Posts Tagged ‘tech support’

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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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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