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Ratio of IT Department Workers To Overall Employees? 385

Posted by Soulskill
from the efficiency-and-critical-mass dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I was recently talking to a friend about the Fortune 100 company she works for in IT. She told me the company has 35,000 employees, including over 5,000 IT employees — and it's not a web firm. It has numerous consultants doing IT work as well. To me, from a background where my last job had 50 IT employees and 1,000 total, a 1-in-7 ratio of IT employees seems extremely high. Yet she mentioned even simple changes to systems/software take over six months. So, what ratio does your company have, and what is reasonable? How much does this differ by industry?" I'd be interested to see how much it differs by OS platform as well.
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Ratio of IT Department Workers To Overall Employees?

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  • no set ratio (Score:5, Insightful)

    by timmarhy (659436) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @02:12AM (#24716219)
    it varies according the what the business needs. there is no set ratio thats "good" so please any manager reading this don't make it your next brain fart.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by shaitand (626655)

      how is this flamebait, its accurate.

      • by refactored (260886) <cyent.xnet@co@nz> on Saturday August 23, 2008 @04:39AM (#24716851) Homepage Journal
        ....it's the nature of hierarchical systems like corporates that the _WORST_ companies, employing the WORST methods employ the most people because they are so inefficient that they need to get the job done.

        And, depending on multiple factors like... how complete their monopoly is, how rich their niche is, how fat their investors pockets are, how crooked their pocket politicians are... they last a widely varying length of time. As they say, the market can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent.

        Alas, since they set the methods for, the processes used by so many people, they get to all the conferences, write the papers, fill the text books.... with crap!

        So which are the right methods? Which are the best tools?

        Nobody actually has the foggiest.

        Now. Let me really pour the flaming oil on...

        And, no matter what Fred Brook's sacred book says, there really is a magic bullet for software development.

        It's called doing software properly. From the top to the bottom. It's called relentless simplicity. It's called sound design. It's called proper UI design. It's called Quality beats Schedule.

        Compared to the rest of the dump shoddy pack, yes, two orders of magnitude improvement are available.

        Alas... nobody knows what it is.

        Nobody even knows what "improve" is. The field is obscured by vapour, hype and gas created by the "biggest" and "BEST" companies.

        Now let the trolls ROCK!

        • by johannesg (664142) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @06:42AM (#24717259)

          Alas... nobody knows what it is.

          I don't have a complete answer for you, but somewhere in there, there must be something about "use competent people that actually give a damn". Don't just bring in warm bodies so that all the chairs are filled.

          All of the other stuff (documentation standards, design methodology, programming methodology, choice of tools, choice of reporting method, working environment, etc.) can be varied greatly without much impact on the overal result. But competent people is the one thing you cannot do without.

          I realize this will not go down very well with managers that prefer to think of programmers as interchangeable units, but this is the truth. Prove me wrong if you can...

        • by jabithew (1340853)

          And, no matter what Fred Brook's sacred book says, there really is a magic bullet for software development.

          It's called doing software properly...

          Translation: The best way to develop software well is to develop software well.

          Yeah, probably. Most people could agree with that.

          The rest of your post is pretty insightful though. Having lots of employees does not make a company good.

        • And, no matter what Fred Brook's sacred book says, there really is a magic bullet for software development.

          Did you actually read that book?

          Because he specifically says that he was talking about a single magic bullet. One and only one magical bullet that would cause a ten-fold increase in productivity.

          Yet you say he is wrong, and the proof we are offered for it is the use of positive and totally vague adjectives with software development factors: "sound", "proper", "quality". In other words: "hand waving".

          Then you start complaining that the field is

          obscured by vapour, hype and gas...

          When everything thing you did was to play (your own) buzz

      • by Mutant321 (1112151) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @05:37AM (#24717017) Homepage

        how is this flamebait, its accurate.

        If you mod me down, I will become more powerful than you can imagine....

        I guess his sig proved right (seeing as he's now +5 Insightful :)

    • Re:no set ratio (Score:5, Interesting)

      by NoobixCube (1133473) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @03:10AM (#24716503) Journal

      A very good point. I work in an internet cafe, and everyone - even the manager - is IT staff. If anyone there weren't IT staff, our efficiency would go out the window. I'm just pleased that my first job in IT didn't land me with a Pointy Haired Boss.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Ed Avis (5917)

        Don't you have anyone in charge of making the coffee?

        • by hdparm (575302) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @05:20AM (#24716961) Homepage

          They do, java developer.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by GNUALMAFUERTE (697061)

            Are you crazy?

            I know it's a joke on the Java logo, but really, I wouldn't rely on a Java developer for anything critical.

            And we know that the most critical task in any IT department is coffee.

            • Re:no set ratio (Score:5, Insightful)

              by DarkOx (621550) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @10:06AM (#24718273) Journal

              the most critical task in any IT department is coffee

              No, its not the sixties anymore. Its possible to run an IT staff for several hours durring a coffee supply disruption. It has been for at least two decades pull your head up and look around once in a while. Modern products like Mountain Dew and Jolt Cola, can be uesed as a temporary coffee substitue in most IT staff units. Some units with very strong stomacs and high metabolic rates can operate on them exclusively.

