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What is Compliance Testing in Software Testing?

Anna Khrupa by Anna Khrupa on 06/3/2022

What is Compliance Testing in Software Testing?

Compliance testing or conformance testing is a software testing method. It is used to validate product’s or process’s compliance with the company’s standards, policies, and philosophy. This non-functional test is performed among the first to evaluate the control environment. A product passes the test only if it is fully developed, backed up with proper documentation, online support, the newest licenses, and with all the functions flagged as satisfactory.

Compliance testing meaning

Every company has its standards, procedures, and policies. Compliance testing ensures that each product is in harmony with those standards. Compliance testing is non-functional. It is a methodological arrangement designed to affirm whether the software in production complies with pre-determined policies. This audit aims to push the product’s boundaries and increase its quality by refining the standards. 

The above is done to meet the demand and satisfy the customer by keeping software quality and procedures’ abidance in check. 

How to do compliance testing?

Whether an internal auditor or compliance department carries out the compliance testing, it follows a specific sequence of steps. Here is a simplified version of this process:

Step #1. Constructing the requirements library. It is a company’s prerequisites register used to determine the compliance risk. The library will be the only origin of truth, being the firm’s one reference point for its base of rules and obligatory policies. 

Step #2. Evaluating the software compliance risk. Use a matrix to deduce primary and secondary risks of a regulatory violation. You specifically need strictly defined parameters, among which are measuring factors and data sources. 

Step #3. Producing the testing methodology. It includes defining the testing entry, method assay, and policy to follow when compliance issues are found. It is also crucial to convey the testing methodology to the business owners or anyone relevant to the testing process to avoid doubling the exertion.

Step #4. Launching the compliance testing. Start by obtaining the required data and conducting the test by applying your methodology to the tested software. After thoroughly inspecting the results, inform auditors about the software parts that fail to adhere to the company rules and proceed to the rectification process. Make sure to trace the testing process to form a transparent report for the stakeholders.

Compliance testing example

When a new software product is about to hit the market, it may be subject to compliance testing. Let’s say a new version of Discord is in the final development stages. Before it gets verified as a ready product, its various features need strict conformance testing procedures, such as user access rights, software licenses, program documentation, program change control procedures, logs’ review, protocol testing, audio and video tests, completeness assertions, etc. 

The different parts of the test are assigned with certain failure conditions. For example: Information revealed by mouse over is not available to keyboard-only users (i.e., there is no equivalent screen text or visual context). The results are divided into three categories, only one of which is applicable: 

“Does not apply? [DNA]” — if mouse overs are not used; 

“Not Compliant [NC]” — if the information is in the title but is not represented through text or visual context; 

“Compliant [C]” — if the title provides information and equivalent information is found through text or visual context. The latter results are then submitted to the company’s reporting tool.

Compliance testing methodology

Every company has its methodology or adjusts to the general testing strategies. There are several methodologies in software testing, any of which can be used to conduct a compliance test. Here are the most common ones:

  1. Agile methodology — is based on quick adaptation principles, when small working teams (a.k.a. “sprints”) constantly adapt to new testing requirements. 
  2. Waterfall methodology — a thorough and slow methodology approach. Full-scale documentation and planning always take place before each step. You cannot take the next step unless the previous one is complete. A simple method but resistant to quick corrections. Most often used to conduct a compliance test.
  3. Verification-Validation methodology (V-Model) — an intriguing approach, implying that the testing process proceeds alongside the development itself. Upon concluding a particular development step, the working group instantly starts the testing process. 

Advantages of compliance testing

Compliance testing is critical for a quality product. Here are some of the benefits it provides during the development stage: 

  1. Ensures suitable application of the company’s required specifications;
  2. Verifies compatibility and mobility;
  3. Assures proper standards and policies are followed;
  4. Helps to ratify the interface and functions properly;
  5. Assists in finding software’s weak spots

In conclusion, compliance testing as a type of non-functional testing is used to assure the correlation of the product and the development process. Non-functional testing is as important as functional testing. It is not compulsory in many companies, despite the direct correlation between users’ satisfaction and quality compliance testing.  

Documenting standards and policies, correcting the non-compliant areas help companies get exceeding profits and strengthen the reputation of a trusted brand developer. 

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