In the ever-evolving realm of information technology, IT staffing ratios stands as a pivotal metric for the efficient and effective management of IT resources. The wrong ratio of IT staff to employees can leave your team feeling like they’re always fighting fires. But the right ratio can give them ample time to respond to tickets AND get proactive about monitoring, management, and innovation.

But what is the right IT staffing ratio for your team?

It’s common for IT professionals to grapple with the optimal number of technical support staff needed to maintain a seamless operation. We see this come up pretty consistently on platforms like Reddit, where overburdened technicians post questions (and rants) about unsustainable staffing levels. Striking the right balance in IT staffing ratios is incredibly important for ensuring effective user support, maximizing resource utilization, and maintaining the overall health of IT operations.

In this article, we look at various aspects of IT staffing ratios, including pivotal questions to ask when calculating IT help desk staff-to-user ratios, real-world data and experiences shared by IT professionals.

Questions to ask when calculating IT staff to user ratios

Determining the appropriate IT help desk staff to user ratios is a complex task that requires careful consideration of various factors.

The following questions are designed to guide IT managers and professionals in assessing their current staffing levels and making informed decisions. By contemplating these key aspects, organizations can better align their IT support capabilities with user needs, ensuring efficient and effective service delivery.

1. What is the current volume of support tickets, and how does it fluctuate?

Understanding the demand on your IT help desk is essential. Consider the average number of tickets and the peak times to better align staffing levels.

2. What are the complexity and nature of the issues encountered?

Evaluate whether your team mostly handles quick fixes or complex problems. This affects how many staff members are needed per user.

3. How diverse and complex is the user environment?

A more varied user base with different technologies may require more staff for efficient support.

4. What is the current response and resolution time?

Analyze how quickly your team responds to and resolves issues. Longer resolution times might indicate a need for more staff.

5. How does your IT help desk integrate with other IT functions?

Understand how the help desk interacts with other IT areas, like network administration or software development, to determine if cross-functional skills are required.

6. What tools and technologies are in place to aid the IT help desk?

Efficient tools can reduce the staff needed per user.

7. How does your organization’s growth projections align with IT needs?

Future-proof your IT help desk by aligning staffing with projected organizational growth.

8. What is the industry standard or benchmark for similar organizations?

Comparing your ratios with industry benchmarks can provide valuable insights.

IT Staffing Ratios in the Real World

On a fairly regular basis, users will post to Reddit or Spiceworks or another IT forum to ask about the best support staff ratio of techs to users, and what other companies are finding sustainable. The question usually comes from an overworked tech who’s drowning in tickets and trying to understand what’s considered.

The answers can get interesting.

Spiceworks had many people respond with details about the environments they support—and the range was notable.

On the low end, a few lucky techs were each supporting about a dozen users. On the high end was one company with one tech for every 3,400 users.

To be fair, nearly all of the respondents with more than 700 users per tech were supporting schools. Their numbers included both staff and students.

If you take out those highest numbers, here’s how they average out:

  • The median average was 123 users per tech.
  • The mode average was 150 users per tech.
  • And the mean average was about 161 users per tech.

This is the distribution with the numbers over 700 taken out.

MSP tech user ratio chart
Chart by Auvik / Data from Spiceworks

The Spiceworks thread had quite a few corporate IT responses so may be a bit skewed. Yet the averages aren’t too far off what a number of MSPs on Reddit have said is the magic number of about 200 to 250 users per tech.

MSP tech user ratio Reddit thread
Source: Reddit

Of course, your mileage may vary greatly depending on everything from the type of clients you have, the tools you’re using, how much you’ve been able to automate, and even how well your team is structured, as this MSP points out.

MSP tech user ratio Spiceworks thread
Source: Spiceworks

What’s the ideal ratio support staff ratio in your MSP?

Has it changed over time as you’ve brought on new clients or systems?

Leave a comment and let us know.

Ebook cover - The Ultimate Guide to Selling Managed Network Services

Your Guide to Selling Managed Network Services

Get templates for network assessment reports, presentations, pricing & more—designed just for MSPs.

  1. Icannot PutMyname Avatar
    Icannot PutMyname

    You should look at Humana Insurance.
    The Corporate Campus in Louisville KY.
    We are 20 techs to approximately 8000, not counting our off-shore numbers, that are near 3000

  2. Adam Avatar

    Great article, but something I want to know is whether these techs are also supporting anything else (IE infrastructure, or are they purely user support?

    We’re in the region of 350:1 (500:1.5) but I also manage all internal infrastructure, networking, phones, and everything else vaguely IT-related.

  3. better not visible Avatar
    better not visible

    We are a international Bank with a ratio of 67:1 for the complete IT team, not only the support group!. Managing everything what looks like IT (incl. Phones, ATMs, etc) in 12 countries. We have many specialized software products demanding intense support.
    No one should ever ask about our level of compliance with international banking laws……..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *