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Gearing Up for BEN Financials

BEN Financials, the comprehensive upgrade of FinMIS, is scheduled for launch on January 2, 2002*. The cutover to BEN Financials is to begin on December 19, to overlap with the Winter Break and minimize disruption to operations. During this time, the purchasing, payables, and general ledger functions that FinMIS provides will be unavailable. However, other financial systems like Payroll will be unaffected. When the cutover to BEN Financials is complete, BEN Buys, BEN Pays, and BEN Balances--the new versions of the FinMIS purchasing, payables, and general ledger functions--will be in place, and FinMIS will no longer be operational.

Although the upgrade primarily affects current FinMIS users, it will also affect many others indirectly. (For planning advice, please see the sidebar at right.) We encourage all faculty and staff to keep abreast of important dates and activities occurring this semester to gear up for BEN Financials.

BEN FinancialsAt-a-Glance
The web-based BEN Financials will offer many new and improved capabilities to make it easier to conduct business at Penn. These are some of the enhancements that build on what users already know:

  • A fresh, graphical look and feel, making the system easier to use,
  • Convenient new features, such as the ability to export data shown on screen in spreadsheet format to Excel, and
  • The "grand opening" of the Penn Marketplace, the new electronic commerce capability of BEN Buys. Users will be able to shop for supplies, materials, and equipment from a collection of electronic catalogs featuring tens of thousands of Penn-specific items marketed by dozens of our leading suppliers, available at contracted prices.

BEN Teaches
In line with the BEN Project's commitment to community readiness, the Financial Training Department (FTD) has developed BEN Teaches, a new training program featuring:

  • Self-directed, online prerequisite courses for BEN Buys and BEN Balances. The prerequisites provide a thorough understanding of the business processes that the applications support. Users can complete them at their convenience through October 19.
  • Hands-on classes tailored for BEN Financials responsibilities, taught by trainers who know both the Penn environment and the applications. Current users must complete classroom training by December 19 to access BEN Financials after the January 2 launch.
  • Plenty of hands-on exercises, both in class and to be done independently, after attending class.

BEN Teaches provides a comprehensive introduction to BEN Financials, addressing procedures and policies as well as system navigation and use. The combination of targeted classroom sessions with online prerequisites and post-class practice sessions offers not only convenience and flexibility, but minimizes time away from the office.

Users will be supported throughout the transition by BEN Helps Financial Support Providers (FSPs), who will be among the first groups trained. Users should dial 6-HELP (215-746-4357) for assistance.

Online Guide to BEN Teaches
To register for classroom training:

To complete the knowledge-building BEN Buys and BEN Balances prerequisites:

To review desktop hardware and software requirements:

To stay abreast of the latest news, updates, and FAQs:

Special Thanks
The BEN Project Team wishes to acknowledge the invaluable contributions of users and advisory groups to the development of BEN Financials and appreciates everyone's cooperation throughout the various stages of the project. We ask for your continued support this semester, as your colleagues juggle their day-to-day responsibilities while completing the required BEN Financials training.

Thank you, and welcome back to a new academic year.

BEN Project Owners
Robin H. Beck, Vice President, Information Systems and Computing
Kenneth B. Campbell, Comptroller
Michael J. Masch, Vice President, Budget and Management Analysis

Robert Michel, Director, Acquisition Services

Plan Ahead for BEN Financials Upgrade
FinMIS will be unavailable beginning at 8 p.m. on December 19, 2001. On January 2, 2002, BEN Financials will be in place, and FinMIS will no longer be operational. Faculty, staff, and researchers may be affected by this scheduled downtime, and we ask that you plan accordingly.

Grants. We encourage you to work earlier on grants that require closing activities in December, because of a slightly shorter than usual close-out period.

Purchasing. Please review your purchasing needs and issue required purchase orders before December 19. The Procurement Credit Card can be used for purchasing, where appropriate, while the system is unavailable.

Purchasing Emergencies. The Acquisition Services staff will be available on campus during the Winter Break to assist you with emergency procurement; please contact the appropriate procurement specialist for commodity-related assistance.

Speak with your School or Center's BEN Representative if you have questions. The BEN Project Team appreciates your cooperation during this transition.

* Scheduled release date is January 2, based on current understanding of availability and performance of the software products from the various vendors from whom we purchased applications. We have every expectation that all software releases, testing and training components of the upgrade will support this release date.

Almanac, Vol. 48, No. 2, September 4, 2001



September 4, 2001
Volume 48 Number 2

Dr. Arthur H. Rubenstein--an accomplished physician, diabetes researcher and academic leader--is the new EVP for UPHS and dean of the School of Medicine.
Dr. Anita A. Summers, professor emeritus, is the University's new Ombudsman.
Robin H. Beck is now vice president of ISC.
The French Institute has a new director: Dr. Jean H. Gallier, professor of CIS.
The annual Undergraduate Admissions seminars for Penn families with college-bound children take place today and Thursday.
It is time to plan ahead for BEN Financials, the new way to do business at Penn.
A report to the President and Provost Concerning Services to Students with Disabilities includes a dozen recommendations.
Responding to suspicious packages and bomb scares
Some Penn researchers are studying brain injury, cancer cells, firearm violence, and software development while others are finding a new dinosaur.