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P0, P1, P2, P3, and P4 Priority Levels Explained

Let’s face it, in the whirlwind world of software development, you can’t skip a rock without hitting some kind of acronym or jargon. 

Top of the list? P0, P1, P2, P3, and P4 priorities – the quintet that everyone talks about but few truly get. They’re like the secret sauce of workflow management, but figuring them out can feel like you’re cracking an ancient code.

As a product manager, you’re right in the thick of it. 

You need to decode these terms not just to sound smart in meetings but to actually steer your ship clear of disaster. It’s about making sure that when your devs are talking P0, you’re not thinking P1, and vice versa.

In this article, we’ll demystify this developer lingo and give a clear breakdown of each priority level.

What is P0-P1-P2-P3-P4 Level Priority?

In software development, differentiating between P0, P1, P2, P3, and P4 levels of priority is like setting up a hierarchy for your tasks. It’s a straightforward method to classify all the chaos into manageable chunks based on urgency and impact.

This isn’t just about ordering your tasks from most to least important. 

It’s about recognizing that some tasks are like ticking time bombs needing immediate defusal (hello, P0), while others are more like those emails you flag for later review (that’s you, P4).

Here are the 5 levels at a glance:

P0CriticalExtensiveSystem outageImmediate
P1HighLargeMajor feature malfunctioningUrgent but not out of BAU schedule
P2ModerateModerateMinor feature malfunctioningImportant but needs to be prioritized against other issues
P3LowMinorFunctionality or feature prevents a few users from using the productPart of routine work
P4NegligibleNegligibleMinor issue that doesn’t affect user baseShould be placed on backlog

Not all tasks and issues carry the same weight or urgency. Some are critical, demanding your immediate attention to avoid a full-blown crisis, while others are more like background noise – important, sure, but not screaming for immediate action.

By sorting tasks into these different levels – P0 being the most urgent and P4 being the least – you can tackle the most important work first. This way, you won’t spend time on less important things when there’s something more urgent.

P0 Level Priority

In the hierarchy of task prioritization within software development, P0, or Priority 0, sits at the very top. This level is assigned to tasks or issues that are absolutely critical and require immediate action. 

These are the emergencies of the software world - the kind of problems that, if not tackled right away, could cause major disruptions, significant user dissatisfaction, or even bring the entire project to a screeching halt.

On the priority scale from 1-5 (0-5, in this case), when dealing with a P0-level issue, it’s all hands on deck. 

The development team might need to work extended hours, and additional resources might be allocated to resolve the problem. Typically, all other developments or enhancements are paused until the P0 issue is resolved.

An Example of P0 Priority

To understand P0 in a real-world context, let’s look at a scenario in app development. 

Imagine you’ve just released an update for your new and popular messaging app. 

But then disaster strikes. There’s a monstrous bug, and it’s causing the app to crash the second it’s opened. Talk about a nightmare! And no, this is not the time for your handy bug prioritization techniques.

This isn’t just a little hiccup; it’s a full-blown crisis. Every single user is smacking into a brick wall, and your app’s reputation is plummeting by the second. This bug is the epitome of a P0 priority. It’s the kind of code-red situation where everything else takes a backseat.

Your development team needs to be all hands on deck, working at warp speed to squash this bug. Time is of the essence here.

This is where P0 priorities are different than other points on the list, as they are a call to action to save your project from imploding.

P1 Level Priority

In the scale of task importance within software development, P1, or Priority 1, stands as a high-priority level, second only to the critical urgency of P0. 

P1 tasks are significant. They’re like warning lights on your car’s dashboard; ignore them, and you’re in for a world of trouble, but you don’t have to pull over this instant. You have to be on it, but you’re not throwing everything else out the window to get it fixed.  

These issues can affect the project’s progress or user experience but typically don’t cause a complete breakdown of functionality.

Addressing P1 priorities involves using a prompt, but measured response. Your strategic roadmap can wait. In fact, anything else (other than p0, of course), can wait.

The team must acknowledge the significance of the issue and plan for its resolution in a manner that is quick and effective, but still maintain the balance with other ongoing tasks. 

An Example of P1 Priority

Consider a scenario where you’re working on an online shopping platform. 

