For BEN Helps: Dial 6-HELP

Easy access to information is one of the driving goals of the Business Enterprise Network, or BEN, project team. BEN Helps, the new University-wide support service for users of business and financial applications, reflects this goal by providing a single point of contact for your questions about using BEN applications and features. Just dial 6-HELP for BEN Helps.

BEN Helps is easy to use and reliable. Simply dial 6-HELP, enter a two-digit code for your School or Center*, and follow the prompts.

Your call about BEN Financials--BEN Pays (accounts payable), BEN Balances (general ledger), and BEN Buys (purchasing)--will be routed to a Financial Support Provider (FSP) for your School or Center. FSPs, primarily existing staff around the University whose support responsibilities have been formalized, have been trained on the BEN Financials applications and will receive training on all new BEN features and products before they are released to the user community; they have also been trained in customer service skills.

Questions requiring more in-depth attention are escalated by the FSPs to subject matter experts, who will promptly forward, when appropriate, system-related problems and errors to Information Systems and Computing (ISC). In both cases, the FSP who initially took your call is responsible for either relaying the solution to you or letting you know when a system problem has been resolved. Having this single point of contact ensures that no question gets lost in the escalation process and should end any confusion about where to call for help.

FSPs log all calls and record solutions to problems in a shared database, where they can be easily retrieved by other FSPs. The benefits of this shared resource include:

  • BEN Financials users across the University will get consistent and accurate responses.
  • As the database grows, FSPs will be able to draw on it to answer even more complicated questions immediately, and, as a result, spend a smaller proportion of their time researching and recording answers.
  • Knowledge that now resides with a few people will be shared among a larger group and will not be lost or unavailable when, for example, FSPs change jobs or go on vacation.

The process and information in the database will be reviewed to ensure consistency in terminology and procedures, to identify areas potentially requiring additional focus in training sessions, and to target opportunities for service improvement. Frequently asked questions will be posted on the BEN web site- the FAQ section for greater campus access.

Currently, through BEN Helps, you may receive assistance with questions about BEN Reports, travel, as well as BEN Financials. In the future, other areas may be added to the phone menu. When you select BEN Reports or travel from the menu, your call will be routed to either ISC's Data Administration Office or the University's Travel Office--the same people who've always handled these calls.

BEN Helps was put to the test last month during a pilot with two centers and four schools, including the Graduate School of Fine Arts, the School of Arts & Sciences, the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the Wharton School, the Institute of Contemporary Art, and the Division of University Life. The preliminary feedback from both users and FSPs has been positive. Examples of responses from pilot users indicated an increase in the speed with which questions were answered and that the e-mail feedback feature was useful.

FSPs participating in the pilot also saw advantages that will help them provide more timely responses. One noted the advantage of being able to keep track of calls and search the solution database through the Remedy tool. And another appreciated the dual benefit of having a quick and easy way to forward cases to other "experts" when necessary, and then sharing the correct answer when responding to the caller.

The feedback from pilot participants suggests that providing users with easy access to "expertise" and a database to share and expand access to "answers," will be beneficial to those seeking help and those providing it.

BEN users will find BEN Helps to be reliable, responsive, and prompt, since support providers will be able to resolve issues more quickly and thoroughly. Bob Lee, the BEN Helps Administrator, will monitor activities, arrange training for FSPs, and work with all the Schools and Centers to continually enhance services.

"BEN Helps is truly about providing you with improved support and better service," said Mr. Lee. "All you need to do is dial 6-HELP and ask your question."

--Stephen Stines and Marion Campbell, BEN Program Managers

*Note: School and Center codes are listed in a brochure being distributed shortly to all BEN users. The School and Center two-digit codes are also available on the web at

Almanac, Vol. 47, No. 27, March 27, 2001