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BEN Reports Frequently Asked Questions

BEN Reports is a web-based application that allows you to run predefined reports against the Data Warehouse as well as link to other University applications (such as BEN Financials) via the web. Reports are organized in the following categories: Financial, Salary Management or Sponsored Programs. BEN Reports is restricted to authorized individuals.

This page provides some frequently asked questions (and answers) about use of BEN Reports, security and authorization, retrieving data, and other features. Please send email to benreports@pobox.upenn.edu for more information, or for help with questions not covered below.


About BEN Reports

What kind of data can I get from BEN Reports?
BEN Reports is a web-based application that allows you to run predefined reports against the Data Warehouse as well as link to other University applications (such as BEN Financials). You may use BEN Reports to retrieve financial information including General Ledger balances and detail, property management assets, as well as Salary Management detail for organizations to which you have access. BEN Reports also provides access to sponsored program information, such as Protocol Status reports and AIS Online. Available reports currently include:

  • Facilities
  • BEN Assets
  • Budget/Actual Variance Reports
  • General Ledger Revenue / Expense Detail
  • RCM Category Comparison
  • Employee Payments by Fund
  • Employee Payments by Individual
  • Position Inventory
  • Protocol Status Report
  • Grant Reporting and Management System (GRAM)
  • Proposal Pipeline
  • AIS Online
For more information about the different reports, please consult the report documentation.

How far back does the data go?
Since BEN Reports are typically based on data stored in the University's Data Warehouse, there is history available, depending upon the type of report. Financial reports incorporate both General Ledger Balances and Detail, which go back to July 1996 (fiscal year 1997). Learning Management has information on trainees who were members of the Penn Community in March, 2005 or thereafter; history data on courses varies depending on the course owner. Employee Payment information is available for accounting periods from July 1996 (fiscal year 1997) on. Protocol Reports display only current protocols for an investigator, and those terminated that have expired within the last year.

Can I construct my own reports? How are new reports added?
BEN Reports provides "canned" reports - that is, pre-structured reports which are run with certain required parameters. The reports are designed to be generally useful, and to meet the needs of as large a group of users as possible. Users can't construct new reports in this environment, but are invited to suggest new reports or enhancements to the existing set to their BEN Rep, or via email to benreports@pobox.upenn.edu. If you do have a need to construct your own queries and format your own reports (this is commonly referred to as "ad hoc" querying), you may want to find out more about access to the Data Warehouse.


Connecting to BEN Reports

When I try to log in to BEN Reports from U@Penn or the BEN Financials log on page, I don't get to the BEN Reports menu.
Your browser is trying to open BEN Reports in a new window. Recent web-browsers with pop-up blocking enabled may consider the windows opened by this process to be pop-ups, and may try to block them from opening. In order to BEN Reports, you may need to adjust your browser settings to allow pop-ups.

I get browser certificate errors when I try to access BEN Reports.
If your browser is having a problem accepting the BEN Reports server security certificate, try the following steps:

  1. At the Security Alert screen, click View Certificate.
  2. Click the Certification Path tab. Double click on "UPenn Certificate Authority".
  3. In the new dialog box (on the General tab) click the Install Certificate button at the bottom.
  4. In certificate import wizard: click Next on the first screen, on the Certificate Store screen, choose Automatic, click Next, click Finish.
  5. A Security Warning alert message will come up:“ You are about to install a certificate…Do you want to install this certificate?” Click Yes. You should get a confirmation of the success of the certificate import.

I keep seeing pop-up boxes warning me about secure and insecure content - how can I eliminate these?.
If you do not wish to see the mixed content alert in Internet Explorer, follow these steps:

  1. Open Internet Explorer. From the top menu, click "Tools > Internet Options".
  2. Click the "Security" tab.
  3. Click the "Custom Level " button.
  4. Scroll down to the "Miscellaneous" section.
  5. Change "Display mixed content" to Enable.

Can I run a BEN Financials report from BEN Reports?
The current BEN Reports and BEN Financials technologies cannot support the execution of BEN Financials reports from the BEN Reports menu, because of differences in the underlying software and in the sorts of report logic best processed by each tool. At present the data for BEN Reports comes from the Data Warehouse, which is not designed to perform report calculations in the way that BEN Financials does.

How do I log off from BEN Reports? No log off is required. We do recommend that you dedicate a browser window for your BEN Reports session (keeping your other Web use in other browser windows), and then simply close that window when you're done with BEN Reports.


PennKey Authentication

What is PennKey Authentication?
A PennKey and password authenticate your use of PennNet and its connection to the Internet. Your PennKey must be unique, and your password must adhere to certain rules that make it difficult for someone else to guess. More information about PennKey is available on the PennKey website.

