BankAmerica Corp.'s consumer finance group on Monday completed the first phase of a $1 million installation of help-desk software for employees' technical problems.

The aim is to get them resolved with one phone call 85% of the time.

HelpDesk, from Vantive Corp. of Santa Clara, Calif., will support 7,000 employees who provide technical assistance to the $30 billion-asset consumer finance group.

The installation signals the importance that the new BankAmerica, created when North Carolina-based NationsBank Corp. merged with the old California-based BankAmerica Corp., is placing on the smoothness of internal operations.

"This HelpDesk application touches all internal people," said Andrew J. Krcik, director of corporate marketing at Vantive. "Often, companies focus on the external but underinvest in technology for their internal people."

Twenty-six employees in Jacksonville, Fla., Atlanta, and Dallas will use the software to handle more than 30,000 calls a month. They will use it to support eight consumer finance divisions across the nation, fielding calls 12 hours a day Monday through Friday.

"The help desk is the single and first point of contact for employees' technical needs and desktop applications," said Casey Jones, vice president of client delivery for Bank of America Technology and Operations Inc. Installation and configuration of the software was performed by Impact Innovations Group Inc.

The installation team identified potential problems with software and hardware and worked with end users to come up with frequently asked questions. All this information is logged into a data base.

Help-desk analysts taking calls can tap into the data base to view the details of various types of problems and guide users through specific steps to rectify them. End users will also be able to look up a "trouble ticket" on the corporate intranet and track problem resolution in real-time, Mr. Jones said.

"The vision is to have that type of functionality with a complete Web- deliverable solution," he said. "It's just a matter of time."

Currently, 40% of the 7,000 employees have Web browsers on their desktops and so can look up the trouble ticket on-line.

"We'll do our best to troubleshoot to see where the problem is, and then we'll build in escalation paths if we can't solve the problem," Mr. Jones said.

Before the software installation, employees had received technical support from the NationsBank "national desk."

The consumer finance group of BankAmerica consists of dealer financial services, auto leasing, NationsCredit Corp., Equicredit Corp., manufactured housing lending, distribution finance, and specialty lending.

Vantive added 95 customers in the first half. Financial services customers include Aetna International, Charles Schwab, Chase Manhattan, Fidelity Investments, and J.P. Morgan.

Mr. Jones said BankAmerica chose Vantive because "we needed something that would give a high level of functionality out of the box with ease of customization."

"It had to be scalable, portable, and ready for corporate intranet deployment,"he said.

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