Luxe Quality logo
Quality Assurance

Bohdan Mushta, Quality Assurance Engineer

Jan 17, 2024 14 min read

Compliance Testing: Best Practices in 2024

In this article, we'll talk about compliance testing, why it is essential, and the steps you can use to perform this testing. 

Compliance Testing: Best Practices

Compliance testing is a valuable tool that software developers and companies use. It helps ensure that their products match what their clients and stakeholders want. 

By using compliance testing, development teams can make their work better and meet the expectations of clients and stakeholders. Learning about this process can help you achieve reliable results in your current and future development projects. 

In this article, we'll talk about compliance testing, why it is essential, and the steps you can use to perform this testing. 

What is Compliance Testing 

Compliance testing is a set of steps companies follow to help ensure that their products and services meet specific rules or standards inside and outside the organization. In simple terms, compliance testing is like a thorough checkup for a system to ensure it follows all the rules and standards set by the organization. To guarantee this, some organizations have a group of experts called a regulatory board. Their job is to verify that development teams meet the organization's standards. 

The teams analyze and confirm that the standards are being followed correctly. At the same time, the regulatory board works to make these standards even better, leading to higher quality. 

Compliance testing is also called Conformance testing. The standards usually used by the IT industry are defined by large organizations like IEEE (International Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) or W3C (World Wide Web Consortium), etc. 

An independent company specializing in this testing type can sometimes carry it out. 

What Do We Need to Check for Compliance Testing 

Compliance testing means examining a product to ensure it meets specific standards, regardless of the field. 

  1. Verify that product is fully developed, and all features work as they should. 
  2. Have documentation and user manuals ready for a clear understanding and compliance recheck. 
  3. If there's online support and documentation, ensure it's the latest version. 
  4. Confirm that functional and integration testing is done and meets the exit criteria. 
  5. Have an escalation matrix in place, along with contacts for development, testing, and management teams. 
  6. Ensure all licenses are up to date. 

Why do We Need Compliance Testing 

Compliance testing helps to ensure that a company follows its set standards. It checks if the rules for software development are followed correctly, ensuring a smooth product launch. This testing is crucial for avoiding hefty fines for non-compliance. It also aids in maintaining coding standards, making it easier to manage the code in the future. Additionally, compliance testing helps identify and fix violations promptly to reduce compliance risks. 

There are several important reasons for performing compliance testing: 

Safety 

We want to make sure our customers and our products are safe. Compliance tests help us identify any safety issues and ensure our products meet all safety standards. 

Quality 

Another critical reason for compliance testing is to achieve better and proven quality. Besides the compliance test, performing regular checks to maintain high-quality standards is crucial. 

Legal Requirements 

Companies are sometimes obligated by law to conduct compliance tests before launching their products. Failure leads to legal consequences, including possible legal action and license cancellation. 

Customer Satisfaction 

When a product is tested and marked as compliant, it instills customer confidence. It not only benefits the customers but also boosts the company's reputation. 

Conformance 

Following necessary standards ensures that our products align with the norms and are compatible with other products on the market, even if they come from different manufacturers. It helps maintain consistency and interoperability. 

Why do We Need Compliance Testing

Essential Elements of Compliance Testing 

Here are some essential elements of compliance testing:

Compliance Rules and Steps 

Establish robust rules and steps that show the organization's promise to follow and guide employees. 

Teaching and Knowing Programs 

Make sure that all employees understand their duties by implementing detailed teaching and awareness programs.

Watching and Checking 

Keep a constant eye on activities to find any rule-breaking and see how well the rules work. 

Inner Controls and How Things Are Run 

Set up internal controls and operational methods to reinforce the organization's efforts to follow the rules, ensuring accountability across the board. 

Report Systems 

Create straightforward and quick ways to share results and findings from following the rules, including actions taken, with influential people like top management and regulators. 

How and When to Perform Compliance Testing 

Wondering how to do compliance testing? It can be done in two ways: by your in-house team or an external group specializing in it. The critical thing to remember is that compliance testing should only be carried out by authorized individuals or organizations. Initially, the chosen team should understand the specific rules, requirements, and norms that apply to the system being tested, as different organizations follow different sets of rules.  

The government or significant industries establish software regulations to ensure that it is safe and secure for its users. Some standard criteria in the software industry include: 

  1. ISO/IEC/IEEE12207 is an international regulation that governs software lifecycle processes. 
  2. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) defines regulations for web development across various devices. 
  3. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) sets the standard for protecting sensitive patient data, making it a requirement for the healthcare sector. 
  4. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a compulsory regulation in the European Union. 
  5. Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance is necessary for systems dealing with credit card transactions to safeguard customers against identity theft. 

