Saturday, September 23, 2006

Bug Meanings: Priority and Severity

With bugs there is a kind of cost-benefit-style analysis that happens. Bugs typically have a severity rating and a priority rating. Severity ranges from "let's make a small feature change to make things 'better'" to "OMG . . . this totally kills the app and users lose data - Armageddon!" Priority (which IMHO is misnamed and should be called something more like "frequency" or "likelihood") ranges from "almost never happens" to "a customer is always going to hit this bug no matter what". Based on those things, we analyze.

Depending on the time we're at in the ship cycle, some of those bugs might not be severe enough or high-pri enough to fix. Ok. We all ship with bugs. That's standard practice.

The hard part is defining those cutoff choke points and what they mean in sev and pri numbers.

If I were really smart, I'd propose an algorithm and then also a follow-up graph of some sort that would explain how software works through its lifecycle. I'm not so smart. I don't know how to do it. Every piece of software is different. It seems that as software engineers we're lacking here. Someone should be able to define these things and tie them to milestones in the product. If we were *real* engineers . . .

Expect a "part two" to this post in the next couple of weeks as I digest and expel ideas.

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