Compliance Testing or Conformance Testing: What’s The Difference?

Compliance Testing or Conformance Testing: What’s The Difference?

Every product, method, or system must be tested to ensure that it complies with applicable rules and regulations as well as conform to the organization’s standards or specifications. Compliance testing, which is commonly used interchangeably with Conformance testing, is performed to guarantee that the software product meets all criteria. However, there is a fine line between these categories, leaving businesses perplexed as to which test they should do.

This article will explain the distinction between compliance testing and conformance testing in software testing and offer a detailed comparison of both testing approaches.

Compliance Testing VS Conformance Testing

Compliance testing is concerned with ensuring that a product complies with applicable rules and regulations. Whereas conformance testing is a much broader phrase, this software testing procedure involves the system adhering to the IEE, W3C, or ETSI specified standards and rules. The inspection process is largely utilized for compliance testing, and the review process’s outcomes should be thoroughly documented for future reference. Conformance testing establishes how a system ensures that it meets the particular criteria of a certain standard during testing. As you might think, there is some overlap between the two. Your compliance standards may require conformity with a law or regulation; conversely, adherence to an industry-standard may be required to fulfill acceptable requirements.

Conformance Testing Compliance Testing
Conformance Testing is a formal and exact method of evaluating standards. Compliance Testing is more like an informal and less precise way of evaluating standards
Only operating systems that are certified by an authorized Certification Authority are eligible for conformance certification. A POSIX (Portable Operating System Interface) compliant operating system is one that supports a single POSIX (Portable Operating System Interface) API.
Conformance testing ensures that a system satisfies all of the requirements of a certain standard. Compliance testing is performed to test a system’s ability to support a few of the given standards.

Use of Compliance Testing in Software Testing

For businesses, the internet used to be a bit of wild west, with legal compliance being an issue solely for organizations working in heavily regulated industries like finance and healthcare. However, the law is catching up with technology, as indicated by the flood of data privacy regulations engulfing the globe—for example, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe or the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in the United States.

If your company’s software, systems, or data are subject to any rules or regulations, you should do compliance testing to ensure that you are meeting all of the requirements. A compliance test is generally a practice audit in which a team of regulatory specialists (preferably in your specific sector) examines your systems, procedures, and security controls to ensure compliance. If your compliance testers find any problems, they’ll make specific recommendations for how to fix them and then do follow-up testing to ensure that all problems have been fixed.

Compliance tests are typically undertaken by a third-party agency comprised of experts in the specific laws and regulations being tested for, though quite big firms may keep an in-house team for this purpose.

Compliance testing is not the same as an audit, which is mandated by law, but it is a voluntary self-check that can be incredibly beneficial in preparing for an audit. Compliance testing will assist you in identifying the weak points in your compliance program, such as whether your personnel requires more in-depth training, your security controls are insufficient, or your administrative procedures require more precision. This enables you to address and correct any compliance concerns before an auditor discovers them.

Use of Conformance Testing in Software Testing

Conformance testing, on the other side, is concerned with adhering to specific industry, technical, or contractual standards that may or may not intersect with legal compliance requirements. Conformance testing is often concerned with the functionality of your software and systems, as well as whether or not you meet particular benchmarks. Conformance testing is classified into three types:

  • Load Testing
  • Stress Testing
  • Volume Testing

The particular benchmarks you must satisfy will be determined by your industry’s regulating organization (for example, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers or IEEE), your contract SLA, or other technical specifications. Almost every organization wants their software to conform to some sort of standard, even if it’s only a commitment made in a contract, therefore conformance testing can assist almost every organization.

Conformance testing may be obligatory (similar to a compliance audit) or elective to assure the quality and compatibility of your software and systems. In either instance, conformance testing aids you in delivering a high-quality finished product that meets all consumer, legal, and industry requirements.


Hope now you get a clear idea of conformance testing and compliance testing.

To deliver glitch-free software it is important to choose the right compliance testing partner. Schedule a call with us, leverage our 10+ years of software testing experience for your project.



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