How do I obtain a PennKey?
Information about registering your PennKey can be found here.


Security and Authorization

I want to be able to run reports for my organization, and also see grant and protocol information where my organization is the Responsible Organization. How can I get access to the data I need?
The data you have access to in the different reports will vary depending upon whether you have BEN Financials and/or Salary Management access, and whether you are the Principal Investigator for an award or protocol. In particular:

Financial and Salary Management Reports
Individuals with access to the BEN Financials and / or Salary Management online systems are granted access automatically to the financial reports to view the data they are authorized to view in BEN Financials and Salary Management. For example, BEN Financials users may run the Budget / Actual Variance Reports for any organizations for which they can perform account inquiry or reporting functions in BEN Financials. Users of BEN Assets may retrieve data automatically from BEN Reports as well. Similarly, users with Salary Management online access will be able to view employee payment detail (where available in the financial reports) and run the Employee Funding and Employee Payment reports for those organizations to which they have access in Salary Management.

Those individuals who do not already have access to these source systems, and who only want to be able to use BEN Reports (rather than BEN Financials and/or Salary Management), must complete BEN Financials Chart of Accounts training along with the BEN Reports Access form (available in PDF format). Chart of Accounts training schedules and registration information are available at http://www.finance.upenn.edu/ftd/.

Protocol Reports
Principal Investigators will be granted access to their own research protocols.

Business Administrators and others with a business need to view protocol status information must request access using the BEN Reports Access form (PDF format).

Grant Reporting and Management System (GRAM)
Principal Investigators will be granted access to their own projects.

Business administrators and others with BEN Financials and Salary Management access will be able to view GRAM reports for organizations in their profiles for those source systems. For example, BEN Financials users may view GRAM reports for those funds managed by any organization (the Responsible Organization for the fund) for which they can perform account inquiry or reporting functions in BEN Financials. Similarly, users with Salary Management online access will be able to view employee payment detail for funds managed by any organization to which they have access in Salary Management.

Other users who are eligible to view grant data for a particular organization, and are authorized to view restricted data, but do not have BEN Financials and Salary Management access, must complete BEN Financials Chart of Accounts training along with the BEN Reports Access form (PDF format). Chart of Accounts training schedules and registration information are available at http://www.finance.upenn.edu/ftd/.

In using the Budget / Actual Variance or RCM Category Comparison reports I can drill down and see the General Ledger detail I need, but, when I try to drill down to employee payment information, I only see the GL transactions there too. What's wrong here?
You may not have Salary Management access for the organization you're viewing. You can only see the employee payment detail if you have online access in the Salary Management system to that organization. You can request that access be granted for you to view additional organizations via BEN Reports by completing the appropriate section on the BEN Reports Access form. If you're not sure which organizations you're already authorized to view, or have other related questions, send email to benreports@pobox.upenn.edu.

I have access to the Salary Management and Payroll systems, but *not* BEN Financials. How can I get access to BEN Reports, and what training, if any, is required?
Users that already have access to the Salary Management system automatically have access to the Salary Management reports in BEN Reports. No access form is needed and no training is required. There is an automated interface with Salary Management security, but not with Payroll security. So, if a user has access to Payroll but not Salary Management, she or he would not automatically have access to Salary Management reports in BEN Reports. These users need to fill out an access form, and if they want access to the general ledger data in BEN Balances (General Ledger) and GRAM, they should attend the Chart of Accounts training as well.

I work with a particular investigator, who wants me to be able to check the status of her protocols. Is this permissible?
Yes. Simply complete section 2D of the BEN Reports Access form by checking "Specific Investigator's protocols" and noting the name of the investigator (multiple names are also allowed) in the space provided. Then pass the form on to your supervisor and school access administrator for their signatures. You'll receive an email notifying you when your requested access has been granted.


Retrieving Data

I'd like to get a training status report using the Learning Management reports. Which one should I use, and how should I do this?
First log in BEN Reports and select Learning Management Reports. Note that you must have already been granted access to the Learning Management (LMS) data in order to retrieve any results. From the LMS Report list select "Current Status of Required and Optional Courses, for the Org./Business Unit“. Training Status Reports can list status of ALL users or list only those that are overdue in completing a course.

