Over the long term, technology enables businesses to flatten bureaucracies and push responsibility down the organizational chart. Nevertheless, the ratio of IT managers to IT staff has risen slightly over the past five years. Workforce reductions, outsourcing, and rising productivity may be contributing to growth in managers as a percentage of total staff.
Our study, IT Management and Administration Staffing Ratios, finds that the average ratio of IT management positions to total IT staff was 11.6% in 2011, compared to 10.9% in 2007, as shown in Figure 1. The small variation from year to year may not be significant in most years. However, the rise in 2009 could reflect the heightened level of IT staff layoffs in 2009, creating an imbalance that corrected itself the following year.
Having an appropriate number of managers is essential for a smooth-running IT department. A top-heavy organization can become bureaucratic, while an organization with too few managers can become chaotic and unable to focus on long-term objectives. Insufficient management resources also can push planning and administrative tasks onto technical personnel who are ill-equipped for them, causing productivity to suffer.
The full study examines the question of how many managers a well-run IT organization requires and presents staffing metrics for IT managers as well as two administrative support functions: IT finance/vendor management, and clerical support. To benchmark IT management, we report IT managers as a percentage of the IT staff and the number of users per IT manager. We provide metrics for small, midsize, and large organizations. To provide further perspective, we consider the five-year trend in IT managers as an average percentage of the IT staff. We also report metrics for IT finance (including vendor management and procurement) staff and for clerical staff.
This Research Byte is a brief overview of our report on this subject, IT Management and Administration Staffing Ratios. The full report is available at no charge for Computer Economics clients, or it may be purchased by non-clients directly from our website (click for pricing).
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