Reviewers should familiarize themselves with the regulations relevant to the countries where the software will be released, global regulations, and any specific regulations set by their organization. Sometimes, an organization may have internal regulations, such as guidelines for making web pages responsive to specific redirection rules. The compliance testing team should also get well-acquainted with the application being tested and collect and analyze data from previous compliance checks and reports. 

During compliance testing, the focus areas include examining the software's coding style and encryption. The audit also thoroughly reviews all documentation to ensure strict adherence to established regulations.

Regulatory Compliance Testing 

Regulatory compliance testing is a process that ensures a company's adherence to specific rules, regulations, and standards set by governing bodies or regulatory authorities within a particular industry. This type of testing is crucial for organizations operating in sectors with strict legal and regulatory areas, such as finance, healthcare, or telecommunications.  

Regulatory compliance testing aims to ensure adherence to relevant laws and regulations for a company's products, services, or processes. This testing helps organizations identify and rectify potential non-compliance issues before facing legal consequences or penalties.

Critical aspects of regulatory compliance testing include:

  • Legal Adherence: Validating that the organization follows all applicable laws and regulations relevant to its industry. 
  • Data Security and Privacy: Verifying proper handling of sensitive information, such as customer data, privacy laws, and data protection regulations.
  • Quality Standards: Checking if the products or services meet specific quality standards mandated by regulatory authorities. 
  • Documentation: Ensuring that the organization maintains proper documentation to demonstrate compliance with regulations. 
  • Risk Mitigation: Identifying and addressing potential risks that could lead to non-compliance. 
  • Regular Audits: Conducting regular audits to assess ongoing compliance and identify areas for improvement. 

Regulatory compliance testing is essential for building trust with customers, avoiding legal issues, and maintaining a positive reputation in the industry. It also provides a systematic approach to addressing regulatory requirements and creating a culture of compliance within the organization. 

Best Practices for Successful Compliance Testing 

Keep Getting Better: Continuous Improvement and Monitoring 

  • Validate that your compliance program is improving by embracing a continuous improvement culture. 
  • Regularly monitor and update the program to ensure it stays effective over time. 

Team up with Authorities: Collaboration with Regulatory Bodies 

  • Build strong relationships with regulatory authorities to stay in the loop about changes or new expectations. 
  • Maintain open communication channels to foster collaboration and mutual understanding. 

Knowledge is Power: Comprehensive Training Programs 

  • Invest in thorough training programs for employees, providing them with the skills and knowledge needed for compliance duties. 
  • Equip your team to navigate the complexities of compliance with confidence. 

Be Open and Quick: Transparent and Timely Reporting 

  • Make certain that compliance testing results and findings are reported transparently and promptly. 
  • Share actions taken for remediation openly to promote accountability and maintain trust with stakeholders. 

Protect What Matters: Data Privacy and Security 

  • Implement strong measures to protect sensitive information during compliance testing. 
  • Comply with data protection regulations to ensure the security and privacy of data throughout the testing processes. 

Compliance Testing Challenges in Simple Terms 

  1. Keeping up with Technology and Risks: Adapting to new tech and threats like cyberattacks and data privacy concerns may mean changes in compliance testing approaches.  
  2. Changing Rules: Regulations constantly change, requiring updates in compliance testing methods and ensuring employees know what to do. 
  3. Working Together: Making sure compliance testing works well with other assurance functions, like internal audit and risk management, for enhanced efficiency.
  4. Limited Resources: Sometimes, conducting all desired compliance testing may demand more money or people.
  5. Accurate Data: It's essential to have accurate and reliable data for compliance testing. 

Section 508 Compliance Testing 

Section 508 Compliance testing is vital to ensure that digital content is usable by everyone, especially those with disabilities. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act mandates that federal agencies ensure their electronic and information technology is accessible to everyone. While this requirement is specific to the United States, the European Union also has similar accessibility standards outlined in the Web Accessibility Directive (Directive (EU) 2016/2102). This directive applies to public sector websites and mobile applications and requires them to meet specific accessibility standards that ensure equal access to digital content for people with disabilities. 

Companies and organizations that work with the government must perform Section 508 Compliance testing during web development and software design. During this testing, a thorough examination of digital content is performed to ensure it meets the accessibility standards set by Section 508 guidelines. If any issues are found, they are fixed to ensure that the content is accessible to everyone, creating an inclusive and usable digital environment for individuals with disabilities.

