IT Project Management Survives and Thrives

September, 2015

IT project management is one function that appears to have survived the recession relatively unscathed to become a stable fixture in most IT organizations, despite sluggish growth in IT capital spending.

Figure 1 from our study, IT Project Management Staffing Ratios, shows that project managers make up 4.8% of the IT staff at the median for all IT organizations. This staffing ratio has remained relatively steady over the previous three years. It hit a post-recession high of 5.5% in 2011, but fell back as IT organizations began hiring for other positions.

PMstaffing fig 1 - IT Project Management Survives and Thrives

Over the longer term, the 5% level appears to represent a new normal for the project management function. Prior to the recession, project management staffing levels averaged a full percentage point lower than current level. Project management did not suffer as many cutbacks as other functions during the recession, and now appears to be maintaining its prominence.

Nearly 80% all IT organizations rely on in-house project management specialists today. That is up from only 50% a short 10 years ago. The reasons for the profession’s rise over the past decade are varied: new technology adoption, regulatory compliance issues, outsourcing, and the ever-present mandate to do more with less all contribute to the need for professionally trained project managers.

The data in Figure 1 is useful for assessing recent trends, but for benchmarking purposes IT organizations should rely on benchmarks by organization size and sector. In the full study, we also present six benchmarks: project managers as a percentage of the IT staff, project managers as a percentage of the Application Group, users per project manager, applications per project manager, application programmers per project manager, and capital budget per project manager. All of these ratios are presented by organization size. In addition, we look at the influence of sector on the key ratios. We conclude with recommendations on assessing the performance of the project management function.

This Research Byte is a brief excerpt from of our report on this subject, IT Project Management 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.