General discussion

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  • #2190105

    Size of IT Staff


    by trtjj ·

    I am a fairly new IT director at this organization. I am designing a new infrastructure and I am adding services. I would like to know if anyone has references for IT department sizes. I had a proposal to hire a network admin and a Systems admin on top of the help desk person that I already have. The Executive staff is questioning my proposal and they feel all they need is another help desk person. They want me to manage all the services. We are an organization of 100 people. Our organization runs our own conferences and we are a membership based business. Besides the basic services of Email and Internet, we will be running Share point , communication server, Oracle, MS SQl for Great Plains, E-commerce, VoIP, Web conf and Wireless.

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  • Author
    • #3060164

      IT Staffing

      by kfellows ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      I think you have to have defined roles and tasks. If the call volume is low the Help Desk staff might be able to do backups and replace printer paper, but do you really want a Help Desk person building a production server or installing a network switch?

      If you are small enough then a single person might be able to do both the Network and Systems Admin functions but eventually you are correct and will need two people. I suspect upper management is counting you as engineering staff when you should be managing the network and your systems. So I say maybe compromise and get one person now who can wear two hats.

      • #3140902

        Please send paper

        by lflandrau ·

        In reply to IT Staffing

        Please send white paper on IT STaffing


    • #3044687

      IT Staffing

      by gario ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      So, if I read you correctly, you are a new IT Director with one help desk person, and Management wants you to run all services (workstations, servers, newtork, databases, website, and telecommunications). Once again, I see a company who expects a manager/director to be an administrator/engineer.

      Ok, not knowing what your environment includes (how many servers, workstations, etc.), I would go after a Server/systems administrator at least. Possibly another help desk person and then possibly outsource network support if you have to.

    • #3115071

      Be carefull

      by durbs ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      You need to be careful here. The correct size of an IT department is the number of people required to perform the agreed services to the agreed SLA’s. Negotiate this well with management or else you will be in the firing line when services slip. Both your staff and the business management will appreciate this being planned correctly upfront.

      • #3119601

        IT Staffing

        by eli3050 ·

        In reply to Be carefull

        Agreed. It depends what is the company’s culture. Are they expecting a manager or hands-on technician with managerial skills. For one hundred people and up to 10 servers you may function well with two people. But your help desk person aka IT administrator, aka Network Administrator should savy and strong professionally.
        Good luck and welcome to a lot of underappreciated work.

        • #2654567


          by bomber1jz ·

          In reply to IT Staffing

          At our company, we have the IT manager and myself (network admin) at our head office. We have 3 other sites (2 interstate and 1 OS) At these sites, we don’t have IT staff except for engineers or draftees that help out when it comes to backups, installing software etc. (Often they do more harm than good. Surprise surprise)
          Across all sites there are approximately 170 users and 15 Servers.
          My question is, are we understaffed? Ideally it would be great to have a dedicated and trained IT person for each office, even if it was only part time. But I don’t think that is on the cards for now 🙁
          Intersting thing is, I have only been there 8 months, and the boss used to run the show by himself for years!!!

      • #3119549

        Document Carefully

        by pete1978 ·

        In reply to Be carefull

        I agree fully. The question is SLA … do they exist and, if so, is IT able to meet them? That is the question regarding the need for increasing (or decreasing) staff size unless other IT changes are happening (more on that later).

        If the organization has SLAs, then the previous person with your responsibilities should have been keeping SLA documentation. Find that documentation. It may be your best defense that the positions are needed.

        If the organization does not have SLAs, get them ASAP. But even before getting SLAs, start
        keeping the SLA type of documentation … it’ll support your position on what SLA can be expected from IT.

        Documentation is your best friend. It shows what your staff is doing, how long it takes, and the impact this has on the parent organization and much much more. There is a very real danger when NOT keeping documentation … it could mean your job. Read the article found at

        Sounds like you need to look at something like ITIL. It addresses service and support (via SLA) but also addresses “capacity management”. If the organization is expanding IT services (adding more workstations, servers, services, etc.), then capacity management is what you want to address. It addresses the question “Can the IT group support the extended IT infrsstructure without sacrificing support for the current infrastructure?” This is a very important question if the organization plans to grow the IT infrastructure! But, too often, it is ignored.

        Tons of review literature on ITIL on the net, but you may have to fork out a few $$$ to get more complete ITIL documents. After reviewing the literature on the net, you may decide it’s worth the money.

        Finally, remember that the higher admins are your boss. Support your position strongly, but not at the expense of your career. And if they force their position, keep your documentation. Later, when they ask why IT isn’t providing the support they want, you can show that IT is working full time but that there are not enough people in the IT group to meet the organization’s IT demands. Then ask for the additional positions again (without using “I told you so” unless they buck the idea again).

        In this case, patience is a virtue.

    • #3115069

      Size of Staff

      by ninjabeaver ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff


      In the UK the recommended allocation is one IT staff member to every 40 PC’s on site. For all the servers and extra services you are running I certainly don’t feel your request is too much. Perhaps a compromise of a combined Network / Systems Admin and also an extra HelpDesk person might go down better. You could always train the Help Desk person upto the required level.

      I will say that I know where you are coming from working as a school Network Manager. I’ve got seven servers and 500 + Laptops and PC’s to deal with, plus 1500 ‘customers’ (teaching staff, admin staff and pupils). There’s only two of us running the site though.

      Push for it, and possibly go the route of ‘if blah blah goes down then it will cost you $$$’ etc. That might work.

      But, as I said, industry here recommends a 40 PC’s to 1 Techie.

      • #3119636

        Agree…but depends on environment

        by ksutherland ·

        In reply to Size of Staff

        I agree with my friend in the UK. However it depends on your environment. If all application run on the desktop the ratio could be as low as 25 to 1. If you are in a thin client (ie: Citrix) were all applications are running on the servers and the desktop environment are windows terminals and/or locked down PC the ration could be 40 to 1.

        I once found a tool (I believe on this web site) that was and estimating tools to determine the size of IT staff based on the environment. It was good because my management was looking for industry best practices and this tool gave me the information they needed.

        • #3119920


          by tonythetiger ·

          In reply to Agree…but depends on environment

          We have all kinds of people using computers nowadays, from carpenters and auto mechanics to engineeers and attorneys, with greatly varying needs as well as levels of expertise. It can be challenging for a small staff. Today for example, after the long weekend, over 50 people had to have their passwords reset after they forgot them. Of course, that’s not typical, but

          I know there is a lot of pressure to limit costs, but I like to equate it to the local fire department… How many firemen would you want to show up if your building caught fire, knowing that you have to pay them anyway even if there wasn’t a fire?

          I’d say plan for a substantial fraction of the worst case, then be glad if it doesn’t happen! I mean, they wouldn’t balk at paying for fire insurance would they?

    • #3115068

      I suggest four

      by ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      two for server and netwrok and they can backup each other. Two helpdesks can cover 100 users with the applications you mentioned above. Of course if you are expert in IT you can take one of the server and network admin role particially.

      • #3114998

        Reply To: Size of IT Staff

        by angry_white_male ·

        In reply to I suggest four

        We have 5 people… IT director, network admin, helpdesk, mainframe programmer, SQL DBA.

        We run about 175 Win2K/XP workstations spread out over 11 locations, 25 Win2K/2003 servers (5 are dedicated SQL servers), an AS/400 midrange, some wireless sprinkled in for fun, etc.

        For the most part, we’re a busy shop… I’m always looking to work smarter so we can have some room to breathe. We’re adding several new systems in the next 2 years which will mean about 10-12 more servers, the shut down of the AS/400. We’ll loose our AS/400 guy (we’re timing the phase-out of the AS/400 with his retirement) and will likely gain another DBA or programmer to help run the new systems.

        Our helpdesk guy also takes care of the clerical functions, but he’s getting busy to the point where he needs to be 100% helpdesk and we’re looking at bringing in a part-time clerical person.

        So – it really all depends on the level of expectation that your management has on the IT department – how fast you should be responding to issues, how many projects they want you to take on, etc.

        The less rope you give your users, the less things they can break which means the fewer helpdesk calls you need to contend with. Make use of the available technologies to keep users from wreaking havoc on your network. Don’t be afraid to tell people (or your bosses) “no” when things land on your plate that are not a priority and have an impact to your department that your cannot handle with the resources you currently have.

        • #3117991

          We are very similar

          by asympt0te ·

          In reply to Reply To: Size of IT Staff

          We also have 5 people.. It manager, ERP/BI specialist, 2 sysadmins, helpdesk.

          We run about 150 laptops worksations in 6 locations, an AS400 and 20 servers.

          I feel we have a good size staff. We are always busy, but never too busy to repond to problems or investigate new projects.

          We try do everything in-house and outsource very little.

          We have a team that works well toether and we all multiskill to help each other out as far as we can. Management have high expectations of IT and we manage to meet those expectations almost always.

          If you are prepared to outsource more, you can get away with fewer full time staff. If you employ very junior people, you will need more. You have to get the balance right.

      • #3117601


        by swanepoell ·

        In reply to I suggest four

        You have to think about a person that goes on leave and he should have a backup for that time.
        Anything can happen.
        Always have a backup especially in crisis times.

        Talk to management you all adults and work for one company.

        Good Luck!

      • #3254378

        IT Staffing…..

        by mart1in_02 ·

        In reply to I suggest four

        Hire an IT guy who is fully equipt that can do Network and System admin, if the company is concerned on budget. Helpdesk can support users in your comapny

    • #3115045

      Size of IT Staff

      by mike.zammit ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      As an organisation, we have conducted various research projects in the public/private and not for profit sectors of business here in the UK. We find that the average size of an IT department providing good levels of service to the business is about 28 IT staff per 1000 employees, but this average goes up as the size of the organisation diminishes, which leads us to believe that there is a minimum level of IT staffing required to provide good levels of service regardless of the size of organisation.

      I would suggest that your plan to have a staffing level of 4 (yourself plus three others) is probably about right given the number of different applications and systems your organisation is currently running. However, I would also recommend that you take a look at the need to run both Oracle and MS SQL Server. You need SQL Server for Great Plains, but could you migrate your Oracle databases to SQL Server, giving only one RDBMS to support.

      • #3119665


        by rcuk ·

        In reply to Size of IT Staff

        Hi Mike,

        I work for an FE/HE college in Scotland. You figures are
        interesting. Do you have and reports which I could quote in my
        bid for additional staff?

        Wiith some of the staffing levels stated by others in the post, we
        would appear to be fairly well of! However we fall into the ‘being
        forced to be reactive’ category when my team are striving to be
        proactive. Anything you may be able to provide would be
        gratefully accepted and referenced to the supplier.


    • #3115038

      It’s not up to you

      by bqualls ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      The Executive staff should determine how many persons in what positions are required to run the business. Their job is to prioritize which services are the most important services to run the company. Your job is to hire the best persons to meet their priorities. I suggest that you list all of the services, regardless of priority, you believe will be required to run the company 12 months from now. Go crazy. You need networking, phones, e-mail, web services, security, databases, user support, financial apps, etc. Document the role of each service to the business and the impact when the service is down (i.e. when the network is down you don’t get e-mail, Internet access, customers can’t access our web sites, etc). Let the Executive staff prioritize which services are most important to the business. Now design the IT staff to meet the requirements set forth by the Executive staff. Of course it will be bigger than they expected… But now it is on their shoulders to reduce the persons instead of on you to convince them to hire more.

      • #3119548

        I could not disagree more

        by bburgess9 ·

        In reply to It’s not up to you

        The responsibility of the executive staff is to listen to their subordinate mgrs so that they may make informed (responsible) decisions. If you have informed them of the need and why (in writing), then you have done your job. However you should push a little. In my experience, the executive mgmt does not believe that IT mgrs have the ability to make business decisions. So unless you push the issue, you will always be living with this self-destructive nature.

      • #3120115

        Mis-Titled? Try budgeting.

        by jon.guth ·

        In reply to It’s not up to you

        If staffing the IT department is not your responsibility, then you are not an IT Director. Supervisor, Manager, etc. might work, but Director does not. You either need to find a way to get a chair at the directors’ conference table, or manage as best you can in a passive role.

        One more word – Budget! Put together a budget showing what your support requirements will cost with their staffing suggestions (add contract services where needed). Then put together a budget showing employees doing the same work. If it costs less to have employees, then management will consider hiring. Sometimes it is better to hire, sometimes better to contract, but let the $$$ have some say in the matter.

        The bottom line – show management the money.

    • #3115029

      Define services and service levels first

      by dave.claridge ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      Before you can size the IT support services required for your environment you need to know what the business expects from the services you are delivering. The first step is to define the services you need to provide, e.g helpdesk, Email, Internet access, ecommerce application, WAN, Wireless networking. Great Plains (ERP).

      Then define the SLA’s. First of all what are the required hours of service for each service? What are the requirements for reliability (how many failures per period can be tolerated), availability (what is the percentage availability needed), servicability (how quickly do you need to respond to incidents e.g is the ecommerce app is down how long can the business do without it (minutes? or hours?).

      Then use the information to analyse each service e.g for the helpdesk service given your use base of 100 people in a steady state environment then based on industry experience that will generate 100 calls (1 call per user per month) to the helpdesk in each month or say 5 calls per day. This obviously needs one person on the helpdesk with someone to back them up for holidays sickness.

      If you follow this through with the other services you should be able to come up fairly easily with a staff profile and the Executive if they arent happy with this have the option of reducing the SLA’s or services.

      Hope this helps and best of luck

      • #3114994

        Well Stated–No Way to Know without Defined Services & SLAs

        by bpennstsi ·

        In reply to Define services and service levels first

        There is no formula to size an IT shop because they are all different.

        What are your uptime requirements? Do you have bandwidth-intensive applications (imaging, multimedia, etc.)? When new staff come onboard, do you pre-configure their machines or take them out of the box?

        What back-office support functions (backup, server configuration, etc.) need to be performed and how much time do they require?

        What are your actual/historical call volumes to the helpdesk? How quickly are responses required when calls come in? What hours does the helpdesk need to be staffed?

        Who will evaluate new services prior to implementation? How will they be implemented (in-house or outsourced)? (This is more of a budget issue than a staffing issue, but you can be sure it will impact IT staff time.)

        Once you’ve done this kind of analysis, you can evaluate the skill requirements and the time needed for each skill.

        While this may seem time consuming, it’s a task you can do easily in a spreadsheet and it will provide the justification you need to sell your executives on the level of staffing needed.

        • #3118292

          Great advise

          by fcleroux ·

          In reply to Well Stated–No Way to Know without Defined Services & SLAs

          There is some great advise in most of these posts. I consult fo many firms and worked corporate also. Several law firms I deal with cannot afford to be down at all. That is AT ALL. If they were to be down for 30 minutes that is OK. A total loss of services for 4 hours could cost thme upwards of 500K. Staffing is important and CHEAP when you look at what it will cost if systems are down. Staffing is very important but properly designed and implemented systems are sometimes more important. Unfortunately you can only get there with staff.

          Another common issue is that companies way to often get back logged and turn into “reactive” IT departments as opposed to being “proactive”. In other words they tend to always be busy looking after problems rather than making sure there are no problems. You need to be ahead.

          How many readers companies here have time to proactively test out Updaes, Upgrades, Patches for Servers, Workstations and such in a timely maner and implement them all!! Most don’t. Eventually this catches up till dissaster strikes. That is usually when I get called in to help. Usually to late.

          Ask you execs if that dissaster is allowed to happen. Can you company deal with being down for a day or two every couple of years with lots of little problems along the way??

      • #3114948

        Right On

        by busy_bee ·

        In reply to Define services and service levels first

        I agree with Dave. This is an appropriate way to approach it, and it translates easily to dollars and cents terms that the bosses and business owners understand.

        The translation from services and SLAs to number of bodies may seem like a bit of magic, but if you define SLAs well, and then estimate the number of hours it will take on average to fulfill them, that will give you a rough number of bodies.

        You should figure a maximum resource allocation of 80% (32 hours / wk per person), less if they need availability to respond to critical issues (i.e., help desk must support server issues as well).

        Ultimately, you will want to present a somewhat formal document, so that if you get shot down on your proposal, you can refer back to it when you are explaining later why the service levels are lower than desired.

    • #3115026

      Seems to me

      by dask ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      It seems to me that your staffing should depend on your IT needs based on the current services and future growth. This all comes down to the processes and time requires to provide the services with an eye on the future.
      From a business viewpoint, what is the cost of an outage, backlog, etc. If you can acquire the metrics of what you are doing, the skills of the existing personnel and the strategic vision or marketable growth of the organization, then that should build your business case for staffing.
      Needless to say, the abilities and skills of your existing staff (novice, trained, expert, etc.) directly effects the time it takes to do something or diagnose an anomoly.
      Hope that helps.

    • #3114999

      It Depends….

      by breirden ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      The determination of proper staffing ratios depends on a lot of factors including the size of the organization, amount of standardization, level of complexity of the user applications, sophistication of the users, expectations of executive management, the level of risk they are willing to accept, your ability as a Director, the skill level and work ethics of your people, etc., etc.

      I looked into this exact question several times over the years, there is no specific answer. The bottom line is: are the executives happy with the service they are getting for the money they are paying? You can be getting 150% from your staff and there is no gurantee of satisfaction.

      Educate the executives, and your staff, build solid SLA’s and work toward continuous improvement. I also suggest getting into ITIL as a way to develop your working processes.

      • #3114980

        I must be three people

        by reb413 ·

        In reply to It Depends….

        I ran a network by myself consisting of one WAN connecting three LANs with 85 workstations in total. I did it all. I also had responsibility over the three telephone systems and the company cell phones.

        During the last six months I was there, I spent about 35% of my time studying for certifications because the entire place was runing so smoothly.

