Network Support Staffing Level Shows Modest Decline

March, 2017

The importance of computer networks cannot be overstated in this digital age. Yet remarkably, the network support staff as a percentage of the total IT staff appears to be on a slow decline after remaining relatively stable for a few years.

As shown in Figure 1 from our full report, Network Support Staffing Ratios, network support staffing has shown a modest decline as a percentage of the IT staff during a five-year period, dropping from 6.3% in 2012 at the median to 5.5% in 2016. The ratio peaked at 6.7% in 2013 but then declined through 2016.

Networkstaff fig 1 - Network Support Staffing Level Shows Modest Decline

The staff-level fluctuation may reflect changes in other areas of the IT organization, such as the increased hiring of programmers or business analysts. But it also may reflect the positive impact of new technology within networking, including software-defined networking, network virtualization, and automation, which allows staff to monitor larger portions of the network.  

“Networks are more vital than ever, but the increasing need for bandwidth, security, analytics, etc., has not driven up the ratio of network support staff in the typical IT organization,” said Tom Dunlap, research director at Computer Economics, an IT analyst firm based in Irvine., Calif. “Rather, as with other infrastructure support functions, the data suggests that innovations like virtualization and automation are enabling IT organizations to do more with less.”

In this report, network support staff includes personnel with titles of engineer, architect, administrator, technician, specialist, or analyst for voice and data networks. The network support staff headcount does not include managers but would include supervisors and senior-level personnel.

The full report will help IT managers determine whether their organization is keeping pace with improvements in network management by comparing their network support staffing ratios against industry benchmarks. We provide four benchmarks: network support staff as a percentage of the IT staff, network support staff as a percentage of the Network and Communications Group, users per network support staff member, and network devices per network support staff member. We provide benchmarks for the composite sample and by sector and 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).