Curbing Software Costs in Higher Education

June 28, 2024 |  Budget, Data, Data Mistakes
3 min

By leveraging strategies such as executive relationships, timing, and accurate usage data, colleges and universities can optimize software licensing and reduce unnecessary expenditures.

Software costs have risen significantly for colleges and universities. Well-intentioned CIOs are struggling to meet the needs of a large user base with complex software needs and a dwindling budget. 

There are multiple strategies to negotiate software licenses. According to a recent presentation shared via NERCOMP and EDUCAUSE, the following strategies can create leverage when negotiating software deals:

  • Executive relationships
  • Existing and future commitments
  • Timing
  • Benchmarks
  • Publicity
  • Opportunity to gain experience 

What’s missing from this list of strategies? Usage data.

Accurate software usage data can revolutionize how IT teams optimize software licensing and reduce unnecessary expenditures. Colleges and universities rely on LabStats to gain deep insights into software utilization, providing them with the knowledge to make informed decisions during software license negotiations.

“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

This article explores effective strategies for enhancing software licensing and deployment with LabStats, illustrating how institutions can harness data to transform higher education software management. Whether IT departments are navigating the complexities of software renewals or striving for more cost-effective operations, LabStats offers solutions tailored to the unique needs of higher education institutions.

Challenge 1: Site-wide licenses and blanket deals 

Busy CIOs often purchase site-wide licenses to cover all potential users within the institution. These blanket deals ensure that every student has the tools they need for learning, simplify the procurement process, and create predictable budget cycles. 

However, these large-scale deals eat up precious budget dollars. Over time, institutions end up paying for unused licenses year after year, while other projects go unfunded due to budget restraints. 

Conducting periodic license audits is crucial for efficient software management. LabStats data can help prevent over-purchasing and minimize waste.

Start by analyzing the maximum concurrent usage (the number of instances where the same applications are used simultaneously) of high-end software for maximum budget impact.

Consider these strategies when analyzing software usage data:

  • When maximum concurrent usage is low: If the maximum concurrent usage throughout the semester is significantly below the total number of licenses, IT teams can reduce the number of licenses, freeing up budget resources for other needs.
  • When maximum concurrent usage is high: If the maximum concurrent usage is consistently high and approaches the total number of licenses, a detailed analysis is necessary. Examine individual computer labs and classrooms to identify those with the highest demand, considering variables like lab location and hours of operation.

Challenge 2: Blind Software Deployment 

Higher ed IT teams may conduct surveys or consult with faculty to determine which software is essential for various courses and create a plan for where it should be deployed.

Although this qualitative data is valuable, it’s limited. Quantitative data, such as current software usage per location, is necessary to optimize software deployment. 

LabStats provides location-based software usage data, along with discoverability tools for ongoing software optimization. 

LabStats’ discoverability tools, including LabMaps and the Remote Access Dashboard, direct users to underutilized computer labs or virtualized resources. These tools help students and faculty quickly locate the necessary software (either in person or virtually) while enabling institutions to precisely match software availability with demand.

The enhanced API endpoints in LabStats can also be used to develop navigation apps compatible with an institution’s mobile app. By using the address or GPS coordinates from the college’s or university’s technology center and the default map application on students’ mobile phones, a seamless experience is ensured.

Proven Savings with Usage Data

When software contracts come up for renewal, use LabStats data to negotiate more favorable terms. Demonstrating data-driven usage patterns can lead to significant cost savings.

For instance, at a large commonwealth university, LabStats data proved that less than 5 percent of enrolled students used any Adobe Suite product in a given year. The staff used this data to negotiate a $300,000 reduction in its Adobe bill.

LabStats, trusted by thousands of colleges and universities worldwide, can monitor hundreds of software applications, providing valuable data for CIOs. By implementing these strategies and leveraging data-driven insights from LabStats, higher education institutions can enhance software licensing and deployment, resulting in cost savings, improved resource allocation, and a more efficient IT environment tailored to the unique needs of each institution.

Work With Us

LabStats specializes in helping IT leaders reduce spend and get their budgets right.

Start your free trial