What is Compliance Testing in Software Testing
Compliance testing is a critical part of software quality assurance that ensures the software product meets regulatory and compliance requirements.
Organizations use compliance testing to protect their customers and themselves from possible penalties or litigation. Compliance testing can be time-consuming and complex, but it’s essential for ensuring the safety of your users and protecting your business.
In this post, we’ll discuss what compliance testing entails and how you can get started with it in your own organization. Stay safe out there!
What is Compliance Testing?
Compliance testing assesses whether a software product, process, computer program, or system meets fulfils policy, rule, or regulation established by an internal or external organization before it’s released into production.
Usually, the internal standards are set by the organization which creates the software. The external standards are set by outside organisations, they are industry standards and regulations.
We can also consider these processes as an auditing task to ensure that they fulfil required standards. It is also referred to as conformance testing.
What are the prerequisites of compliance testing?
Here are some general prerequisites for compliance testing:
- The software product should be developed with all the features, and system requirements working as expected and standards.
- To understand the product user manuals and documents should be available.
- For each latest version of the application, online support and documentation should be available.
- The application should pass the exit criteria, and functional and integration testing should be completed.
- Development, testing, and management teams’ point of contact should be available in the escalation matrix.
- The license used in the process should be up-to-date
Importance of Compliance Testing
- To check if our software meets the requirements, specifications and standards.
- To confirm if the related documentation is correct and complete.
- To determine the quality of the software using specifications, standards, norms, and guidelines.
- To validate the correctness of the software by checking the software design, and development.
- To check if system maintenance is built based on specified standards and recommended approaches.
- To confirm that our software is free from any objection or complaints from regulatory bodies.
Who executes Compliance testing?
Depending on the organization, it may be outsourced or a special in-house team would take it.
Usually, compliance tests are delegated to third-party organizations with the right knowledge of the laws and regulations that our software may be subject to,
When it comes to in-house testing, a panel of experts or a regulatory body are deployed to check and confirm whether our software is compliant with various regulations, specifications, policies, and guidelines
Types of Compliance Testing
Compliance Testing is an integral part of the software testing life cycle, it makes sure of deliverable compliance in each phase of the development process.
Compliance testing may be internally conducted by the organization or external- conducted by a third-party organization with the authority.
Here testing can be mandatory or optional depending on the requirements and the product.
Legally Mandatory Testing
- External organisations or any government-approved agency performs this testing.
- We should get the proper certification through this test to proceed with legal operations in the organisation.
- If we fail in this test, actions will be taken against the organisation including retracting government contracts, fines, payment of damages, issuing public notifications which might lead to damage to reputation, and much more.
Other Obligatory Testing
- There are times when stakeholders, external independent organisations or even the head office of the company might demand mandatory compliance testing.
- If we fail to provide the right standards, we may lose the business or that might damage our reputation or even result in a lawsuit.
- Here we hire a third-party organization with authority to perform compliance testing.
- We may invite them or provide a contract to ensure our performance or to get certifications.
- We perform internal testing to make sure of the performance and efficiency of products, services, and processes.
- It is crucial to ensure the smooth function of the organization.
- These tests are conducted solely for caution in the management.
What is the need for compliance testing?
When we perform compliance tests on software projects, it can help us assess a team’s performance according to particular standards.
Based on the project, government regulations on a software development project may range from required safety or privacy protections for users in the software product. Compliance testing ensures our products comply with such standards.
It can reduce the risk of any regulatory penalties or judgments if we identify any areas of non-compliance and rectify them as soon as possible.
Compliance testing assists us to validate how well our organisation follows these standards to ensure a high-quality deliverable to the client.
Compliance testing helps our company earn the trust of the clientele by following the protocols established in providing our services and maintaining the same levels of standard in all output.
What are the examples of compliance testing?
Some of the real-time examples of compliance testing are:
Driverless cars: These cars undergo rigorous testing to ensure that it is compliant with the rules and regulations of the road.
Food products: Several products in the market claim they are organic and free from any chemicals, those products have to be compliant with food safety laws.
