Classifying and Prioritizing Bugs

The Nature of Bugs

Bugs are unavoidable. Even the best quality assurance (QA) specialists can’t guarantee their absence in the products they release to market, although they can do a thorough review of the systems, performance, functionality, and other aspects of a piece of software they’re testing. 

Of course, it’s critical to catch as many bugs as possible prior to releasing a product. And an important, ongoing stage in this process is classifying and prioritizing these defects.

We employ the top 1% of talent in the QA space in order to perform an exhaustive evaluation of the products we build at BairesDev. Classification and prioritization is just one part of the software development lifecycle (SDLC) but an essential one at that.

Classifying and Prioritizing Bugs 5

Why Do You Need to Classify and Prioritize Bugs?

There are a number of reasons why this step is critical in the SDLC. Perhaps the most important is to ensure that the team focuses on and addresses the most important bugs first — the ones that are most likely to adversely affect the user’s experience with the product. If you don’t take this important step — or rather, series of steps — you could waste time devoting too much attention to minor issues. 

Building a system for this purpose also allows you to improve organization and make the development and QA processes go more smoothly. Organization is key in creating robust software because there are so many moving parts.

Furthermore, such a system will guide the efforts of your team. They’ll have a better understanding of where to direct their efforts, allowing them to better address important defects before they wreak havoc on the product and implement new features.

How to Classify and Prioritize by priority and severity of Bug

There are 2 established ways of classifying and prioritizing bugs: ranking by priority and ranking by severity.

  • Rank by Priority

    Most development companies use a grading system to rank bugs in these categories, using either a 1-5 numerical scale or identifying the issue as very high priority, high priority, medium priority, low priority, or very low priority. Priority references the order in which a bug should be addressed. In other words, how many — if any — bugs should be fixed before this one? Generally speaking, the rankings correlate as follows:

  • CRM Platforms: The bug requires urgent attention or else no one will be able to successfully use the product or specific feature.
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    High priority: The bug is interfering with the product for the majority of your consumer base. The bug requires attention as soon as you have addressed very high-priority bugs.
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    Medium priority: The bug may interfere with some users’ experience with your product. It can wait, although you should address it sooner rather than later.
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    Low priority: While the bug is apparent, it’s unlikely to affect a vast majority of users and how they interact with your product. You can probably leave it for the time being and focus on higher priority bugs.
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    Very low priority: The bug is nearly unnoticeable and will have little impact on most users’ experience with the product. You will probably have trouble reproducing this bug and can leave it to be resolved later.
  • Most development companies use a grading system to rank bugs in these categories, using either a 1-5 numerical scale or identifying the issue as very high priority, high priority, medium priority, low priority, or very low priority. Priority references the order in which a bug should be addressed. In other words, how many — if any — bugs should be fixed before this one? Generally speaking, the rankings correlate as follows:

  • Rank by Severity

    The severity of a bug refers to the scope of the problem and the extent to which the defect will impact the overall system. Like priority, issues are ranked as follow:

  • Very high severity: The product is rendered useless without intervention from the software developers.
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    High severity: The product frequently encounters issues that affect aspects like functionality, performance, or usability.
  • 1_soak_BDev_SRP_Numeros
    Medium severity: While the bug isn’t severely affecting the overall program, it does have some impact on the product.
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    Low severity: The bug is barely adversely impacting the product’s key features.
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    Very low severity: The product or any of its key features aren’t affected by the bug.

How to create a Bug Priority and Severity Matrix

In order to determine which bugs are going to be dealt with first, you need to conduct a thorough analysis of what you have encountered and categorized each of the events into a useful and practical matrix. The Bug Priority and Severity Matrix takes into account both the priority and severity of the registered bugs and helps you visualize all of the events into quadrants, sorted by how heavy their impact may be on your project.

That way, by analyzing the bugs and imputing them into the matrix you will be left with four main sections, showing these events as High Priority and High Severity, High Priority and Low Severity, Low Priority and High Severity, and Low Priority and Low Severity.

Who determines bug priority?

Bug analysis is a complex and detailed process that must be conducted by seasoned experts who can determine which issues will have the most serious impact on the project’s ability to be completed on time and on budget. The actual determination of the bugs’ priority must be made by the senior expert who oversees the project, such as a project manager or product owner. This, however, should be made with the client’s participation, so that everything is aligned and all details are clear for everyone involved.

How do agile and SCRUM deal with production bugs?

Agile and SCRUM are some of the most popular and effective methodologies for project management around. Each of them has its own methods of dealing with bugs which have clearly defined steps and results.

  • Agile
    Agile starts by classifying the bugs into low, medium, or high priority, to determine when the problem will be dealt with. If there’s a workaround available and fixing it immediately will have a larger impact, then it’s determined that the bug will be resolved afterward. However, if it’s bug in the core functionality of the product, then the fix must be immediately implemented. To do so, the Agile team determines a fixed number of hours which will be dedicated to solving the problem and work to resolve it.
    In the case of scrum, the bug’s priority is defined by the product owner, who also determines if this is an issue that has to be solved now or that can wait until the end of the sprint. In case they decide to wait, the bug goes into the backlog, to be dealt with later. Once it is time to deal with it, the product owner asks the team for a volunteer to solve it, who then proceeds to fix it while the rest of the team continues to work to advance the project.

Things to Keep in Mind

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    Determine How Each defect Relates to Customer Experience
    Often, severity and priority go hand in hand — they both affect the overall quality of the product. But sometimes, you may have competing issues at play. For example, a bug can be high severity and low priority, meaning it would result in a useless system for only a small subset of users. In contrast, a defect can be low severity and high priority, meaning the issue itself isn’t interfering with the overall functionality or usability of the system, although it’s impacting the vast majority of your consumer base. So, how do you decide between these 2 metrics? Ultimately, it will usually come down to the user experience. In other words, think about how the bug is affecting your target audience. This will help you evaluate the amount of attention you need to devote to it and the precedence it should take.
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    Make Assumptions
    As the development and QA teams report issues, you should assume the bug is behaving solely in the way the professionals describe it until and unless you have reason to believe otherwise. For example, if the QA team finds that the bug is affecting a certain subset of users, assume that it’s only affecting these users — until you discover that it isn’t. Likewise, if you find that the bug is interfering with a certain aspect of the system, assume that it’s only interfering with that part of the system — until you discover that it’s affecting other parts as well. Of course, your organization may establish additional metrics to classify and prioritize bugs as you gain experience with evaluating the quality of different products and systems, but these are appropriate guidelines to use when getting started. If you’re in search of a QA team with the experience and expertise you need to identify defects and ensure the quality of your product, consider BairesDev. Our QA specialists and developers will work with you to help you perfect your software.
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    Software Integration
    Streamline your workflow with our Software Integration Services. Our top-performing engineers will analyze the way you currently use software technologies (whether they are third-party or custom-designed) and help you establish a robust and well-coordinated IT infrastructure across all departments of your organization. We also build custom microservices, APIs, and data protocols.

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