Quality Assurance Remains High Priority for IT

April, 2011

The vital role of IT quality assurance and testing returned to the level it has maintained throughout most of the decade in a sign that quality control remains a high priority for IT executives.

Among all organizations, the average ratio of QA staff to IT staff hovered around the 2.0% level over the past four years, as shown in Figure 1, from our study, QA and Testing Staffing Ratios. The dip in 2008 to 1.4% may indicate QA staff members were among the first to get laid off as the recession began. The number of IT staff members carrying out these functions, however, returned to its historic level last year, perhaps as IT organizations thinned the ranks of other personnel categories.

QA RB Fig1 - Quality Assurance Remains High Priority for IT

The primary observation, though, is that QA is a well-established function that has changed little over the past decade. Establishing quality control is a small, but important requirement in every process-oriented environment. And the ratio of QA staff to total IT staff stays relatively constant over time.

IT quality assurance has been around since the beginning of IT, yet even today organizations often underestimate the vital role it plays. A capable IT quality assurance group will improve IT processes, ensuring the effectiveness of projects, especially in application development and maintenance. Quality assurance staff can uncover inconsistencies early in the development cycle, reduce errors, and prevent rework, easily paying its way. But there is also a tendency in some organizations for QA to become overstaffed. This report can help managers determine the appropriate staffing level for this function.

The full study provides benchmarks for staffing the QA function. We provide the ratio of QA staff to total IT staff for the composite sample and by organization size and sector. We also examine the four-year trend in QA and testing staffing, and the number of organizations that employee QA staff.

QA is often involved in a variety of IT processes, such as changes to the network infrastructure, but in most organizations the majority of these professionals’ time is devoted to application development, including test planning, test execution, and failure management. So to provide additional perspective, this report examines the ratio of application programmers to QA staff by organization size and sector, in addition to the ratio of QA staff to total IT staff. IT managers should consider both sets of metrics in the context of their environments to assess appropriate staffing levels. We conclude with recommendations for improving the effectiveness of the quality control function within the IT organization.

This Research Byte is a brief overview of our report on this subject,QA and Testing 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.