IT Staffing

I've been trying to work out a good method for calculating IT staffing in an organisation. This is what I've discovered so far. Please remember, these are just ideas. If you have any ideas/comments on this topic, please post a comment.

IT Support Ratio

As a CEO or Manager you need to decide on a support ratio, work with any existing IT staff you have when working out your ratio, and once you've decided on a ratio that works, it's probably time to change it. You need to calculate a ratio that allows for maximum performance from all staff. The ratio needs to be calculated based on the following factors:
  • IT staff skills - If you have new staff, or staff that aren't aware of your specific system, this will effect your support ratio. New IT staff need time to learn and communicate. You might like to hire two new staff for one eventual position, so you can gauge their skills and ability to fit into the company before making a final decision.
  • Resources available to IT staff - If your IT staff have remote assistance, reliable networks & systems, this will effect your IT support ratio. You may be able to run with fewer IT staff.
  • Distribution of users - If your users are located in a number of geographic locations, you may need more IT staff to support your users, and the IT division will probably need a vehicle or two. Ideally you would want all your staff in one location, but most of the time, this isn't feasible.
  • User/Manager expectations - If your Managers expect a rapid response time or very little downtime, this will effect your support ratio. Staff need to be covered for while they are on leave, study, sick etc..
  • User IT competence - If users have a low level of IT skills in day-to-day applications, then a little training is in order. You may need more IT staff to cover the training or assist the users as they improve their skills.
  • Third-party applications - A large number of third-party applications (non-Microsoft) can cause a wide variety of support issues, from training through to lack of knowledge from your IT support team.
When calculating your IT support ratio, do not include the Web development & database development staff.

A few examples:

1:80 (IT Staff : FTE Users)
High level of IT Staff skills, one geographic location, high uptime and good user IT competence.

1:60 (IT Staff : FTE Users)
High level of IT Staff skills, multiple geographic locations, high uptime, average user IT competence.

1:40 (IT Staff : FTE Users)
Medium level of IT staff skills, or new staff, multiple geographic locations, medium-high up time, average user IT competence.

1:20 (IT Staff : FTE Users)
Medium-low level of IT staff skills, or new staff, multiple geographic locations, medium up time, low level of user IT competence.

Staff Roles

Here are few IT roles to think about. Optional roles are in italics:

Desktop Support - This is very hands on, user-facing role. Desktop Support Officers offer direct support to users on issues in day-to-day work. Desktop Support Officers can be responsible for Printers, Desktop computers, and general user support. You first IT staff member should probably be a Desktop Support Officer. Look for a MCP, or TAFE graduate.

Applications Support - This is an optional role. This support officer role is designed to have a staff member ready to support applications specific to your company/organisation or industry. You may end up needing more than one Applications Support Officer. Expect the Desktop Support Officers and Applications Support Officers to both share support of Microsoft Office applications. You may decide to promote a user from your organisation to Applications Support, they need to be an expert in the applications you use, but don't necessarily need to be an IT expert.

Systems Administrator - Systems Administrators provide support to users via Server Administration. Systems Administrators are responsible for all desktop and server systems. Systems Administrators are usually responsible for user account management, email account management, data backup, application deployment, and low-level security. Desktop Support Officers will escalate issues to Systems Administrators if they are unable to fix and issue.

Network Administrator - This is an optional role. If you have multiple sites, you might need a Network Administrator. The System Administrator may be able to cover this role. Network Administrators support routers, switches, remote access, security and sometimes DNS.

Server Administrator - This is an optional role. If you have a large number of Servers, you may need a Server Administrator to cover day-to-day maintenance of the servers. Server Administrators will monitor servers, perform maintenance and can perform installs, upgrades. The Systems Administrator can usually cover this role.

Network Engineer - A Network Engineer is similar to a Network Administrator and in fact, the roles can be interchangeable. The Network Engineer's purpose is to build and/or extend networks. If you have a network that is growing rapidly, or changes often, you may need a Network Engineer.

IT Manager - Once you have 2 or 3 IT staff, you will need to look at appointing an IT Manager. IT Staff need to respect the IT Manager. The IT Manager will ideally have a background in IT with exceptional people skills. An IT Manager is designed to act as a filter/translator between the IT department and Management/Users. The IT Manager will often work on planning projects with input from the IT department and Management.

Just a few ideas, let me know what you think :)

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