IT Management Levels Hold Steady

February, 2009

Finding the right balance between IT managers, administrative personnel, and technical staff can be difficult. A top-heavy organization can become bureaucratic, while an organization with too few managers can become chaotic and unable to focus on long-term objectives. Insufficient management resources can also push planning and administrative tasks onto technical personnel who are ill-equipped for the tasks, causing productivity to suffer.

This Research Byte is a summary of our full report, IT Management and Administration Staffing Ratios. 

The full report defines these categories as follows:

  • IT management: IT managers are employees whose primary function is to manage others. The category includes all levels of management, including executives, directors, and group managers. We do not include first-level managers or supervisors who are primarily “doers” but may have some responsibility for supervising others. Nor does our definition of IT management include project managers.
  • IT finance, procurement, and contract personnel: This category includes non-management IT personnel whose primary job functions are related to finance, accounting, budgeting, procurement, vendor contracts, or vendor management.
  • IT process and standards personnel: This category includes staff members whose job function is to establish and improve internal IT processes, methodologies, standards, and guidelines. It also includes employees dedicated to initiatives such as ITIL, CMMI, Six Sigma, and other IT process improvement programs.
  • Clerical personnel: This category includes administrative assistants and other non-technical clerical workers.

IT Management Staffing Stable Over Time
Over the long term, technology has enabled businesses to flatten bureaucracies and push more responsibility down the organizational chart. Nevertheless, the ratio of IT management positions to staff has been stable over the past three years. The median ratio of IT management positions to total IT staff for our sample was 10.4% in 2008, compared to 10.3% in 2006, as shown in Figure 1. The slight variation from year to year is not significant.

IT Managers Fig1 - IT Management Levels Hold Steady

The full version of this report shows ratios for IT management positions as a percentage of the IT staff and as the number of users per IT manager for small, midsize, and large organizations. To provide further perspective, we also consider the three-year trend in IT management staffing. Ratios for administrative staff functions are shown as the percentage of IT staff and as a ratio of IT managers.  In our conclusion, we examine some of the factors that affect these staffing ratios and the trends in IT manager staffing for the past three years

The full report finds that IT organizations have been holding their management head count relatively flat, while investing in the more specialized disciplines of IT finance, contracts, procurement, and process management. Though small in terms of their numbers, these positions make IT groups more efficient and effective–a critical need in today’s difficult economic conditions.

We believe that the growth in these specialized administrative positions is the result of a strategic shift in many organizations to increase use of outsourcing and third-party service providers. To achieve the benefits of outsourcing, the service providers must be managed. The growth in these IT administrative positions reflects the awareness of this need.

This Research Byte is a brief overview of our report on this subject, IT Management and Administration 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 (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