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Staffing ratios are all about finding that perfect balance for achieving the essential levels of support an organization needs without over or under-staffing a department. It’s a topic for every industry and workplace, from grocery stores to hospitals and, you guessed it, IT departments.

Here, we’ll dive into all the components and inner workings for determining and optimizing your IT staffing ratio so that your IT department operates as efficiently as possible to ensure your organization is running like a well-oiled machine — while achieving the right balance of IT staff versus company employees.

Let’s get started!

Why it’s important to evaluate and adjust IT staffing ratios

Determining the best IT-to-employee ratio is essential for several reasons, ranging from productivity to effective resource use. Whether you’re starting your IT team from scratch or updating your current IT staffing needs, evaluating what your organization needs from an IT department is incredibly valuable. 

Some of the key reasons to evaluate your IT staffing metrics and ratios include:

Productivity

Evaluating your IT staffing ratios allows your IT department and the departments and individuals they support to work optimally. Having IT staff on hand as soon as they’re needed by network users helps to delay any productivity loss or lost working hours. 

For IT staff, having an adequate number of IT members available allows for user support and all the necessary network monitoring, patch management, and risk management tasks to be completed.

Risk management

Taking the time to be sure your IT team is well-staffed will help you be proactive in staying ahead of risks, potential problems, and crisis management.

A well-staffed IT team can proactively implement robust security measures to protect your organization’s sensitive data and systems. They can monitor network traffic, identify potential vulnerabilities, and implement necessary security patches and updates promptly. With the right staffing ratio, your IT team can focus on proactive security measures, reducing the risk of data breaches, cyberattacks, and other security incidents.

In the event of a security incident or system failure, a properly staffed IT team can respond swiftly and effectively. They can investigate the issue, contain the impact, and initiate the recovery process promptly. Having enough IT professionals ensures that incidents are addressed promptly, minimizing downtime and potential financial losses.

This ensures that your organization has limited downtime and service disruptions and ensures minimal security threats and rapid action in the event of a network risk — which keeps your operations running as smoothly as possible.

Budgeting and resource management

Evaluating your IT needs and staffing levels also allows you to allocate precious resources like employee time, wages, and overall IT budget effectively, so you can avoid the painful loss of production from understaffing and the costs associated with overstaffing. 

By accurately assessing your IT staffing needs, you can avoid unnecessary expenses associated with overstaffing. Overstaffing can lead to idle resources and increased labor costs. On the other hand, understaffing can result in overwhelmed IT professionals and decreased productivity. Finding the right balance ensures that you allocate resources effectively, optimizing your IT budget.

Common IT staffing ratios

There’s no single answer to the best IT staff ratio to employees, as every organization has different needs and factors that influence the ideal IT staffing ratio. That being said, there has been research to showcase what ratios various organizations are using.

Accounting for data from Workforce, they’ve found that for organizations with less than 500 employees, the average ratio is 1:18, IT staff to employees. This ratio tends to increase as the organization gets larger, with organizations between 5,000 and 10,000 employees having a ratio of 1:25 on average.

Other authorities for staffing levels, like Gartner, have shown very different staffing ratios. Gartner recommends that organizations with over 7,000 employees should have a 1:100 or 1:200 IT staffing ratio.

These variances in common staffing ratios punctuate the idea that there is no single answer to how many staff IT departments need to have on hand. Finding the perfect ratio for you involves exploring all the factors at play, which we’ll explore below.

Factors that can affect how many IT employees you need

So what are the factors influencing how many IT staff per employee you need? Well, we’ve determined five key factors to take into consideration:

1. The size of your organization

As shown above, in the common IT to employee ratios section, it’s important to consider how big your organization is. This will influence the IT workload; including a variety of technical responsibilities and help desk services your IT team will need to take on.

2. Who your IT department helps and supports

Sometimes, your IT department will support more than just your organization’s staff. For example, in a school setting, your IT team will not only be supporting a school’s admin, teachers, and other staff but may also be supporting students. 

This can significantly impact how many people your IT employees will be helping, so it is essential to get a complete perspective of who your IT departments will be supporting.

3. The availability of AI 

AI-powered IT can help take your IT network automation even further to recapture time for your IT staff. For instance, at Atera, our AI-powered IT system can help 10X your IT department’s efficiency and resolve IT tickets 95% faster. These staggering stats make the availability of AI tools important in determining how many IT staff employees need.

4. The complexity of your IT network

IT departments handle much more than help desk services for an organization. They can build, monitor, maintain, and update your entire network. This means that your organization’s network needs will also influence your staffing ratios.

5. Your operating hours

The hours your organization operates can affect the ratio of IT staff your organization needs. For example, if your organization employs a varying number of people across your business hours, this can increase your IT staffing ratio. 

Or, if you have a smaller number of employees who work the night shift than the day shift, but need to maintain the same number of IT staff to support these workers, it will result in a different ratio.

How to optimize your IT staffing ratio

With all these factors that can impact staffing ratios to keep in mind, another aspect to look at is methods for optimizing the work your IT department has on its plate. Generally speaking, several things can be done to optimize your staffing ratio, including:

IT AI and automation

AI and automatic scripts can streamline workflows for your IT team’s service desk operations so that those repetitive, manual, and mundane tasks take up less of your staff’s time, freeing up their time for strategic projects instead. And, of course, Atera’s AI does a fantastic job of speeding up the ticketing response to resolution times.

Training

Training not just your IT department but also other employees and network users on the basics of tools they’ll be using through your network can help minimize the number of tickets your AI department receives and contribute to better productivity across the organization.

Tracking IT tasks

Keeping track of your IT department’s different roles, responsibilities, and tasks can help you optimize your staffing ratio. IT management systems, like the systems offered at Atera, can simplify tracking by automatically generating an activity log.

Effective IT department platforms 

The right tools can help you optimize your IT department so that they can accomplish all aspects of their job with a little more ease and less disruption to productivity and workflow. 

At Atera, we’ve built our software with IT departments in mind so that they can have a tool that will truly help them and optimize their workflows. Our standout AI-powered features, our Network Discovery capabilities, and more, highlight the difference software can make for IT departments. 

Our Network Discovery system works around the clock to maintain your network security and even eases the workflow of tasks like onboarding and offboarding.

Leveling up your organization’s IT department with Atera

With all the benefits that evaluating your IT staffing ratios offers it’s no surprise that tracking your IT staffing ratio can help you plan for the future by giving you a glimpse of the department’s baseline needs and can even help shape and allocate the budget for years to come.

The many moving parts of an organization can be hard to track and maintain, but with the help of Atera, you can optimize a critical component in the functioning of your organization: your IT department. 

Our product offers a one-stop-shop of the tools and resources IT staff rely on to deliver on their job responsibilities, and we do so in a way that’s straightforward, supportive, and effective (as our customer reviews and feedback can attest to!). 
From remote monitoring and management to helping your employees return to work, Atera is here to support your IT team and overall organization. Contact our team to find out how Atera can supercharge your IT team!

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