Established according to the Article 13 of Software Industry Promotion Act, TTA IT Testing and Certification Laboratory is Korea's first state-authorized software testing and certification institution that was set up at Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) in September 2000 before being transferred to Telecommunications Technology Association (TTA) in December 2001.
Nearly 99 percent of Korean software firms are classified as small and medium ventures and, therefore, can hardly afford to invest in quality control. This has resulted in overall consumer skepticism about Korean products and preferences for foreign software. In order to address the deteriorating competitiveness of Korean software, the government revised relevant laws in January 2000 before building a non-profit testing and certification institution in September of the same year, specifically aiming to improve the quality of software products and the domestic software industry as a whole.
Although in the early days its only service was a Good Software (GS) certification, as of August 2011, the Lab encompasses a wide range of services from GS certification to Benchmark Test (BMT), Common Criteria (CC) evaluation, Suitability Test of Software for Administration Affairs, Software Testing Specialist Training, Certified Software Test Specialist (CSTS) program, Open Lab, and Sangam Lab.
Today, about 85 researchers, also known as software testing specialists, are working for the Lab and the number of applications has increased each year with total 5,070 tests and 1,614 certificates awarded. The GS certificate is an evaluation model based on international standards such as ISO/IEC9126, ISO/IEC14598 and ISO/IEC12119, and granted only to those who pass the rigorous tests and meet with the requirements. Earning a GS certificate also means enjoying various benefits including third-party unit price agreements, e-Procurement Service registration, and preferential purchases from the Public Procurement Service.
The Lab used to accept only two types of software in the beginning, office and communication, but now has been authorized by the government to test and certify all kinds of software products.
CC evaluation targets information security products, carefully following ISO/IEC15408 in the process. The certificate is one of the prerequisites for all information security products that are to be supplied to the public sector.
Designed to analyze and compare rival products in the same category, BMT has recently seen a considerable rise in the number of applications, especially from suppliers and buyers in the public sector. While the test mostly concerned price competitiveness until a few years ago, now it is mainly about selecting outstanding products from a given group.
The Suitability Test of Software for Administration Affairs is supervised by the Ministry of Public Administration and Security, in order to distinguish software appropriate for administrative tasks based on a certain set of criteria. Once a product passes the test, it will be directly registered at the e-Procurement Service at PPS.
Each year many software engineering majors graduate from universities and graduate schools in Korea. However, people who specialize in testing can hardly be found. By contrast, thousands of testing specialists are produced in the US every year, which does not only result in hundreds of testing-related papers published but also leads to the development of testing as a professional field in the country. It is indeed hard for CEOs in Korea to find a testing specialist to evaluate and manage the quality of their software for their companies.
Therefore the TTA Software Testing Lab has established Software Testing Specialist Training, a one-week program developed based on the institution's experience as well as what we have learned from the US training and certification system - so far, a total of 1,973 testing professionals have been produced and 563 people have received CSTS certificates, consequently contributing valuable human resources to the industries.
The main focus of the TTA Software Testing Lab this year has been to reinforce SI and convergence software testing and certification, rather than continuing to focus on package software. Sure enough, Korea's status in traditional industries like automobiles, steel, and shipbuilding, where the country has a strong presence worldwide, will be determined by the power of software in the future. Furthermore, convergence software is expanding its domain to IT products, home appliances, medical equipment, railroads, national defense, and aviation, prompting many countries around the world including Korea to invest more in software development.
Moreover, although there are new major SI projects coming up every year, which cost up to billions of won, the actual development environment often proves less than adequate, forcing developers to leave behind quality control. The institution's purpose is to prevent such big budgets from being wasted by enhancing the testing process for these SI projects.
The long-term goal of TTA Software Lab is globalizing GS certification, which has somewhat established itself in Korea but is not accepted in other countries yet. It is an essential step in order for GS-certified products to be able to assure their quality in global markets. It will certainly take some time, but I believe this can be achieved within the next 10 years, providing we continue to make rigorous efforts.
Another goal of the Lab is publicizing BMT results: The US, for over 20 years, already has been randomly collecting products from the market and conducting BMT each year before announcing the results in the media in order for the manufacturers to learn about the strengths and weaknesses of their product while enabling consumers to make an informed choice. To be sure, the market has accustomed to the system and learned to embrace the results. If Korea also adopts the same procedure, it will encourage the developers to pay more attention to improving the quality of their products.
Lastly, the TTA Software Lab will contribute to Korean software industries by strengthening its specialties as the first institution of its kind. We would like to help Korean software industries grow as a software test engineering organization that develops and distributes software quality evaluation models, standardizes software test process, and promotes testing specialist training and CSTS certificate programs.