Project Managers as Percent of IT Staff Drops Again

January, 2017

The role of the IT project manager is critical, as new technology adoption, regulatory compliance, outsourcing, and other factors make it vital that projects be properly planned and controlled.

But too few organizations adequately staff the project manager function and, as a result, too many projects fall short of objectives, miss deadlines, or overrun budgets. As shown in Figure 1 from our full report, IT Project Management Staffing Ratios, project managers as a percentage of the IT staff dropped slightly at the median from 4.8% in 2015 to 4.5% in 2016.

ProjMgmt fig 1 - Project Managers as Percent of IT Staff Drops Again

There are a variety of reasons for the recent decline in the percentage of project mangers. As we see with other IT functions, the staffing ratio for project managers is in flux. The percentages of personnel in certain other IT job categories are growing, with a higher percentage going to application development, business analytics, and security. This, by definition, pushes down the percentage in project management.

Other reasons might include the improvement in project management tools, which might allow project managers to handle more projects. It also appears a small number of companies might be abandoning the dedicated role of project manager, combining it with the role of lead developer, for example. The growing popularity of agile development, with its focus on self-directed teams, also may be contributing to the decline in project management as a discrete function. However, this decline has only been recent and may not yet reflect a trend.

“Despite the slight drop in the percentage of PMs,” said Tom Dunlap, research director for Computer Economics of Irvine, Calif., “I’d be surprised if that turned into a long-term trend. With the rapidly changing nature of technology in the enterprise and the generally bad track record of IT departments getting projects in on time and on budget, I expect the percentage of PMs to go up.”

In our full report, we examine the question of how many project managers a typical IT organization requires. We 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 overview 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.