    • Re:no set ratio (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Perf (14203) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @03:20AM (#24716561)

      So true.

      At my first company, over half the employees worked in production. A later company, about 10% were production workers.

      The difference?

      The first company produced high quantities of inexpensive consumables.

      The second company made low quantities of custom control panels. Low quantity, high price. Another major source of income was in servicing the controls.

      In some companies, the computers and users are directly related to generating income. e.g. Telemarketing or bookkeeping firm. In others, the computers are more of an overhead expense. e.g. meat packing plant.

      I think a more stable number is ratio of computers to IT staff.

      • I think a more stable number is ratio of computers to IT staff.

        I think this is a very reasonable statement. I work security for a medium sized company (~700 employees). There appears to be a large IT staff, but it should be noted that for every employee there is at least 1 computer. 95% receive a company issued laptop, probably 75% company issued blackberry. The blackberries talk to the exchange server, and the laptops all have a VPN or VRF. I think there are 4 major departments and a 5th for administration. Each of those has its own database of separate. That isn't ev

  • In Australia (Score:5, Informative)

    by Techman83 (949264) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @02:14AM (#24716229)
    Global company, 400 staff, 4 IT Staff. We do outsource local support for over seas offices though and have a consulting firm we use for extra hands when needed.
    • Re:In Australia (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Techman83 (949264) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @02:18AM (#24716249)
      Forgot the OS stuffs. Imaging/Standard Builds/Standard hardware all User equipment Windows XP Sp2/3, Servers mixture of Virtualised/Physical, Windows, Linux, Solaris.
    • by Nerdfest (867930)
      Of course, I would image none of the 4 could be even romotely considered 'deadwood'. Sadly that ratio can get very high within IT, and drive the total numbers required up, frequently in a non-linear way.
  • 1:100 at many places (Score:5, Interesting)

    by VoidEngineer (633446) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @02:15AM (#24716235)
    I just left a job at a hospital of 3000 employees, which had an official IT staff of... wait for it..... 12. I was part of the big "departmental restructuring" where the IT staff went up to... 18! And of course they wanted us to be on call 24/7 and would refuse us vacation time because there wasn't anybody to cover for us. Needless to say, I resigned.

    But yeah... 1:100 ratio is not unheard of at many hospitals. It's all because of outsourcing....
    • by Casandro (751346) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @02:21AM (#24716275)

      Sixt, a german car rental company which is mostly based on Linux (including the desktop) it is roughly 1:100. They have about 2000 employees and about a dozend of them are in the IT-department.

    • by teh moges (875080)
      I used to work for local government and before my position was created, there were 2 IT staff for nearly 200 staff in total. The ratio went down when I started (although I was still only part time), when we had a whopping 2.6 IT staff for around 200 staff in total.

      For anything to get done outside of 'everyday stuff', we had to bring in consultants. It doesn't surprise me that larger places don't increase their IT support relatively.
    • by malkavian (9512)

      Yep, I work in a hospital at the moment, with a 'front line' tech staff of about 20 (including managers and internal software developers).
      Staff, circa 3.500.
      They do the whole 'outsourcing' via buying in applications that the development dept. don't have resource to write, at a yearly licensing cost about on par with what it would take to develop it internally in developer time. All the apps come with "vendor supported" so that it doesn't (in theory) take up IT time. In reality, the vendors (apart from one

    • The research departments had their own, in-house personnel, didn't they? Their needs for custom build and special user support often far outweigh the needs of the rest of a large institution, combined. You have to count them, even if they're not in the IT department. IT functions that are transferred wholesale onto an external contract, such as ongoing support for MRI computer equipment, should be counted towards this estimate: that money is coming from someone's pocket.

  • by bitflusher (853768) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @02:15AM (#24716237) Homepage
    I am the only human in my own little IT firm, that makes a 1 in 1 ratio...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by arth1 (260657)

      Same here, although at times there are 0% IT staff, like when I'm doing paperwork. And at times there are 200% IT workers, like when I get my better half to lend a hand.

      Which brings me over to the question "what is an IT person?"
      I am sure that different companies define this differently, and some might consider e.g. payroll processing "IT work", while others include non-IT personnel working for the IT department, like (in order of importance) janitors, cafeteria workers and CIOs. In a big company, they st

      • Re:extremely high (Score:5, Interesting)

        by YttriumOxide (837412) <yttriumox@@@gmail...com> on Saturday August 23, 2008 @04:52AM (#24716883) Homepage Journal

        Which brings me over to the question "what is an IT person?"
        I am sure that different companies define this differently, and some might consider e.g. payroll processing "IT work", while others include non-IT personnel working for the IT department, like (in order of importance) janitors, cafeteria workers and CIOs. In a big company, they still may be employed in the IT division, and count as IT.

