Rethinking Computer Lab Software Tracking

June 18, 2021 |  Budget
3 min

Software tracking is an essential tool for IT professionals looking to optimize spend and improve the student experience.

IT in higher education is evolving quickly. Since the overnight switch to remote learning and the essential rebuilding of campus technology resources, providing technology resources to students is no longer as simple as installing high end software on machines in computer labs. IT teams need to be able to adapt to changing campus environments quickly. 

Software tracking is an essential tool for IT professionals looking to optimize spend and improve the student experience.

Software Usage Data

Software usage reports can help CIOs and IT leaders understand how students are using applications across campus.

LabStats’ software usage reports can help you understand a wide variety of data.

With the Application Summary, you can see a list of application names with the number of times each application has been launched, number of stations it’s been launched on, number of unique users, total, average and focus times, and first and last launch times. Focus time is the amount of time the application is actively used, rather than just running in the background.

The Application Launch History report has multiple reports in one: Total Usage, Launch Count, Average Session Length and Max Concurrent Usage (use the blue arrows to navigate). These reports can help you compare how similar applications are used to see if one application is gaining favor over another and can help you decide if your current license count is a good fit for actual utilization.

The Application Usage History report is a graph showing the utilization percentage of an application over time. This report can help you understand how an application is used over time. 

With the Application Sessions report, you can see a non-aggregated list that shows each time an application is launched and how long it is used.

Related: LabStats 101: Reports Overview

Reducing Software Strategically

Universities waste tens of thousands of dollars every year on software that students aren’t using. Tracking software usage is especially important if software licenses are a large portion of your IT budget, or if the programs were gifted. Consider what this professor shared:

“We had no way to track the usage of programs in our labs. Many of our programs were either gifted to us or supported by alumni, so being able to report on their usage was critical. We needed a program that allowed us to track usage in an easy-to-use-format.”

Anne Anderson, Associate Professor, Lehigh University

After reviewing software usage data provided by LabStats, Brian Soule reported:

“We’re cutting a certain application from 203 licenses to 25, saving us around $10,000.”

Brian Soule, Lab Coordinator, University of Southern Mississippi 

Here are 3 ways to make sure you’re not overpaying for software:

  1. Compare software licenses installed to licenses used
  2. Identify where each type of software is most used
  3. Set up alerts and tags to continue monitoring software use
Related: Are You Overpaying for Software?

Software Discoverability

In a recent LabChats Podcast episode, we spoke with Larissa Hale, a student at Utah State University about her experience using campus resources.

“In my multimedia class, we use a lot of Audacity, Photoshop, and Adobe Premiere to do multiple projects. I don’t have that software on my laptop because it’s really expensive, and it’s not provided for us. So I have to go on campus to use those programs because they provide it on the desktops in the library and other computers on campus.

My teacher’s direction was simply: “the desktops on campus will have Adobe Premiere,” but it’s hit or miss. You have to just figure out which ones have it and which ones don’t.”

Larissa Hale, Student, Utah State University
Related: S1:E9 Larissa Hale & Zachary Boyd – Students’ perspective on campus tech resources

Larissa’s experience is not uncommon. Universities provide students with the software they need, but don’t always provide a way for them to access the software easily. LabStats provides three ways to ensure students have easy access to the software they need:

  • LabMaps – Add a list of priority software to a computer lab map displayed on digital signage or your school website.
  • LabFind – Direct students to labs with specialty software via a mobile app.
  • Remote Access Dashboard – Help students remotely connect to computers that have expensive software installed.

Higher ed IT teams need to make use of software monitoring in order to adapt to the changing needs of students and fluctuating budgets. LabStats can help. Schedule a walkthrough to learn more about LabStats computer lab monitoring software.

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