        So, the number of staff you need really depends on how well you tune your entire enterprise.

        • #3114941

          I agree

          by 3kl ·

          In reply to I must be three people

          I agree with Reb413. I work in a university with around 14,000 users total. My team run the servers (75) and labs/classrooms with 600 desktops. We have 3 of us managing the whole thing. An exchange system (with 2000 staff members and 12,500 students) that is run solely by me. By any stance we are understaffed compared to where an IT shop should be. We do a damn good job of keeping things running and patched, but the university sacrifices our ability to be proactive due to the amount of break/fix issues we have to deal with. The same will most likely hold true for the small IT shop. You can probably slide by with 2 staff members, but if they want any progress they need to give you at least one more tech and one level 1/level 2 helpdesk employee.

      • #3118359

        how many am I?

        by dean.h ·

        In reply to It Depends….

        I work for a Technical College, with 700 computers on 4 campuses, with 12 servers, VoIP, Active Directory, and 2500 users (faculty, staff, and students). In the past I have been the only IT staff the college had. I now have one other IT tech to help. If it gets done, the two of us do it. Our Director of IT Services is a librarian (yes you read that correctly), she doesn’t even understand the basice of internetworking and has some difficulty telling the difference between a computer that is turned on from one that’s turned off. We do the network administration, AD administration, desktop support, hardware support, in other words, we do it all. How many people does that make me?

    • #3114974

      Need more information, please

      by beads ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      There have been some very good comments but I don’t think anyone has enough information to clearly make accurate suggestions – yet.

      Can you explain the following?

      What is your role as “Director of IT”? Directors generally have managers working for them are you planning on having an actual network manager/engineer/administrator fill this role or are you planning on doing much of the design and engineering work yourself? Its a pet peeve of mine like VP’s of IT when they have no Directors, Managers or staff to oversee. Sue me. LOL.

      What is the capacity of the current help desk person? Is this a phone support (level 1); very basic support; 2nd level, able to visit machines and resolve most problems; or level 3 able to configure several workstation varients, troubleshoot and configure possibly conflicting software. The next step would be the admin type who should be able to do everything above plus keep the network up and running without much in the way of day to day supervision.

      Sounds like your help desk is really doing much of the admin functions, now. What role will this person play in a four person group? How will this person feel when two people join the group and is suddenly relegated to more mundane tasks?

      Can you clearly define the roles of the two new positions? If you came to me with two positions that sound remarkably similiar, i.e. Systems Administrator and Network Administrator I’d probably pushback as well because they sound much the same. Clearly defining the roles will make the push for staffing much easier all the way around. Its a guess that your really looking for more of a “DBA lite” for the SQL server/back-end products and a Network Engineer for the more internal client facing side of the business. These need to be clearly defined responsibilities as well. Who runs the email system? Who runs your SQL? Switches? DNS?

      Then and only then will you have a real case to take back to the rest of executive management. A Director level position is generally considered executive management as well. So these should be your peers as well as your senior management partners. Time to wheel and deal your ideas, about.

      One help desk person should be able to do desktop support for 100 people standing on thier head so I would hope your in good shape there.

      One Systems person should be more than enough to support a dozen or so servers. Really, this has gotten much easier if you plan for your patches and use best practices. This person should be almost bored at times.

      Back end servers like SQL and Email may require some additional hand holding but since you are not mentioning a developer/dba type I am assuming that most of this is either off the shelf or supported from outside the organization meaning that this position is much more likely to receive the greatest amount of pushback from your peers. Since it seems to be the most suspect.

      Add the above positional descriptions and I think you’ll have a much better shot at getting an accurate responses from folks. Right now we’re all over the board with great comments and lots of pats on the back for asking for more IT folks.

      – beads

    • #3114956

      IT Staffing Needs

      by barbarad ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      Hi trtjj,
      We work with a number of companies with 100 or more employees. My company provides the Help Desk support to these companies allowing them to run the on-site IT support with only a small staff of one or two people. Consider lowering your costs by outsourcing your help desk to a competent local provider and redeploy your internal people to more complex issues that require on-site work.

      Best, Barbara

    • #3114934

      Know the feeling

      by mike ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      I am the Network/Systems/Helpdesk personel at my company for roughly 75 desktops, 25 servers, and all the network equipment. Our management has also been hesitant to hire the additional staff, but they have been very understanding when it comes to how that choice affects response time.

      The other item I would think to consider is how much change the environment needs to undergo. Our environment has ‘calmed’ significantly over time, making it far easier to run with just one person. Try not to staff up just to settle some immediate issues and then have little for people to work on afterwards. Consider one full time admin and possibly a part-time or intern to assist with the daily fire fighting until things become stable.

    • #3114914

      IT Staffing

      by warpindy ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      Not knowing your the new # of pc and servers that you are currently running I would at at least try and get two people in the door. One person would have to wear two hats in this can. You stated that you like ot have a network and systems admin try and find a person that can do the job of both jobs for now and a hire a help desk person that can also do the job of a sys admin. I would write it up to the executive staff that you would need that one person would help with the new demands of a new infrastructure, the network/sys admin, and that you would hire a more advanced person on the help desk side, helpdesk/sys admin, to help with new user demand.
      Document they change in demand on the old going into the new infrastructure now so that if need to hire one more person all you would have to do is take your network/sys admin and make them your network admin, your helpdesk/sys admim you full time system admin and then hire another helpdesk person. All of these would be lateral moves and might keep the exec staff of your back when you ask for the new hire within another 6 to 12 months.

      Good luck

      • #3114897

        Internal Promotion also?

        by 3kl ·

        In reply to IT Staffing

        Hopefully this goes without saying, but is the current help desk staffer someone that could be moved up to an entry level sys admin? I know if I was that person and totally ignored when a new job was added I would be bitter and consider leaving the company at that point.

    • #3114888

      IT staff – A pragmatic approach

      by jrenatok ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      Good point. Since I don?t have enough information about your company?s requirements, but the size of 100 people, I suggest you a very pragmatic approach of paying a 3rd party company to provide you remote and on-site service (this case, on-demand).

      This situation is as long as your company accepts this kind of service support. I?m not saying this is a wreck solution. It works fine, but you get what you pay for.

      Security issues regarding remote access to your environment can be solved with technology (point-to-point links, VPN,…).

      The challenge is finding a company that could fit your budget, based on Executive Staff expectations. You can deal SLA with your service provider regarding scheduled and non-scheduled actions, as well as the amount of effort the monthly cost is covering.

      Consider that an interim solution. It can last as long as it fits business constraints.

      It?s really hard to let Executive Staff understand how complex are IT activities and this is not an one-man-show, but in other hand, it doesn?t make any sense to have IT structure with significant costs compared with business structure.

      It?s easier for you to manage a service provider than manage an undersized poor broad skilled IT staff.

      Let me know if this worked well for you.



    • #3114843

      Service level?

      by sr10 ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      You need to start with the service level you are expected to provide. Here are some, but not all, of the questions I would ask:
      How long can it take to fix a network outage? To add a new hire?
      How long can E-commerce be down?
      How much manual effort does it require to make E-commerce go on a daily basis?
      How long can VoIP be down?
      How many hours a day are you committed to service availability? Are you a 24/7 shop? Can you rule out being called between, say, 10pm and 6am?
      Who writes the one-off reports for Great Plains?
      How much IT involvement is there in basic repetitive functions like monthly close?

      The answers to this provide your level of staffing demand. You write job reqs to fill the demand. Then the execs can either approve hiring to the demand or scale back the service level requirements. If they approve, you know exactly what you’re hiring for and can communicate that in the interview.

    • #3114799

      Too many systems not enough help

      by jdlucky ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      Your Oracle system itself should have a dedicated DBA, unless of course you’re outsourcing. I could see you getting by with one other strong network admin person but definately see why your exec team is questioning your proposal. You’re asking to double your staff and most shops with 100 people only have about 2-3 people as it is if they’re lucky. My shop has 130. I am the IT Mgr and I have a strong help desk/network admin working with me. We are very busy, but currently have a proposal to bring in a DBA for building a data warehouse and hopefully one more help desk person, but I won’t hold my breath. Basically, IT is an expense and you’re always going to have trouble justifying additional head count unless you have good documenatation and metrics to go with your proposal. You’re going to have to baseline your workload and show you actually need the help because service levels or user satisfaction is not being met.

      Good luck.

      • #3116364

        Could use remote DBA to reduce costs

        by sumjay ·

        In reply to Too many systems not enough help

        The IT shop I managed in Delaware, had similar issues and requirements (I am going on assumptions here for our friend TRTJJ).

        A strong network guy and a strong help desk person could be quite adequate, if they were cross trained (in their basic function as back up) in case they were sick or something.

        I had a remote DBA who was very capable and was on call whenever we needed him thus reducing costs substantially.

        We had about 75 to 80 users who had to be kept happy. I discovered that training the users periodically helped keep our calls and help desk tickets volume down.