        That's a very good point. It can work the other way as well, where you have "IT people" who don't work for the IT department. I have no idea how many people work in my company's "IT Department", because I don't work there and generally have no need to talk to them about anything. I work for a department called the "Solution Centre", which is in charge of finding and developing IT solutions for customers (rather than internal IT, which is what our IT department does). I'm employed primarily as a programmer. So, am I an "IT Person" or not? How about the guy in my department who (amongst other things) is responsible for making sure our test network stays up? He doesn't work in the "IT Department" either, but in almost every way can be considered a sys admin.

        If you ONLY count our "IT Department", I GUESS we have a ratio of around 1:100 or maybe less, but if you count people outside of the IT department who do IT related work, it's probably closer to 1:5. We've got somewhere around 40000 employees worldwide (not counting third party companies that "live and die" solely by what we do and for all intents and purposes are part of us, just not from the "business" side)

        Our main "normal" IT infrastructure is a mix of Linux and Windows servers for various tasks and I think an AS/400 type system somewhere, with almost exclusively Windows XP workstations for employees. In departments such as mine, we tend to be 25% Linux, 40% Windows, 30% MacOS X and 5% Other (including things like a couple of Solaris boxes, one Mac OS 9, and so on. Most of the people in our department have TWO laptops per person - one (usually WinXP system) for the "corporate network" (where we check our email, etc) and one for the "test network" where we do all our real work. On top of that, we have the mix of systems I just described as desktop systems and servers on our test network. The IT department only looks after our corporate network systems (which are mostly WinXP).

  • by cerberusss (660701) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @02:21AM (#24716273) Homepage Journal

    I'm working at a semi-governmental organisation and I'm frankly amazed at how efficient we are. It's a mixed shop, with Cisco for network equipment, Novell for authentication/file/print sharing/mail servers, Sun for the Unix infrastructure and Linux for all secondary servers. The desktops are 25% Linux, 75% Windows XP.

    We're with 200 people, most of them engineers or scientists. Our IT department consists of 7 people.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by NovaHorizon (1300173)
      well.. it helps that most engineers and scientists had to take computer courses and don't have to call you when they see "Internet Explorer has encountered an error and must close." ;)
  • Makes sense (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dotancohen (1015143) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @02:23AM (#24716283) Homepage

    Her IT department is layered, not flat. The fact that simple changes take 6 months shows that it's not 5000 doing anything useful, it's probably more like 2000 doing something useful, who have to ask the 1000 above them, who need signatures from the 500 above them, who need approval from the 200 above them, etc. They sheer number of them is hurting their performance, not helping.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Telvin_3d (855514)

      Until you get the next time where someone has a genius idea with a subtle flaw that doesn't get caught until it goes through the 3rd level of red tape.
      When you are talking about a big enough organization, any amount of bureaucracy and layers will pay for itself if it prevents a single huge mistake every couple years.

      • Re:Makes sense (Score:5, Insightful)

        by blippo (158203) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @02:49AM (#24716397)

        I'd guess that the subtle flaw would *fly* through the 3rd level or red tape,
        as the devil is in the details, and generally not in power point presentations.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Nutria (679911)

          as the devil is in the details, and generally not in power point presentations.

          That's the most salient point ever made on Slashdot...

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by $pace6host (865145)
            I just imagined a .ppt bullet chart with bullet #4 being "Allow SQL code injections". Then I tried to imagine if anyone 2 levels up would notice it, understand it, or just check off the "review complete" milestone...
      • Re:Makes sense (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Colin Smith (2679) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @04:18AM (#24716771)

        Which is why you have

        development -> testing -> live

        Bureaucracy doesn't create quality, testing does.
         

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by spotvt01 (626574)

          Which is why you have

          development -> testing -> live

          Bureaucracy doesn't create quality, testing does.

          Couldn't disagree more: testing just finds defects it doesn't _produce_ quality. Quality engineers produce quality requirements, quality architecture, quality design, quality implementation, quality V&V, etc, etc.

      • Re:Makes sense (Score:4, Interesting)

        by dotancohen (1015143) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @04:37AM (#24716841) Homepage

        Until you get the next time where someone has a genius idea with a subtle flaw that doesn't get caught until it goes through the 3rd level of red tape.
        When you are talking about a big enough organization, any amount of bureaucracy and layers will pay for itself if it prevents a single huge mistake every couple years.

        Quite the opposite. Each layer can then try to blame the one above / below it. When there are only 2 / 3 layers of bureaucracy, each takes on more responsibility.

    • Re:Makes sense (Score:5, Interesting)

      by WinterSolstice (223271) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @02:49AM (#24716395)

      I have repeatedly worked for exactly this kind of company.

      As a 13 year IT veteran who has worked everywhere from .com startups to world-wide multi-billion dollar fortune 100s, I must say that you hit an amazing amount of bloat quite quickly.

      I can't say what the ideal ration is, but my current company is too big at about 1:10, and my previous company was 5k people with an IT of less than 30 (about 166:1).