Suddenly you’re hit with a glitch- user reviews are not displaying correctly on product pages. Now, this isn’t a cataclysmic problem; shoppers can still fill their carts and check out. But hey, reviews are the bread and butter of e-shopping; they guide those critical buying decisions.

This situation classifies as a P1 priority. 

It’s an important issue because those reviews can sway a shopper’s spending decisions, but your platform isn’t crashing and burning. 

So, you queue it up right after any hair-on-fire P0 issues, but it’s not an all-stop-everything-else alert. You’re aiming for a swift fix but with a dollop of perspective.

Still you’ll need quite a handful of ruthless prioritization - you simply cannot grade every second issue a P1-level priority.

P2 Level Priority

P2, or Priority 2 is the middle child of software development priorities, important but not always the center of attention. In the hierarchy of tasks, it sits right in the middle. 

These are important tasks that need attention but are less urgent compared to P0 and P1 priorities. P2 tasks often involve improvements or issues that have a moderate impact on the project or the user experience. 

They are usually important for the long-term success of the project but do not need to be jumped on right away. 

When you’re juggling P2 tasks, it’s not a scramble; it’s a strategic maneuver (if you need more hints, read more about strategic priorities). These tasks are about weaving them into your development plan at the right moment. They’re important for the marathon, not the sprint. 

It’s about lining them up in your plans while keeping an eye on the big picture.

An Example of P2 Priority

Imagine you are working on a social media app, and you plan to introduce a new feature that allows users to filter their feeds based on interests. 

This feature, while a nice addition, doesn’t make or break the app’s current usability or satisfaction levels. It’s like adding a chocolate drizzle and cherry on top – great to have, but your ice cream sundae is still good without it.

This new feature would be categorized as a P2 priority. 

It’s important for the app’s future growth and user retention strategy but doesn’t need to be developed right away, especially if there are more urgent P0 or P1 tasks.

P2 is about strategic timing and forward-thinking. It’s about nurturing these ideas for future growth and user engagement, ensuring they come to fruition at the right moment.

One great way to keep track of P2s (and all the other Ps) is to fit them snugly in your own process - and by using this product management template, you can do it however you need it.

P3 Level Priority

P3, or Priority 3, ranks even lower on the urgency scale.

These tasks aren’t screaming for immediate attention, especially when stacked against the more urgent P0, P1, and P2 priorities.

Think of P3 tasks as those subtle tweaks and enhancements that are more about refinement than necessity. They’re the kind of improvements that polish your product but don’t dramatically change the user experience or functionality. 

It’s like deciding to repaint a room in a slightly different shade – nice to have, sure, but not something that demands immediate action.

P3 tasks are those longer-term projects or those “it would be great if we could” ideas. They’re valuable for the ongoing evolution of your software but can comfortably sit on the back burner while you tackle more pressing issues.

An Example of P3 Priority

Consider you are part of a team developing a fitness-tracking app. 

A P3 task in this context would be the addition of new aesthetic themes for the app’s interface.

Now, while these new themes might make the app look snazzier and give users more personalization options, they aren’t directly beefing up the app’s core functions, like tracking workouts or crunching health data. 

So, this kind of task falls into the low-priority category.

It’s the kind of priority rank that, while it can certainly jazz up the user experience, doesn’t need to jump the queue ahead of more pressing tasks. These are your “nice to have when we have time” tasks, perfect for tackling once the more critical features and fixes are out the door and shining bright.

P4 Level Priority

P4, or Priority 4, sits at the bottom of the priority hierarchy in software development. P4 is where you stash tasks that are, let’s be honest, not keeping anyone up at night.

This level is reserved for tasks that are the least urgent and have minimal immediate impact on the project or product. P4 priorities typically include long-term ideas, low-impact enhancements, or ‘wishlist’ items. 

These are tasks that would be nice to have but are not essential for the current functionality or success of the product.

Dealing with P4 tasks is about long-term planning and opportunistic development. 

These tasks are usually not scheduled actively but are kept in the backlog for a time when all your high-priority tasks are done, and you’ve got some free time and resources to spare.

An Example of P4 Priority

Imagine you’re developing a project management tool. A P4 task could be the integration of a new, experimental feature like an AI assistant to suggest task prioritization. 

While this feature might be innovative and could potentially get people talking about your app in the future, it is not a must-have for the tool’s current operation. 