        This allowed my staff to pay closer attention to do the real nitty gritty stuff our systems needed to run smoothly, like maintaining upgrades, DRP testing etc.

    • #3116590

      IT Staff Ratio Calculator

      by kate ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      There used to be a white paper that helps you calculate the IT staff to user ratio, but it doesn’t seem to be in the White Paper section any more. I used it as the basis to justify hiring more staff in my IT dept., and also used it as a benchmark to show management how much more efficient we are compared to industry recommendations. I still have a copy of the paper I downloaded, if anyone wants it.

    • #3116330

      Add one position at a time

      by waynes ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      If you don’t have budget to get two people on board, you may try to add one position first. Try to find an all-in-one person. In small company, you can’t expect to hire expert for every software/hardware. I’m not an expert on one particular function. But I can handle from helpdesk to SAP support and from fixing a desktop/laptop to rebuild a server. As an IT Manager (helpdesk/system admin), I handle 60 PC/Mac/laptop and 7 servers in 8 different locations). In your case, I would said you should spend about 20 to 50 percent of your time to do the hands-on technical work. Unless your company has a lot of money then it would allow you to do 100 percent management work.
      (Before my previous employer relocated to different state, I was an IT Director to manage 15 people from IT, customer support, and technical marketing departments.) Keep in mind; you MUST customize your IT department for your company. Every company has different customer service level requirement, budget, and so many other factors. If you like, you may contact me at, I will give you more suggestion from my experience.

    • #3116842

      Rough rules of thumb

      by gjs@overdam ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      I read another reply stating 1 helpdesk per 40 pc’s, which is a good figure. As a rule of thumb one helpdesk per 50 users to support is really the maximum.

      So in your case at least you need another helpdesk engineer.

      Yet to cut you some slack a third person (comming down to 1/33) who can or share basic system administration will give you flexability and knowledge.

      The amount of staff required to support hardware alos depends on the homogenity of the hardware. With two you can easaliy manage up to 1000 exact the same systems.
      My opinon is that for every extra OS to support, you can add another engineer.

      If your environment is stable and purely focused on usage, not development, have system/application maintenance outsourced/managed (a guy a day or two a month might be sufficient), and your own staff do the everyday system management.
      With runbooks, provided by the externel party.

      The amount of systems is not mentioned, but based on the variety of services, I would say that at least one full time admin is required, but for continuity I would suggest two, who can share tasks. One of them could support the helpdesk.
      They could be of comparable skills, cause it is not clear if it is required to have a pure network engineer on the role.

      Your whole plan could benefit form having drawn up a kind of Service Level Agreement with your organization with clear KPIs, and a good inventory of daily tasks an occurance of issues.
      If you have a good notion of the time spent on user support, and on systems and applications management, you may be able to come to a good staff planning.

      In your case I’d say, at least another helpdesker, and a system manager (with helpdesk backup support), but- if room is there, add another system admin, or a good outmanagement company.

      Good luck!


      • #3118256

        I wish we had ONE helpdesk person

        by rkendsley ·

        In reply to Rough rules of thumb

        Our organization has, 1500 employees, 2000+ phones, approximately 5000 desktop/laptop computers, more than 45 servers, but I will stick with 45 at this point, and a WAN that connects 22 sites. THIS IS ALL RUN BY 9 (Conut EM) 9 people!
        A mixed environment of Windows (98,2K,XP), Macintosh, & Linux.

        1 Phone person
        1 audio/visual person (Did I mention the 1000+ televisions, vcr, dvd players?)
        1 postmaster/web developer
        2 technicians
        1 network manager
        1 database administrator
        1 clerk
        1 director
        9 People

        Employee’s call the person of their choice for help, which as you might have guessed really causes alot of interruptions in our days.

        You have 2 and want 4?
        Wow……. I do think you need 3 people, a person with technician skills and some network skills. Four people really seems overblown.

    • #3137217

      Good luck

      by stb ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      Good luck getting them to add the people that you need. I AM the IT department for a corporation with 4 locations, 75 internal users, 50 remote users, running Exchange, a Unix implementation of Informix SQL, load balanced Citrix Presentation servers, and Cisco PIX vpns. Oh, and I’m responsible for the GPS locators on all the remote users as well.

    • #3118429


      by ou jipi je ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      Ok, I’ll cut you a slag for I don’t know what did you tell them to get the job.

      If you however want to keep it, hire one _senior_ IT technical person and assign him with the task to draw it up for you.

      A competent senior IT professional can asses the technical requirements and draw out preliminary infrastructure outlining possible amount of technical personnel needed. Combining this with uptime/ redundancy requirements you should get close to what you need.

      Make sure he won’t replace you as soon as everyone else realizes that you have no clue… :-)))

    • #3118241

      Talk to the person you replaced

      by bschaettle ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      You neeed to track down the person you were hired to replace and find out why they left. I suspect they’ll tell you that the Exec staff didn’t want to hire the staff necessary to get the job done. You also need to find out how many IT Directors they’ve gone through in the last 5 years or so, which will be a good indication of your chances of success.

    • #3117793

      Another help desk person …

      by too old for it ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      … is code for “we want cheap help.

    • #3117675

      Size of IT Staff

      by sekar.t ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      We have around 100+ employees at our organization, we have one manager who monitor and provide guidance to the IT department. IT department consists of two hardware engineer who provide support to 100 employees on need basis. To make this model & size work for your organization, you must have established good processes.

      Let me know if you need a further help on this.

      This works pretty well.

    • #3119675

      Oh, for an easy life

      by grumbledook ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      1 to 40? Luxury!

      At the risk of sounding like one of the four yorkshiremen …

      In educational establishments there is a serious shortfall of IT
      Staff (support staff that is, not teachers)

      Because of changes to the pay structure for teachers they are
      finally no longer allowed to do tech support and so schools need
      a decent support team. It is still the case that over half schools
      have this managed by the Head of ICT and not a support

      We are reasonably lucky. We have me as Director of IT (on the
      Senior Leadership Team … but not a teacher. A rarity in schools),
      a Network Manager, an Assisstant Network Manager (in some
      places this would be Senior IT Technician), 1 term-time only
      technician, 1 full time student placement and 1 part time
      website manager (basic HTML but generally updating existing

      This is for 11 servers, 400+ workstations, 250+ laptops and
      1500+ users.

      Considering that users may log on and log off up to 10 different
      machines a day, having 22 different makes and models of
      machines with over 200 different software packages …

      Well, you get the idea. And this is not unusual for a school.

      We work to the idea that we can get 1 to 150 … and then hope
      to get down to 1 to 100 within the next 2 years, but considering
      we add at least 100 laptops a year at the moment it means our
      wages bill is very high and unsustainable for a school.

      Solutions include outsourcing (which we already do for chunks
      of cabling, hardware support, etc) but to outsource the lot would
      lose the benefits of having IT Staff with experience of dealing
      with students and teachers.

      Catch 22?

    • #3119673

      Copy of white paper

      by patrickg ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      Hi can i have a copy of the paper was well

      • #3119668

        White Paper… Please…

        by rcuk ·

        In reply to Copy of white paper

        I work for an FE/HE institution in Scotland. I am an ICT Team
        Leader for myself and 3.5 mambers of staff providing desktop
        support to 800 computers upto 400 members of staff and if you
        believe Console1 about 5000 students. I am presently trying to
        work through this very problem of staffing at the moment. I am
        studying for a Dip in Mmanagement, and the course work points
        out a lot of the shortcomings of the resources I have available. I
        will use this to formulate a document outling SLAs and support
        expectations of the team.

        The white paper would be a fantastic aid to do this.


      • #3131324

        Copy of White Paper

        by cwise ·

        In reply to Copy of white paper

        If possible may I recieve a copy of the White paper or where I might be able to download a copy.

    • #3119672

      US Gov/Corp Requirement For Help Desk Is 1:125-150

      by questor1 ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      Any help desk staffing requirements depends on how well your network is documented, organized, and implemented by your staff. Users need to be aware of SLAs and understand what is expected of help desk staff. Networks are supposedly easier to manage, but the breadth of knowledge and education needed by help desk staff has risen.

      The problems that I experienced is that end users often would dump computer projects they were responsible for upon help desk staff at the last moment – outside of SLA requirements. The user would often assume that IT support meant help desk staff would do all of their computer tasks for them.

      However, the help desk responsibility was really to educate users on software use and how the user can complete tasks on their own. Many times, users that demanded extra IT help to complete their tasks were inexperienced or “afraid of computers”…

      In my contracting days, IBM Global Services at a major consumer products company account had a ratio of 1 help desk support person per every 125-150 client employees. This was determined by IBM to be optimal staffing for most (but not all) contracts.

      Since your organization has 100 users and the support person may not be fully occupied with tasks, you may want to expand the help desk responsibilities by requiring cross-training in Server Support and/or place certification/education requirements on their job title.

