Severity vs. Priority in Bug Writing

Javascript CodeRandom QA trivia time! One question that we sometime get in reference to our bugbase is, “What’s the difference between severity and priority? Aren’t these the same thing?” While the terms can be easily conflated, they actually do have individual meaning:

Severity is a measurement of how serious an issue is.

While its application does vary somewhat from project to project, severity always measures just how bad a particular bug is. Crashes, data loss and security flaws tend to have the highest severity, while typos and minor graphical misalignments tend to be of the lowest severity.

As an honorable mention, some bugbases (including our own) include enhancements or feature requests as a type of severity. These types of tickets should always be considered separately from actual defects when assessing their relative priority, however, since they may require additional development to properly address.

Priority is a measurement of how important an issue is to a particular project phase.

Priorities are usually assigned by a project manager who is familiar with a project’s technical and business requirements. While there is some definite congruence between priority and severity at the highest levels—crashes and data loss always need to be addressed quickly—they often differ considerably with moderate to lower-severity issues. For example, an educational app typically places correcting typos and pedagogical logic at a higher priority than does a game, while a consumer-focused app may regard ease of use issues as higher priorities.

Hopefully this helps clarify these often-confusing rating systems. As always, go ahead and contact us if you have any questions or are interested in our software testing services.

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