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IT Worker-to-User Ratio Survey? 80

Breid asks: "This year has definitely been a career nightmare for IT pros. Our own company has seen our staff trimmed to near nothing and frankly, the workload is beginning to stretch people to the breaking point. With performance reviews coming up I want to make some statements to upper management concerning personnel and compensation. You can find plenty of salary surveys, but I haven't seen statements regarding the size of staff involved. And IMHO, workers on a 5 person staff supporting 200 need some compensation adjustment vs a 20 person staff supporting the same user base. At this point (for all of you still employed), what's the IT worker to workstation ratio look like? Or is anyone aware of any statistical data compiled about this?"
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IT Worker-to-User Ratio Survey?

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  • by Neck_of_the_Woods ( 305788 ) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @11:44AM (#4915127) Journal

    1 dba, 2 admins... 200+ servers, 2 DS3 lines, 8 T1's, 120 people local 1100 people worldwide.

    They wonder if they can cut one of the admins cause it is slow around x-mas....go figure.

    • Yeah, but to have this survey mean anything, we would need to know how much you got paid, and where you live, (at least general area).
    • 1 dba, 2 admins... 200+ servers, 2 DS3 lines, 8 T1's, 120 people local 1100 people worldwide.

      Aren't the Slashbots always telling us that Unix is so superior because one admin can look after so many more machines that an NT admin?

      So which is it? Should the admin/server ratio be low or high? You can't have it both ways my friends.
  • fun fun (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Last job - 2 years ago: 2 to 50
    Last job - 1 year ago: 1 to 30
    Last job - 6 months ago: 1 to 5

    New job - now: 3 to 100
    New job - soon: 2 to 100
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Shiznit. When I worked at BMC Software in the IT department, the ration was 1 IT employee for every *100* users. Compensation? I started out (in 1996) at $38K + benefits. When I left the IT department (in 2000) I was making $49,700.

    I got the occasional bonus ($50 Travelers Cheque or something like that) and the occasional free T-shirt.

    None of this was worth working for the flaming hemmoroid I had as a boss, which is why I left.
    • Yes, but you were working at a company with a high clued-to-clueless ratio among the users, a relatively atypical user population. For example, most BMC employees (excluding management) who fill up their hard drives will recognize the problem and self-help; much fewer employees at an insurance firm would do so. Also, BMC Software is a company that specializes in IT service products (albeit much of it for mainframes and servers), so it's unsurprising that: a) they have top people in IT themselves b) they're IT infrastructure is compentently set up
  • IS our ratio. THat suddenly sounds low. First-2nd level support onyly thoug, no account setup or network issues, thats another team.
  • past three jobs (Score:2, Informative)

    1999 Advertising/PR/design/new media (purty websites and flash):
    IT dept. of 4 people for 120 employees.

    2000 New media/games development:
    IT dept. of 3 people for 100 employees.

    2001-2002 ColdFusion development/Python software:
    IT dept. of 2-3 people for 30 employees.

    Joe Grossberg []

  • admin = human too (Score:3, Interesting)

    by storem ( 117912 ) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @11:54AM (#4915240) Homepage
    A quick overview for my company is as follows:

    2001: 4 admins, 1 admin/manager, 500 workstations/servers
    2002: 1 admin, 1 admin/manager, 150 workstations/servers
    Now: 0 admin, 1 admin/manager, 200 workstations/servers
    2003: 0 admin, 0 admin/manager, 200 workstations/servers

    Guess what...
    PS: The last two weren't fired. They stood up and left!
  • metrics (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mindserfer ( 209937 )
    Raw numbers are hard to compare;
    other factors can cause the need for more people include:

    1) really old machines
    2) complex and/or special user software
    3) bleading edge tech
    4) really slow users
    5) etc

    these factors should be included in any stats
  • 1 per 20 (Score:2, Informative)

    by iosphere ( 14517 )
    I heard one IT employee to 20 "regular" employees was the standard. I don't remember where that number came from though. I do remember that being that ratio applying to only helpdesk staff, and it seems a little high today.
    • <rant>What the hell is wrong with you people. The view you are propogating here, is the one that gets all IT departments in trouble to begin with. Your saying that an IT person, is an IT person, is an IT person. There are admins, coders, support, training, etc. There are every kind of IT person under the rainbow, and each one has a distinct role. IT people != capital. You can not just throw more IT at a problem and it will work, or take them away when you are overbudget. You need the right kind of IT person for each job. Personally I think the problem with jobs today, is that they are unwilling to designate a person as a certain kind of IT person, so they just get clumped into the IT person category, and thusly when people look at the budget they realize they have 5 general purpose IT people. Time for cutbacks. Who the hell came up with this inane grouping anyways. Developers should be working under the other departments making programs that work with the other departments programs anyways.</rant>
      • Thank you! I run an IT department in a smallish (~200 person) organization, and that is the most DIFFICULT thing to get across to the rest of management. For whatever reason, staff here think they'll get better results from bothering my programmers if they can't print, and telling long sagas about their need for new application functionality to my poor sysadmins. That said, we're comfortable, but not too comfortable with our staffing ratio here.

        We have ~200 workstations, mostly PC but some Mac, and we're headed for Linux as much as possible. Server side we're 13 Suns (Ultra10-E5500), 2 NetApp filers (talk about low maintenance!) and 8 Win2K. For those machines, we've got 1 UNIX admin, 1 admin/manager and 3 Windows admins. These folks also do our telephone admin work, user training, asset management, and "whatever else comes up." We have two guys who do nothing but network and security administration (56-site WAN, keeps 'em hopping). We've also got three big-gun programmers since I'm allergic to outsourcing and we can't get things we need off-the-shelf.

        By comfortable, but not too comfortable, I mean that we have time for long lunches, don't ever turn down vacation requests, have time to send people for training, and let 'em read trade rags at work. Our jobs are mostly 40 hour jobs. Our turnover is incredibly low, and for two out of the last four years, we had NO ONE leave the department. That all said, we have lots of projects, and unsophisticated users who keep us hopping most of the time.

      • "an IT person, is an IT person, is an IT person."

        That is management's attitude. Any chimp can do what we do. We need a union.

  • mng design (Score:1, Informative)

    by mindserfer ( 209937 )

    burn um out
    hire a new one at a lower cost

    burn um out
    hire a new one at a lower cost ...
  • by Ummagumma ( 137757 ) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @12:05PM (#4915337) Journal
    I looked into doing this a few years ago, when staffing where I used to be got low. There is a reason that its hard to find this info - it varies (ALOT) by situation. I know Gartner has come out with some numbers, but you have to question thier validity.

    It all depends on the situation and circumstances you are in - depends if you are working in high-tech (ie intelligent users, power users), or at a financial firm. It depends on the overall commitment to IT your company has - do you have predominatley new equipment, or is it mostly old crap that is patched together with duct tape and bubblegum. Do you have strong management, or are you constantly having to re-work issues due to poor planning? Are the admins any good, or is one or two of them constanly covering for the other screw-ups on the team? Etc....etc...etc...

    Each situation is completely different. Bottom line is, if you are competant, and are overworked, your ratio is too low. The problem is how to get management to see that - I eneded up leaving my last situation because of this exact issue, and management refused to correct the situation.

    Regardless, good luck!
  • 2:70 (Score:2, Informative)

    by bitty ( 91794 )
    We're fortunate in the fact that the owners recognize the importance of a responsive IT department. I'm the network admin, and there's an end-user training/support person. I think they'd have hired another, but about 1/3 of the users are CAD (power) users, so we barely hear from them.
  • About 70 supporting ~4000 users, 6000 machines and a huge amount of mainframe, midrange and storage kit.
  • approx 1 : 40 (Score:2, Informative)

    by Koos Baster ( 625091 )
    The main guy got fired, so we're left with his trainee. Things are going steady but very slow. Don't ask him about stress.

    1 admin, 43 workers, 80 machines

    8 admins, 245 workers, 300 machines
  • by FreeLinux ( 555387 ) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @12:10PM (#4915386)
    It all depends on what your company does and how they do it. Do you work at an ISP or a bank or restaurant? Does your IT department provide PC support or do you develop your own applications in house as well? How big is your company, employee wise and revenue wise? How dependent is your company on IT?

    What I've seen in small to mid-sized companies is that properly run IT departments typically have one or two admins per 50 users up to around 150 users. After 150 users it's one admin per 100 or 150 users. The IT head count may be slightly higher at companies that are very reliant on IT or have round the clock operations.

