Best 100: How the best places were chosen

For the 11th consecutive year, Computerworld conducted a survey to identify the 100 best places to work for IT professionals.

In November 2003, Computerworld accepted nominations. To qualify, companies, both public and private, had to have 2003 revenue of US$250 million or greater and employ a minimum of 500 people in the U.S., with a minimum of 100 IT employees in the U.S. People submitting nominations were asked to provide the name and contact information of an appropriate individual at their company who was familiar with or had access to employment statistics and financial data, as well as information about benefits policies and programs for the IT department and the company as a whole.

In January 2004, the contacts at the nominated companies received a 100-question survey asking about their organizations' average salary and bonus increases, the percentage of IT employees receiving promotions, IT staff turnover rates, training and development, and the percentage of women and minorities in IT staff and management positions. In addition, information was collected on how the organizations reward outstanding performance, how their retention programs are structured and what benefits they offer, ranging from elder care and child care to flextime and reimbursement for tuition for college and technology certification courses.

All participating companies were required to obtain feedback from their employees. Once the company representatives completed the company survey, they were e-mailed instructions on selecting a random sample of their U.S.-based full- and part-time IT staff to fill out an employee survey. The responses to the employee survey went directly to a third-party research firm. Topics covered in the survey included satisfaction with training and development programs, base salary, bonuses, health benefits and work/life balance. In addition, employees were asked to rate morale in their IT departments and the importance of various benefits; they were also asked to rate the degree to which they agreed with a variety of statements relating to subjects ranging from career growth to management's fair and equal treatment of employees.

Nearly 17,000 IT employees from the final 100 companies responded to the employee survey.

The nomination survey, company survey and employee survey were all conducted via the Internet. The company and employee survey portions of the research ended in February 2004.

In scoring responses from the company and employee surveys, company results were weighted based on the importance ratings that employees provided in their responses to the employee survey.

Approximately half of each company's total score was based on the responses to the employee survey; the remainder was based on the survey of the company's benefits and other programs.

This year's survey process was managed by the IDG Research team of Michele Peoples and Jen McKean.

Keefe and Fanning are the coordinators of the Computerworld Best Places program.

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