IT Management Staffing: Steady as She Goes

July, 2017

Despite the ongoing shift toward empowered work teams, IT management staffing levels have remained relatively constant over the past several years. Our full report, IT Management and Administration Staffing Ratios, designed to help CIOs and IT directors assess their IT management needs, shows only a minimal decrease in management as percentage to total IT staff.

As seen in Figure 1 from the report, the average percentage of IT management positions to total IT staff was 10.0% at the median in 2017, scarcely changed over the past five years.

ITmgmt fig 1 - IT Management Staffing: Steady as She Goes

Technologies such as automation, virtualization, and the cloud, should make IT managers more productive in handling day-to-day administrative tasks. At the same time, best practices such as agile development and DevOps should allow front-line IT personnel to work in self-directed work teams that do not require IT managers to monitor and direct them on a day-to-day basis. “Going forward, the role of the IT manager is going to be less about front-line work and more about making smart, visionary choices for how to deploy technology,” said David Wagner, vice president for research at Computer Economics. “Like every role in IT, managers need to be more closely tied to the business than ever before in order to make the right choices to enable growth.”

When it comes to IT managers, it is important to find the sweet spot. Too many managers, and the IT group can become top-heavy and bureaucratic, while too few can leave IT staff members feeling unsupported and without direction. Overworked managers can be pulled in too many directions, and insufficient management resources can push management tasks onto people who are ill-equipped to take on those roles. The full report examines how many IT managers a well-run IT organization typically requires, along with staffing metrics for two related administrative functions: IT finance/vendor management and clerical support.

To benchmark IT management, the full report uses 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 clerical staff. The full study is based on our annual IT Spending and Staffing Benchmarks 2017/2018.

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 (click for pricing).