How To Develop Software To the Highest Standards

Government agencies frequently have very different software needs than most private enterprises. The software that governments need must conform to numerous standards. Indeed, government software must comply with basic standards like accessibility requirements. Government compliance can also mean significantly more stringent standards around encryption, development practices, and more.

So, the question for government agencies is, what’s the best way to ensure that the software they develop (or contract out) complies with all the necessary standards and regulations? All government software developers need to take three steps to ensure the software meets this bar.

Identify and Document the Government Compliance Requirements

The first step towards compliance is knowing the standards and protocols to which your software must adhere. If you don’t know that, the software will never be compliant.

Therefore, identify and document all the compliance requirements. First, figure out what type of software you’re developing. Are you developing a website for the U.S. government? If so, it must be 508-compliant. The 508 standards document how to make government websites accessible, including aspects like minimum contrast ratios and more.

Some projects might have encryption or hosting constraints. A government site might not be hostable on Azure, for example, or, if it is, it needs to be on the government cloud instead of the commercial one.

As you might guess, each of these government compliance requirements potentially adds complexity to a project. Time and monetary estimates must reflect this reality.

Include Compliance Throughout the Software Development Process

One of the big mistakes with development is that teams sometimes leave compliance to the end. They create the concept and develop the code figuring that they’ll “make it work” with whatever government compliance is necessary.

Unfortunately, this mentality can lead to significantly more work and can mean lower compliance. Consider the following simple example. Let’s consider a site with a search bar. The designer creates the search bar and the search button, and the developer codes it. Then, after building it, the team reviews for accessibility against the 508 standards. They discover that not only is the button color not of high enough contrast, but it’s also not navigatable via tabs. And, because the button is an image, the narrator isn’t picking up the text for visually impaired individuals.

So now the designers have to go back and redesign the search bar. The programmers have to update it to look like the revised comp from the designer. And, there are quite a few code changes, like adding ARIA tags to the search button.

Of course, all this extra work and frustration didn’t need to happen. If the original design had accessibility in mind, it would have been evident that it wasn’t 508 compliant. Then, the designers could have tweaked the search bar before the developers started coding!

Instill in the Team the Importance of These Standards

Many times, government contracts stipulate that projects must adhere to various standards. As such, it’s important to stress the necessity of this government compliance. Even though there might be many rules, they’re necessary to ensure that the final product is in the public’s best interest.

Therefore, all software agencies and government programmers should take the time to familiarize themselves with all the necessary standards. The more each team member feels empowered to make the software the best quality, the better off the entire project will be!

Government Compliance Is a Necessary Part of Development

Ultimately, government compliance is a necessary part of certain types of software development. The more any software agency works with government contracts and learns about compliance, the better the software will be.

At INVID Group, we have extensive experience working with government agencies and ensuring that all software is compliant with the highest standards. If you would like compliant custom software, please contact us!

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