    Now, if the company does in house development, then that's a whole other story. It all depends on what your business is and how much development there is. I've seen development depertments that were 50% of the company even though IT was not their core business. I've also seen 2000 user companies with 2 developers.
  • Our numbers (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    1 Admin/Manager, 2 Admins, 1 DBA, 2 techs ($9/hr techs)

    3000 users, all on thin client
    50 servers
    200 control workstations, in an industrial setting

    We are running a pretty tight ship here. Admin-wise, everyone is happy and well-compensated. We usually lose a tech every 18 months. Occasionally during busy periods, we hire 2-3 techs to help cover the overnight factory shifts.

    The key is eliminating PCs. No PCs == less surfing, no extra software installs, etc.

    Laptops are the only exception, and even then they are generally supported by the user community. People pick their laptops... bigshots can spend $1500-2500 every 18 mos and regular employees get hand-me-downs or buy a 600-1500 machine.
  • Fortune 500 Development Department
    PC Support: 2 Admins, 300 Employees.
    UNIX Support: 3 Full-Time, 2 Contractors, 250ish Boxes. Mostly development and production look-a-like testing environments.
  • overworked? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kevin Stevens ( 227724 ) <kevstev @ g> on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @12:20PM (#4915471)
    I dont know exactly what you or your company does, so maybe you guys need more support than the average company, but it does not appear that you guys should be stretched 'to the breaking point.' You guys should be MAKING time to make your processes more efficient, and clamping down the machines a bit tighter so that users can not screw them up so often. Also, do not be afraid to say no to fixing a pesky problem if there are larger issues at hand ( like spending time automating things). If you guys are spending your whole day putting out fires, then there is a larger problem. I also dont know what the culture or general intelligence is like at your company, but if it is anything like the places where I have worked where all the training is to be paid for by money out of my pocket and on my own out of work time, then propogate that attitude down to the users. Make them figure out how to install the printer drivers, or fix a paper jam, or put up a sign sign explaining what 'PC Load Letter' means next to the fax machine. I am sure someone knows how to do these things, and they can use the 'ask a neighbor' system to take care of these tedious things.
  • 2 System admins, 1 DBA/Report writer. 500+ users in 19 locations via Dial-up, Frame Relay, and VPN.

  • 2 (and a bit) admins, 1 programmer

    12 servers, 250 users spread across Europe, US and Japan
  • 7:300 - and we do all our own development (which can be a blessing, really)
  • There's 5 IT guys, supporting 4 different offices and 130ish people. 5 Citrix boxes, 2 Novell servers, and some W2K voicemail servers.
  • I work for a corporation with about 48,000 employees in the U.S. I'm at their R&D Facility, which has about 525 people in our building. There's 15 of us in the IT group. That includes desktop support, web development, network design/engineering, and includes one manager, one supervisor, and one secret^H^H^H administrative assistant.
  • Working on a soon to be released opensource project.

    1 admin
    1 programmer
    1 support guy
    1 boss
    1 customer

    They just happen to be all me. :)
  • by Strange Ranger ( 454494 ) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @01:08PM (#4915981)
    In my experience

    2 Support staff / 50 users = Happy productive users, proactive support, bliss. Environment stays ahead of the upgrade curve. Support staff has time to understand current business practices and provide value-added enhancements.

    1 Support staff / 50 users = Users OK, support staff fights fires big and small at a good pace. Environment stays fairly static, but current enough.

    1 support staff / 100 users = users angry, less productive, small fires get ignored. Training and proactive support is only a dream.

    With that said, 5 people for 200 users is 1 support staff per 40 users. That's not so bad! Are these people all doing the same job? Are the 200 divided among different departments? If so maybe you can each take your own 40 or so users in 1 or 2 departments as "Primary" and the other 160 as secondary. If you can divide them by business function and develop closer relationships by each concentrating on 40 people, your job will likely get easier. At least it will get more rewarding as the same 40 people come to rely on you and respect you more and more. Not only that, but you get to know your users better and decide which users to teach instead of just fix every time. This works great if you have good people. In the past I have more than doubled my "free" time by including 5 minutes of training with every support call. After a while they mostly fixed the small problems themselves. Three cheers for empowered users!

    If it makes you feel better, I know 2 guys who are the sole support for 600 users, and have been for almost 2 years. Guaranteed nobody is happy with that.
  • 1 Fulltime Employee (me(doing my best to fix things)) 1 Fulltime student aid (Help desk) 1 Part-Time student aid (doing his best to fix things) 2 T-1's 1 Frame Relay 3 DSL Connections 14 Sites 27 Servers 500 Desktops 5000 Student-Users (doing their best to break things) 200 Staff-Users (doing their best to break things) "Luckily" in public education, we never had enough IT Support staff... so our ratio really hasn't gotten any worse....
  • Printing company: 1/2 admin for 25 people, 1 server, 12 workstations (1 person with other duties).

    Manufacturing company: 2 admin/programmers for 150 people, 4 servers, 60 workstations. (Programmers are amazingly effective admin, as they can script solutions others would just repetitively apply).

    Software company: 1/2 admin/programmer for 5 people, 4 servers.

  • Large University in New England:

    6,000+ Faculty, Staff
    25,000+ Students
    100-150+ Central IT Staff (plus a couple dozen "freelance" IT withing various departments).

    150/(25000+6000) ~= 206 Employees / 1 IT Staff

    IT provides groupware, Mainframe batch data processing, file services, workstation deployment and maintenance, helpdesk, custom apps (on Mainframe), HR+Payroll+Student systems, and much more!
    • Oops -- should be 206 University Members / 1 IT Staff
      and of course, our level of IT support for students is lower than the level provided for Faculty and Staff......
  • 2 admins, a tech and a part time gopher... supporting over 1000 users total. ~500 dialup, ~250 DSL, and ~250 leased lines. More servers than one can shake a stick at. We also all get paid crap.
  • We have one sys-admin for 200+ really old cranky systems. He is also a full-time teacher.
    • I'm a IT tech in primary schools (That's 4-11 year-olds for people not this side of the Pond)

      Different school each day of the week, about 20 computers at each. It seems to work more or less okay. Before I started their tended to be one teacher per school who was more techy than the rest and ended up having to chase around between/during lessons fixing other people's problems instead of teaching.

      Lack of technical support in primary schools is a common problem here though.
  • Nationwide user base, supporting network, desktop, mainframe apps. 1 Help Desk tech per approx. 500 users (20 techs, 10000 total users). I take 40-50 calls per 8 hour shift (lots of dinkass password issues), utilize a personal first call resolution of around 70%. I now despise talking on the phone, but it beats roofing!
  • 2 sysadmins, userbase of ~ 50 000 (we're an ISP), ~ 30 staff, approx 50 servers.
    When I started here six months ago there were four sysadmins and two juniors. I thought it was just my company's directorial incompetence (and I'm not dissuaded from the view that they're incompetent), in a way it's comforting to see that others are in the same boat, not that I would wish redundancy on anyone of course.
  • We have about 16000 users
    with a complete IT staff of ~200 (incuding managers)
    programmers 80
    systech 8
    admins 5

    ~8 VMS
    ~5 SCO
    ~12 Unixware
    ~12 Linux
    ~15 other.

    The last few years have seen us shrink by about 50% The worst thing is all the travel for the systechs, they are on the road now about 80% now.
    Actually its not so bad, As we are a MUMPS/CACHE/COBOL shop, we don't need as many people/machines to support a large user base as you would with C or .NET etc.
    Thankfully we don't do anything serious with Micro$oft. That really helps.

  • Location 2 admin, 1 dba, and 5 help desk for approx 600 users. Company wide 8 admin, 5dba, approx 20 help desk for approx 3000 users, so roughly 1:100

  • Well that's for hands on people. I am the only physical presence for 2 offices about 20 miles apart with a total of 250 users. The server admin staff is about 10 people and they support about 5K people in a huge number of locations across the NE. Networking is about the same. So total support people for ~5K users is 40:5K or 1:125.
  • and it looks like this:

    - About 550 PCs (mostly old crap held together with duct tape and a prayer running 9x. Most of which _have_ to run about 30 different kinds of POS children's "educational" software)
    - 6 servers (reasonably solid, but old-ish. running NT or Linux)
    - About 170 full-time users (employees) and 1700 part-time users (students)
    - Plus about a dozen big network printers, about 150 inkjet printers, 5 (slightly different) digital phone systems, and a website.

    All supported by.... Me. For a little over 30k a year. Whee! Be thankful you aren't in k-12 education in the Pacific Northwest. As far as I can tell, this is pretty typical.
  • Our shop has two IT employees, myself and my boss. We provide tech support and consulting services to a number of small businesses in the local area. We probably have about 200 customers, of which maybe 50 are regular callers.

    So the ratio? Two IT techs for somewhere around 500 users. At least, that's what I'm guessing.

    OK, so systems aren't "managed." We don't write policies and procedures. We don't give reports to upper management. Most of our users are fairly unconcerned about internal security. We don't give training on individual programs; our focus is networking, however we do support other software when we need to where we can. In that sense, our workload per user is fairly light.
  • 1:1 here! (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    In our company, we have 1 admin for every fulltime employee!

    Wait, I'm both the admin _and_ the full-time employee.

    No boss, I'm not browsing /., I'm doing technical research! You don't know anything! What're you gonna do, fire me?

    Yes dear. I'll stop wasting time and get back to work now.

  • The number of IT staff usually depends more on the complexity of the network then the number of users. Two seasoned techs can handle 4 hundred (been there, done that) users when it is nothing but a basic cubicle farm, where all you have to do is ghost, reset passwords, and replace hardware once in a while. But this same network might also have 20 servers, SQL databases, third party solutions that need scripters, two T3 lines, isolated data farms, etc, that demand two telecommunication specialists, 5 admins, a dba, and 2 developers. If the only factor that you went off of was the amount of users involved, then two techs and an admin would have been fine.
  • That said, these stats mean very little.

    We spend most of our time dealing with a few very specific issues (such as a citrix metaframe server), chronic problems and problem patterns (often caused by user-installed and virus-like downloaded software, containing adware), and a few very troublesome users. These troublesome issues and people consume most of our time, while the rest of the users rarely need any help.

  • by aidoneus ( 74503 ) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @05:32PM (#4918309) Journal
    I'm at a major university in New England, doing IT support for the athletics department and here's our breakdown:

    420 Users of which...
    250 are full time staff that we support.

    And doing the support? Me. That's it. 1:250. And I not only do desktop support, but I also aid in account creation, manage the IT systems budget and 4 year hardware replacement plan, handle telephone technical support and trouble shooting and deal with anything else that pops up.

    And yet my direct supervisor doesn't see a problem with this ratio. It's a wonder I haven't been killed by my users yet...

  • by ScuzzMonkey ( 208981 ) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @06:33PM (#4918821) Homepage
    I dug into this quite a bit earlier last year to justify a new hire. The best formula I found came out of this whitepaper. []

    In a nutshell, the formula is:

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

    where HR is total IT staff required, W is number of workstations, U is number of users, C is workgroups (clusters of users, basically--physical sites is how I count it), A is the number of supported applications, L is the total licenses required, and V is the number of distinct vendor platforms to be supported (operating systems, basically). That is about as good a predictor as I could find, although it's not magic--you can still have variations based on the specific requirements for the department.

    Using that, I get a figure of 3.8 FTE; in reality, we have 2 FTE and a consultant who may as well be another. :/ That's to support 120-150 users on about 100 workstations with two major vendor platforms... the kicker for us, though, is they are spread out at about eleven sites, which ups our requirements considerably. You have either travel time, or telephone time, or crawling VNC link time to account for--I could do the same number all at one site for a lot less.

    It's nice to think that your salary would go up if you were making do with less and getting the same results, but in practice you pretty much get stuck with industry standard in your area, unless you get particularly astute employers who know the value of what they are getting out of you.

    Hope that helps!
  • At a previous job, I was the sole sysadmin, dba, developer, and general tech support (only cause I was the only one that knew how to fix things) for a 4M hits/day site.

    I told them it was a bad situation... if I ever left, or got sick, etc. they were screwed.

    They realized they were short staffed (even if just for redunancy) when I took a vacation and suddenly nothing was getting done. More importantly it made *them* look bad to their bosses. Then they finally realized they needed to hire a "clone" in case I was out, sick, left, etc...

I go on working for the same reason a hen goes on laying eggs. -- H.L. Mencken