Archive for the ‘tech support’ Category

Robert HalfIn a presentation entitled “Staffing Strategies for the 21stCentury” by Katherine Spencer Lee, Executive Director at Robert Half Technology (September 18, 2008), the following IT staffing metrics were presented:

A Robert Half Technology* survey asked 1,400 CIOs to compare …
Actual versus ideal ratio of internal end-users to technical support employees at their company

  • Mean response for Actual was 136:1
  • Mean response for Ideal was 82:1

Technical Support Center staffs are 40 percent smaller, on average, than optimal.

Mobile vs Static staffing ratios:

  • There is a baseline ratio around 90 customers per analyst.
  • Technical and mobile user bases earn a lower ratio due to higher complexity (1:80-110)
  • Fewer analysts required for non-technical and static users (1:120-160)

Organizational goals should help set staffing levels:

  1. Compete at the cutting edge of innovation (25:1 to 50:1)
  2. Compete on full service and overall value (60:1 t0 100:1)
  3. Compete on thin cost margin and scalability (125:1 to 200:1)

A complete copy of the Robert Half presentation can be found here.


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Help the Help DeskThis is the most comprehensive study that I have seen on IT Staffing.  It was written by Lon D. Gowen, Ph.D., Lead Systems and Software Engineer at the MITRE Corporation.  The paper is entitled “Predicting Staffing Sizes for Maintaining Computer-Networking Infrastructures”.  It was published in 2000.

In this paper Gowan presents benchmark data for the “Number of Users Per FTE of CNI Support” for

  1. Systems Administration
  2. Help Desk
  3. Break/Fix
  4. Configuration Management

These numbers were observed in both a DoD and a Private sector enviroment.  Acutal numbers are presented in the paper and are compared to numbers predicted using a COTS modeling tool.

Full paper available at: Predicting Staffing Levels

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A “Information Technology Operation Benchmarks Report” created by Nick Ganesan, CIO/Associate Vice-Chancellor for ITTS aQuality Benchmarkt Fayetteville State University.  The report contains detailed benchmark data for:

  1. IT Budget Profile
  2. IT Budget per IT User
  3. IT Budget as a Percentage of Institutional Budget
  4. IT Users to IT Staff ratio
  5. IT Staff to Number of PCs – Ratio
  6. Staffing Profile by service area
  7. PCs to IT User Ratio
  8. Central IT Support Percentage
  9. Staff ratio by service areas

The benchmark data is against IT services at universities located in the United States.

Location of Report: http://www.kfupm.edu.sa/sict/ictc/related%20documents/IT%20Benchmark/Fayetteville%20State%20University%20IT_Benchmarks_ver1.pdf

Local Copy: IT Benchmark for Universities – Fayetteville State University Report

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TechRepublic has provided a spreadsheet model to help you determine the right number of people in your IT shop.  In their approach, they focus on one category of staff at a time.  In each category, a few key questions are used to focus the analysis:

1. Programmers

  • Is there a separation between application development and support?
  • Do programmers work on multiple business applications?
  • Are external clients supported, and if so, is there customized code for individual clients?
  • Are major investments needed in software development of critical business applications?
  • How big is the programming backlog, and what type of changes are being requested?
  • Can the key business processes be accomplished better and more economically with a third-party solution?
  • If you have external clients, can programmers be dedicated to and billed to specific clients?

2. Business application analysts and trainers

  • Are new applications planned?
  • Does the company support the installation of software for external clients?
  • How knowledgeable are the departments and clients in the use of their business applications?

3. Help Desk specialists

  • Are infrastructure calls separated from business application calls, or is the Help Desk support functions for both combined?
  • How responsive do you need to be?
  • Does the Help Desk have sound escalation procedures?
  • What’s the level of client satisfaction for IT support?
  • Is the response rate to solve user issues sufficient?
  • Do you have a tracking system to monitor support calls, trends, and responsiveness?
  • How many calls is the Help Desk handling now?
  • What is the percentage of local users (as opposed to remote)?
  • Does the company require 24/7 staffing of the Help Desk?

4. Network administrators

  • Are major changes or enhancements planned/needed for the infrastructure?
  • Is an experienced architect of the network in place?
  • What has been the history of implementing infrastructure changes?
  • Is there an infrastructure strategic plan?
  • Is a change management process in place?

5. Desktop support specialists

  • What are the company growth plans?
  • Are major changes planned/needed in the desktop hardware/software?
  • What is the percentage of remote users (other office buildings, cities, etc.)?
  • Is the response rate to solve desktop issues sufficient?

6. Data Center operations staff

  • Does the Data Center require 24/7 operation?
  • What are the requirements for the Data Center?
  • Is a “lights out” operation possible?
  • Is the Data Center secure?

Using this model IT staff needs are based upon a number of factors, including the workload, anticipated needs, current capability of the staff, and maturity of the company. As much as possible, we try to quantify all the variables in each set of issues. Ultimately, it’s a judgment call based on the variable data, the level of support that you need to provide, and your experience in managing IT. If you can quantify the variables that affect levels of support, you’ll be much better equipped to determine your true needs.