The Role of QA Testers in Compliance Testing

Within the realm of compliance testing, Quality Assurance (QA) testers have a pivotal role to play. Let's delve into their significance in ensuring compliance and the various responsibilities they have: 

  • Development of Test Plans: QA testers are responsible for formulating comprehensive test plans tailored to assess compliance. These plans outline specific criteria, standards, and regulations the software must meet. This proactive approach sets the stage for thorough testing. 
  • Performing Test Cases: Performing test cases is a core function of QA testers in compliance testing. They rigorously assess each aspect of the software against established standards, identifying any deviations or non-compliance issues. 
  • Bug Identification and Reporting: QA testers, with the help of necessary tools, identify bugs, glitches, or instances of non-compliance during the testing process. Their keen attention to detail ensures that even minor deviations from standards are flagged for resolution. 
  • Collaboration with Regulatory Experts: QA testers collaborate with compliance and regulatory experts in organizations with dedicated regulatory boards. This partnership ensures a holistic understanding of the standards and facilitates effective testing aligned with industry and legal requirements. 
  • Continuous Improvement Initiatives: QA testers contribute to continuous improvement initiatives by providing valuable insights into enhancing compliance processes. They actively participate in discussions on refining standards, thereby elevating the overall quality of the software. 
  • Documentation and Reporting: Thorough documentation of test cases, results, and any identified non-compliance issues is a crucial responsibility of QA testers. Clear and concise reporting enables developers and stakeholders to understand compliance status and take corrective actions. 
  • Automation for Efficiency: Incorporating automation into compliance testing, QA testers streamline repetitive tasks, ensuring efficient and consistent evaluations. Automation tools can perform checks against standards, allowing testers to focus on more complex compliance aspects. 
  • Independent Third-Party Testing: QA testers may engage independent third-party testing services in scenarios where an external perspective is crucial. These specialists bring an unbiased evaluation, offering an additional layer of assurance regarding compliance.  

QA testers are guardians of compliance, playing a vital role in upholding standards and regulations within the software development lifecycle. Their meticulous efforts identify and rectify non-compliance issues and contribute to the continuous enhancement of processes, fostering a culture of quality and adherence to industry best practices. 

Compliance Testing vs Conformance Testing: Which One Do You Need 

While compliance and conformance testing share many similarities and often cover similar ground, it's important to note that they aren't always interchangeable. How can you determine which testing type is required for your specific needs? 

Compliance testing is not the same as an audit, which can be mandatory by law, but it's a voluntary self-check that can be incredibly useful in preparing for an audit. It helps you find areas for improvement in your compliance program, such as more thorough staff training, inadequate security controls, or imprecise administrative policies. It allows you to fix any compliance issues before an auditor discovers them. 

On the other hand, conformance testing is all about meeting specific industry, technical, or contractual standards, which may or may not overlap with legal compliance requirements. It mainly focuses on how well your software and systems perform and whether they meet certain benchmarks. The specific benchmarks you must meet depend on the regulations set by your industry's governing body, your contract's service level agreement, or other technical specifications. Most organizations require their software to adhere to some regulation, even if it's just a promise in a contract so conformance testing can benefit almost any organization. 

Conformance testing may be mandatory, like a compliance audit, or you may choose to do it voluntarily to help ensure your software and systems meet high-quality standards and work well with customer, contractual, and industry requirements. 

Compliance/Conformance Testing for Your Software

Ensuring that software meets specific standards is crucial during development. Regular compliance/conformance testing at each stage helps to guarantee that both internal and external standards are met. If you need help with which type of testing you need, contact us today. We would appreciate the opportunity to discuss your request in detail, gather specific information about our collaboration, and receive initial suggestions on how we can assist you. 

Conclusion 

Compliance testing is about checking if a company follows the rules and standards it needs to. It involves looking at laws, policies, and industry guidelines to find any risks or gaps in how the company follows these rules. The goal is to ensure the company keeps following these rules over time.  

The main parts of the compliance test cover things like the company's rules and procedures, training programs, monitoring activities, internal controls, and reporting systems.  

However, there are challenges in compliance testing. These include dealing with new technologies and risks, keeping up with changing rules, ensuring compliance testing works well with other checks, having enough resources, and upholding the accuracy and reliability of data.  

To do compliance testing, it's essential to follow best practices. These include always trying to improve, working closely with the people who make the rules, having good training programs, being straightforward and fast when reporting, and ensuring data is private and safe. 

Have a project for us?

Let's make a quality product! Tell us about your project, and we will prepare an individual solution.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an example of compliance testing?

Compliance testing ensures a product adheres to specific standards. For example, testing a healthcare app for HIPAA compliance validates its security measures for protecting patient data. 

What is the purpose of compliance testing?

The primary purpose is to verify that a product complies with relevant regulations, ensuring legal adherence, user safety, and market credibility. 

What is the compliance testing process?

The compliance testing process involves planning, executing, and documenting tests to verify adherence to regulatory standards. 

What are the best practices for compliance testing?

Best practices include early involvement, the use of automation tools, a robust methodology, continuous monitoring, and collaboration between QA and development teams. 

Who is a compliance QA tester?

A compliance QA tester specializes in testing processes to ensure products align with industry standards and regulatory requirements. 

Recommended Articles