Productivity Gains Keeping IT Staff Levels in Check

June, 2018

IT operational budgets are growing modestly in 2018, but that growth is not being mirrored in IT staffing levels, which are essentially flat at the median. According to Computer Economics, fewer than half (46%) of all companies in its newly released IT Spending and Staffing Benchmarks 2018/2019 study are planning to increase IT headcount. This is a small drop from 2017 (49%). At the same time, we do not see widespread layoffs of IT personnel on the horizon

As shown in Figure 1-13 from the free executive summary, only 16% of IT organizations plan to reduce headcount, which is even lower than last year’s 20%. About 38% plan no changes in head count.

ISS fig 1 13 WEB - Productivity Gains Keeping IT Staff Levels in Check

In a nutshell, IT personnel are becoming more productive, keeping staffing levels in check. Moreover, these productivity improvements are allowing IT organizations to deliver more business value. Software as a service (SaaS), cloud infrastructure, virtualization, and increased automation of routine IT activities are allowing IT organizations to increase service levels and shed support staff in favor of personnel with skills that serve the enterprise. While hiring is slowing for skills such as computer operations, scheduling, and lower-level tech support positions, higher-level skills show increasing demand. Examples include IT managers, project managers, data analysts, and IT security professionals. As cloud applications and cloud infrastructure take up a larger percentage of IT spending, there is also a need for IT staff with skills in procurement and vendor management.

“IT is becoming more ‘white collar’ instead of ‘ironic T-shirt,’” said David Wagner, vice president of research for Computer Economics of Irvine, Calif. “Modern IT professionals need skills that allow them to work with the business to solve problems, not simply to maintain infrastructure.”

The IT staffing mix continues to change, the survey finds. For the composite sample, the largest portion of IT staff, as in the past, is dedicated to application development, accounting for 15.7% of the typical IT staff, although that number has dropped from 16.8% last year, largely due to the continued rise of SaaS in the applications portfolio of many organizations. . The next largest group is IT managers, with 12.0%, up from 11.6% last year. Help desk workers follow these two at 9.7%, followed by desktop support at 9.6%. Other infrastructure support positions, such as server support and network support, continue to show a declining percentage of the total IT staff.

The Computer Economics IT Spending and Staffing Benchmarks 2018/2019 study is based on a detailed survey of more than 200 IT executives in the U.S. and Canada on their IT spending and staffing plans for 2018/2019. It provides IT spending and staffing benchmarks for small, midsize, and large organizations and for 27 sectors and subsectors. A description of the study’s metrics, design, demographics, and methodology can be found in the free executive summary along with the key findings.

This Research Byte is a brief overview of the findings in our report, IT Spending and Staffing Benchmarks 2018/2019. The full 30-chapter report is available at no charge for Computer Economics clients. Individual chapters may be purchased by non-clients directly from our website (click for pricing).