A full description of this approach can be found at: http://articles.techrepublic.com.com/5100-10878_11-1061079.html?tag=e106

A copy of the IT Staffing Model in an Excel spreadsheet can be found here:  http://downloads.techrepublic.com.com/5138-6321-730024.html

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A recent posting on the Spiceworks Community forum revels IT staff to user ratios ranging from 100:1 to 20:1 based upon different factors such as number of different locations, hardware and software diversity, proficiency of the users, hours for direct support, help desk availability, etc. The best posting came from Eric Osterholm. He reported:

“Awhile back I worked for a great Consulting Company called Collective Technologies (a spinoff from Pencom Systems); at it’s height, there were over 350 Consultants in the field. The topic of this ratio came up time and time again…

Based on what we saw at our client sites, the consensus was that a helpdesk (someone else doing servers and network) ratio was about 100:1 with proper automation technologies (imaging\patching\helpdesk\etc). For admins supporting servers and helpdesk, the ratio closed to 50:1. For those supporting everything, the numbers were all over the board… from 100:1 to 20:1. The one constant we saw was that the more mature shops adopted automation tools to make their current staff more efficient, reducing these ratios.”

The entire forum post can be found at: http://community.spiceworks.com/topic/7870?query=ratio+of+users+it

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Staff Support

Staff Support

IT Staff Benchmarks

Level One – Basic helpdesk phone support
– 1:80 to 1:110
Level Two – Installation, configuration, and
desktop support
– 1:45 to 1:85
Level Three – Systems, communications,
high end support and design
– 1:250 to 1:400

There is no single answer

Depends on
– Staff expertise
– Technical proficiency of end users
– Number of servers
– Number of remote branches and distance
– Level of high tech systems deployed by the bank
Leave enough room for project resources!

Source: “The Business of IT: Running Your Bank’s IT Department Like a Business”, Brintech, February 17, 2005

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Justine Nguyen suggests a baseline users-to-tech ratio of 60 users per one technician.  Read more to find out the details.
Source: http://news.zdnet.com/2422-13569_22-155252.html
Users-to-tech support ratio

How many employees should one tech support staff person oversee? CNET’s Justine Nguyen explains the golden ratio of users to tech support staff, and what factors contribute to it.

My name is Justine Nguyen, Director of Desktop Support here at CNET Networks, and I’m here to talk to you today about users to tech support ratio. We’ve been experiencing explosive growth here at CNET Networks, hiring employees left and right. And of course in order to provide support to those employees and their computers, I’ve had to ask for more technicians. There’s some complicated math that might go into that, but there’s some good rule of thumbs which I wanted to share with you today.

So the first thing, before you do any calculations is you have to take into account at least three things. The first thing is complexity. This involves your environment complexity, how many laptops versus desktops are you using? How many operating systems are in your environments, as well as the problem complexity-generally how involved are the problems, how hard are they to solve or how easy are they to solve?

The second thing you have to take into account is expertise. This would mean your technician expertise, how much they’ll need to know technically to solve the problems in your environment as well as your user expertise, how well do they know how to use the hardware and the software that they need to be productive.

The third thing that you do need to take into account is trends. Do some trend analysis of your problems. You’ll see spikes and dips as when problems occur. Make sure that you’re staffed up during those time periods to accommodate those, whether it’s during a software release, a new hardware rollout, or hiring spikes.

So the basic rule of thumb in terms of user to support ratio is 60 users to one technician. Now there are a lot of things that can influence this number. How many remote users do you have? Do the technicians have direct access to those machines or not? Do your technicians have to walk a long distance to get to users? Is there a lot of software testing done in your environment?

So I picked out six things that definitely influenced my recommendation. I’m going to share those with you. So the first one is if you have more than one operating system and no hardware standards in your environment-that means you’re using Mac, Linux, various versions of Windows-your ratio is going to be reduced to 45 employees to one technician. That’s a reduction of 15 employees per technician that can be supported.

However, you can increase the number of employees that each technician supports. For example, you can use restricted local administrator rights on machines. If you do this, your ratio will increase from 60 to one to 70 to one. That’s plus ten employees that are supported by each technician.

Another thing you can do is restrict local administrative rights completely. However, this will only increase your support ratio by five. For some reason, power users who don’t have administrative rights to their machine it involves more work for your technician.

A big productivity factor that you can have is to use remote software deployment, whether it’s SMS, Alteris, LanDesk. If you do this, your ratio will increase by 20 to one. That means that you will have an 80 to one ratio of employees to technicians.

Another thing that will really increase productivity is imaging or cloning, whether you’re using Ghost-you don’t want technicians to spend a lot of time building machines by hand. So this will increase the ratio by 15 to one.

Another good tool is remote control, going back to the distance a technician has to travel to provide support. Remote control tools will increase your ratio by 15 to one. So remember the rule of thumb we started with was 60 to one. Now there are a lot of things which will make that number smaller. However, if you implement standards, policies, invest in some software which will increase technician productivity, you can add up all of these ratio increases and receive a ratio of 125 employees to one technician.

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