Banking Services: These services should be compliant with the security regulation.
Here are some general examples of compliance testing:
- Checking the User Access rights
- Assessing the Program change control procedures
- Verifying the documentation procedures
- Validating the Program documentation
- Checking the Follow-up of exceptions
- Reviewing the logs
- Software license audits
What is not tested in compliance testing?
There’s a general misunderstanding that compliance testing includes system and integration testing. Compliance testing doesn’t require us to rerun the system or functional tests.
Compliance testing is a set of specifically designed tests that are performed at the end of the software development cycle before deploying the software to production.
What is a compliance checklist?
It would be really helpful if we have a set of proper checks to follow compliance and regulatory laws. When going through the checklist, we can identify vulnerable areas in our process, product or system. It is necessary to make some changes or corrections to these areas.
A checklist can help us to track the entire process, here are some checks that we can follow to implement compliance:
- Hire professionals who have the knowledge, experience and understanding of Compliance.
- Make everyone in the team aware of the risks and impacts of being non-compliant.
- Document the whole process for future reference.
- Perform internal audits and check compliance.
- Form an action plan to fix those compliance issues.
When to perform Compliance Testing?
Compliance testing can provide valuable insights that can enable us to make our software development processes better. It can be applied to a certain project or overall team performance and operation.
For the compliance tests to be carried out, the first step would be to chart out a detailed document with the procedures, standards, and methodology. Based on these laws and regulations compliance tests are designed.
Also, note that the compliance tests are different from one domain to another. So when designing these tests we should ensure that it is as per the industry and domain needs.
We should perform a compliance test if the following scenarios:
- When we notice a decrease in production levels.
- When we see redundant or unnecessary work due to employees’ confusion.
- When regulatory issues leave the company out of compliance.
- When the client updates their demands or expectations.
How to perform compliance testing?
We can perform compliance tests by following the below process step by step:
#1. Identify the standards and regulations
Here the software development team should understand the expectations and standards that are set. Usually, the development team creates standards documentation to keep the project on task and compliant with the organization’s established norms.
#2. Build a checklist
With a checklist, we can perform the compliance testing process consistently and effectively. It should have key standards and requirements that ensure each software element receives a thorough assessment. We can also create multiple checklists that align with different phases of the software development life cycle.
#3. Assess the work
Here we identify the potential issues and check why the element does not comply with the project’s standards and requirements. We can discuss what went wrong and how to fix it. Note down the details during testing, it can help us for future development processes easier and more efficiently.
#4. Generate and published the reports
We should create detailed documentation on observations and insights, with this the team would be responsible for building and fixing the software, understanding the test results and also the corresponding tasks we need to perform to ensure compliance. This documentation can help us to keep stakeholders informed about the progress of the development process.
#5. Implement the changes
We can use the report’s recommendation to update the existing structure or make some adjustments to make the process compliant. These documents can help the team keep everyone informed about the project’s progress and the effects of those changes.
#6. Repeat the process
Compliance testing is an ongoing process, following up with the test results and implementing them repeatedly can make it more effective. There are times when we have to do multiple rounds of testing and revision to ensure your product meets the established standards and requirements.
What is the compliance Testing Process?
Compliance testing is similar to an audit, it doesn’t follow any specific testing methodology. It just assesses the current process and provides improvement points.
- Collect the required details and documents regarding standards, norms, regulations, and other relevant criteria.
- Figures out the existing process followed by the team, what are all the norms and standards clearly and precisely
- Then we have to assess both documents against each other to identify and detect any deviations or flaws in the implemented process.
- Generate a report with all the information regarding the flaws and deviations in the process
- Implement the improvement measures and then re-verify the compliance of the system.
- We can even get certification for the software for being compliant
How to implement the Effective Compliance Testing Process
Compliance testing can be performed by an in-house department or any external agent, regarding who is performing it, certain steps need to be followed to successfully implement an effective compliance testing process in our team.
Here is the step-by-step process on how to implement Effective Compliance Testing Process.
