Project Managers Grow in Importance

March, 2012

While it could be argued that the slowdown in capital spending should result in fewer projects and thus fewer project managers, our study supports the observation that sound project management becomes even more important when projects are being downsized, delayed, or outsourced.

The study, Project Manager Staffing Ratios, finds that over a five-year period project managers have risen as a percentage of the IT staff. In 2011, project managers made up an average 4.5% of the IT staff, up from 3.4% in 2008.

ProjManStaff Fig1 - Project Managers Grow in Importance

The ratio rose sharply in 2009 to 4.3%, indicating the recession played a role. While IT organizations were reducing headcount, project managers fared better than most other IT job functions. The ratio has remained relatively steady over the past three years, peaking at 4.7% in 2010. 

IT organizations are relying more and more on professional project managers. The reasons for this growth 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 project management.

Perhaps the most pressing reason for the growth in project management personnel is that many organizations have a poor record of bringing IT projects in on time and within budget. Much of the work in IT organizations today is project-based, and IT managers realize that project management is a critical element in delivering successful projects—and thus, value—to the business.

In the full study, we examine the question of how many project managers a typical IT organization requires. We present five benchmarks: project managers as a percentage of the IT staff, users per project manager, application developers per project manager, applications per project manager, and capital budget per project manager. All of these ratios are presented by organization size. In addition, we look at influence of sector on project management staffing. 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, Project Manager 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.