Business Analyst Staffing Takes About Face

September, 2011

As a percentage of the IT staff, the business analyst function has been on an upward trend, but that trend abruptly reversed itself over the past year as organizations began increasing staff levels again.

Our study on Business Analyst Staffing Ratios shows that business analysts accounted for an average 5.9% of the IT staff in 2007 for the composite sample (Figure 1). The average rose to 7.6% in 2009 and then jumped to a peak of 9.9% in 2010, before falling back to 7.6% in 2011.

Bus Analyst Fig 1 - Business Analyst Staffing Takes About Face

A high rate of staff reductions in 2010 might account for the temporary jump above the historical trend line. Whatever the cause for the short-term peak, business analysts over the longer term have become a larger portion of the IT staff and we expect this trend to continue in line with an increase in outsourcing and adoption of IT service management processes.

The business analyst serves as a bridge between the IT organization and the users it serves, and it can be a challenging position for IT managers to fill. The requisite combination of qualifications—technical knowledge, business perspective, and interpersonal skills—is difficult to find in a single individual. Yet business analysts represent a rising element within the IT staff as organizations automate or outsource routine work and focus internal staff on delivering business value.

An important first step in planning to staff this function is to understand the number of business analysts today’s IT organizations typically employ. In the full study, we assess staffing levels for the business analyst using four metrics. These include business analysts as a percentage of the IT staff and the application group, users per business analyst, and applications per business analyst. We also present ratios by organization size and sector.

In many companies, the jobs of the business analyst and customer relationship manager are combined, and in others, they have a great deal of overlap in responsibilities. Business analysts gather user requirements, define business processes, and help design solutions using information systems. Customer relationship personnel serve as a liaison between users and IT, represent the user community to the IT group, and ensure that IT systems are used effectively by the organization. These IT personnel are often the contact point when systems and services are outsourced to a third-party developer or maintenance organization. For the purpose of this analysis, these two functions are combined in the business analyst category.

This Research Byte is a brief overview of our report on this subject, Business Analyst 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).

Do you also need staffing ratios for other IT job functions? Consider this collection of all of our staffing ratio reports, which bundles them all into a single report at a significant discount: IT Staffing Ratios–Special Report Bundle.