- Step 1: Create a Requirements Library
- Step 2: Execute the Compliance Risk Assessment
- Step 3: Build a Compliance Testing Methodology
- Step 4: Setup a Testing Schedule to Perform Compliance Testing
- Step 5: Perform Compliance Testing
- Step 6: Establish an Issues Management Process
- Step 7: Check for potential solutions
- Step 8: Observe the Sustainability of the solutions.
- Step 9: Document the results and check for areas of improvement.
- Step 10: Repeat the whole process
Who is responsible for setting the standards for compliance testing?
Usually, external organisations of certain domains come with the standards in compliance testing for their industries. These laws and regulations are accepted by the majority of the industries.
Here are some organization which creates such standards:
- Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) established the standard for protecting sensitive patient data in the healthcare domain.
- World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) sets stand for HTML and CSS code for building websites.
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) implements regulations against using personal data
- The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) supports standards in the field of engineering and technology.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)regulates fair pricing from banks, lenders and other financial institutions.
So depending upon our product, we should identify the laws and regulations set by the corresponding organisations.
Conformance Testing Vs Compliance Testing
Compliance testing and confirmation testing are interchangeable terms. But note that compliance testing is a subset of conformance testing
|Conformance Testing||Compliance Testing|
|Conformance testing checks whether the software satisfies all of the requirements of a certain standard.||Compliance testing is performed to check the software's ability to support a few of the given standards.|
|These tests are formal and exact methods of evaluating standards.||It is more of an informal and less precise way of evaluating standards.|
|It makes sure that our software meets the industrial standard practices and benchmarks.||It makes sure that our software meets regulations and laws set by the internal organization and by external organization including the governing body.|
|It makes sure that software is effective, robust and reliable.||It prevents our organisation from getting exposed to legal penalties, reputation and material loss.|
|Conformance testing has a broader scope where it verifies that projects and operations conform to certification, standard and contracts such as service level agreement.||Compliance testing only covers laws and regulations.|
Advantages of Compliance Testing
Here are some advantages of compliance testing:
- Compliance tests are designed to identify negligence issues and ensure that our software meets safety standards.
- It improves the quality of the product, as we conduct periodic audits.
- It can prevent legal lawsuits against the product, as it identifies potential risks in compliance.
- It improves customer satisfaction and improves the reputation of the organisation.
- It ensures that the software is compatible with other products in the market that might be from different manufacturers.
- It assesses whether all the interfaces and functionalities are built by the standard.
- It makes sure that requirements are met.
- It guarantees mobility and compatibility
Disadvantages of Compliance Testing
Here are some disadvantages of compliance testing:
- To perform compatibility testing properly, we should identify the domain and all the functionality of the application and correlate it to the laws and regulations.
- We have specific requirements for Profiles, Levels, and Modules
- We have the complete know-how of different standards, norms, and regulations of the system to be tested.
- It can be time-consuming and costly for a small business.
Conformance Testing for Mobile System
Similar to any other testing, conformance testing can be performed for mobile devices too. The initial step would be to assemble the target devices and perform the conformance testing on the previous deployment.
When it comes to testing conformance in mobile devices, we consider networks consisting of GSM or CDMA, these help us to get conformance and interoperability.
Confirmation Testing in Mobile systems might also include:
- Protocol Testing Safety/Security Testing SIM card
- Testing Radio Frequency (RF)
- Testing Audio Tests
- Specific Absorption Tests
Must Read: Mobile App Testing Guide
When it comes to software testing, there are various types of tests that need to be carried out in order to ensure the quality of the software. Compliance testing is one such type of test, and its purpose is to determine whether the software meets the requirements specified by regulatory organizations or industry standards.
Technology and innovation are seeping various industries and domains which weren’t even considered possibly. But with bigger power comes greater responsibilities. We have to make sure that our software product doesn’t violate the industry’s rules and regulations.
We should perform and maintain accuracy and credibility with the help of compliance testing processes. We should perform periodic compliance testing to ensure our products are safe, and systems are operating appropriately and smoothly.
Please remember that when any company breaches those laws, the implication can be drastic. So compliance testing is crucial to safeguard our organization from potential risks.
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