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Dear Workforce How Can Our Company Determine A Staff-to-Support Ratio

For a midsize company, a 10 to 1 ratio might be expected.
January 2, 2002
Related Topics: Workforce Planning, Dear Workforce
QDear Workforce:

What is the best method to use to determine a ratio of staff to employees insupport functions of a mid-size software company?

- Trying to calculate, executive administrative assistant, software/systems,Fairfax, Virginia.

A Dear Calculator:

The typical ratio of staff to support employees we typically find in largeprofessional organizations is 6 to1. These organizations are not necessarilysoftware companies, but large professional divisions in Fortune 500 companies.This benchmark is useful but should be considered a loose guide at best.

I would expect a larger ratio (more staff per support person) for mid-sizesoftware companies for two main reasons:

  1. Organizational growth indicators. In a high-growth time, support personnelare last to be hired, while people who add directly to the bottom line(programmers, for instance) are hired first. Mid-size software companies aretypically in this "high-growth" phase of organizational development.Additionally, companies in this phase of organizational growth have fewerbureaucratic controls and processes; thus they don't need as many supportpersonnel.

  2. Philosophical makeup. Software firms typically require fewer support staffby the nature of their philosophy. Software firms typically have an employeeself-service attitude, thus reducing the numbers of support staff. Additionally,software firms have a tendency to use partners or outsource nonessentialfunctions. For example, the administrative HR functions (payroll, benefits, andtraining) are outsourced and technology partners provide the recruiting andstaffing activities. These tactics dramatically reduce the number of supportpersonnel required in the HR function alone.

Given all this information and our experience working with mid-size softwarefirms, I would expect a 10 to 1 ratio, at least, between staff and supportpersonnel for a mid-size software company.

SOURCE: Nathan J. Mondragon, Ph.D., Technology Leader, Staffing andAssessment Practices, Development DimensionsInternational, Bridgeville,Pennsylvania, Aug. 7, 2001.

LEARN MORE: Find out a good staff ratio for a call center.

The information contained in thisarticle is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, butshould not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember thatstate laws may differ from the federal law.

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