Understanding the Difference Between Bug Severity and Priority in Software Testing

Understanding the Difference Between Bug Severity and Priority in Software Testing

3 July 2024 Stephan Petzl Leave a comment QA

In software testing, effectively managing defects is crucial to maintaining the quality and performance of software applications. Two key concepts that often come up are bug severity and bug priority. While these terms might sound similar, they serve distinct purposes in the bug-tracking and resolution process. This article aims to demystify these concepts and provide practical guidance on how to use them effectively.

What is Bug Severity?

Bug severity is a measure of the impact a defect has on the end user and the system’s functionality. It answers the question: “How bad is this bug?” Severity is typically determined by the tester at the time of reporting the bug and can be classified into various levels such as:

  • Critical: The bug causes a complete failure of the software, such as a crash or significant data loss.
  • Major: The bug significantly impairs the functionality, but the system is still operational.
  • Minor: The bug causes some inconvenience or minor issues but does not affect core functionalities.
  • Trivial: The bug is mostly cosmetic and does not impact the software’s functionality.

What is Bug Priority?

Bug priority, on the other hand, is a measure of how quickly a bug should be fixed. It answers the question: “How soon should we address this bug?” Priority is usually set by project managers or during Scrum meetings and takes into account factors such as development effort, impact on release schedules, and business needs. It can be classified into levels like:

  • High: The bug should be fixed immediately as it affects a critical aspect of the application.
  • Medium: The bug should be fixed in the normal course of development but is not urgent.
  • Low: The bug can be fixed at a later time, possibly in a future release.

Why Differentiate Between Severity and Priority?

Separating severity and priority allows teams to make more informed decisions about defect management. Here are some reasons why this differentiation is practical and beneficial:

  • Focused Effort: Developers can focus on fixing bugs that have a high priority, ensuring that critical issues are resolved first.
  • Balanced Workload: Teams can balance the workload by addressing severe bugs that are easy to fix alongside less severe but high-priority issues.
  • Clear Communication: It provides clear communication between testers, developers, and project managers about the importance and urgency of each defect.

Practical Example

Consider a scenario where a company’s logo is displayed incorrectly on their website. This is a low severity issue because it does not affect the functionality of the website. However, it is a high priority issue because it impacts the company’s branding and needs to be fixed before the next release.


Understanding the difference between bug severity and priority is essential for effective defect management. By assigning separate values for severity and priority, teams can ensure that they address the most critical issues promptly while managing their workload efficiently.

At Repeato, we understand the importance of efficient bug tracking and resolution. Our no-code test automation tool for iOS and Android helps you create, run, and maintain automated tests for your apps. With Repeato, you can quickly identify and prioritize defects, ensuring high-quality releases every time. Learn more about how Repeato can enhance your quality assurance process by visiting our documentation and blog sections.

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