It’s a well known fact that service and support organizations are staffed with more than just agents and technicians. They also need supervisors, and other indirect personnel to function properly. But what’s the right headcount for these indirect personnel? Without adequate staffing in this area you will not have the proper management span of control. By contrast, if you are overstaffed with indirect personnel your costs will increase unnecessarily.
Let’s take a look at the industry averages for supervisors/team leads and trainers in service and support.
For both level 1 service desks and desktop support groups, the industry average ratio of supervisors to technicians is about 1:6. That is, each supervisor or team lead manages approximately 6 full time techs or analysts. If a supervisor is spread too thin, one supervisor for every 10 analysts, for example, it will be difficult for the supervisors to provide adequate coaching, feedback, and supervision for the technicians and agents that report to them.
Many service and support organizations use computer based training or hire trainers from outside the organization. But for those who choose to staff their own internal training functions it is helpful to know what the appropriate headcount of trainers should be. MetricNet has developed a heuristic formula that provides guidance for the number of trainers needed by a support organization. The heuristic takes into account the number of agents and technicians working in service and support, the average hours of new agent training, and the annual turnover ratio of agents and technicians.
On average, a competent trainer can deliver approximately 2,500 person hours of training per year. Let’s say, for example, that your support organization has 40 technicians, your annual technician turnover is 30%, and the average new technician receives 120 hours of training. The new agent training hours required in this organization would be 40 FTEs X 30% Annual Turnover X 120 Hours of Training = 1,440 person hours of new technician training per year. Let’s further assume that technicians receive an average of 30 hours per year of ongoing training. The ongoing training needs are therefore 40 FTE’s X 30 Hours of Training = 1,200 person hours of ongoing training. The combined training load for new and existing technicians is therefore 2,640 person hours of training per year (1,440 person hours of new technician training + 1,200 person hours of ongoing training).
Since the average trainer can competently deliver 2,500 person hours of training per year, we can estimate that this organization needs slightly more than one full time trainer (2,640 hour of training workload ÷ 2,500 hours of training capacity per trainer) = 1.1 trainer FTEs.
We’ll discuss more guidelines for other types of indirect headcount in Part 2.