Seven steps to a better staffing, salary strategy

If you're losing sleep over staffing and salary issues, here are seven steps to help you rest easy.

At small, growing companies, nailing down the perfect staffing and salary strategies can be complicated. With fewer resources than larger competitors, small and midsized businesses (SMBs) need to hire and keep versatile employees who can work on multiple projects across various departments.

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The latest report from Info-Tech Research Group Inc., a firm dedicated to the midmarket, advises IT managers to formalize their staffing and salary strategies -- starting with a trip to the CEO's office to help align IT and corporate goals. Here's a sampling of Info-Tech's suggested best practices for building -- and paying -- your IT team.

  1. Set staffing levels. It's important to understand corporate goals and use them to set IT staffing levels. For example, the strategic plan may require a greater focus on disaster recovery planning or help desk planning.

  2. Establish job requirements. Look for gaps in skills or experience within the IT department. Then make a skills matrix and assign priority levels for different levels of certification or experience.

  3. Build job descriptions. Create job descriptions for both existing IT staff and (this is the important part) future hires. Remember to adjust these as needs change.

  4. Bonuses These can be great incentives at SMBs, but how should they be distributed throughout the group? Here's the formula Info-Tech suggests:

    • Senior IT management: 15% of base salary.

    • Other IT management: 7.5% of base salary.
    • Other IT staff: 5% of base salary.
  5. Research salary benchmarks. Information on salary ranges for specific job titles is available from a variety of resources. Make sure to consider your source when looking at salary data.

  6. Understand the competitive environment. For example, local labor conditions may dictate that an organization assign salaries at the top end of benchmark salary ranges. Specific industry experience can also skew benchmark data. For example, an experienced Java programmer with specific knowledge of the pharmaceutical industry will demand a higher salary than one without domain experience.

  7. Determine total compensation from base salary. To determine total compensation, the base wage for employees must be adjusted to reflect benefits. Human resources departments may make organization-specific base-wage-to-total-compensation ratios available.

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