To generate a training status report for ALL folks within a Org/Business unit for a specific required course:

  • Use the following Query Options and selection criteria: 
    • Org/Business Unit:  use the search dialog box to select the Org/Business Unit you wish to report on
      (Example: Financial Training Department (UP.8712), Division of Finance Parent (UP.87XX), Law School Parent (UP.56XX))
    • Course Title or Course Master ID is or contains:  Use the list of values to find %Profiler%
      • Note: leaving out the course name would provide the status of ALL required courses for ALL individuals within that Org/Business Unit
    • Course Required Status is: Y

To generate a Training Status Report for users that are overdue:

  • Use the following Query Options and selection criteria:
    • Org/Business Unit: select the Org/Business Unit you wish to report on
    • Course Title or Course Master ID is or contains:  Use the list of values to find %Profiler%
      • Note: leaving out the course name would provide a listing of ALL overdue required courses for ALL individuals within that Org/Business Unit
    • Course Required Status is: Y
    • Course Overdue Status is: Y

I'm getting a "No row returned" message for a report where I know there is data that meets my parameters. What could be causing this?
There are a couple possible causes for this:

  1. Be certain that you have been granted access to view the data retrieved by the report, as all users of BEN Reports can attempt to run any report, but will retrieve no rows for data to which they do not have access.
  2. Be sure you filled out the required parameter fields. If any of the required fields are left blank, the report will be returned with no data. If you’re running a Learning Management report, the directions on the parameter screen indicate which parameters are required; the other parameters are optional. (You do have a choice in the Protocol Status report of either the Principal Investigator or Sponsor name).
  3. Be sure you entered your parameter values in the correct format. For example, the BEN Assets, Learning Management and ISC Billing reports require dates to be entered in the form DD-MON-YYYY. If you enter 12/15/2007 rather than 15-DEC-2007, you will get the “No row returned” message.
  4. You may not have access to the organization for which you're trying to retrieve data. The system will still attempt to run the report for the parameters you select, but, if it checks the security tables and determines that you do not have the proper access, no rows will be returned.
  5. The data is refreshed on a daily basis. For example, if you're expecting to see transactions that were posted in BEN Financials today, you won't see them in BEN Reports until the data is loaded in the Warehouse overnight.

I am trying to download a report into Excel for the first time. I am having trouble because I don't know if I need to download some type of plug-in or something else. I would appreciate it if you could direct me as to how I need to set this up.
Although the default file format for a downloaded report is readable without any conversion necessary by Microsoft Excel, you'll need to associate that application with the file type (which is SYLK, although downloaded files will have a ".SHOW" extension) the first time you download report results (or choose to view without downloading) or open a downloaded file using Netscape. (This process will likely be seamless for Internet Explorer users, or you can follow similar steps to those listed here.)

When you click "Download full results to Excel" you'll likely see a message like "Unknown file type. You have started to download a file of type application/excel" Select "Pick App" from the options provided. Then, in the following window, click "Browse". The "Select an appropriate viewer" window will appear, which you can use to browse the Microsoft Excel application. (If you're not sure where Excel is stored on your PC, check with your Local Support Provider.) Once you've found it, click "Microsoft Excel", and the path will be filled in automatically. Click OK, and then choose whether to open the file or save it to disk.

In the Financial reports, specifically General Ledger Revenue & Expense Inquiry, does only the information that appears on the screen download to Excel?
No, all the information retrieved, based on your parameters, will be downloaded to your Excel spreadsheet, including column headings.

Can I query more than one month at a time?
It depends upon the report - for the General Ledger-based reports (Budget/Actual Variance, RCM Category Actuals and Revenue/Expense), you will only be able to retrieve data for one accoutning period at a time. For the ISC Billing and Employee Payments by Individuals reports, however, you will be able to see more than one month at a time.


Report Concepts

What is RCM?
Responsibility Center Management. If you would like more information, check it out at http://www.upenn.edu/comptroller/rcm/.

What is a wayward transaction?
A wayward transaction occurs when a transaction is processed with an incorrect account combination. Examples would be a transposition of numbers in a segment or using the wrong number in a segment or using a fund with a wrong org combination.

Is there a category for 'Unallowable' items?
No, Responsibility Center Management is not classified that way. GRAM will have the closest thing to what is possibly unallowable.


Training

I don’t currently have access to Salary Management and or BEN Financials, however, I need to obtain access to BEN Reports. What should I do?
You’ll need to attend the Chart of Accounts training session (unless you only need access to Learning Management or protocol data, for which training is not required). The training calendar can be found on the Financial Training Department’s web site.

How frequently are BEN Reports training sessions conducted? How long is the class?
The Chart of Accounts session that is a pre-requisite to attending BEN Reports is also offered every three weeks and is approximately 3 hours long (one half-day session). Chart of Accounts is offered the week of the BEN Reports training session.

I'd like to learn some new ways of manipulating the MS Excel data that I downloaded from BEN Reports, is there a training session?
To learn more about Excel, you can contact the Technology Training Group.


University of Pennsylvania
Last modified:  23 April 2013