      Each company and department has different needs, but you should be careful about overstaffing when there are budget concerns. I saw a lot of contractors cut from a federal government contract where the contracting company intentionally overstaffed with 4 help desk support staff for 125 users. By artifically increasing the number of staff, the contractor icrease company billing amounts. That company was eventually released from the fed contract and the new contract company cleared house and went to only 1 support person.

      • #3119667

        Your environment is different?

        by questor1 ·

        In reply to US Gov/Corp Requirement For Help Desk Is 1:125-150

        I forgot to add that the government and corporate contracts had very rigid job descriptions and responsibilities where large organizations require this.

        Since you are apparently in a smaller organization, you probably have to wear a lot of addition hats, so 1 Mgr and 2 support staff is probably what is needed based on the software that you have described…

    • #3119669

      i did the same thing …

      by tommy orange ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      I was in a similar situation about 1 1/2 years ago and have been building the department ever since. we are very IT heavy due to the fact that we try and replace people with systems whenever possible but we have similar systems. I now have 2 support staff who are well rounded enough to build servers and fiddle with Cisco kit. a senior DBA type and a business analyst for the ERP system and have just added a programmer to keep up with the enhancements of the ERP and CMS systems. my suggestion would be to create detailed job specs and areas of responsibility for each role so that you can justify your support needs. also, if you keep track of how much downtime actually costs the company as far as lost revenue and productivity, that should give you some extra ammo for justification of new staff. I am not sure how many projects you do and if you outsource them or not … but you will probably need more staff to help with those also. looks like you have your hands full …

    • #3119657

      Hope this is of help!

      by muhannad ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      I haven’t read others feedback. What I would suggest first is to really define your department’s mission and responsibilities. From there, try to draw a very basic chart of the functions required to take care of each responsibility. So, let’s assume that you must maintain the email system, develop/update the Web site, address external customer’s inquiries and issues, and support internal office software. To do so, you need to staff for: Systems Administrator, Web Developer, Customer Support and Technical Support, respectively. Now, based on the volume of work expected daily, monthly, and yearly, try to decide the proper number of seats per each function. For those functions that require seasonal effort (installation of a new router/switch, for example), you may consider consolidating two profiles under one position. From my personal experience in an electronic services company, I defined two positions in the infrastructure team; Systems and Database Admin, and Network and Security Admin. Having to support an online business where no remote branches are involved and few operating systems and databases to take care of, that proved to be a good option. For other highly demanding functions (on-site technical support or call center agents, for example), be careful not to overstaff. A review of history problems/calls log might be very helpful in deciding the volume and pattern of user/customer requests. In shall be highly emphasized to take the statistics at various snapshots in time. Once you have that, you will need to get the management’s feedback on expected quality of service; responsiveness-wise. There are many helpful resources which provide a systematic approach in covering this particualr area based on paramters such as accepted wait time and response time.
      What you will learn by experience, however, is that you will never feel that you are staffing as required. Top management gets very skeptical when it comes to hiring, and your budget might not allow it in many cases. Don’t staff for all functions; sometimes outsourcing and short-term contracts make the best option to overcome an unusal or short term demand.

    • #3119642

      IT Staffing

      by poteatj ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      Currently, I’m tech director for a public school district with about 6,000 students, 450 staff, 3000 desktop and laptop machines. We support Exchange, IIS, SQL, student information and curriculum management systems, a host of specialized services, PLUS all telephone, security camera, intercom, and anything else that plugs into the wall. This with a staff of 12 positions: 1-director, 1-network/server primary, 1-developer/database manager who backs up the network/server position, 1-telecom/wiring, 1-A/V tech, 2-district-wide elementary techs, 2-middle school techs, 1.5 high school techs, 0.5 web site manager, 1-office manager.
      Previously, I was in a school district half this size with a staff of 4 where I was the network manager, systems/data manager, director, and developer.
      Then I worked 80 hour weeks regularly and stayed behind. Now I go home on time, get more done, and am not quite as far behind.
      One big difference here is a culture that demands that their technology be available when they need it, 24/7/365, so they support it (IT).

      • #3119603


        by rogjr ·

        In reply to IT Staffing

        “Then I worked 80 hour weeks regularly and stayed behind.” This reply is the primary problem in IT today. Too often people are self sacrificing their lives for work. If a company expects you to work excessive amount of hours for them, get out. The SLA’s are good start, but it should be based on a 40 hour week, and the time for vacations, sick, training, etc. In other words, all managers should staff based on employees having lives other than work. End the self sacrificing.

    • #3119611

      IT Staffing Considerations

      by michael.bartholf ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      The most important consideration to get your hands around is to determine the Executive Staff’s expectations. Are they asking for improved levels of Help Desk support because of a perceived shortfall in that area? Are they asking for another Help Desk person because that is what they think they need? You are faced with what appears to be a lack of understanding on your part of three things: (1) What you think they need; (2) What the Exec. Staff thinks they need; and (3) What realy is needed. Until you can pin down the real needs versus/compared to the expectations, you will continue to hear “add one more Help Desk person” from your Exec. Staff. A recommendation: in a point paper, provide the Exec. Staff with an analysis (simple of course) of the daily activities which support your initial recommendations and provide them with examples of what might/will occur if these positions are not filled. It appears from your comments that the organization has been able to exist without some of these positions in the past. In the face of the current business environment, they may well be willing to live without them in the near-term.

    • #3120190

      Glorified Secretary

      by ctkenyon ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      Not knowing all of the details, it’s impossible to provide a single, correct answer for you.

      One question to ask before taking any new IT job, is “What is the value of the IT Infrastructure Services to your business?” If neither the executive team nor hiring manager can provide a reasonably articulate answer with a few examples of key business areas heavily reliant on IT, this should raise a flag. It is all too easy (especially in small shops) for owners / execs to focus on the ‘Administration’ in Systems/Network/Database Administration and think of their IT support staff as over-glorified Secretaries who know how to use computers. The response from your Executive staff may be indicative of this mindset.

      On the other hand, you haven’t described why you are designing a new infrastructure and adding services. Were these tasks / projects for which you were hired, or does the new infrastructure fall into your comfort zone of technologies with which you are more familiar, or have you been tasked with providing a set of additional services, and you are simply designing the infrastructure to support them?

      There are generally a couple of ways to determine the appropriate staff size – top-down, bottom-up, and reference-based (what is everyone else doing). Ultimately, it is best to try and use a high-level pass at all three and see if you can relatively quickly converge on an answer. For example, you might take some of the excellent suggestions provided within the other responses to determine a bottom-up headcount – i.e. – put together a spreadsheet with services, response times and your estimates of staff (man-hour) requirements – I would suggest keeping this exercise at a relatively high level until you start to converge with the other approaches. You can compare that to some reference-based formula such as: 1 sysadmin/20 servers + 1 heldesk/100 users + 1 helpdesk/50 desktops + 1 helpdesk/25 laptops + 1 dba, etc…
      If these approaches provide reasonable correlation, you have a little more weight behind the request. Management should also be able to provide you with insight on their top-down approach – % of overall budget, etc…

      If there’s a big discrepancy, you can either diplomatically challenge their budget allocation
      (see if they have access to Gartner info, or perhaps a state-run small business association can provide details for companies of similar size and technology profile), or identify where the difference in perception arises. Are your service level expectations too high? Are they expecting everyone to work 60 hour weeks? Did they simply not realize just how much turf there was to cover?


    • #3120188

      Where to find networking/IT staff

      by chhughes ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      FYI–When you find the answer to your question and you’re ready to hire, one resource for staffing is Cisco. Cisco has a job board for alumni of the Cisco Networking Academy Program to post their resumes.
      Employers new to the site just create a profile and start searching through the resumes using search criteria. It’s free!

    • #3120147

      Ratio Calculator

      by jseichelb ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      Please send me a copy of the white paper or let me know where I might find it to download.


    • #3120106

      Manage IT needs

      by quickhelp ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      You’re boss might not be right, but at least you know how much he will tolerate.

      Hire another person to help you in the department (witch is the amount you’re boss will acept maybe another after a couple month) and asign him the workload you need, from what i read you’ll have enough with one for now. latter as thing progress you can mold the HH.RR. of your department until your needs are met.

      Main thing is showing your boss something he agrees with.

    • #3120088

      Call Center Calculator

      by ctdamour ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      I don’t know if this will help in this situation, but there is a call center calculator available at this site:

    • #3120084

      1-50 is my rough rule of thumb

      by vernonhorn ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      I work for a non-profit organization with about 25 employees, and I’ve been asking the question about IT staffing ratios for years, mostly because I’m interested in knowing how well I do my own job.

      I’ve put the question to numerous of my peers at other organizations, and the best rule of thumb estimate that I’ve been able to come up with is about 1 full time IT staff for every 50 employees. Of course actual conditions vary quite significantly. In my case I have two production servers in house, and two in a hosted environment. My end user base is reasonably smart, and not overly demanding.

      As it turns out, general IT management works out to about 40% of my job, and I outsource some of the more complex tasks.

