Ensuring compliance is the monitoring of analysis, creation, and execution of tests to comply with both internal and external standards during the development of an application or a software product. In a nutshell, that would be the definition of what it means to ensure compliance. But when the concept is looked at with a magnifying glass, it is discovered that it encompasses numerous issues, both internal and external: from some related to brand positioning to others that prevent potential legal problems, passing through those that bet on higher levels of inclusion and diversity.
Perhaps one of the most popular aspects of ensuring compliance is complying with the regulations requested by application distributors (app stores): a form of presentation, packaging, specific aspects of assembly, or data management. It is also an ideal ally to ensure compliance with current regulations and legislation, to avoid legal conflicts in the future.
These are the most frequent fields of action because they are associated with the highest risks: an app that is rejected by a store implies the need to redo the work, with all the associated costs and time losses. And the cost or reputational implications of a legal dispute arising from the use of the software are incalculable until they actually occur.
Here is a great advantage of ensuring compliance: to deliver these benefits, requires a small investment of time, ideally at the beginning of the project. It does so with adequate and clear documentation on the legal requirements or the orders of the stores, a style manual, a continuous update -all the elements involved are very dynamic and can change with high frequency-, and a team totally committed to complying with this process, in which each member can raise their hand and give a proactive warning when they detect a deviation or a shortcoming and take nothing for granted. In this scheme, the QA area plays a fundamental role: being the last link before going to production, it must show an absolute commitment so that nothing is overlooked.
In summary: the cost to benefit ratio of ensuring compliance from the beginning of a project is very positive.
From branding to accessibility
But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Beyond the fact that it is true that many companies incorporate this concept for fear of being rejected from an app or to avoid legal problems, the reality indicates that it is the starting point to incorporate enormous added value to both the organization and users.
From the branding point of view, for example, ensuring compliance helps control that the organization’s own fonts, color palettes, and wording are used in the solution, so that users can immediately identify the brand with which they are interacting. It is not a minor issue: in a project that we worked on with the United States police force, we corroborated that while they had a deep and precise knowledge on a legal level, whilst all this was covered in previous developments, they had, for instance, three different logos across three different screens, generating confusion among users.
It is also the basis for inclusion and diversity, since, for example, it is used to ensure that all images placed in development reflect the social diversity of the user group. It is not a mandatory or regulated issue: however, more and more companies from different geographies are betting on generating the well-being of the people with whom they interact through initiatives of this style. In the same way, the development of accessible apps that take into account the special needs of a particular minority has a strong component of compliance.
Obstacles and best practices
It is not about covering everything at once: you can start with the aspects that generate the greatest risk and, as you gain momentum, move forward with initiatives that generate greater value.
There are some obstacles when it comes to ensuring compliance in projects. The main one is the temptation to avoid the effort: many times companies feel that they can get there, to the exact point where the requirements of the store, or what the regulations ask for, are cut off. That is equivalent to walking through a very thin thread: if something goes wrong, the additional cost will be much higher than the “savings” achieved. Therefore, the best practice is always to include it in the planning.
Fewer legal problems, the greater probability of success among application distributors, better levels of inclusion and diversity, absolute brand recognition… Ensuring compliance is, fundamentally, ensuring benefits and added value in each application.