Skip to main content

Why You Need Compliance Testing to Ensure Your Software Conforms to Laws and Regulations

A simulated checklist on top of a digital background represents software compliance testing.


Compliance testing is a software audit that validates whether an application, process, and/or system meets a set of legal or regulatory standards. Compliance testing is common in heavily-regulated industries such as finance, healthcare, and government contracting. These fields are subject to legal standards like PCI (the Payment Card Industry), HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), and FedRAMP (the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program).

Compliance testing is becoming more prevalent outside of these industries due to new data privacy regulations around the globe. For example, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) affects any organization processing data from the European Union, and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) similarly impacts those with Californian users. Compliance testing will become a standard practice among global enterprises as more laws are enacted.

Compliance Testing vs. Conformance Testing

Often, people use “compliance testing” and “conformance testing” synonymously. Both forms of software testing are designed to measure your software against a set of standards. However, while compliance testing focuses primarily on laws and regulations, conformance testing is more concerned with performance, industry standards, certifications, and service level agreements (SLAs).

What Does Compliance (or Conformance) Testing Look Like?

Both compliance and conformance testing are conducted voluntarily. Experts typically perform these tests in the specific law, regulation, certification, or industry body your software is subject to. Compliance testing and conformance testing should ideally take place before the software is released or, at minimum, before an audit is required.

Compliance testing is meant to help you find weak spots in your security and privacy programs so you can correct them before they cause issues. Conformance testing ensures your software meets certain performance and quality benchmarks set by your contract SLA, industry’s governing body (e.g., the IEEE), or even your original software requirements specification (SRS) document.

Why You Need Compliance Testing

Many organizations are subject to data privacy regulations, and many more will be affected by the new laws that deal with the rise in data breaches and privacy violations. Compliance testing is a voluntary audit that ensures your software aligns with legal, stakeholder, and industry requirements before release.

This process strengthens your legal position and reduces the chances of a failed audit post-release. That means fewer headaches like fines and emergency software updates. A failed compliance audit can also be a public relations nightmare, so catching and fixing issues before release will help your organization maintain its reputation.

Compliance and conformance testing can also speed up releases while improving the overall quality and security of the end product. Your goal in a DevOps environment is to streamline releases by “shifting left,” which means testing software early and often. Shifting left lets you identify defects and compliance issues before they affect the finished build. This step reduces the time needed to remediate problems and ensures the release is secure and performs as promised.

Implementing Compliance Testing to Ensure Your Software Conforms to Laws and Regulations

Compliance testing should be performed by experts in the specific laws and regulations you need to follow. Experts will ensure there are no gaps in your testing coverage and reduce your organization’s liability if there is an audit. A compliance testing program uses what’s known as a “requirements library,” which is essentially an inventory of all the specific rules and processes that must be followed to maintain compliance. Testers compare your policies, workflows, systems, and code to the requirements library to validate compliance.

Compliance testing is often conducted manually, which is a time-consuming and error-prone process. Human experts aren’t as good as computers at parsing large quantities of data and spotting patterns. Therefore, manual compliance testing may only be performed on an as-needed basis or an infrequent schedule (such as once per year).

A more robust and efficient method is continuously testing for compliance using an automated program. Automated compliance testing solutions monitor systems in real-time, generating alerts as soon as an application or service falls out of compliance. Automation allows you to ensure compliance without disruptive and time-consuming manual audits. It also means you can remediate issues immediately, preventing further compliance drift and reducing the risk of a privacy breach.

The compliance testing experts at Copado Strategic Services can help you implement an automated testing program to ensure your software conforms to laws and regulations.