What is compliance testing?
Compliance testing allows businesses to test and objectively assess their products and services to ensure they meet acceptable standards. It plays a key role in identifying vulnerabilities and defects in products and services. There is no gainsaying the importance of compliance testing in every business organization.
There are established processes to follow for quality and comprehensive compliance testing. Following these processes to implement your compliance testing ensures that violations of internal and external regulations are eliminated.
How to implement compliance testing
1. Create the requirements checklist
The first thing to do when your company intends to conduct compliance testing of your products is to create a requirement checklist. This should be done regardless of whether your company has a compliance testing program in place or not.
This requirement list is a detailed list of what the standard of your products and services should be. In addition, the list should spell out the regulatory, legal or contractual requirements of your company’s operations. To get the scope of what should make up your expected standard requirement in the list, you may need to consult a product or industry expert who will assist you with the requirements.
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There is also a need to verify the applicability of these requirements to your company’s products and services. Another thing to do at this level is to identify the risks your company might face if it fails to meet the requirements. Finally, pass the compliance risk down to every employee, especially the staff in charge of product planning, production and marketing. Doing this would help every staff member understand the implication of playing down the compliance testing processes.
2. Conduct a compliance risk evaluation
At this phase, you should have defined parameters or requirements detailing the categories and elements you intend to assess. This will make your compliance testing process cohesive and in line with acceptable standards.
Your compliance evaluation should be able to outline the inherent risk involved in the failure to meet a requirement and the controls available to mitigate this risk. Once you can ascertain the risks involved and controls available for mitigation, you can develop the testing methodology.
3. Develop the compliance testing methodology
Developing a compliance testing methodology will help you determine how to test each element in the requirement list. Here is how:
- Define the sampling method to be used in performing the test.
- Define the testing scope, approach and objective.
- State the steps you’ll take if you witness a compliance violation.
- Establish the compliance violation remediation strategies to follow.
After developing the compliance testing methodology, it’s vital to communicate this to the department in charge of the products and the team overseeing the testing in your company. Providing the methodology information on time to the appropriate team will inform them of what to expect during the compliance testing process.
4. Set the testing schedule
How often is the compliance testing to be conducted? What is the time frame for the entire testing process? These are some questions you should answer before setting up a testing schedule.
Use the requirement checklist to determine how often you should test each requirement. Depending on the scope of each requirement, your company’s object and the size of your team, your testing schedule will vary.
5. Perform testing
Inform the business units in advance of the audits you want to conduct and point out the steps you expect department heads and product managers to take.
Get the information and resources you’ll need to conduct testing against the legal requirements. After that, test following the defined testing methodology you’ve outlined to the business unit under audit.
Record the testing procedures and keep a record of the test results. Then, make sure the flaws or control gaps you’ve found are real by conducting further research.
Inform the business units of the testing results, and get their consent or agreement on any problems you’ve found. Draft and send the final report of your results to the appropriate stakeholders, such as the audit committee, once you have finished all the testing processes.
6. Set up and implement an issues management process
You must implement an issues management procedure to specify how you will handle any issue emanating from the results.
The first step is to add the issues you’ve found to your management system. Also determine which business function is in charge of the compliance violation so you can refer to the appropriate business unit. Analyze the compliance violation’s impact on your business.
You should also document the cause of each requirement violation and liaise with the unit in charge to pursue a remediation plan.
7. Validate remediation
Verify that the remediation plan functioned as planned. The validation process ensures that the corrective steps fix the immediate problem and that the long-term solution keeps it from happening again.
To properly validate that the remediation plan was successful, you might be required to repeat the test. In addition, in some situations where external bodies are interested in your compliance test result, you might need to provide evidence that you finished the remedial process as required.