As a direct result of the use of computerized devices, the world is now
very dependent on software systems. Information and communication
technologies (ICT) based products and services are now ubiquitous in industrialized
and emerging economies
societies, be it for commercial, industrial and domestic applications.
ICT based products are software systems, and the software is what make these
ICT based products and services work.
The range of ICT applications is wide and continually
getting wider, from heart pace makers, traffic control systems,
through entertainment. It is necessary to protect the
interests of the consumer and to minimize risks of all kinds that may arise
from the failure of software systems. Never has it has been more
important for software and system engineers to deliver reliable and safe
systems and their assocaited services to business, to industry and to society at large.
The ability to design, implement and
manage ICT systems and products has greatly improved in the last ten years. A
recognized core body of knowledge in software and systenms engineering now exists. Challenges still abound
because of the pressure to build and deliver more complex applications, products
and IT based services in
ever shorter time-frame (a Web Year is 3 months).
Looking forward, the challenge of
developing ever more complex information systems under short schedule will
remain. Additionally, many of these software intensive systems will also
perform ever more critical tasks in our society. All of this will not only
drive the formalization of the software and systems engineering discipline,
but also the market for re-usable components.
International standards play an important role in this evolution. They can be
used to reduce costs and complexity when buying software systems and IT
services and they
can be used to monitor the quality of the systems and products that are
produced as well as their associated services.
International standards in software and system engineering are
also an excellent reference on what is considered good practice by
the international community of professionals that work in these areas.
JTC 1/SC7 Mandate
JTC 1/SC7 has the
following mandate, or terms of reference, from ISO and IEC:
Standardization of processes, supporting tools and supporting technologies
for the engineering of software products and systems.
A summry of JTC1/SC7 history can be found here.
The area of work
We are meeting our
mandate and achieving our objectives by addressing certain key areas in
software and systems engineering standardization:
and systems engineering processes: in partnership with the International
Council of Systems Engineers (INCOSE),
the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Computer Society (IEEE-CS)
and other parties, we are developing and are improving on standards which
describe good software and systems engineering practices, as well as
standards to consistently assess organisational software and system
engineering practices against a given benchmark;
we are developing and are improving on standards which allow purchasers and
buyers to size and document software products as well as to express, measure
and evaluate the quality of the software that is produced and its
contribution to the final product or application system;
in partnership with the Object Management Group (OMG),
we are developing and are improving on Open Distributed Processing (ODP)
standards to integrate IT and business system definition and provide the
software and system engineering tools to implement enterprise information
engineering environment: we are developing and are improving on
standards which make it easier to use software engineering environments and
to re-use and re-deploy the data contained in them.
engineering body of knowledge: we have worked with the Institute
of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Computer Society (IEEE-CS)
on their guide to the Software Engineering Body of Knowledge (SWEBOK),
and we published it as a ISO/IEC Technical Report.
We are now working on a project on the certification of software
Management of software assets: we are we are developing and are
improving on standards that will describe the basic requirements of a
software asset management environment
Operations: in partnership with the IT Service Management Forum (itSMF)
and other parties, we are developing and are improving on standards which
describe good IT service management practices.
JTC 1/SC7 Marketplace
over-riding requirement is that the software and system engineering
standards are focused on the needs of the users of those standards. We are
targeting in our work the following types of standards user:
Software and Systems Houses
Those who supply the software and
system needs of the consumer, commercial, industrial, defence, and public
sectors, and who need to preserve their competitiveness in the face of
ever changing world markets. To address international markets, they
need to be able to offer services and products that will match the best
available from anywhere in the world.
Software and system engineering
standards from JTC 1/SC7 provide one of the means to judge what is meant by
Corporate Information Systems Users
system engineering standards can directly serve the needs of using
organizations by reducing costs, improving IT services, encouraging fair competition, allowing
re-use of existing software and generally reduce risks and uncertainty.
ODP and associated standards provide enterprise architects and system
developers tools to architect and design robust, modular enterprise
applications and systems.
Embedded software system suppliers
category includes a
wide variety of companies supplying software which is embedded within
systems that are themselves embedded in a product. It might be a
consumer product such as a cell phone or a car, a weapons control system,
or a heart pace maker. In all these cases the software is just a
component of the system or final product, but it is critical that it is well
engineered in the context of the overall engineering effort involved.
Methods and tools suppliers
Although this market is still
formative there are already ad-hoc and proprietary standards for software
and system engineering methods and tools. As the market matures it is important
to remove barriers to more open use of CASE tools and methods.
Software and System engineering educators
As mentioned earlier, JTC
1/SC7 standards define a body of knowledge of good practices.
These standards, including the one specifically addressing this issue currently
under development, provide a sound foundation for educators in
software and system engineering.
Domain specific standards developers
JTC 1/SC7 standards are, in ISO jargon, horizontal standards. This
means that these standards are basically of a generic nature and can be
applied in different domains such as for the development of transportation
systems, space systems, security products, etc..
developing those domain specific standards will find in JTC 1/SC7
standards a foundation they can use to build on.
Standards Development Process
formal processes and decision making take place at the sub-committee (JTC 1/SC7) level.
The technical work take place in working groups (see
Organisation) which prepare the content of
the standards, process comments received from around the world, and
ultimately finalize the work for submission as a draft international
International standards can come into being through different
- as a proposal that is then developed in working groups;
- as a proposal with a base document which can be internally
fast-tracked, e.g. processed through a compressed schedule;
- as a proposal with a complete document that can be fast-tracked by JTC
1 (one four month ballot);
- as a proposal with a complete document that can be proposed by
external (but recognised) organisations and fast-tracked as a 4 month
ballot - known as the PAS process.
JTC 1/SC7 manage its projects by, among other things, ensuring that for
each standards development project the most optimal standards development
process is used.
How to get involved
The work is open to technical experts nominated by
Member Bodies or by organisations having a formal
liaison with JTC 1/SC7.
If you are interested, either contact one of
the above organisation or send an e-mail to
be put in touch with the proper contact.
ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC7 Chair
(adapted and updated from original material
written by Leonard Tripp and Peter Voldner of the SC7
BPG in 1996)