      The previous company was amazingly hard work when we had 15 IT, and then suddenly the C levels decided we need help and added 4 managers, 3 directors, a VP, and a change control board. We only got about 10 actual "workers". Productivity plummeted.

      My current company has an IT so big that we spend all of our time fighting with each other. It takes months to create new user accounts, months to get simple servers built, 2 weeks to schedule a reboot, etc. The users and the business hate us.

      A DOD shop I worked for had a staff of 500 for 12k users, and it worked pretty efficiently. Of course, they were almost entirely former/current military. This led to always knowing precisely what you were supposed to be doing and a really well run group. Maybe that makes a difference?

      So, while I can't say what the exact ratio is, it is pretty low. I also think the skill level has something do with it - a small team of skilled people "bond" and form a fast moving and smooth team. A huge team lends itself to infighting, argument, one-upsmanship, face saving, and general worthless behavior.

      • by pipingguy (566974) *
        a small team of skilled people "bond" and form a fast moving and smooth team. A huge team lends itself to infighting, argument, one-upsmanship, face saving, and general worthless behavior.

        Bingo.
      • Re:Makes sense (Score:4, Informative)

        by Tablizer (95088) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @03:42AM (#24716645) Homepage Journal

        The users and the business hate us.

        The same people who install browser tool bars that crash their system, waste 3 of your hours having you read the HP laserjet manual because they can't get their favorite font to print in order to impress a big-wig, etc. Bad users often want the freedom to make a mess, but don't want to pay for the clean-up.

        There needs to be better priority allocation such that those who abuse IT services stop getting a free ride.

               

        • The users and the business hate us.

          The same people who install browser tool bars that crash their system, waste 3 of your hours having you read the HP laserjet manual because they can't get their favorite font to print in order to impress a big-wig, etc. Bad users often want the freedom to make a mess, but don't want to pay for the clean-up.

          There needs to be better priority allocation such that those who abuse IT services stop getting a free ride.

          There needs to be better priority allocation such that those who abuse IT services stop getting a free ride.

          There are those who would argue that the _purpose_ of an IT team is to help users who have installed a malicious toolbar or need to print a specific font.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Lonewolf666 (259450)

            There needs to be better priority allocation such that those who abuse IT services stop getting a free ride.

            There are those who would argue that the _purpose_ of an IT team is to help users who have installed a malicious toolbar or need to print a specific font.

            And then there is me who says they should ask up front if they don't have a clue. As in "Organizing my files with Windows Explorer is troublesome, can you recommend an alternative file manager?" instead of installing some random software from the int

            • Re:Makes sense (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @08:46AM (#24717769)

              There needs to be better priority allocation such that those who abuse IT services stop getting a free ride.

              There are those who would argue that the _purpose_ of an IT team is to help users who have installed a malicious toolbar or need to print a specific font.

              And then there is me who says they should ask up front if they don't have a clue. As in "Organizing my files with Windows Explorer is troublesome, can you recommend an alternative file manager?" instead of installing some random software from the internet.

              Now I would not crucify someone for a one-time slip in that department, but a user who crashes his machine every two months needs to have his admin rights revoked.

              Printing a certain font, however, can be a legitimate need. As in "you have already published stuff in that font and you want more of the same for consistency".

              IT is a service organization - it exists to support the users of the technology.

              That means helping fix problems - even if they are user generated.

              IT should play a role in deciding what technology is used and what is deployed; but the users need to be the ones that say if it meets their needs.

              IT shouldn't decide if you can use a font or not, OTOH limiting what can be installed makes sense from a reliability and license compliance standpoint.

              The problem for IT shops that are viewed as a block rather than a helper is that they have no friends once outsourcing gets bought up. They are viewed strictly as a cost center; and cheaper generally wins the battle once that viewpoint takes hold.

        • > Bad users often want the freedom to make a mess, but don't want to pay for the clean-up.

          Patiently and cheerfully help him clean up his mess. Then send a memo to his boss explaining (calmly and objectively) exactly what you did.

      • My current company has an IT so big that we spend all of our time fighting with each other. It takes months to create new user accounts, months to get simple servers built, 2 weeks to schedule a reboot, etc.

        Let me guess: your company's productivity is suffering so much because people can't get their work done that profits are down. If I were you, I'd be expecting layoffs, but not in the IT department. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to find IT expanding because management doesn't understand that IT blo

      • I worked for HP Services for quite a number of years in the Asia Pacific region. I was one of the "outsourced" guys. For one customer where HP was the full outsource partner, there were around 200 IT staff for a company of around 8000 staff. This included, server, sales, desktop and managerial support (but not security, which was in house of about 20 people). There was another measure within the IT Department (or HP in this case) of how many "support" staff per field/development/support/actual IT staff. For

  • Oh come on. "Oooh, gee, I bet those poor suckers managing Windo$e from Micro$haft are way worse!" (cue geeky dweeb laugh..'dur hee schnee snort snort tee hee').

    I see what you're driving at, and all, it's just that it's stupid. The fact is that it comes down to the quality of the admin more than it does the platform. A crappy Linux admin is going to spend a lot of time managing 50 systems the same way a crappy Windows admin is. Either system provides the tools to effectively manage a large environment

    • by dbIII (701233)
      However a home computer operating system designed without reliability in mind and driven mainly by a graphical interface is a lot harder to keep running in bulk. There are good third party tools to work around the limitations so it ALMOST evens out with identical win32 systems cloned from an image VS a heterogeneous environonment of six kinds of *nix.

      You have to remember that we poor suckers either manage both or get called in when the Win32 folks get overwhelmed. It isn't just pointless name calling. No

      • by initialE (758110)
        I can't tell if you're trolling or your company really bought a bunch of XP home or vista home licenses to use with a windows domain environment. If you would put in the money to get pro/business, you'd see that most of the tools available to manage the desktops and the servers are identical, from security policies, to management tools, to single-sign-on accounts. So the moral of the story for you is, stop being cheap on the desktops (if you're a microsoft shop that is)
        • by dbIII (701233)

          I can't tell if you're trolling or your company really bought a bunch of XP home or vista home licenses

          I've come in to clean up the mess on one occasion after this has been done and it can be a truly spectacular mess if some idiot has tried to move 100 desktops from NT4 to XP Home overnight (he and his assistants were fired during this migration). I've seen the side effects at another place - a client that had faxes trapped in their shambolic MS system for over a week. It is far more common than you would

  • by HockeyPuck (141947) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @02:27AM (#24716299)

    I'd be much more interested in the ratio of technical IT people to non-technical. I'm not referring to managers of IT staff, but the throngs of Project Managers. I'm at a large networking company that rhymes with CrISCO and it seems whenever we have a hiring freeze in IT, they are still pouring in the Project Managers. I haven't figured out what they manage, but there sure is a lot of them.

    • by hachete (473378) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @02:55AM (#24716437) Homepage Journal

      2:1 in the place where I work. Yes, that's 2/3 managers to 1/3 programmers. I'd be interested in hearing of other ratios.

      • by SuperQ (431) *

        That's why I love my job. In my group we have 1 manager for ~20 people (plus a few more in an EU timezone for off-hours oncall, but they have a local official manager). My manager handles 2 sub-groups that work on different projects. Each project has a technical (former sysadmin and former software engineer) PM that is also a 50% engineer. So really we have 2 FTE managers for 20 people. The 1:(10-15) manager to engineer ratio fairly common.

        • by Xemu (50595)

          The 1:(10-15) manager to engineer ratio fairly common.

          For a geek manager, managing 10-15 people is a good ratio because you will have time to talk with each employee on a regular basis. If you manage 40 people there aren't enough hours in a day to talk to them all. Typically management:worker ratios of 1:40 works fine in a factory floor environment where you give more orders and have less involved workers.

      • by AdamInParadise (257888) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @03:12AM (#24716513) Homepage

        I worked with a US company were the ratio was 6:1. Yes, about 6 managers for 1 programmer (they had 3). They've been working on their (not so complicated) product for about 4 years, with no end in sight.

      • As I posted above, I'm not really sure about our "IT Department", but in my department, there's 1 real programmer ("guy who writes code" - that's me), around 7 high-skilled technical people that aren't programmers (range of skills from dealing with print data streams (PCL intepreter in his brain etc), document management systems experts, print workflow experts, colour theory experts etc), a couple of "project manager" / "financial" types who both have pretty good technical skills, and one manager (who used
    • The thing to remember is that "Project managers generate revenue," while "(real) workers are a cost." It's the goal of every company to maximize revenue while minimizing cost.

      So of course if you can wrap your head around that kind of thinking, you'd expect the results you see.

      The obvious flaw in this reasoning is recognizing that project managers are responsible for revenue, they don't generate it. The second flaw is simply the nearly universal lack of recognition for people with real skill who do real wo

      • > The thing to remember is that "Project managers generate revenue," while "(real) workers
        > are a cost." It's the goal of every company to maximize revenue while minimizing cost.

        So promote everyone to project manager and make billions.

  • We had 640 employees, 4 locations and 9 IT staff.
  • 150 pc's and laptops currently being used, 2 IT staff. Mining Industry.
  • I currently work for a very overcrowded high school, and the ratio is 2 IT for 300 non. We have 300 staff, but in addition to the staff are another 3000 students(thats unique emails and logins for everyone, students included). As for equipment, theres roughly 10 servers, 450 desktops, 450 laptops and 11 wiring closets with cisco equipment in each.

    Most of it is running all wintel stuff, with the occaisional bits of linux and a mac every now and again in the bunch.

  • The friend of this poster may have worked in a very highly regulated industry, such as financial services, healthcare, etc. If that is the case, in many instances that will lead to more IT folks relative to the overall core business.

