Seeking to improve users' comprehension of its banking software, Automated Financial Systems Inc. has introduced an electronic reference guide for its line of lending software.

Automated Financial of Exton, Pa., has launched a software product called Performance Support System, that is designed to work with the company's Level III and II Plus lending software running on International Business Machines Corp. mainframe computers.

More than 55 banks use the lending programs.

According to Pam Nolf, manager of product information at Automated Financial Systems, the new product functions less as an on-line reference manual and more as a computerized "coach" because the system is able to read specific information from any given display screen and provide appropriate and specific backup information.

Long Search Eliminated

For example, if a user has a query about an interests rate, he or she brings the cursor to the item in question, hits a hot key, and a window will appear on the screen.

The Performance Support System will only bring up information that relates to interest and it won't force the user to sort through pages of irrelevant data.

In addition, the Performance Support System enables users to transfer codes and other information from the help window directly into an application screen, eliminating the need to take handwritten notes, thus reducing the possibility of error.

Ms. Nolf expects that the system will help banks reduce training costs. "Banks spend a lot of money training their employees to understand their systems, she said.

Performance Is Improved

"Our research indicates that most employees only remember about 40% of what they learn at a [given] session. Performance Plus provides immediate specific answers while users are working in an actual application. It's value-added, on-the-job training."

The first bank to purchase Performance Support System is First Citizen's Bank, a $6-billion asset institution based in Raleigh, N.C. They plan to introduce it to bank employees in February 1993.

Vicky Teague, a senior development analyst at First Citizen's, said that the system would cut down on confusion as well as the help branch employees who may not have had a great deal of computer experience.

Ms. Sullivan is reference writer based in New York.

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