IT Staffing Ratio Stands at 1:27

February 5, 2003 ( - Information Technology (IT) staff ratios are increasingly being supported with contractor workers and a higher budget for permanent employees.

The average IT staffing ratio, the number of employees supported by each IT worker, is 1:27 among all companies included in the Organizing for Results: IT Structures and Staffing Survey.   Of the 400 firms in the survey, small companies (those with 500 or fewer employees) typically have an IT staffing ratio of 1:18, while the largest companies (those with 10,000 or more employees) have a ratio of 1:40, according to people3, Mercer Human Resource Consulting and the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA), the authors of the study.

By industry, financial services firms have the fewest employees supported by each IT professional (ratio of 1:11), while manufacturing and government/education/nonprofit organizations have the most employees supported by each IT professional (ratios of 1:36 and 1:33, respectively).

Turning Over

Total IT turnover (voluntary plus involuntary turnover) hit a median of 6% among the participating firms. Organizations with the greatest workforce volatility (those in the top quartile of the survey sample) experienced four times more turnover (12%) than those in the lowest quartile (3%).

With the 6% turnover, it is not surprising that companies are turning to contract workers.   Professional services firms make the lightest use of contractors with a median contractor ratio of 4.5% of total IT staff. Financial services firms and government/education/nonprofit organizations make the heaviest use of contractors, with median ratios of 9.9% and 9% of total IT staff, respectively.

However the use of contract staff is being done without an increase to the budget.   Comparatively, the survey found a slight increase in IT operating and payroll budgets in 2002, with median increase of 4% and 6.5%, respectively.

Also becoming more common is the use of outsourced IT functions.   The three IT functions most commonly outsourced include:

  • New application development (68%)
  • End-user training (63%)
  • Web support and hosting (54%)


More than two-thirds of the survey respondents (68.3%) have reorganized their IT function at least once since January 2000. Companies that reorganized the IT function within the past 12 months tend to rate their restructured IT function more favorably on improving productivity and performance.

Three out of four survey respondents (74%) have adopted a centralized IT structure model. This model has all IT functional areas report to a single IT leader, such as a Chief Information Officer, within the organization. This structure provides the highest level of consistency and control of an organization’s IT operation, but often at the expense of sensitivity to “local” IT needs and service.