    I happen to work for a very large bank. We've got tons of IT folks and we have a very structured (and IMO a very organized) method of change control. Many times, this is the business's choice, but some of it relates to government regulation. This obviously makes sense...
  • My old orkplace (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tyldis (712367) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @02:56AM (#24716439)

    250 employees on 200 computers.
    500 students on 100 computers.
    8 locations.
    10 servers.
    Ancient infrastructure (NT4 and NetWare) desperately needing an upgrade.
    IT staff: just me.

    This was for a Norwegian muncipality a few years ago. It was fun since I could control every aspect of things, and develop most things from scratch.
    NT4 got replaced by a mix of Linux and Windows 2003 and hardware inrastructure renewed.

    The downside was work 24/7 and no real vacation. I lasted two years before I ran away.

    Now, as for ratio i don't think it is symmetrical. Having your IT staff go from 1 to 2 will give you very little extra beyond sanity. It would not mean double capacity. However, going from 19 to 20 IT staff that last person would add heaps of more capacity.

  • For a company of 16 to 18 people (it has been fluctuating in that range in recent months), we have four people whom you could consider some form of IT. This is not the typical definition of IT. We are a factory with lots of computerized equipment. Most of our time is split 50/50 between developing in-house software and programming the equipment for changeovers. The rest of the time (yes, I said 50/50, but that's 50/50 of most of the time; no math problem here) is spent keeping all of the company's computers
  • A 1:7 ratio between IT-people and salespeople in a Non-IT company, or a ration of 7:1 in an IT-company?

    I'm not really sure. But I can vouch that the latter is really, really bad.

  • Coincidentally, I did a quick check yesterday and found a 53-1 ratio (i.e., 53 people in the building as "customers"), but that's dependent on whether a similarly-skilled friend is available to help out.

    Most "customers" are very reasonable, but those that aren't, well...I'm not up to making it BOFH time.

    [I decided to move into this role after almost 30 years as a designer and now I'm appreciating what admins have to deal with]
  • Can you name a single business function that isn't dependent upon Information Technology? We are the common thread that ties all business functions together.

    My second point reflects the previous commenter - that this must be a highly regulated industry with numerous safeguards. This creates 2x the IT workforce for any job function such that the inadvertent activities of one worker does not compromise an entire system. Much like in the federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies - it takes at least t

  • by TheVoice900 (467327) <kamil&kamilkisiel,net> on Saturday August 23, 2008 @03:37AM (#24716627) Homepage

    It really depends on the company and the user base. I've worked in a lot of different environments with a lot of different layouts.

    I interned as a developer at a 35 person company in Japan that had 0 IT staff. It was full of developers with a few marketing and business people, and everyone was responsible for managing their own workstation. There were a few knowledgeable employees who helped others with computer problems, but no full-time staffers. E-mail / groupware was outsourced to a third party provider. There was no central authentication or anything of the sort. Surprisingly, the system worked pretty well, although some of the development practices were a bit outdated -- but that's really an orthogonal issue.

    I worked at another company here in Vancouver with a similar setup. They had a totally heterogeneous computing environment, users generally manage their own machines (though the IT department provided a base software layout). They did however have a full time IT staff of 4 for 250 employees, and there was some degree of central auth, as well as stuff like databases and our own mail server. There was also a fairly large group of non-technical users, whose machines were completely handled by one of the IT staffers.

    Another example, I worked as a contractor at another company here in Vancouver approximately 1200 employees in size. At one point we had 10 satellite offices, and 8 remote IT people, with another 15 full time at the main office here. Everything was large scale.. lots of Oracle databases, racks and racks of NetApps, tons of servers, Unix workstations, a full parallel Windows environment. Huge and complicated.

    Currently I'm at a small company of just over 20 employees. However, we have 3 people who are full time "IT". This is to support our highly technical user base of scientists and in-house software developers, and we also have an 80-node compute cluster to run, as well a surprisingly elaborate array of services for the users. However, the need to have 3 staff is mostly because of the different roles to fill. One of us takes care of most of the desktop and user-facing things such as VPN, email, etc. The other two take care of running the simulation systems, maintaining the Unix environment, and working with the developers to develop the software for the cluster and vice-versa.

    So as you can see, just in my experience, I can provide four vastly different examples. Every business is different. There's no one formula that can fit all environments. It really depends on your user base and business need.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by An dochasac (591582)
      What is interesting is watching how the IT support ratio changes with technology. I helped a bank move from Windows fat clients to Linux fat clients using central LDAP controlled configuration, remote installs and upgrades and watched their IT support ratio decrease by a factor of 20. Moving to thin client on big iron running Solaris/*nix and you could easily increase this by another factor of 10. I doubt my own company even has 1 IT support person per 1000 Sun Ray desktops.
  • by petes_PoV (912422) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @03:38AM (#24716629)
    Different companies classify jobs as IT or not, depending on their policies. Ww might all agree that support staff count as IT workers, your place may have outsourced it's developers. Alternatively, there may be 5000 help-desk/telesales staff that get counted as "IT" (well, they work with IT, so that counts - doesn't it?).

    The short answer is that there is no answer - although it is my experience that the more different departments there are in the IT organisation, the less efficient it is.

