What IT Staff Do You Need?

Are you struggling with the question of IT staffing? 

Figuring out how much IT staff your organization needs is not always simple.  You have to consider the priorities and goals of the organization, understand where your IT resources are currently spending their time, and the skills that are required to support the technology systems that are currently in place as well as those you will need in the future

As you consider the question of IT Staffing, you should be asking, do I know how IT time is being spent in relation to our strategic priorities? Are there any organizational design issues that can be corrected? And are my IT staff properly deployed and managed to effectively drive results?

How Is IT Time Spent (or Wasted)?

According to Infotech, about 67% of IT staff time, on average, is spent on low-value activities such as repetitive administrative activities and maintenance tasks instead of productive work and value-added initiatives. That’s a huge chunk of time for very little return.

Likewise, Codebots reports that the average IT team spends 45-55% of its time on unplanned and ‘urgent’ activities, meaning they spend less than half their time on projects and strategic priorities. The biggest productivity hindrances are the following:

  • 16% on emails
  • 11% on administrative tasks
  • 11% on useful and/or productive meetings
  • 10% on wasteful meetings
  • 8% on non-essential interruptions
  • 5% on everything else.

Plus, you can’t talk about IT time demands without factoring in the time spent on dealing with technical debt or the cumulative effects of taking IT shortcuts.

The State of Technical Debt 2021 report from Stepsize found that the average software developer wastes 6 hours per week — roughly one full workday — addressing the repercussions of technical debt rather than working toward key IT and organizational goals.

So what does all this mean for your organization? When determining what IT staff your organization needs, you first must consider how your IT time is spent. This entails identifying low-value activities and time sinks within your own IT department so you can determine where and how to reclaim wasted time.

The Key Drivers of IT Team Effectiveness

Beyond identifying time wasters, it’s important to consider the processes and procedures in place as well as barriers to team effectiveness and productivity when figuring out the appropriate IT staffing level for your IT department.

In fact, there are seven drivers of team effectiveness to consider when assessing your IT staff:

  1. Processes & Procedures - do the processes and procedures in place enable your IT staff to do their jobs effectively?
  2. Technology - does your technology enable them to do their jobs effectively?
  3. Skill Sets - does your team have the right skills to execute effectively?
  4. Absence of Organizational Barriers - is your team able to execute effectively without organizational or political barriers?
  5. Staffing Level - does your team have the appropriate staffing level to executive effectively?
  6. Opportunity to Reduce Waste - is there an opportunity to eliminate wasteful or low-value activities in different IT areas to run more efficiently? (Think: move to the Cloud, for example.)
  7. Opportunity to Innovate - is there an opportunity to run different IT areas more effectively by using innovative approaches or solutions? (Perhaps a managed service provider or outsourced helpdesk.)

How to Assess the Performance of Your IT Staff

Evaluating how your IT team is performing across each of these seven drivers of effectiveness can help you determine if there are any low-performing areas that can be improved. Not only should you assess your IT department as a whole across these seven drivers, but you should also drill down into specific target areas and opportunities for improvement.

Understanding how individual IT staff members and stakeholders perceive effectiveness across these seven key drivers can help you identify recurring issues and team concerns. For example, you may realize that you have the right IT staff but more training is needed in certain areas. Or you may learn how you can better allocate your staff based on the priority of each IT service area.

It’s important to look beyond how many IT staff you have and consider all the factors impacting IT performance. The real secret sauce is working on the alignment of the people, processes, and technology to improve the cohesiveness and effectiveness of your IT division.

Turn your IT department into a powerhouse.

Check out our IT Staffing Assessment >>

What IT Staff Do You Need?

The ideal IT department structure and roles for an association really depend on your needs. You may require IT generalists, specialized administrators of systems, help desk technicians, an IT director, and/or a Chief Information Officer.

IT Generalist

Many associations have some sort of IT generalist or “Jack of all trades” individual who does a little bit of everything. This person may be involved in managing the help desk, servers, and databases.

Application Administrator

A few associations have designated application administrators in their departments to manage their best-of-breed systems (AMS, LMS, etc.)

Even if you do have different administrators for your various systems, you’ll want someone from your IT department to be involved in the selection, implementation, and management of your AMS and other best-of-breed systems. You’ll also want this IT person to be comfortable enough with the security aspects of your systems and be able to run more technical reports and configurations.

Help Desk Support

Depending on the organization, titles for this role may be Service Desk Support Analyst, Help Desk Support Analyst, or simply Service/Help Desk Support/Technician. Some organizations recognize a difference between the service desk and the help desk, but we’ll use these terms interchangeably.

The Help Desk is typically the point of contact for members and users when they require incident resolution and technical service requests. You’ll need at least one or more Help Desk Support staff depending on the number of tickets/requests your organization receives.


Nowadays, member expectations are higher than ever. Technology leaders today need to not only be operationally competent but also strategically future-focused. In fact, IT leaders are a critical part of the senior leadership team of any successful association.

That’s why more and more associations are realizing the need for a Chief Information Officer (CIO) who can spearhead how the tools, systems, and processes used within an organization strategically fit with the mission of the organization.

IT Director

Not only do you need a CIO, but you may also need an IT director who is more focused on day-to-day operations from a tactical point of view.

There is no one-size-fits-all for every organization when it comes to staffing your IT department and figuring out the ideal IT staff size. Sometimes it makes more sense financially and strategically to outsource certain parts of IT and keep other parts in-house.

The best way to figure out how much IT staff you need and the ideal department structure and roles are to conduct an objective and standardized IT Staffing Assessment.

Getting Started

Ready to take the first step towards turning your IT division into an organizational powerhouse? 

Our IT Staffing Assessment is designed to help you correct organizational design issues, determine whether the right skill sets are in place, and ensure your staffing resources are properly deployed and managed.

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