Its development can be put off without any impact on the tool’s performance or user satisfaction. 

This feature falls into the P4 category as it’s something that could add value in the long run but isn’t necessary or urgent.

P0 vs P1 Priority Levels

In the realm of priority levels in software development, differentiating between P0 and P1 priority levels is a very important skill. But it can be challenging. Both are important, but there’s a subtle art to knowing which disaster to tackle first.

Here’s a clearer look at how to differentiate between the two:

Key Differences

  • P0 Priority: Think of P0 as the “Oh no, everything’s on fire” level. These tasks are critical emergencies. If your app crashes every time someone tries to use it, congratulations, you’ve got a P0 situation on your hands. They’re the sort of problems where, if not fixed immediately, you might as well have a ‘Gone Fishing’ sign on your product.
  • P1 Priority: While also urgent, P1 tasks are a notch below P0 in terms of immediacy. They are issues that are not setting off alarm bells yet but have the potential to escalate quickly. If you ignore them today, you might find your digital world underwater tomorrow. Important, yes, but you might have a minute to grab a coffee before diving in.

Why Confusion Arises

The confusion between P0 and P1 is common because both categories deal with important issues that need timely attention. 

Both are shouting for attention and in the heat of the moment, distinguishing between “we’re doomed” and “this is really bad” can get murky. Plus, everyone has their own take on what’s absolutely critical and what’s just important, so expect some lively team debates. To make things simple:

  • P0 is a critical error that requires immediate attention no matter the time of day.
  • P1 is a major issue that requires immediate attention during a regular working day.

To navigate this confusion, teams must have clear criteria and guidelines defining what constitutes a P0 vs a P1 task. Once settled, just pick the right prioritization tool and you should be good to go.

P1 vs P2 Priority Levels

The difference between P1 and P2 are more glaring, so differentiating becomes slightly easier:

Key Differences

  • P1 Priority: P1 tasks are on top of your priority list when you start your daily work. They require immediate attention as it affects many users. Such disruptions make your app or software severely malfunction. Still, you don’t need to jump out of bed (or make your devs jump out of it) to address them.
  • P2 Priority: P2 tasks are important to fix but are well below P1 issues. These are typically common errors and bugs that affect a smaller group of users. As such, you might have several of these - so before jumping on these, you might want to choose a handy prioritization technique to understand which one to pick first.

Why Confusion Arises

If you got used to working with P1-P2-P3-P4 level priorities without having any P0 priority around, you might confuse P1 and P2 levels.

In a world without P0, P1 and P2 are very similar to each other - just like P0 and P1 in our previous example.

In reality, P1 and P2 are actually far from each other. Remember:

  • P1 is a lone issue that requires immediate attention and affects many users.
  • P2 issues are aplenty and can be deprioritized depending on its scale.

The PM’s Hot Take

The P0 vs P1 priority conundrum is more than just semantics; it’s one of the biggest and most important distinctions in product development. I’ve seen more debates over this than any hot-button issue on social media. The key, I believe, lies in understanding the real-world impact of these issues. 

A P0 should make you drop everything else – it’s a crisis situation. But a P1, though important, allows for a moment to breathe and plan. 

The real trick is not turning every hiccup into a full-blown apocalypse. If you cry ‘P0’ for every minor glitch, you’ll wear your team down faster than a double espresso wears off. As a PM, your role is to keep a cool head and teach your teams the fine art of discerning a true crisis from a manageable hitch. It’s about smart prioritization, not setting off alarm bells at every turn. Remember, knowing when to hit the panic button—and when to just buckle down and get to work—is what separates the pros from the rookies.


Wrapping your head around P0, P1, P2, P3, and P4 priorities is like mastering a complex dance in the world of software development and product management. It’s not just about slapping labels on tasks; it’s about striking that delicate balance between what’s urgent and what’s important. 

As you weave through the intricacies of task prioritization, remember: clarity in these levels is not just a nicety—it’s the fuel that drives your team’s efficiency and the success of your projects.

Craving more wisdom on how to not just survive but thrive in this labyrinth of priorities? 

Check out Fibery’s treasure trove of resources

Dive into our expert guides and arm yourself with strategies and tools that don’t just add method to the madness but turn you into a prioritization wizard.

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