As a direct result of  the use of computerized devices, the world is now very dependent on software systems and their associated services.  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 and services is wide and continually getting wider,  from heart pace makers, traffic control systems, information systems, entertainment  through cloud based services.  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 or mission critical IT services.  Never has it has been more important for software and system engineers to deliver reliable and safe systems as well as trustworthy 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 twenty years.  A recognized core body of knowledge in software and systems 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 .  Challenges also abound to govern and manage the delivery of IT and IT enable services in a complex environment of international outsourcing and cloud based services. 

Looking forward, the challenge of developing ever more complex information systems under short schedule and delivering the required IT services in the most cost-effective fashion will remain.  

Role of International Standards

International standards play an important role in this evolution.  They can be used to reduce costs and complexity when buying software systems and procuring 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.

Internal standards also enable the exchange of goods and services.  Given that the worldwide IT market is a service market, a solid set of international standards covering processes, good practices and competency is an asset.

International standards in IT service management and 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 Mission

JTC 1/SC7 has the following mission, 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 summary of JTC1/SC7 history can be found here.

The area of work of ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC7

Subcommittee 7 (SC7) is meeting its mandate and achieving its objectives by addressing certain key areas in IT services and software and systems engineering standardization:

  • Software and systems engineering processes: in partnership with the International Council on Systems Engineering (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 asin partnership with ISACA and other parties, standards to consistently assess organisational software and system engineering practices against a given benchmark;
  • Software system products: 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;
  • Enterprise architecture: 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 systems.

  • Software 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.

  • Software 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 system engineers.

  • Management of IT assets: we are we are developing and are improving on standards that will describe the basic requirements of a software asset management environment

Standards published by ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC7

A list of Subcommittee 7 (SC7) published standards can be found on the ISO Website.  The following diagram provides an overview of the SC7 standards collection: