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 must be responsive and pass penetration testing.

External standards are industry standards or regulations set outside an organization. For example, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) has established healthcare industry regulations requiring compliance risk assessments.

An integral part of the software testing life cycle, compliance testing ensures the compliance of deliverables of each phase of the development process.

What is the Objective of a Compliance Test?

The main objective of compliance testing is to ensure that a system or process adheres to established regulations, standards, specifications, and legislation. Compliance testing validates that a system functions according to both internal policies and external regulatory requirements. It provides stakeholders with evidence that requirements are being met consistently.

Some key objectives include:

  • Validating adherence to industry standards and government regulations to avoid non-compliance
  • Ensuring privacy, security, and data integrity according to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and other policies
  • Reducing organizational risk and establishing trust through the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) or other management systems
  • Demonstrating due diligence to auditors and regulators
  • Assisting with regulatory compliance across multiple cloud environments

Compliance testing ensures that systems and business processes operate reliably and legally. Test automation and predefined testing methodology templates assist testers in conducting efficient and high-quality compliance testing programs across various development cycles. Analyzing test results identifies compliance risk areas and enables validation that software meets conformance criteria.

Ultimately, compliance testing methodology validates adherence to internal policies and external regulatory requirements. This software testing process guarantees stakeholders that systems function legally at all times.

How Do you Conduct a Compliance Test?

Staying current with the latest laws and policies within the domain is key to reducing compliance risk. Support from stakeholders is needed to freeze requirements using predefined templates during testing processes. Full access and understanding of system architectures across cloud environments allow testers to interpret standards and run end-to-end test automation.

Additionally, a mature compliance testing program requires cross-functional expertise in regulations, development, and quality assurance. Comprehensive test plans trace back to regulatory obligations. Controls and security safeguards need repeated validation to remain effective as threats evolve.

Dedicated resources help evolve frameworks as regulations change across jurisdictions. Testers can thoroughly validate adherence to internal policies and external compliance commitments with adequate funding and organizational buy-in.

What are the Requirements for a Compliance Test?

Some key requirements for effective compliance testing include:

  • Keeping up to date with the latest rules, laws, and policies within the domain
  • Having access to and understanding of the whole system architecture and environments
  • Receiving support from business heads to freeze requirements during testing
  • Possessing domain experience to interpret and implement standards
  • Monitoring production systems post-deployment for continued compliance
  • Using automated testing tools to test end-to-end flows quickly
  • Maintaining audit trails and evidence of testing rigor

When to Use Compliance Testing

Conducting compliance testing before major software releases verifies conformance before impacting end-users. As systems expand into new regulatory jurisdictions, localized standards and industry specifications must undergo validation. 

Scheduling assessments during internal and external audits demonstrate due diligence. Proactively running compliance testing during periodic cycles catches issues early before non-compliance risks emerge. Any post-incident responses after data breaches or security events should include checks on controls and adherence to remediation plans.

Ongoing gap analyses by governance teams may reveal new areas needing more appropriate compliance validation. Dedicated compliance testers with the latest test automation tools can quickly execute these targeted assessments. Organizations can certify sustained adherence by continually evaluating systems against evolving standards and regulations.

How to Do a Compliance Check

Compliance testing follows an established process and plan and a risk-based approach. Compliance testing 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 develop an effective process successfully.

  • First, make sure you thoroughly understand your company’s requirements.
  • Next, assess your company and determine areas where your security may be at risk.
  • You can use this information to create a testing system tailored to your 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, record them to prove compliance.

Revise and monitor your testing over time to ensure 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.

Compliance Management is Made Easy with ZenGRC

Learn how ZenGRC optimizes end-to-end compliance testing activities from planning to audit reporting. Our guided tour shows firsthand how easily our software helps save time and cost. Contact our specialists now to book a personalized session.

ZenGRC helps you establish consistent testing methodologies to validate controls and verify adherence, no matter how often regulations change. Streamline confirmation of security safeguards through centralized dashboards. Get started now by scheduling a demo.