What is Compliance Testing?

Published August 18, 2020 • 2 min read

Compliance testing, also known as conformance testing, is a type of software testing to determine whether a software product, process, computer program, or system meets a defined set of internal or external standards before it’s released into production. 

Internal standards are standards set by an organization. For example, a web application development company might set the standard that all web pages are required to be responsive. 

External standards are industry standards or regulations set outside an organization. For example, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) has established regulations for the health care industry.

An integral part of the software testing life cycle, compliance testing is used to ensure the compliance of deliverables of each phase of the development process.

Your organization’s compliance management system (CMS) should be tested regularly to make sure that it is working smoothly and efficiently. These tests should be performed against any regulatory requirements legally required of your industry. The consequences of breaking a statute or law can be severe, and creating a compliance testing program is a crucial step in protecting your company from possible risks. 

During compliance testing, it’s important for a company to identify violations of the applicable requirements, e.g., regulations or internal policies, and remediate the cause of those violations in a timely manner to mitigate the compliance risks it’s facing.

Compliance testing follows an established process and plan as well as a risk-based approach. Compliance testing that is performed on an ad hoc basis and not according to an established process can result in increased regulatory scrutiny since organizations won’t be able to prove that they have a fully functioning compliance testing program.

While the specifics of compliance testing can vary from company to company, there is a basic framework you can follow to successfully develop an effective process. 

  • First, make sure you thoroughly understand the requirements of your company.
  • Next, assess your company and determine any areas where your security may be at risk.
  • You can use this information to create a testing system that is tailored to your specific needs. Determine how often the tests need to be performed and schedule them accordingly. 
  • If the tests demonstrate issues in your system, address them quickly, and adjust the testing system if necessary. 
  • If the tests indicate that your security measures are working, be sure to record them in order to prove compliance. 

Revise and monitor your testing overtime to ensure that the controls remain effective. Compliance testing enables organizations to:

  • Validate if their software fulfills all the system requirements and standards.
  • Determine that all the related documentation is accurate and correct.
  • Confirm that the software design, development, and evaluation are carried out according to the specifications, standards, norms, and guidelines.
  • Determine if the maintenance process meets the prescribed methodology.

Some compliance testing activities are conducted by independent functions within the business, some are performed by compliance personnel, and others by the internal audit function.

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