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University Asset Management System: BEN Assets
July 17, 2007, Volume 54, No. 1

At an institution as large and diverse as Penn, the management of physical assets is an enormous and complicated responsibility.  Assets valued at $5,000 or more, ranging from buildings to microscopes to pianos must be tracked from the time they are purchased to the time they are retired. In between, they may be moved, sold, depreciated, lost, etc. Their location, value, custodianship, disposition, and other information must be kept up-to-date and available to University financial administrators, auditors, project sponsors, and others with a need to know.
Last fall, the Division of Finance, in collaboration with Information Systems and Computing, kicked off a project to enhance the overall management of the University’s property, plant, and equipment assets. The project includes the redesign of business processes to improve the stewardship and management of University-owned assets, along with the implementation of BEN Assets, a new software system to replace the existing Property Management system.

BEN Assets will enable more efficient and timely recording, tracking, depreciation, and retirement of University assets. The new system will be integrated with several other University systems enabling more accurate and consistent data and eliminating redundant data entry.  BEN Assets will also give the user community easier access to asset information via enhanced functionality and improved reporting capabilities, enabling more efficient management of University assets.

Representatives from Schools and Centers were involved at the project inception to ensure that BEN Assets and the new business processes will meet the diverse and often-complex local needs. The project team examined existing processes for recording and tracking assets and developed requirements and “to-be” process flows. In addition, the roles and responsibilities for the overall asset management process have been refined and the number of property management codes used to categorize assets reduced dramatically.  The Schools and Centers will continue to be consulted as development continues.

In early fall 2007, the user community will begin to see some benefits from this multi-phase project: the first release of the BEN Assets project will provide links with the University’s payroll, space management, and purchasing systems, enabling automatic validation of location and custodial information when Ben Buys users create requisitions for new assets.  Automatic validation will improve data integrity and consistency across systems and reduce the risk of assigning assets to invalid locations or individuals.

The remaining phases of the project will be completed in the spring of 2008. Stay tuned for future communications on the BEN Assets project and training requirements. If you have any questions or concerns, please direct them to BENassets@pobox.upenn.edu.

—BEN Assets Team

Almanac - July 17, 2007, Volume 54, No. 1