Project Managers Proliferate in IT Organizations

February, 2011

Project management as a formal discipline has been around since the 1950s, but its application to the unique requirements of IT is still maturing. Our research indicates that IT shops are relying more and more on professional project managers, and that the number of organizations establishing project management offices, or PMOs, is rising.

Our study, IT Project Manager Staffing Ratios and PMO Adoption, shows that project managers have grown as percentage of the overall IT staff, from 3.4% in 2007 to 4.7% in 2010 (Figure 1). The growing reliance on project management is even more apparent considering that during this period many IT organizations were placing capital projects on hold and reducing headcount.

Project Fig1 - Project Managers Proliferate in IT Organizations

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 professional project management.

Perhaps the most pressing driver, however, is that many organizations have a poor record of bringing in IT projects on time and within budget. Worse yet, projects often fail to meet key requirements, and some projects never reach completion. As such, most IT managers today realize that project management is a critical element in delivering successful projects—thus, value—to the business.

In the full study, we first examine the question of how many project managers a typical IT organization requires. We present three benchmarks by organization size. They include project managers as a percentage of the IT staff, users per project manager, and application developers per project manager. In addition, we report on the adoption of PMOs, which is impacting the practice of project management today. We look at the five-year adoption trend, the current adoption trend, adoption by organization size and sector, and the maturity level of this management best practice. Finally, we provide perspective on how to improve and measure the success of project managers and PMOs.

This Research Byte is a brief overview of our report on this subject, Project Manager Staffing Ratios and PMO Adoption. 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.