May 11, 2020 | Budget, Reports

Can Your School Reduce Hardware?

When faced with budget changes, turn to usage data to make strategic cuts that maximize savings without impacting the student experience.

3 min

With campuses closed and budgets strained, colleges and universities are getting creative and finding new ways to optimize IT budgets and reduce spend. Are you considering cutting hardware to save money? 

Benefits of reducing hardware

  • Save on cleaning and remodeling costs (regularly scheduled sanitation, plexiglass dividers, directional signage, etc.)
  • Save on maintenance costs (power, heating/cooling, network access)
  • Focus staff time on high priority work, rather than routine maintenance of unused computers
  • Move machines to other departments or campuses where needed (doubling savings)
  • Sell unused machines to generate cash in the short-term
  • Loan out or donate unused machines to students in need or staff who are working from home

Risks of reducing hardware

  • Students might lose access to needed resources

How to strategically reduce computers

To ensure that students don’t lose access to necessary computers, review your LabStats usage data to see which computers students rely on, and which computers they rarely or never use. This will help you determine if you can reduce hardware, how many computers can go, and which ones should be the first to be cut.

LabStats Reports 

Steps

  1. Navigate to Reports. Then click Peak Usage History.
  2. Select a date range and include all stations. 
    • Date range: Look for the pattern of usage on campus in the current situation– Start with February 1 – April 30, or any range that reflects when lockdowns went into effect at your institution.
    • All stations: Start with all stations to get an overview of usage across all computers that have LabStats installed. Later on you can run this report on a more detailed level–by department, lab, etc. depending on how your groups and tags are configured.
  3. Examining peak usage should give you a good sense of how many machines you need to support. 
  4. Shut down machines that aren’t needed.
    • Shutting down either entire labs or a selection of machines in open labs to help with social distancing.
  5. Continue to monitor usage. 
    • As new semesters start, restrictions of movement tighten or ease and you are able to publish the availability of resources, usage will change. Run this report daily or weekly to monitor usage and ensure you’re meeting demand.
Peak Usage History

Example

In the example above, peak usage hovered around 80%, or 800 machines. When the campus closed to all non-essential staff, usage dropped to less than 100 machines.

This school could safely reduce in-person availability to 20%, or 200 machines, without negatively impacting students. That leaves 600 computers that don’t need immediate attention, and could possibly be cut altogether, or transitioned into remote-access only machines.

What’s Next

Once you’ve determined the computers you can safely eliminate, start considering what to do with them.

Consider using some machines as dedicated remote access resources. The LabStats Remote Access Tool allows students to access hardware on campus, from the safety of their homes. Remember, remote access sessions are included in LabStats reports. You could turn whole labs into remote-only, or assign every other computer in a lab to be remote-only to aid in social distancing efforts. 

Socially distanced lab at 50% capacity
Socially distanced & remote lab at 100% capacity

Other options include moving machines to departments or campuses who might not have the funds to purchase, selling unused machines to gain revenue, or loaning out or donating unused machines to students in need or staff who are working from home.

This is the time for creative solutions and using data to make strategic budget decisions.