IT Management Staffing Levels in Long-Term Decline

June, 2023

Finding the golden ratio of IT management staffing has always been important to any organization. However, the continued adoption and implementation of cloud-based solutions, management tools, and software as a service has changed the roles and responsibilities within the IT group. Reducing the infrastructural burden by using these technologies has changed the number of managers required in IT organizations. Furthermore, increased use of best practices and automation are allowing IT staff members to become more self-managing. Meanwhile, organizations may be becoming more talent-focused and opting to increase their staffing in other IT areas. As IT becomes more strategic and less about “keeping the lights on,” IT managers also need to be plugged into their enterprise’s strategy.

With the exception of 2021, the ratio of IT managers to IT staff has been steadily declining. As shown in Figure 1 from our full report, IT Management and Administration Staffing Ratios, the ratio of IT management positions to total IT staff was 9.1% at the median in 2022, compared with 11.1% in 2021.

IT Management Staffing  1030x687 - IT Management Staffing Levels in Long-Term Decline

There is a natural cycle of staffing changes that is part of the evolving IT organization. The ongoing shift of the IT department through cloud transformation is leading many IT organizations to shed support personnel who were previously needed to maintain the infrastructure. As these groups shrink or hold steady while the organization grows, other roles make up a larger percentage of the total. Usually, as companies shed infrastructure staff, they need to decrease their respective managers as well. But today’s professional IT managers must ensure ongoing support for existing IT systems and infrastructure while simultaneously advising the business on new IT initiatives that can provide a competitive advantage. Put simply, as IT organizations are in transition, so are IT managers.

“In four years, this particular staffing ratio has seen a 2% decrease,” said Waynelle John, research analyst for Computer Economics, a service of Avasant Research, based in Los Angeles. “As IT teams become more self-managing, we may continue to see gradual decreases in this metric.”

This report examines the number of IT managers and executives a well-run IT group typically requires, along with staffing metrics for other related functions: IT managers and executives, project managers, IT finance and vendor management personnel, and administrative support personnel. We define these IT job categories as follows:

    • IT Managers and Executives: IT managers are individuals whose primary job function is to manage people. We group all IT management levels into a single job function, including IT executives. First-level managers who are primarily “doers” (that is, managers in name only) are not counted as managers, but rather fall under the function that they supervise.
    • IT Finance, Vendor Management, Procurement: These are individuals whose primary job function within the IT organization is related to finance, accounting, budgeting, procurement, vendor contracts, or vendor management.
    • Administrative Support: Clerical/administrative personnel are individuals who do not have managerial responsibilities but support IT managers and other IT staff functions.

To benchmark IT management, we use two metrics: IT managers as a percentage of the IT staff and users per IT manager. We provide metrics for small, midsize, and large organizations. To provide further perspective, we consider the five-year trend in IT managers as an average percentage of the IT staff. We also report metrics for IT finance and administrative support staff.

This Research Byte is based on 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 (click for pricing).