    • #3119962

      The IT Manager’s Dilemma of staffing

      by jattas9 ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      Your problem is the size of your organization. Senior Execs, think that computer’s run by themselves. This has always been an IT dilemma mainly because with earlier simplistic dos systems, they did. Windows makes everything seem simple, unless you are the person trying to be productive. You are not going to like this one. I had 970 systems I was responsible for in 10 locations, and 4 different business groups publishing newspapers. My entire staff, including graphic arts, finance, payroll, mass distribution etc., etc. was a total of 8 with 60 servers, 32 T1’s, 2 T-3’s etc. Until very recently the staff size was 4. I don’t count the IT Director, since he was just a manager in our operation and did not participate in solutions or planning.
      In your case, if you get a staff of 5, I would guess you are lucky, and you will be managing the different services yourself, unless you can get some of those people to pickup a little of this and a little of that. That’s just the way it is these days in IT.

    • #3118147

      Consider number of tasks/segregation of duties

      by sambo1580 ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      When working out how many people you have, write out every job that is done by your department and then consider segregation of duties and adequate coverage and backup coverage of your services. By doing that, you will know what roles can be combined or which need to stand alone.

      This way you will know exactly how many people to ensure a quality level of service.

      This is how our organisation handles it’s I.T service delivery.

    • #3118003

      Size of IT Staff

      by kasuun ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      I would begin to keep careful documentation of what you and your staff do. If necessary, document in 30 minute increments. Bring this to your boss with your request for staff. Your document will speak for itself.

    • #3117870

      The less the merier

      by spidershrek ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      I work for a High School with over 3000 users includings faculty staff a students. there are over 1000 PC’s and a complex variety of application. There is only 2 of us technical support for the entire system and 3 people in charge of various computer labs( Not Technical).
      Even thought is pretty rough when the tech personal knows what they are doing you don’t need anything else. When the system is always in good standing there is realky no need for more than a couple of techs. Something else that you can do is talk to the univercities around your neighboorhood. They provide assistance with there students so that the students can get practice on there field. This internship programs can be both beneficial for you aans the school. Hope this helps…

    • #3130743

      hiring another person

      by masfarahnak ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      Dear sir,
      Hiring another person, mostly depends on your active devices, you are using for your office. If your active devices have module management. you can easily troubleshoot your network. Try to use this way, and you get 100% chance to solve your problems without hiring any person.


    • #3130577


      by cwise ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      If anyone has a copy of the caculator which kate has written about or knows where to dlownload a copy. Please email me at
      Thank you one and all for your time in reading this and especially for a copy of the mentioned caculator. Thank you again.

      • #3132078

        Reply To: Size of IT Staff

        by tink56 ·

        In reply to Caculator

        I would like one too please.

        tfichtner @

    • #3131913

      Tech staff ratio White Paper request, please

      by jsamuelson ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      Has anyone gotten it yet to share? Where is it?

    • #3132435

      Here is one Calculator

      by mlanphea ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      I dowloaded this in 2002. It should still be as valid now as then. It provides a formula for you to calculate your staffing needs. You have to do the work. (Putting it in this window screws up the formatting. Try pasting it into a .doc file.)

      Staffing for Technology Support


      The image of an information superhighway recalls the success of the interstate highway program, which efficiently linked remote areas of the country contributing to decades of prosperity. In order to take maximum advantage of a communication superhighway, schools and districts must provide properly trained personnel to keep the networks running smoothly and help users properly navigate their routes.

      Technical support staff falls into two basic types; those that support the equipment such as file servers, workstations and other network components and those that support the users, typically at a software application level. The number of support personnel necessary will be a function of many variables, including the size of the network, its complexity and the level of support desired for users (California Department of Education, 1994)

      There is much discussion about restructuring schools and integrating technology into curriculum. Adequate support staffing has not kept pace with the acquisition of new technology for several reasons. Skeptics see the infusion of technology as just another cycle of reform, or educational fad, and have been reluctant to shift scarce resources when many existing programs are already underfunded. Also, those charged with making decisions regarding technology are frequently school boards, superintendents, or in some states, departments of education made up of senior educational administrators who may not have any current technology training or experience.

      A 1989-90 survey of superintendents in New York and Rhode Island showed 85% knew nothing about computers, had never used a computer and did not intend to use one. In the same year another study indicated that universities charged with the training of school administrators offered little in the way of computer training or computer-based curriculum training. While these studies weren?t conducted yesterday, they do indicate that part of the problem schools have in providing the necessary support for effective technology based systems is a lack of training and knowledge of educational decision makers (Morton, 1996). An examination of the current requirements for administrators and superintendents at one of the state universities in Arizona confirms this is also a local area of concern and neglect.

      Today, schools across the country spend an average of nine percent of their technology budgets on training and support, while experiences of technology rich schools suggest that more than 30% of much larger budgets would be invested in these areas (U.S. Department of Education, 1996).

      Some fully equipped schools provide a full or part-time technology coordinator to maintain equipment, provide on the spot assistance to teachers in the classroom, and assist teachers with identifying technology-based resources (such as software, video programs, on-line databases, and use of the Internet). Other schools rely on teachers or part-time aides to supply less than adequate support.

      Existing Standards
      Nineteen Hundred Eighty-Four is noted by some as the beginning of the computer revolution. Since then we have had a second revolution based on computer networks and a third based on the Internet. This rapid rate of change has made it difficult for educational organizations, with their compartmentalized budgets and financial constraints, to recognize and adjust to the expectations of this new digital world.

      How much support is needed and who is going to provide it?

      Most school districts have had a data processing department or centralized computer system for payroll and other business functions in place for years. While a single, fully trained support person can maintain a district?s main frame or mini-computer, support needs change when a distributed client-server system is installed. School districts need to look closely at what private sector companies, universities and community colleges have established as standards for staffing complex infrastructure similar to those being planned for K-12 settings.

      Forrester Research Inc. conducted a study in large corporations and found that typical support staff includes one support person for every 50 PC?s at a cost of $142 per PC per year. According to the model, a school district with 1,000 PC?s would need a staff of 20 and a budget of 1.4 million (Microsoft, 1996).

      A 1993 study by the Gartner Group on the life cycle cost of a single PC broke the total five-year cost into four subcomponents. Capital costs were 17%, administrative costs were 14%, technical support was 12%, and the largest cost was end-user operations for 57%. In other words, for every $1,000 spent on computers, an additional $5,880 will be spent over five years to support the computer (Gartner Group, 1993). These figures were for large corporations. In school districts many of the tasks identified as administrative or end-user operations, such as software license management, installation and training are the responsibility of the technology support staff, and cost such as loss of productivity is typically not measured with teaching staff.

      Project Athena was an educational computing initiative conducted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in partnership with the IBM Corporation and Digital Equipment Corporation from 1983 to 1991. Under Project Athena a mature, distributed computing environment was developed. Support requirements for distributed computing environments were developed as part of the study.

      The approach taken by the study was to determine the human resource skills necessary to support the total environment, and then translate this into real numbers based on full-time employees. The following variables and staffing ratios were established.

      Workstations. Resources are required to install, maintain, track and update.
      Resource estimate: W/500, where W is the number of workstations.

      Users. The number of users affects account administration, user training and “how to use” assistance, documentation and configuration services.
      Resource estimate: U/1000, where U is the number of users.

      Clusters. Clusters are physically co-located workgroups sharing servers, printers and other peripheral equipment.
      Resource estimate: C/15, where C is the number of clusters.

      Supported Applications. The number of applications provided and supported centrally affects the resources required to install, update, support, track and document software licenses.
      Resource estimate: A/50, where A is the number of supported applications.

      Vendor Operating Systems and Applications. Operating systems for different platforms all have frequent revisions and updates to install and ensure interoperability with other systems and applications.
      Resource estimate: V/1, where V is the number of distinct vendor operating systems and platforms.

      Licenses Required. A license is defined as the right to use the application software for multiple users on multiple platforms.
      Resource estimate: L/25, where L is the number of licenses.

      To determine the total human resources (HR) required use the following formula (Arfman & Roden, 1992):

      HR=W/500 + U/1000 + C/15 + A/50 + L/25 + V

      An example of this formula approach to determining appropriate staffing levels would be a school district with 1,000 workstations, 2,000 users, 30 clusters (e.g. school offices), 25 applications supported, 3 operating systems (OS400, Windows 95 and Mac), and licenses required for 25 different software packages. The staffing would be determined as follows.

      HR=1000/500 +2000/1000 +30/15 +25/50 + 25/25 +3/1

      HR= 2 + 2 + 2 + .5 + 1 + 3 (for a total of 10.5 FTE)

      Although telecommunications and network support were not included in this study, similar FTE ratios could be developed to establish appropriate staffing levels for these and other skill sets based on industry or university standards.

      Current Issues/Options
      Schools fall on a continuum for support staff issues and options for dealing with them. A single school will be far different from a larger K-12 district with thousands of network computers and a multitude of supported programs and applications, including the complexity of a distance learning system.