  • of the ratio of the company in question ...and I'm not one of 'em. Specialty chemical company, so no reason to have a lot of IT staff.
  • by thatseattleguy (897282) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @03:56AM (#24716683) Homepage

    What is IT? Does it include desktop PC installation and maintenance? Running the help desk? The guy who helps fix the copier when it's jammed? The guy who runs the network cables through the ceiling? The gal who programs the PBX and voicemail system? The group doing web design and website maintenance for the marketing department?

    Different companies would regard all, some, or none of these as "IT" functions and all, some, or none the people who do them as "IT staff". So it depends in large part on your definition of "IT".

    That being said, at my main client (a privately-held manufacturer with about 600 US employees and a couple hundred more overseas), there are only ten IT employees - meaning ALL of IT, including of the functions listed above. Plus two half-time consultants. Three employees do PC installation/maintenance/troubleshooting, one takes the help desk calls (and fixes the copiers/phones), five do programming, web, and database wrangling, and one is the manager (and also the network administrator). One of the part-time consultants does mail and system admin (me), and one does more web design. No other outsourcing, and most of the applications are home-grown custom jobs, so there's no large vendor support for anything. In all, it's about 11 FTEs.

    This is a manufacturing company and like most of those that I've seen, they run a very lean operation. IT gets what it needs, but nothing more.

    Now, a much more useful metric in my mind is "percentage of total company sales spent on IT". I think it's about 2% for this company (though again, definitions of "IT" are tricky). I've heard that 5% is a more typical number for most companies in the US, speaking across a broad range of industries. Anyone know a source for more concrete numbers?

  • 14 Developers, 4 Sysadmins, 4 support crew, 2 managers. Company of 3000 in 6 spread-out locations, not including 5 beyond our borders
  • by blind biker (1066130) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @04:19AM (#24716775) Journal

    I don't believe it. Maybe your friend was mistaken, but I believe this can't be.

    Unless they are working in R&D, in which case they are not really IT, albeit their field of expertise may be IT. I worked for several years in R&D for a very large company in the field of mobile phones and mobile phone networks, and although my job looked like some kind of unix administration, it still was implementation/development. I wasn't in charge of a live infrastructure, I was configuring the storage OS services on our products' platforms.

  • Subsidiary of a larger company that deals in medical technology. Size around 100 people, mostly development, production and user training. Sales is done by a division of the larger company.

    We have 5 permanent employees that do exclusively IT, two of those infrastructure, three software development for new products. Additionally, consultants in varying numbers.
    At the moment, a new product with more than the usual software development need is going on, and I estimate the total number of IT related consultants

  • How about IT Managers / overall employees or IT employees. Now that would be interesting.
  • It's really impossible to define a ratio that works for all companies. I was listening to a McKinsey podcast yesterday where they mention that transactional companies tend to use IT to replace workers and thus have higher IT costs (and support), whereas tacit companies (knowledge workers and such) tend to use IT to supplement employees, thus have smaller infrastructures, lower costs and fewer support personnel.

  • ISV, 30 employees, one-half IT technician. So a ratio somewhere between 1:30 and 1:60 might be reasonable to say.

  • by dbIII (701233) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @05:23AM (#24716971)
    One to do the work.

    One to move printers around as part of departmental turf wars (petty but happens).

    One to move computers from desk to desk as people get reassigned as part of departmental turf wars.

    One to do busy work for a department that is jealous that real work is being done for another department. In extreme cases the amount of billable time per department is expected to be equal so you might need a few more.

    One to fill the photocopier with paper for the user that is screaming red faced about how IT is useless and nothing ever works.

    One to run the scanner for the receptionist that is too lazy to do so and pretends they do not understand it. They will have full backing from somebody with the power to fire the head of the IT department.

    One, named Sven, to visit the ugly bored gradmas that make up fake emergencies just to get attention.

    One to check the spam trap for all the "check is in the mail" type emails that were never actually sent.

    One to stand outside the server room door to keep out those that decide that because the computers are all down the IT staff have time to work on their home computer for free.

    Even a small company that really only needs one IT person for technical work needs more people depending upon how disfunctional the organisation is. In practice you just have a lot of angry people and a few IT workers that have to determine priorities based on how likely it is that they will be fired.

    That is how some places can have well run IT with very few people and others will need more even if it is exactly the same IT people.

  • Company 1, is basically a big production plant with supporting back office. About 350 employees, about 50 back office, 1 IT. The IT is sub-contracted, and only works as sysop, no idea of info flow in the company. They work with a solve-it-all CRM from Unit 4 that fails to solve all, as it's generally the case. I work there doing some programming, but there is really _nobody_ that is the IT voice there. It is of course a mess, but they get by, paying by their nose to the Unit 4 subsidiary, but perhaps it wou

  • Google answer on it (Score:3, Informative)

    by slateslate (1349905) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @06:07AM (#24717139)
    It seems other people are also interested in finding out the magical staffing ratio. There are studies written for that. http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview/id/784840.html [google.com]
  • If the IT employees are all costs to the company, such as support, it seems high.

