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July 2, 2003

PeopleSoft Peer Mentors Now on Call

Now that PeopleSoft has "gone live," the first users of the system are taking what they've been learning in training and putting it to use back at their desks. As with any change, there are some feelings of fear and trepidation as PeopleSoft becomes a part of the way we do business at UMBC.

"I'm scared to death!" was just one of the concerned comments from a new PeopleSoft user. Fortunately, the group has a safety net in PeopleSoft Peer Mentors -- a much-welcomed first line of support for new PeopleSoft users.

"Trust me, we all are," replied UMBC CIO Jack Suess, who, along with OIT, Human Resources and Finance staff, have been working overtime to get PeopleSoft off the ground. "There's a lot of angst. It'll take patience and perseverance on everyone's part until we can shake the kinks out."

Peer mentors actually have two different roles. Over the last few months, mentors were trained and helped put the system through it paces, in order to offer constructive criticism and identify issues to provide better training. The second role is to answer questions or help refer users to a contact in OIT, Human Resources or Finance, or, for less time-sensitive questions, the online support form. (Training for all users will be available throughout the summer.)

Administrators hope the peer mentors will provide some relief during an understandably stressful time. "One support hotline would not be enough," says Nancy Young, a member of the Delta Initiative Committee and director of Residential Life. "We've been able to make a number of 'fixes' through peer mentor feedback. They've made an incredibly positive difference to the process."

Peer mentors like Cathy Kafer, administrative assistant in the Department of Theatre, say that OIT and others have been listening well to feedback and making good progress with needed changes. Kafer indicates that patience will be important to the success of the project. "It's ultimately been positive, but it will take time to get there. It's always that way with change.

"This is powerful accounting software that some people aren't accustomed to and a lot of people don't feel they have the computer skills to use it," Kafer adds. "However, once you get the skills behind you it's user friendly. I think it's awesome, but there will be kinks."

Tim Sparklin, peer mentor and research services administrator in the Dean's Office, College of Arts and Sciences, agrees that PeopleSoft becomes easier to use with experience. "The reason I became a peer mentor was two-fold: one, to be on the forefront of this revolutionary project for UMBC but more importantly to be a resource on campus to assist in its implementation. As one of the first to be trained to use PeopleSoft, I got easily confused and am still. But, by repeating tasks, using the system and practice, practice, practice, comfort levels and user-friendliness will increase. Spending the time, finding the patience and maintaining the support of each other (especially in these days) is important to the success of working at UMBC and with using PeopleSoft."

Click here for a list of PeopleSoft Peer Mentors. For more information on PeopleSoft, go to

Posted by dwinds1 at July 2, 2003 12:00 AM