      Recognizing the need and determining the appropriate skill sets necessary is generally the first step in building a plan for adequate support staff. This should be included as one of the questions to ask vendors before purchasing any new technology. Other districts with similar installations should be contacted and consulted. Educational or technical consultants may also be used to assist in determining support requirements.

      Finding qualified staff who will provide the necessary skills is the next step. Districts have traditionally relied on the famous last line in employee contracts, “other duties as assigned,” to assign technical responsibilities to a willing teacher or administrator. A point is reached where the skills become too specialized, or the time demands too great, to continue with a part-time or untrained person. The use of part-time staff or teachers who have classroom responsibilities also means response time will be constrained and users who cannot receive immediate assistance will be angry and frustrated. On the other hand, current market demand for trained technology specialists is very high, and the pay is frequently outside the range of what schools are accustomed to paying classified staff.

      Providing effective training for existing staff members who have been assigned the responsibilities and have the basic technical background poses a different set of problems. Training costs are high due to market demand and control of “certified” training by large vendors. A five day class on supporting Microsoft?s Windows 95 can cost over $2,000. Training on operating systems such as Microsoft?s Windows NT or Novell NetWare can cost in excess of $10,000. Once trained, a staff member then commands more salary in the open market than a school?s salary schedule is able to match.

      The major option to providing in-house service and support is to outsource these services. Negotiating these types of contracts again requires a district to clearly understand their support requirements and be able to put out a comprehensive request for proposals (RFP) to select a qualified vendor and manage the resulting contract.

      Some districts manage to offer classes or create opportunities for students to assist in various aspects of the support function. This requires having someone on the teaching staff with the technical background necessary to offer the class or provide an appropriate level of supervision.

      Providing adequate compensation to staff, assuming a district can afford to provide the appropriate training, is another major issue. Unless this is done in relatively short order, retention of the newly trained “techie” may be problematic. Technical staff is in constant contact with other districts as well as vendors and they are well informed regarding current salaries and wages. Any turnover in key technical positions will result in significant loss of support to staff and students. Extensions of employee contracts based on the cost of training provided is one method of ensuring the district receives a reasonable return on its investment of training.

      Most districts will have difficulty in meeting the salaries paid by business and industry. However, benefits such as security, more vacation days, and less stress may be used to offset the dollar differential.

      Consistent and comprehensive funding for technology systems is difficult due to the common practice of funding the purchase of technology through the use of bond issues or grants. This type of funding typically is good for one-time expenditures, but is inadequate as a funding mechanism for on-going cost such as training for teachers and the necessary support staff. Districts must also establish a replacement cycle for older machines. This will become more of an issue as the technology base at a school expands. Most schools migrate equipment or “repurpose” it in order to maximize the life of a computer. However, at some point it will become more costly to maintain than replace. It will be more manageable to fund replacements through the capital outlay budget rather than relying on passing a bond issue every five years.

      Some state and federal funding agencies now require that any technology plans funded by them provide for a percentage set aside for teacher training and support. On-going costs typically must still be funded through the district?s maintenance and operating budget, which is the same budget used for teachers? salaries and supplies. Reallocation of these dollars tends to be the more difficult for school boards and administrators. Until this can be established, long-term planning which includes operational expenses is not realistic.

      Impact on Education
      According to Karen Sheingold, “The successful transformation of student learning and accomplishment in the next decade requires effectively bringing together three agendas?an emerging consensus about learning and teaching, well-integrated uses of technology and restructuring. Each agenda alone presents possibilities for educational redesign of a very powerful sort. Yet no one has realized, or is likely to realize, its potential in the absence of the other two.

      Successful implementation of technology into education is obviously dependent on a number of variables. While technology supporters are quick to advocate the benefits of technology, the requirements for adequate technical support are slow to be understood and funded. It should however, be fairly easy for most of us to appreciate the frustration teachers face when a piece of “technology” doesn?t work or requires the skills of a technician just to make it work. When you have a class of 30 eager students watching and not always waiting patiently, unworkable/unsupported “technology” quickly gets relegated to the back closet.

      The evolving concept of technology-rich education is being defined in many districts and schools throughout the United States by teachers, administrators, or technology committees. These technology plans have many similarities. With few exceptions, the products of technology committees are less working documents than wish lists with timetables attached. The limited and uncertain availability of funding and a clear understanding of technology systems often frustrate the best of intentions.

      Probably the most striking omission from technology plans has been a realistic model of technical staffing. While administrations maintain modern staff for business operations, purchasing, curriculum, human resources, building and grounds, few superintendents or planning teams have recognized that a large network of computers will require a substantial group of trained professionals to cope with its many demands.

      Districts will continue to build large complex networks to take advantage of resource sharing, Internet access and communication capabilities. School boards and administrations also have increasing expectations for student performance, staff productivity and information systems to provide the necessary data and information for sound decision-making. Teachers and students, without the support of a certified technically component technology coach or site coordinator, will not be able to take advantage of the potential benefits technology can provide. Trained support staff for these technology systems are a critical part of any successful implementation and operation.

      Because dollars will always be in short supply for additional staff, especially for those other than teachers, districts must develop a realistic and cost effective support staff plan as part of their overall technology plan.

      Develop a blueprint of the support system as part of the overall technology plan. Effective leadership and management of the district?s technology plan and resources are part of a tiered approach to a total support system. Districts have begun to recognize the importance of having an administrator at district level with technology expertise to make purchasing recommendations, advise on new construction and remodels, and work with building level principals to increase the use of technology in the classroom. A survey conducted by School Planning and Management magazine found that two-thirds of the responding districts had a person in such a position and 80 percent of the rest plan to add it within five years.

      Today, in most institutions, there are three levels of support in an information system (IS) department. Below the IS manager or Director of Technology there is usually a network administrator and/or analyst who has hands-on management of network resources. The next level is made up of various support providers including workstation technicians, help-desk operators, repair person, installers, curriculum integrators and on-site support personnel such as building technology coordinators or lab assistants. Staff at each level is driven by the size and complexity of the network. Establishing FTE ratios similar to those in the Athena project for each skill needed to provide for future staff additions as the inevitable expansion occurs.

      Establish a market-based approach to determine competitive compensation for key positions in the IS department. Schools typically use a point based classification system to establish the pay range for classified (non-teaching) staff. Many of these systems may not take into account the current high demand for skilled network and computer managers and technicians, thereby causing the pay scale to be inadequate. Reference to industry surveys should be used to establish and adjust compensation for key staff positions. This may require developing an alternate pay schedule rather than using the traditional model, which bases compensation, increase on years of service and college credits only.

      The following information is taken from a salary and job satisfaction survey conducted by Computerworld magazine and is referenced to provide a sense of current key job functions and average nationwide pay scales. Nonprofit institutions are noted as being the lowest paying among industries surveyed. Compensation is identified by industries including the educational sector. The figures shown are for the educational sector.

      CEO or VP: The top IS executive of the organization. $76, 918
      Director of IS Operations: Directs the data center and system operations group. $ 59,343
      Director of Networks: The top networking position manages voice/data communication. $ 53,018
      Manager of Voice/Data Communications Manages voice and data communication. $ 47,815
      Communications Specialist: Provides technical expertise for the company?s voice and data communication. $ 37,175
      Network Administrator: Responsible for departments? administrative functions. $ 38, 770
      LAN Manager: Responsible for all procedures related to the LAN environment. $ 37, 950
      Technical Programmer: Performs basic system programming tasks. $ 24, 273
      Help Desk Operator: Answers user support questions. $ 27,560
      PC Technical Support Specialist: Responsible for overall maintenance of the company?s PC?s. $ 30, 489

      Systems Programmer: Performs basic system programming tasks. $ 38,444

      Technical Programmer: Performs basic system $ 24, 273

      programming tasks.

      Help Desk Operator: Answers user support questions. $ 27,560

      PC Technical Support Specialist: Responsible for $ 30, 489

      overall maintenance of the company?s PC?s.

      Minimizing the support staff requirements. There are several things a district may do in order to minimize the support staff required. The most significant approach is to minimize the complexity of the network and associated systems by establishing standards.

      In any system there will be a trade-off between flexibility and standards. A set of firm and well-chosen standards is the single most important contribution an administration can make to limit the cost of maintaining a network system. Non-standard networks require one person for every 50 to 70 computers. Highly standardized systems on the other hand, require one support person for every 500-700 computers.

      The most significant standard is the hardware platform. Traditionally, Apple Corporation products have been the preferred platform of choice for the K-12 market. However, in recent surveys the WinTel platform has made serious inroads in the educational market share as well as dominating the corporate and home market.

      Functional identity is another standard to establish. Every workstation or file server in a functional group should be identical to every other. Exceptions and deviations from this standard cause an enormous increase in documentation and support requirements.

