Software Procurements (01.19.22)

This week we want to cover the often misunderstood and complicated world of software procurement. Software can be a complicated item to buy due to the risks that it can present to the University.  Depending on whether the software is licensed, hosted on site, or software as a service, the risks can include exposure of sensitive University data, accessibility issues, potential payment issues (if the software is processing credit cards), whether it is used in a classroom or teaching setting, export compliance, and many other potential risks.  For these risk to be mitigated through the procurement process software purchases are processed in a very specific way – let's review how this takes place. 

 

Prior to beginning the software procurement process you may want to visit Software at Penn State.  They have access to a variety of software titles, including subject-specific items.  The Lion Marketplace Software Store might also be checked to see if what you are looking for is available there.  These locations offer software that has already been vetted by the University and can generally be bought in a faster manner than the traditional software procurement process. 

 

If the software you are looking to buy is not available through the above means, you should consult the Procurement Software page for details and resources on working through the software procurement process.  We’ll review these items here:

 

  1. 1.  All new software procurements (regardless of dollar value) that DO NOT get processed through Software at Penn State or the Software Store should  start with a Software Request Form (SRF). This form gathers information about the software so that potential risks can be successfully identified and any software agreement can be routed to the appropriate office for review.  The Software Request Form Checklist can help you decide what information you may need to complete the request form. 

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  1. 2.  Once the SRF has been completed, the software purchase, along with any supporting documentation (software agreement, etc.), should be routed either with the Shop OnLion Shopping Cart (if paying with a PO), to [email protected] if paying with a P-Card, or if there is no cost to the University, to [email protected]. 

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Other Considerations for Software 

 

  1. 1.  Signature Authority and Delegation for Electronic Terms: Very few individuals at Penn State have authority to sign contracts or agreements, including software agreements.  If you have not been granted specific signing authority you are not permitted to sign on behalf of the University.  Additional information on signing authority can be found in Policy FN11.  Additionally, end users are not permitted to accept the electronic terms or electronic agreements presented in a software package unless they have delegation to do so.  A delegation does not give signing authority, it is simply approval for the user to click through the electronic terms or agreement.  Additional information is available in FNG02. 

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  1. 2.  Courseware: Courseware is broadly defined as a software or digital application used by students or educators in a class.  Courseware requires added reviews to ensure it meets the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and accessibility requirements.  Additional information on Courseware can be found at courseware.psu.edu  

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  1. 3.  Canvas Integrations: If integrations or enhancements are needed to Canvas, the University’s Learning Management System, a separate request to that group may be needed.  Additional information can be found in the Integrations and Enhancements section of the Canvas website. 

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  1. 4.  Additional information on data security is available in Policy AD95.  If you need assistance determining the classification of data, you can refer to this security website for assistance. 

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  1. 5.  Information on Accessibility concerns is available in Policy AD96. 

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  1. 6.  Information regarding Export Compliance considerations can be found on their website or in their FAQs. 

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The software procurement process can be complicated to navigate, but if you plan ahead and allow enough time for reviews, the process can go ahead with minimal stress and aggravation.  As always, if you have any questions about software, the process, or need guidance on how to proceed with a particular purchase, please reach out to the Purchasing Agent or Assistant in charge of that area.