Desktop Support Declines as Percentage of IT Staff

November, 2016

The ranks of desktop support personnel have dropped during the past two years, when viewed as a percentage of the IT staff.

There are likely several reasons for the decline: desktop support technicians can handle many PC issues remotely these days, reducing the need for on-site staff at every remote office. SaaS applications and desktop virtualization also are making it easier to keep PCs updated with the latest versions of software. At the same time, the percentages of personnel in certain other IT job categories are growing, with a higher percentage going to application development, business analytics, and security. This, by definition, pushes down the percentage in desktop support staffing.

Figure 1 from the full report, Desktop Support Staffing Ratios, shows that, for those organizations that staff the function, desktop support staff across all organization sizes declined to 7.5% at the median in 2016.

desktopsupport Fig 1 - Desktop Support Declines as Percentage of IT Staff

We use a functional definition for desktop support. Regardless of whether they are located in a distant call center or face-to-face with the user, desktop support staff members assist users with issues related to their devices, operating systems, and in some cases application software. While organizations preferring a higher level of service may choose to deploy more on-site support, desktop support technicians can handle many issues from remote locations.

For IT organizations, it is critical to understand how many desktop support personnel are needed to service the organization’s users. The desktop support staff not only plays a key role in maintaining user productivity, but it also serves as the face of the IT department with its user community. The full report provides benchmarks on typical desktop support staffing. We use two metrics to benchmark desktop support staffing: desktop support staff as a percentage of the IT staff and PCs per desktop support staff member. We also assess these ratios by organization size and sector. In addition, we provide benchmarks for organizations with combined desktop support and help desk functions. We conclude with strategies for improving the efficiency of desktop support staff.

This Research Byte is based on our report on this subject, Desktop Support 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.