      Network components such as routers, switches, hubs, network interface cards, and printers should also be standardized. This will minimize the number of vendors and equipment types staff has to deal with. Medium and large districts will want to move toward the use of network manageable tools allowing for remote access of file servers and network components even down to the desktop. Advantages include being able to maintain systems, upgrade software, track hardware for asset management and configuration settings, and track licenses without expending valuable time driving to individual sites. The ability to remotely log on to a user?s workstation and demonstrate a procedure not only saves the user frustration, and loss of productivity, it provides a learning opportunity, and makes the support staff more efficient in providing support.

      Limiting the number of software titles supported is another area a district can control that will have a direct bearing on the cost of software and the support needed by teachers. Typically, vendors negotiate better pricing on a district wide basis rather than school by school, or for lab packs. Training can be standardized and teachers and staff are able to provide support for each other on adopted packages. The perennial upgrades, license agreements and bug patches can be dealt with in a uniform fashion.

      Establish a consistent funding process. Base funding on a percentage of the school?s capital outlay and maintenance and operating budget. School budgets can accommodate technological change systematically by using “technology-based budgeting.” This is a simple concept: school budgets must have a minimum percentage of their total funds allocated to technology maintenance and change every year. This minimum is 3% of the total operating budget. Changes can then be gradual and carefully planned. Educational authorities must accept the fact that computer technology has a built-in obsolescence period and must be changed regularly. The simple analogy is that computers are like chalk, only more expensive.

      Serious mistakes on the part of school administrators in budgeting for technology use in schools have left many districts in disastrous positions. Whole systems have become useless, and replacing them has meant the expenditure of huge amounts of money from single budgets. The process of annual “budget hopping” (leaving an item out one year and picking it up the next year or the year after) cannot continue. The public will not accept the huge outlays or bond issues every three to five years to replace old equipment and planning structures en masse.

      Develop a statewide educational technical academy. The state of California has established such an academy for the purpose of providing cost-effective training for school personnel responsible for providing technology support at the school or district level. West-Ed, the regional education lab facilitated the Internet Technical Academy (ITA). ITA was funded by the California County Superintendent?s Educational Service Association and the California Technology Assistance Project. The ITA is conceived as a brokered service that is administered by a contracted agency. An advisory committee identifies the types of courses that need to be offered. Bids are prepared and publicly disseminated. Prospective bidders might include LEA?s, other governmental agencies or training organizations. Courses are offered on a fee basis to cover the costs of the provider and the cost of administration of the ITA.


    • #3043948

      You are an IT director with a staff of 1?

      by subscribeksm ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      I am sure that your company hired or promoted you to this position because you have earned it, but:
      In my experience, the focus of an IT Director should be on leveraging IT to resolve business issues. A person in your position cannot possibly do this. In reality, you are a line supervisor who is expected to perform significant hands-on work. If you outsource PC support or various network services, you can probably keep up with the work load. If your end users are demanding, if any of your business units have special needs, if your one staff person becomes a problem, or if you have a strong work ethic and a need to do work well, you are in for some long hours.
      In answer to your questions, standard metrics call for 1-2 IT support staff per 100 people. This works well when you are speaking of organizations of a thousand people or more, with strong standards and a tight control over desktop configurations, and good outsourcing contracts. With a staff of 10 or more, you can spread the load for specialized skills such as server support, database support, firewalls, and other services across a reasonable number of staff. A staff of 1 in an organization of 100 is ridiculous: A company of that size is subject to hiring and other regulations require supervisors to put a lot of work into supporting staff. My advice:
      If you cannot justify more staff, perform the job for no longer than it take you to find another one.

    • #3082718

      I worked in a place with a similiar IT Staff

      by jonny memonic ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      I was in almost the same senario you are in.

      I use to work for an automotive company
      Our IT dept consisted of the I.T Director,
      Systems Admin and me a network admin.

      Basically the systems admin would handle the main applications, databases and backups of the applications and databases which the network admin would share the backup duty also.
      and i was the network admin i handled the network itself such as the routers, switches, servers, links, you know the works.

      Handled end user calls such as OS problems, repairs, upgrades, new installs updates and roll outs, handled printer repairs also did
      helpdesk duties such as login issues, remote admin, roll out problems, documenting tickets

      I handled the companies websites, made sure everything was up to date content wise for the seasons.

      If the i was not busy i would assist the sys admin with app issues.

      This worked pretty well.
      Our I.T director knew everything on the app side and some on the network side he made sure all the reports were on time and fought for our new proposals with the big cheese for approval.*LOL*
      someother duties he handled in the accounting I.T part i do not know much of.

      We were supporting 120 users at different branches.
      It was pretty cool. Really cut cost staff wise i guess you must be saying but i think you could justify having a system admin but if you network is really really critical i would suggest hiring the extra network admin who could do the helpdesk part also.

      You would want someone owho could troubleshoot fast and know wha the is doing with failures on the network side. relying on the sys admin might be too much i would say use sys admin as a backup.

      Thats my opinion

    • #3132899

      Could I get a copy of IT Staff ratios too please?

      by gough-roberts_sian ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      I’m currently working on gathering data on IT professionals per number of staff – sounds as though this report will be extremely useful

    • #3104753

      We’re about the same size firm …

      by interkluge ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      … and have a manager, two permenant staff, and two contract programmers. From the number of responsibilities you indicate, you will not be seeing your home very often if senior management gets their way.

      Just a thought even though I have never seen a formal staff breakdown for your collection of responsibilities.

    • #3166336

      Has anyone actually ever received the it?

      by kellym ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      I never got a response when I requested it. Anybody know where to find it?

      • #3281156

        NO-ONE has responded saying “YES”!

        by pofadda ·

        In reply to Has anyone actually ever received the it?

        This ‘Kate@…’ who held out such a promise of clarity and new understanding, has left me, you and the rest of us disconsolate. Is this person a … a troll?? Hard to think such would survive on TR. Maybe she (?) was outed and had her Net connection revoked. Or maybe the pressure and responsibility of so many requests tipped her over the edge and she has yet to recuperate…
        Get well soon, Kate, we need your paper!

        • #3281029

          Would also love the the paper

          by hhale ·

          In reply to NO-ONE has responded saying “YES”!

          Well given that she hasn’t posted anything in several months, my guess would be that she’s moved on. Hopefully not. At any rate, if someone has a link to where the mythical white paper can be found, please let us know.

    • #3143604


      by jattas9 ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      With the information you supplied, several things come to mind. First, I managed a 10 site network with 1,000 users, with a staff of 5 IT’s. I had other applications people for Payroll etc.
      The first thing that comes to mind, is I don’t see any backup for you. If you are the manager of all these services, how do you take time off, get sick, or train in the future. Although 100 users isn’t very many, the variety of services you must provide, dictates more than 1 helpdesk person and a manager. Where are the techs? System/infrastructure management requires backup. Think about that. My staff was woefully small for the task. This is typical of mid management, who get a reward for keeping costs low. There are tricks you can use, and I’m sure you have thought of them, remote control, etc. But you still have to cut yourself some slack. I hope that help desk person is real good, like level 3 or above.

    • #2655416

      Recomendation from someone in a similar situation

      by merlinpr ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      Our IT department has 6 people to support 300 users and we are divided as follows:

      – Our Manager
      – Help Desk clerk
      – PC Tech
      – Exchange/SQL admin
      – Computer security guy
      – Me (Network Engineer, Sys Admin, and whatever needs to get done)

      A lot of companies make the mistake of not hiring a net admin. Being that you only have 100 people it might not look like you need one but trust me, you do. Critical services such as the network should be managed by someone with the knowledge and experience. Otherwise you will fall in the same boat as most small companies. They keep their environment running by trowing things together and as they grow they end up having to hire an expensive consultant to come and fix the mess they’ve created. Designing a network is not as easy as plugging in switches and routers. A good network designer will take into account future growth and work with management to ensure that their communication needs are met while keeping it under budget. I see you mentioned VoIP and that is one of those things that if not planned properly can turn into a disaster.

      For an organization your size I recommend you hire at least someone with a lot of net admin experience that can also be your Sys Admin (it’s a lot of work but I do it and it’s manageable). For a 100 users you should at least have 2 help desk people which can also be used to manage things like printers and backups. Your net admin should be responsible for the network infrastructure and critical services such as Active Directory, DNS, email, databases, and others. It is a good practice to hire a dedicated dba and mail admin but for your size one person should be enough.

      Document everything your people do so you can show management your workload and hire more people when needed. It is a good idea to show them the return on investment they would get if they hire more people and the money being wasted by things that are not getting done because you need more bodies. Good Luck!

    • #2795595


      by jellimonsta ·

      In reply to Size of IT Staff

      It can greatly depend upon your primary business function.
      If you have a large finance department, they may require frequent database configuration, reports, modifications and programming changes.
      It that were to be the case I would still look at 2 staff. I would hire a Network Administrator to administer the servers and network/ peripherals. I would also hire a DBA/ Programmer.
      Sure, you can get a Network Admin with DB/ Programming skills, but I doubt they would be really great.
      I would not worry about a Network Engineer and Systems/ Server Engineer at this point. Unless you have 100 servers, you should be able to suffice with a Network Administrator.
      Good Luck!

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