Desktop Support Staffing On Downward Slope

October, 2013

When viewed as a percentage of the IT staff, desktop support appears to be in decline after a period of relative stability.

In Figure 1 from our study, Desktop Support Staffing Ratios, we see that the desktop support staff across all sizes of organizations remained at about 8.4% in 2009 and 2010, rose to 8.8% in 2011, and then returned to an 8.5% level in 2012. The recession barely moved the needle on this function.

In 2013, however, desktop support staff dropped to 8.1% of the average IT staff. The decline could reflect renewed hiring in other areas, such as application development, data management, and networking, rather than a decline in desktop support staffing. Still, as percentage of the IT staff, this function has been on a downward slope over the last three years, hitting a low point for the period this year.

Desktop Sup Fig 1 - Desktop Support Staffing On Downward Slope

We use a functional definition for desktop support. Regardless of whether they are located in a distant call center or are available at the client’s desk, desktop support staff members assist users with issues related to PC hardware and operating systems. While organizations requiring a higher level of service may prefer on-site support, desktop support technicians can handle many issues from remote locations today.

Desktop support refers to all technical support activities related to PC systems, including desktops, notebooks, and workstations of all types. In most companies, these include activities such as building or setting up new machines, initial installation of operating systems and standard application software, applying periodic updates and security patches, replacing and disposing of obsolete equipment, monitoring PC usage, and responding to user-reported incidents involving PC systems. In many cases, desktop support personnel also may be supporting printers, LANs, whiteboards, telephones, conference room projectors/displays, POS systems, or other end-user equipment.

Compared with the early days of the PC, today’s desktop computers are more reliable, users are more knowledgeable, and tools for managing PCs more robust. Yet these machines still require a great deal of support to maintain high levels of user satisfaction and productivity, and the need for mobility, security, and connectivity make support needs as great as ever.

The full study 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 a brief overview of 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.