QA Staffing Ratios Vary Across Organizations

February, 2007

Organizations seeking to improve application development and maintenance processes require the skills of a capable software quality assurance group. But what level of staffing is appropriate for the quality assurance function?

This Research Byte is an executive summary of our full report, IT Quality Assurance Staffing Ratios by Organization Size and Use of Outsourcing. The full version of this report, based on surveys of more than 60 senior IT managers and CIOs, provides benchmarks for staffing IT quality assurance. These benchmarks are based on the size of the organization and whether the organization outsources any part of software development or maintenance. 

For the purpose of this report, the IT quality assurance group comprises individuals whose job function is IT quality assurance, quality control, and testing. Other staff members who perform testing as only one component of their job responsibilities (such as application programmers who perform their own unit testing) are not included in this category. For the remainder of this discussion, the quality assurance and testing functions will be referred to simply as the QA function.

QA Headcount Depends on Organization Size and Use of Outsourcing
This study evaluates QA staffing ratios in two ways: QA headcount as a percentage of total IT staff and QA headcount as a percentage of application development staff (including application programmers and system analysts). These benchmarks are based on a sample of companies that report having QA as a distinct function within their IT organizations.

The composite ratio of QA headcount to the total IT staff is analyzed in the full report. Although this ratio does not appear to vary much across the composite sample, we do find significant differences by organization size and according ot the organization’s use of outsourcing.

The full version of this report examines IT QA staffing in terms of the total IT staff headcount as well as its relationship to application development headcount. These metrics vary by organizational size, and the full report provides these ratios for small, medium, and large organization. Furthermore, because outsourcing of application development and maintenance has a major effect on internal application development headcount, we also examine QA staffing for organizations that have outsourced application development and those that have not.

Too often, the QA function is viewed within IT as an obstacle to getting work done. This view must change. Organizations today rely more than ever on information systems. In addition, the quality and integrity of those systems is being examined more closely because of regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley and many industry-specific standards that address the security and privacy of information. Therefore, the QA function within IT is more important than ever and must be staffed with qualified and knowledgeable professionals. The full report provides a starting point to understanding the staffing requirements for the IT quality function.

February 2007

This Research Byte is an executive summary of our report on this subject, IT Quality Assurance Staffing Ratios by Organization Size and Use of Outsourcing. The full report is available at no charge for Computer Economics clients, or it may be purchased by non-clients directly from our website at (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