Desktop Support Staffing on the Rise, for Now

November, 2017

Although desktop support personnel as a percentage of the total IT staff hit a five-year peak this year, we expect the percentage to soon decline.

As shown in Figure 1 from our full report, Desktop Support Staffing Ratios, the desktop support staff spiked to 9.4% at the median in 2017. This level of desktop support staffing is at its highest level during the past five years.

DesktopSupport fig 1 - Desktop Support Staffing on the Rise, for Now

However, we expect this metric to decline in the near future, and there are likely several reasons for this. For instance, desktop support technicians can handle many PC issues remotely these days, reducing the need for on-site staff at every remote office. Software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications and desktop virtualization mean that there are fewer business applications running on the user’s local machine. Finally, the latest version of Microsoft Windows, which still runs on the majority of desktop and laptop machines, is more reliable and easier to maintain than previous versions.

“This year’s percentage is part of a fluctuation in this staffing ratio, and I have to think it will soon decline,” said Tom Dunlap, director of research for Computer Economics of Irvine, Calif. “There are simply too many forces putting downward pressure on this ratio.”

For IT organizations, it is critical to understand how many desktop support personnel are needed to service the company’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 organization. And support demands from those users are being complicated by the proliferation of employee-owned smartphones and other devices, as well as telecommuting.

The full report provides benchmarks on typical desktop support staffing. We use four metrics to benchmark desktop support staffing: desktop support staff as a percentage of the IT staff, PCs per desktop support staff member, applications per support staff member, and users per 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.