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Pretty soon, there will be no one left for IT managers to manage. OK, that’s an exaggeration, but the increased use of technology including the cloud has reduced the need for IT support staff. For the first time since we’ve been tracking it, the median number of IT managers as a percentage of total IT staff has taken a significant jump. It is less about how many managers are needed to run an IT organization and more about how many other types of staff they no longer need.
As shown in Figure 1 from our full report, IT Management Staffing Ratios, the ratio of IT managers as a percentage of the total IT staff has broken out to the upside. After hovering around 10% for the last five years, the percentage rose this year to 11.1%.
The role of the IT manager has been changing recently. As IT organizations have endeavored to align more closely with the strategy of the business and lead digital transformation, IT managers that can understand and execute the strategy are needed. But, this isn’t the only reason the percentage is increasing. The cloud transformation is also leading IT organizations to shed support staff that they previously needed to maintain the infrastructure. As these groups shrink or hold steady as the organization grows, other roles naturally make up a larger percentage of the total.
When it comes to the right ratio of IT managers, hitting the sweet spot is vital. With too many managers, the IT group can become top-heavy and bureaucratic, while too few can leave IT staff members feeling unsupported and without direction. Overworked managers can be pulled in too many directions, and insufficient management resources can push management tasks onto people who are ill-equipped to handle them.
“For many years, the axiom that managers make up 10% of the IT staff was as dependable as death and taxes,” said Tom Dunlap, director of research for Computer Economics. “But not so this year. We believe that the ongoing shift toward managing IT as a service and the increasing consumption of cloud services is fundamentally changing traditional rules of thumb in IT staffing. IT manager headcount is just the latest example.”
This study examines how many IT managers an IT organization typically requires, along with staffing metrics for two related administrative functions: IT finance/vendor management and clerical support.
To benchmark IT management, we use two metrics: IT managers as a percentage of the IT staff and 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 and clerical staff. The ratios in our full report are based on our annual survey of more than 200 IT organizations.