The Basics on SOX Testing

One of the most interesting aspects of software testing is that its applications go beyond just the IT world, and that means that economic matters like the Sarbanes-Oxley Act might end up playing a role in your job. Of course, not everybody testing will know every single topic they end up working on, but today we can ease things up for those of you involved in SOX controls testing specifically. So keep on reading so you can understand everything a tester needs to know about a SOX test.

What is SOX testing?

Before we answer what is SOX testing we need to discuss what SOX is in the first place. SOX or the Sarbanes-Oxley Act is a Federal Law in the United States that demands corporations to share financial records with the government to prevent fraud and keep accounting as clear as possible.

Now, SOX itself is a concern of upper management and the accounting team for the most part, but the software tied to it isn’t. So to answer what is SOX testing, it refers to the testing process used to confirm the correct operation of the software that compiles and sends SOX financial information to the government.

What kind of systems require SOX testing?

SOX testing is required of any corporation that needs to report under the purview of the SOX act, as the failure to provide accurate information on time is heavily penalized, even if it happens to be due to a software malfunction.

Of course, to answer what kind of corporations require SOX compliance testing we need to explain who the SOX act applies to: Any publicly traded company doing business in the US; even if the company wasn’t founded on the US itself.

So in short, a SOX testing internal audit will be necessary for any public company in our country.

What is SOX control testing?

SOX control testing is the core of the SOX experience for testing engineers, as it refers to the act of confirming if the controls and applications in the software are working as intended. For the most part as SOX affairs are handled by the accounting team, the software is expected to compile relevant information and share it all on its own, so SOX testing procedures focus on ensuring these automatic systems work as intended to avoid any legal complications later down the line.


Understanding SOX testing requirements

The core requirements for SOX testing are the following:

  • Being a public company operating partially or completely in the US.
  • Having an existing SOX compliance software.
  • Collaboration with the accounting team.

Ultimately the requirements for SOX testing automation are not as convoluted as the topic might make it sound. SOX is a complex act of course, but as a tester your job is to make software work as intended, same as any other software testing process.

Do keep in mind however that close collaboration with the accounting team is ideal, as they understand the peculiarities of the SOX act in ways you might not. And ultimately SOX compliance is a matter that involves the entire company, not just the software team.

Standard SOX testing procedures

If you are looking for specific SOX testing examples then controls are of course the core of the experience. Ensuring the automated systems work as intended is the most important aspect of SOX testing, and will take the bulk of the time spent on it.

Compatibility with existing audit software is also a major component of SOX testing, as seamless integration with the company’s existing software will be necessary to keep operations in order and on time. Last but not least SOX 404 testing is essential to ensure that the software will operate under duress, as an unexpected and unreported crash can leave the company in a complicated legal position.


Do I need to have an understanding of accounting to do SOX testing?

Not necessarily, as ultimately you’ll still be doing software testing first and foremost. But a deeper understanding of the topic will undoubtedly help your efforts.

Do all companies use SOX systems?

No, as only public companies are required to comply with the SOX Act.

How often is SOX testing done?

It depends on the company, but usually, there’ll be 2 or 3 testing periods across the year.

What’s the main purpose of SOX testing?

The real SOX testing meaning is to prevent legal complications due to an issue in the transfer of information.

The bottom line

SOX compliance is a matter of life or death for public companies, and SOX reporting systems are at the forefront of it all. So as a testing engineer, you might need to involve yourself in SOX compliance testing every once in a while. Of course, SOX is just one of the many possible applications for your job, so if you want to remain informed on other potential applications, keep in touch with us and follow our blog for future guides and advice.


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