Conformance Testing in Software Testing

Conformance testing is basically a type of audit that is done on the system to check whether all the specified criteria are met or not. Sometimes a board of regulators and compliance experts is established in each organization to ensure that compliance is met or not. This board checks whether the development teams are meeting the standards of the organization or not.

What is Conformance Testing?

Conformance testing in software testing is a technique used to verify that a software system complies with standards and regulations defined by IEEE, W3C, or ETSI. The purpose of conformance testing is to determine how well the system under test verifies that it meets the individual requirements of a particular standard. Conformance testing is also known as compliance testing.

Teams perform analysis to check that standards have been properly implemented. The regulatory board works concurrently to improve standards, which, in turn, will lead to better quality.

The standards commonly used by the IT industry are mainly defined by large organizations such as IEEE (International Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) or W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) etc.

It may deal with some technical aspects but intentionally includes:

  • performance
  • Functions
  • The strength
  • Interoperability
  • Behavior of the system

Conformance Testing Types

Conformance testing can be logical or physical, and includes the following types of testing:

1. Load Testing

Load testing is a type of software testing that determines the performance of a software product or software application under real-life load conditions. Basically, load testing determines the behavior of an application when multiple users use it at the same time. It is the response of the system measured under different load conditions.

2. Stress Testing

Stress testing is defined as a type of software testing that verifies the stability and reliability of a system. This test determines the robustness and handling of the system under particularly heavy load conditions. It even tests beyond the normal operating point and analyzes how the system performs under extreme conditions. Stress testing is done to ensure that the system does not crash under critical conditions.

3. Volume Testing

Volume testing is a type of software testing that is done to test a software application with a specific amount of data. The amount used in volume testing can be the size of the database or it can also be the size of an interface file that is the subject of volume testing.

Conformance Testing Objectives

The objectives of conformance testing include:

  • Determining that development and maintenance processes meet established procedures.
  • Ensures that deliverables of each stage of development meet standards, procedures, and guidelines.
  • Review project documentation to check for completeness and reasonableness.

When and How to Perform Conformance Testing?

When we need to check the overall consistency of the system, at this point the requirements specification is checked for completeness and correctness.

There are several ways to accomplish this that are not too different from our development lifecycle stages such as:

  • Analyzing requirements specifications
  • Test plan preparation
  • Preparation of test cases and their purpose
  • Create documentation for the developed test design

We need to focus on some additional aspects of specifications such as subsets, which are generally of three types such as ‘profile’, ‘levels’, and ‘modules’.

  • Profile is a subset of specifications that includes system functionality to meet requirements and is dedicated to a specific group of users.
  • Levels are nested subsets of specifications where Level1 indicates basic features and Level2 indicates Level1 + additional/new functionality.
  • Modules are a collection of significantly integrated standards and specifications.

Process of Conformance Testing

A Conformance testing process or compliance testing process is necessary to ensure performance, and to avoid future risks to the software application. An effective conformance test involves the following step-by-step process:

  1. Analyzing standards and specifications
  2. Selection of test tools and test suite
  3. Designing test procedures
  4. Checking for required validation.
  5. Adoption of relevant testing policies and certifications

Conformance Testing Advantages

  • Ensures proper implementation of specifications.
  • Ensures portability and interoperability.
  • Provides appropriate use of standards.
  • Makes it possible to ensure that interfaces and functions are working as expected.
  • Helps identify areas that are not to be adapted such as syntax and terminology

Conformance Testing Disadvantages

Like other types of testing, conformance testing has some tasks that are quite difficult to perform and can be a challenge. Some of them are listed below:

  • In order to perform conformance testing effectively, it is necessary to identify the class of system that needs to be tested along with the appropriate methodology.
  • Categorizing details into profiles, levels, and modules
  • Default values
  • Designing extensions, options, and approaches to run the testing process successfully.

Conformance Testing for Mobile Systems

As with other types of software testing, conformance testing can also be done for mobile systems. Once the system is assembled, it is checked for use through conformance tests before it is deployed.

Depending on the type of networks, such as GSM or CDMA, tests are performed to achieve conformance and interoperability.

  • These tests may include:
  • Protocol testing
  • Safety/Security Testing
  • SIM card check
  • Radio Frequency (RF) Testing
  • Audio test
  • Specific absorption test

Conformance Testing Summary

  • Conformance testing is also known as type testing which is a formal method of testing.
  • It is used to determine whether the system adheres to the requirements specification.
  • This includes stress testing, load testing, and volume testing.
  • It is also considered compliance testing but there is a fundamental difference between the two.
  • Conformance testing programs, testing procedures, and test tools are some of the most important areas of conformance testing.
  • Assurance of standard usability and interoperability is achieved through conformance testing in software engineering.
  • Conformance testing is also done for mobile systems.


Conformance testing is performed to ensure compliance with deliverables at each stage of the development lifecycle. These standards should be well understood and documented by management. If required, training and sessions should be organized for the team.

Conformance is checked primarily through the inspection process and the results of the review process should be well documented.

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