IT Makes Big Gains in Network Support Efficiency

December, 2011

One area where IT organizations have been making strong efficiency gains over the course of the recession is in network support staffing. Over the past five years, the size of the network support staff as a percentage of the IT staff has been in a decidedly downward trend.

Our study, Network Support Staffing Ratios, finds that network support personnel declined from 8.7% of the typical IT staff in 2007 to 7.3% in 2011, as shown in Figure 1. Except for the anomalous bump in the ratio in 2008, the trend line slopes downward, dropping significantly in 2009 and steadily through 2011.

NetworkSupportStaffing Fig1 - IT Makes Big Gains in Network Support Efficiency

In this digital age, the importance of computer networks is growing. Yet the size of the network support staff in relation to the total IT staff is on a downward slope. The increasing bandwidth demanded by network-hungry applications has not driven up the basic ratio of network support staff to total IT staff in the typical organization. Rather, as with other infrastructure support functions, the data suggests better technology, automation tools, the convergence of data and voice networks, and outsourcing are enabling IT organizations to do more with less support staff.

In this study, the network support staff includes engineers, architects, administrators, technicians, specialists, and analysts for both voice and data networks. The category does not include IT security professionals or managers, which we place in separate categories.

The full study is designed to help IT managers determine whether their organizations are keeping pace with improvements in network management by comparing their network support staffing against industry benchmarks. We provide three basic metrics: network support staff as a percentage of the IT staff, the number of users per network support staff member, and the number of network devices per network support staff member. We provide benchmarks for the composite sample, by sector, and by organization size.

This Research Byte is a brief overview of our report on this subject, Network 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.