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Speech by Director of Information Technology Services


Following is the speech by Mr Alan Wong Chi-kong, Director of Information Technology Services, at the Asia-Pacific Software Engineering Process Group Conference 2003 today (November 19):

Mr Lai, Mr Yeung, Distinguished Speakers, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am honoured to have the opportunity to speak today at the Asia Pacific Software Engineering Process Group 2003 Conference. Since its inauguration in Hong Kong in year 2000, the Conference has provided an excellent opportunity for software engineering professionals and practitioners to discuss improvements to the practice of software engineering. It has now become a prominent annual international event, attracting senior IT professionals, academics and government officials from all over the world.

In the globally connected world, people are relying more and more on IT and telecommunications services. Software quality is of paramount importance. Disruption of major services such as banking as a result of software failure, even for a few hours only, would produce a serious adverse impact on the daily lives of many people. To be fair, the software industry is not unaware of these risks and the global trends. They have responded by developing various software engineering practices, over the years, to improve the process by which software is produced to ensure that the final product is of a high quality, if "zero defect" is not realistically possible. We have also seen the evidence of a paradigm shift. Hitherto, many people have adopted the waterfall model which emphasizes a systematic and linear approach: specifications, clear project plans, system analysis and design, programming and coding, testing, UAT, quality assurance and audit. Procedures and processes are meticulously documented. In recent years, new approaches have been developed, for example, the iterative approach which focuses on rapid application development, prototyping and the active participation of the end-users.

The quality management system is also evolving. ISO 9000 stresses on the documentation of processes, while the CMM provides a comprehensive framework and mechanism for assessing an organization's capability for software quality assurance against a set of key process areas. The highest level of CMM, level 5, requires an organization to be capable of continuous process improvement through a series of feedback mechanisms which should also involve the piloting of ideas and technologies. In this regard, a new standard is looming on the horizon, that is, CMMI which covers further details and complexity in risk management, integration, verification and validation. I can continue to speak about the various software engineering methods and standards development, but I think I had better stop here as our renowned speakers will surely give you a better idea and more insight later during the conference. Suffice to say that the ability to produce quality software through the adoption of continuous improvement processes is a key to success. Moreover, it can also be a major differentiator that enables product and service providers to compete effectively, especially those who are intent on expanding their business beyond the boundaries of Hong Kong to Mainland China and/or other markets overseas.

The Government fully supports the adoption of quality management system and accreditations by the IT industry. Earlier this year, the Innovation and Technology Fund allocated $5 million for launching a CMM Assessment Grant project. The project aims to assist local independent software vendors in adopting CMM, with the objectives of improving their software development process and hence enhancing their market competitiveness. The Grant has been awarded to 15 independent software vendors, which are expected to attain CMM Level 2 or above by early 2005.

In addition to the CMM Assessment Grant, the Trade and Industry Department has also provided, through the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Fund, financial support to IT professional bodies encouraging them to conduct CMM training courses. Up to now, about $2 million has been approved for such purpose. The training courses have been well received by IT practitioners.

My department is also fully committed to software process improvement and quality management. We have over 700 qualified IT professionals who are involved with software engineering projects or management of computer systems driven by software. To maintain their professional standard, we provide them with training and refresher programmes regularly. In addition, we are in the process of establishing a knowledge management system to promote a culture of knowledge creation and sharing, and to encourage experience sharing via communities of practices. One of the communities of practices to be established will be on the best practices in software engineering.

Finally, I would like to congratulate the organizers, that is, the Hong Kong Software Process Improvement Network, the Hong Kong Computer Society, and the Hong Kong Productivity Council, on their success in once again staging this important conference, which is one of the most interesting events on our IT calendar. I would also like to thank our distinguished speakers for agreeing to share their insights with us. To our friends from overseas, I would also like to extend a warm welcome to you and wish you an enjoyable stay in Hong Kong.

I now have great pleasure in declaring this Conference open. I wish you all find this a rewarding experience.

Thank you.

Ends/Wednesday, November 19, 2003

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