    However, some or most of the IT employees, especially the consultants, could be direct dependencies of profit making operations.

    Maybe not in the sense of sales and manufacturing of software or electronics; but what about sales of services enabled by this IT staff? Maybe directly attached to external applications that generate a lot of business?

  • by subreality (157447) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @07:13AM (#24717373)

    If you're in a software shop, you'll have a lot of IT people to support a large number of people whose job revolves around computers.

    If it's a restaurant chain, probably not so many.

    If you're running a retail web site, a stock exchange, a telephone company, or anything where you bleed money fast when the computers are unhappy, you'll probably have some extra IT guys around to tend to them.

    If you're a law firm and you're using the computers for secretaries to type up memos, it's not as big a deal.

    The ratio also turns more IT-heavy as a company gets larger, because the systems get more complicated. A company with ten employees just needs desktops. A company with a hundred needs a few servers. A company with ten thousand can have some incredibly sophisticated infrastructure.

    What is reasonable? Take the number of computers you have, and multiply by the rate that you lose money if they aren't working. That'll let you estimate the scale pretty well, excluding management overhead as the company gets bigger.

  • 1:150 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bjackson1 (953136)

    I work for a very large consulting firm >150,000 employees worldwide, and we have around 1,000 permanent IT workers. The nice thing about working in technology consulting is that for large internal initiatives we can "hire" our own consultants to work on our initiatives. With that in mind it's hard to quantify the exact number of workers in the IT department, but I'm actually surprised about how efficient the IT department runs.

    BTW, we are mostly a Microsoft shop, with some Oracle and SAP, and I'm sure

  • My ratio (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bwindle2 (519558) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @07:59AM (#24717571)

    I work for a company which manufactures medical devices. 650 employees; 20 in IT (14 programmers/validation people writing custom software and validation; 6 doing servers/switches/etc). All Windows, MSSQL, Exchange.

  • Recognizing the difficulty in defining IT in the first place, does anyone have estimates as to the fraction of IT staff involved in innovation and development? I work in a large health care system with a large (600+) IT staff but completely lacking in plans to innovate and develop new approaches. To argue that this is crazy and short sighted, it would be useful to have data from other IT organizations.
  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @08:03AM (#24717589)

    Check out this article from the IBM Systems Journal [ibm.com] about the work done at MIT on Project Athena and the model they developed for calculating the number of required IT staff based on the number of workstations, users, applications, licenses, etc.

  • by Vandil X (636030) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @09:56AM (#24718205)
    I'm a 12-year veteran of IT support and systems administration. I worked in a college campus that had several tiers of IT staff, one for each "school" within the campus, and then a mail group for generic stuff. Each "school" would have about 5-10 IT staff and 3-4 managers. As long as something cost less than $500, much of it was cake and didn't require a commitee.

    I also worked at a newspaper with 200 employees where I was the only IT person. Being alone and on-call for systems and user issues in a 24/7 newspaper operation was the pits.



    A few things I have observed with places I've worked or have friends at are:

    After the Enron fiasco and the resulting Sarbanes-Oxley "controls" and documentation, many IT departments balooned to include "IT" people who had to bookkeep all the software licenses, print logs, and fill out paperwork and not do any actual IT support or administration at all. Keeping all that crap tracked was enough of a full-time job.

    Business that charge credit cards get a double-dose of it, having to hire staff to make them PCI compliant and maintain the databases, etc. for any new PCI "controls" that get invented each year as well as checking user desktops for post-it notes with client credit card info.
  • by plopez (54068) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @11:01AM (#24718685) Journal

    Good managers know how to hold the line. I worked for a quickly growing small company for a while and as senior staff I made many of the decisions. I realized that most IT departments are seen as cost centers. As such I tried to follow four principles:

    1) Keep costs down by not over buying or locking into any vendor. Using appliances where ever possible for file, web, mail and print servers etc.

    2) Immediately target projects that brought efficiency and cost savings to the people with billable hours. And required the smallest staff needed.

    3) When ever possible, if doing work for external clients (e.g. data prep and publishing), bill out our hours. We were up to 75% self funded at one time.

    4) Get close to the users and get them to understand how we brought value to their work and try to understand their problems.

    As the company grew the principals felt the need to bring in a "professional" IT manager. Over time, all 4 of those disappeared. As a result, costs skyrocketed (MS will eat you alive), billable hours disappeared, IT projects ground to a standstill as we analyzed things to death (analysis paralysis) and user dissatisfaction grew. After a couple of years i got disgusted and quit. The manager was fired about 6 months later.

    I think most IT departments get over staffed mainly due to poor managers just throwing people and money at problems (see "The Mythical Man-Month" by Brooks). They don't seem to understand they are seen as a cost center and that holding costs, defraying costs to external sources and having higher customer satisfaction is the key to survival.

    I just don't get it, why managers don't "get it." This isn't rocket science.

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