Software Integrity Blog

 

Why your development team should care about software compliance

Software compliance isn’t just a concern of security, development, and legal executives. Your developers and development managers should care about it too. Here’s why.

Why software compliance is important for development

How do you evaluate the quality of an application? A simple quality checklist would include these software performance characteristics:

  • It does what it’s supposed to do.
  • It doesn’t crash or hang.
  • It uses resources efficiently. That is, it doesn’t use up all the memory or, on a device, drain the battery.
  • It meets customers’ demands.

In short, it would get at least four out of five stars in the app store.

Digging a little deeper, we might talk about software quality in terms of code quality, or how easy an application is to maintain and upgrade:

  • The code is clean, thoroughly commented, and well formatted.
  • The code has a clear structure, and developers can instantly see how it works.
  • When developers add new features, they can easily determine which components to reuse and which new ones to create.
  • Developers can update a single component without breaking everything else.

All these features align with the goals of most development teams, who are in the business of software quality. But what about software compliance?

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How software compliance and software quality are related

To understand software compliance, you must start with software standards. Government and industry groups have issued many software standards to make software safe and secure for users. These standards help protect consumers from all sorts of harm, including identity theft and personal injury. They can cover every part of software development and deployment, from variable naming conventions to incident response protocols.

Software compliance refers to how well an application obeys the rules in a software standard. And that’s where you can find the relationship between software quality and software compliance. If your application complies with software standards, it’s less likely to contain bugs, security weaknesses, and design flaws. And if it’s free of bugs, weaknesses, and flaws, it’s more likely to comply with a software standard.

But while software quality and software compliance are close, they aren’t the same. Compliance doesn’t ensure quality, because no software standard addresses every aspect of software quality. Conversely, quality doesn’t translate to compliance. To achieve software compliance, you might also have to, for example, produce certain types of documentation or add security testing at more points in your software development life cycle.

Development’s responsibilities for software compliance

Development’s responsibilities for software compliance

Because software is the foundation of modern business operations, vulnerabilities in that software can have widespread, persistent consequences. That’s why the enforcement of software standards is so strict—and the potential costs of violation so high.

Achieving software compliance with your industry’s standards is in the best interest of everyone who participates in software development—from regulators and auditors to executives, the legal team, HR, PR, and all other employees. But only the development team can create code that complies with software standards.

The whole organization counts on your development team to show that they’re producing compliant software. It’s up to you to help them not only adhere to software coding and testing standards but also meet all the requirements for proving compliance.

How to help your development team deal with software compliance

Modern development teams face significant challenges as they make their way through the complex software standards landscape. Our new eBook 4 Software Compliance Gotchas to Avoid: How to Bypass Code Issues, Keep Regulators Away, and Stay Out of the News explores four common gotchas your development teams may encounter on their journey to achieve compliance with the standards required in your industry, as well as recommendations for overcoming them.

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