determining the severity and priority of a defect

7 Questions to Ask When Determining the Severity and Priority of a Defect

Determining the Severity and Priority of a Defect

Quality Assurance testing is essential to a successful project and finding defects in systems can be considered the primary goal of all QA processes. It is nearly impossible to track every tiny defect (budget limits and deadlines alone dictate as much) requiring testers to determine the severity and priority of identified defects. While severity and priority are concepts that go hand in hand, it is important to understand the difference between the two in order to prevent confusion with development teams and keep the Software Testing Life Cycle running smoothly.

Priority defines the order in which a specific defect should be resolved- can the repair wait, or does it need to be fixed immediately? Priority is categorized into three types; high, medium, and low. Defects that leave systems unusable are obviously high priority, while a defect that effects a feature rarely used would be considered low priority.

Severity can be defined as the degree of impact a defect has on the development and operation of an application. When determining the level of severity, there are four main classifications to keep in mind;

Critical/ Show Stopper– Causes complete failure of a system or subsystem. After a defect as such occurs, the system can no longer operate.

Major– Complete failure of system or part of system, however there are some alternatives for further operation.

Minor- While minor defects do not crash the system, they may cause poor usability or produce incorrect, inconsistent, and/or incomplete results.

Cosmetic- Does not prevent or disrupt the functionality of the system.

Before determining the class above in which the system defect lies, here are some key questions that every tester should ask themselves in order to help determine the level of defect severity;

  1. Does the defect prevent the system from working?
  2. Can the system be recovered? If yes- are external efforts needed or did it recover on its own?
  3. Is the defect present in other related sections of the system?
  4. Is the defect repeatable, despite changes in configuration?
  5. Are all users effected by the defect?
  6. How frequently does the defect appear?
  7. What inputs are causing the defects?

Testers should carefully consider the answers to these questions before making a final decision on the severity of a defect. They should also consider the impact of their decision – assigning the wrong level of severity to a defect can change the overall performance of the software and delay the test process.

Overall, the severity of the defect will also affect the priority level it is assigned. Priority is typically decided in consultation with the project manager, whereas the tester determines the severity level. Once the priority level and the severity of the system defect is understood by all, further action can be implemented.

Want to learn more about determining the severity and priority of a defect? QAT Global specializes in high value-added software testing, and even Agile aligned application testing to support faster time frames. Now you can have a flexible partner that can meet your business needs and deliver the quality your end-users expect.  For more information about how our QA and Testing Services offerings can solve your testing needs, start the conversation today.

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Tayler Crayne

Tayler Crayne is the Marketing Assistant at QAT Global. Tayler is responsible for supporting the continual promotion and development of the QAT Global brand, and awareness throughout enterprise level businesses; with a specific focus on social media, account-based marketing and lead nurturing.

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