Alleviate Budget Pressure Across Campus with Data

October 17, 2023 |  BI Reports, Budget
4 min

Hardware and software usage data can be the key to alleviating budget pressure, but you need to know where to look.

CIOs face budget pressure from a myriad of sources. Data, especially hardware and software usage data, can help relieve some of that pressure by taking the politics out of decision making.

Many institutions track computer lab and student-facing machines, but that’s only part of the technology picture on campus. Other stakeholders may be requesting computers, software, and more, draining the IT budget, without ever using it.

Consider how each of the following users may interact with hardware and software differently:

  • Students
  • Faculty 
  • Staff
  • The public

In this article we will dive into each one to learn the benefits of monitoring computer usage across the entire campus with LabStats.

What is LabStats?

LabStats is a lightweight, cloud-based product that’s easy to deploy campus-wide and generates quick reports in a variety of formats. University IT teams can invest a nominal amount of time deploying the LabStats client system-wide, and start collecting usage data immediately. 

LabStats can easily monitor hundreds of software applications, and also covers version changes for the most common applications. Through working with thousands of universities around the world, LabStats has dialed into a majority of the software applications that most schools have in common, and it’s easy to select categories and applications to track during the initial setup. 

IT teams can choose to configure internal LabStats report settings, export data to Power BI templates, or utilize the LabStats API to funnel data into their own data analysis tools. After this small initial investment, usage data is organized in your institution’s preferred way. 

Hardware and software usage reports help university IT teams make data-driven decisions, focus technology resources where students need them most and reduce overall spend. Higher education CIOs use LabStats to:

  1. Reduce software costs by right-sizing licenses to meet student demand
  2. Reallocate computers to areas of high demand
  3. Help students find available computers and software on campus
  4. Streamline staff hours and scheduling
  5. Analyze ROI on accessibility and technology resources
  6. Share data-driven insights with diverse teams

Understanding how student-facing computers are used

Student-facing computers may include computer labs, classroom computers, libraries and more. Keeping your finger on the pulse of student needs and available resources enables you to proactively manage campus tech and improve the student experience.

Benefits of monitoring student-facing computers

  • Compare the popularity of different software applications and computer specs to inform budget decisions
  • Notice trends and adjust proactively when resources fall out of favor or are in high demand
  • Verify that ADA resources are available and used to prevent liability exposure
  • Direct students to resources they need
  • Attract students with cutting edge technology

Risks of not monitoring student-facing computers

  • Basing initiatives and expenses on educated guesses and estimations
  • Limited ability to plan strategically
  • Deployment of software is either everywhere (site/enterprise license) or potentially unavailable to the students that need it
  • No way to know if newer software packages are becoming more popular than the traditional software
  • No way to assess the burden of “free” software on the network
  • No way to verify if you have the right balance of accessibility resources

In short, monitoring student-facing computers enables IT staff to understand student needs and better serve all students. 

Understanding how faculty computers are used

Professors typically receive blanket solutions for hardware and refresh schedules, regardless of what they really need. However, usage data can inform more specific solutions to ensure every professor, TA and faculty member has the hardware and software they need most.

Benefits of monitoring faculty computers

  • Right-size resources
  • Provide wish-list tech
  • Verify appropriate usage
  • Find out if faculty prefer a particular hardware setup over another, such as desktop vs. laptop PCs and possibly reduce hardware they don’t use
  • Adjust the refresh schedule according to usage to keep heavy users happy and save money on rarely used equipment
  • Provide a teacher-viewer login to run reports on specific classroom activity

Understanding how staff computers are used

Staff computers are the computers in the administration office, those used by library staff, student center workers, counselors or other staff on campus.

Benefits of monitoring staff computers

  • Verify the need for software, especially expensive software
  • Clean up software images so staff only have what’s needed
  • Simplify refresh schedules
  • Improve the accuracy of IT resource planning in annual budgets

Understanding how public computers are used

It’s important to understand how public-facing resources are used on campus. 

Benefits of tracking public use computers

  • Maximize budget by understanding where and how computers are used
  • Increase IT department efficiency by aligning service time-spend with hardware use
  • Improve user experience by right-sizing available software and hardware according to use
  • Understand multi-use and shared spaces to plan for future growth
  • Verify that appropriate software is installed
  • Clearly understand opportunities to maximize resources by using classroom labs for dual use: open lab access during non-classroom hours
  • Understand opportunities to expand resources without adding infrastructure
  • Enable focused resource rollouts for class specific software

Whether the usage data comes from student, faculty, staff or public computers, LabStats provides three easy ways to analyze the data. 

Analyzing Data with LabStats Reports

LabStats reports are easy to use and understand, and can be produced with just a few clicks. LabStats reports give IT teams decision-enabling data without a burdensome ongoing time investment. Settings are easy to reconfigure if you want data organized in a different way, and LabStats technical support ensures that time spent troubleshooting is minimal. 

Analyzing Data with LabStats Power BI Templates

LabStats’ Power BI Software Usage and Computer Usage Templates are a quick-start option to data analysis at scale. There are two templates:

  • Software Usage Template – Manage and optimize license expenditures with knowledge of when, where, and how applications are used
  • Computer Usage Template – Make meaningful location and allocation decisions with knowledge of where and when hardware is used

Combined with a full LabStats deployment, these Power BI templates tell the story behind every device and application, supporting organization-wide goal achievement.

Supercharging Results with the LabStats API

The LabStats API is a powerful system that allows communication between LabStats and institution-owned business intelligence applications and tools. The ability to connect these separate systems is incredibly powerful and allows organizations to integrate data collected by LabStats into their own systems and processes to achieve new capabilities, automate processes, and more.

With campus-wide data insights from LabStats, CIOs and IT teams now have the opportunity to increase faculty and staff satisfaction, improve IT department budget efficiency, and verify that user needs are met without overspending.

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