Factors That Affect ERP Support Staffing Levels

April, 2008

For many IT organizations, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems form a large part of the application portfolio. Therefore, understanding the support requirements of these systems is important for managing overall staffing levels within IT.

This Research Byte is a summary of our full report, ERP Support Staffing Ratios.

ERP Support Staffing is Key to TCO
ERP systems are intended to form the transactional backbone of the major functions of an organization. They typically integrate operations, accounting and finance, human resources, customer service, procurement, and other major business functions into a single comprehensive system. First popularized in the manufacturing industry and evolved from early material requirements planning (MRP) systems, ERP systems are now gaining popularity in many different industry sectors as the advantages of integrated systems become apparent.

Major vendors of ERP systems today include SAP and Oracle, as well as a number of second- and third-tier vendors such as Infor, Lawson Software, IFS, QAD, Epicor, Consona, Sage, and Best. (Although Microsoft is much larger than all of these companies, its Dynamics line of ERP systems is generally aimed at small and midsize businesses.) Even though a vendor consolidation trend has been underway for at least five years, the number of vendors offering ERP systems still numbers in the dozens, especially when narrowly-focused, industry-specific solutions are included.

ERP systems can be major investments requiring substantial effort for implementation. Yet many organizations do not realize that the total cost of ownership of an ERP system is composed largely of ongoing support. While initial license fees and consulting services required to implement the system are one-time investments, the cost of support personnel recurs year after year.

Optimizing ERP Support Staffing Levels
To better understand the level of IT staffing required to support an ERP system, Computer Economics conducted a special survey of 109 ERP user organizations in the first quarter of 2008. From each respondent, we gathered detailed information such as the number of users supported, the number of support personnel, the type of software and extent of functionality, the age of the implementation, and key deployment characteristics. In addition, we asked about the breakdown of ERP support headcount in terms of application programmers, business analysts, project managers, database administrators, help desk support, systems programmers, end-user reporting specialists, ERP user administrators, training/documentation specialists, and others.

The full version of this report provides typical IT ERP staffing levels normalized by the number of users. We also identify several factors that affect the level of support staffing required. Based on this analysis, we conclude with recommendations for optimizing ERP staffing levels to better manage costs and improve user satisfaction.

In the full version of this report, we analyze ERP support requirements by means of a simple ratio: the number of ERP users divided by the number IT personnel providing ERP support. We then use this ratio to analyze ERP support staffing levels by size of the installation, the scope of functionality implemented, class of software vendor (Oracle and SAP vs. all others), the extent of system modification, the number of ERP versions and instances in production, and the age of the system. In addition, we analyze the allocation of ERP support staff to specific job functions.

Based on these statistics, we conclude with recommendations for optimizing ERP staffing levels to better manage costs and improve user satisfaction.

This Research Byte is a brief overview of our report on this subject, ERP 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 at https://avasant.com/report/erp-support-staffing-ratios-2008/ (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