Priority != Severity

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Priority != Severity

Mon Feb 25, 2019

I understand for many engineers and project managers, the difference between Priority and Severity is apparent, but I’ve run into numerous folks who still interchange them.

To clarify, I use these definitions:

Priority is the “scale of importance,” mostly used when determining when something should get resolved.

Severity is the “scale of impact,” mostly used when determining priority.

An classic example of their diversity:

If you have a high severity issue (i.e. a crash) that occurs via a rare edge case, and a low severity (i.e. UI issue) that happens regularly, there’s a good chance the lower severity issue will be given a higher priority then the higher severity issue. We may want to resolve the common issue first, even though it has a lower severity.

These are the definitions that I work with and seem pretty well aligned among my experiences in the tech industry.

If you have differing thoughts, hit me up on twitter (@tlef), and let us discuss.