality, reliability and scalability of their products, increasing customer confidence and fostering growth in India’s software economy. Who: Indian software-product companies. How: The program is based on the Microsoft Solutions Framework, a set of proven software-development principles, processes and best practices. Where: India. Outcome: Twenty-four companies have completed the training portion of the program. Participating ISVs report positive preliminary results. The goal is to have 10 companies achieve third-party certification by the end of 2006.
Local software economy case study:
A ‘Certified’ Opportunity for India’s Software Products Industry In recent years, India has emerged as a global leader in information technology services and support, but the country’s commercial software sector has not yet achieved the same level of success. Despite impressive advances, the Indian software-products industry is experiencing growing pains as it continues to evolve and mature. The greatest barrier to growth is a lack of established and efficient processes for software development. Without these protocols, ensuring consistent product quality, reliability and scalability – and, in turn, customer satisfaction – is difficult. Addressing these issues systematically will unlock the innovation and growth potential of India’s software industry, which by one estimate is projected to reach $50 billion by the end of 2008. Indian software companies already enjoy several advantages in the global marketplace. These include a large, well-educated and IT-proficient workforce, growing domestic and international demand for software, and lower development costs. If the issue of software quality can be addressed, the Indian software-products sector has a promising future.
A Partnership Based on Microsoft Solutions Framework
“For the Indian software industry to survive and thrive, it must improve its development systems in order to create world-class software, and this program helps us establish global practices in software development.” – Sanjay Shah, CEO, Skelta Software
To help the industry reach its potential, Microsoft has partnered with India’s National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) – the Indian software industry’s chamber of commerce – to train and certify independent software vendors (ISVs) in software-development best practices. A new ISV Quality Certification program will help companies optimize their internal processes and provide independent validation of product quality, fostering confidence and growth in India’s software economy. The program’s foundation is the Microsoft Solutions Framework (MSF), a set of proven software development principles, processes and practices that draws on Microsoft’s three decades of experience creating some of the world’s most sophisticated and complex software. This disciplined yet adaptable approach to software development provides companies with the information and tools they need to deliver high-quality software solutions faster, with fewer people and less risk. Building the ‘Made in India’ Brand
The ISV Quality Certification program guides software developers and IT managers through the entire lifecycle of a software-engineering project. It consists of four stages: training, consultation, assessment and certification. Training: An intensive, two-day workshop led by independent consultants trained in the Microsoft Solutions Framework provides information and guidance on the fundamentals needed to create top-notch software and helps local companies understand the importance and value of distinct roles in the software-development process. The training underscores how clarifying and separating these duties can help Indian companies operate more efficiently, improve release-cycle times and create better products. Training also focuses on ways to incorporate customer feedback, reduce operating and development costs, create transparent development and testing processes and adapt effectively to market changes. Consultation: In the consultation phase, ISVs put MSF theories into practice under the guidance of software-development experts. Consultants are available at all stages to help and to answer questions, typically meeting with companies at least once a week. This hands-on guidance helps keep ISVs focused and reinforces development processes that will contribute to their long-term success. Assessment: A comprehensive assessment incorporates testing, data collection, interviews with management and presentations by the company on various stages of the development process. This ensures that employees understand each stage of the MSF system and that the processes have become fully inte-
grated into their company’s infrastructure. This sets an industry standard for certifying ISVs.
“We have already seen how the Microsoft Solutions Framework can help PacSoft make sustained improvements in processes, which will enable us to earn certification and advance further into discerning global markets.” – Ali Sait, CEO, PacSoft Solutions Ltd.
Certification: Finally, the Quality Assurance Institute India Ltd. (QAI), the largest software-process consulting organization in the Asia-Pacific region, provides independent certification validating that proven and accepted development methodologies have been used in software design, development, user experience, testing, product release processes and product management. The goal is to assure customers that they are getting high quality, reliable and scalable products. The entire process takes three to six months. So far, 24 ISVs have completed the training portion, and 10 companies are on track to achieve QAI certification by the end of 2006. “Moment of Truth” for Indian ISVs
Two of India’s most promising ISVs are in the consultation phase and already report significant improvements in their development processes. Bangalore-based Skelta Software, a company specializing in workflow-software solutions, enrolled to get help creating a more structured process for engineering its products. With more than 100 enterprise customers worldwide, Skelta is poised to expand. It can do so, however, only if its products are on par with those of its competitors worldwide. “This is the moment of truth for Indian ISVs,” says Skelta CEO Sanjay Shah. “For the Indian software industry to survive and thrive, it must improve its development systems in order to create world-class software, and this program helps us establish global practices in software development.” According to Shah, one of the most beneficial aspects of the ISV Quality Certification program is understanding and applying the discipline of distinct roles in software development. Ali Sait agrees. He is CEO of PacSoft Solutions Limited, another Indian ISV headquartered in Bangalore. “The program has helped us restructure our entire development team and achieve better clarity within our organization,” says Sait. “The roles within our company are now crystal clear, our communication has improved, and we are no longer wasting valuable time and effort by overlapping duties.” Shah and Sait both say certification is essential to their companies’ futures, because it assures customers that their products are of high quality. “In the absence of credible, practicable quality certifications for ISVs, it can be an uphill task for newer companies to establish their quality credentials,” says Sait.
“We have already seen how the Microsoft Solutions Framework can help PacSoft make sustained improvements in processes, which will enable us to earn certification and advance further into discerning global markets.” Working Toward Critical Mass
Skelta and PacSoft are leading the way in demonstrating the value of the ISV Quality Certification program. The goal is to reach a critical mass of companies that will elevate the entire Indian software-development industry. “India has already emerged as a global leader in the IT services domain,” says NASSCOM President Kiran Karnik. “In order to further build on this leadership and to leverage the competencies Indian IT companies have attained so far, it is vital to capitalize on the burgeoning products opportunity. We are confident that Indian ISVs will benefit from this quality certification as it will help them tap the global and domestic software-products market – a vital element for moving up the IT value chain.”