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HomeComputing Services: Helphelpdeskdocumentation → Computing Services: Updating contacts on the web (COW)

Updating Contacts On the Web (COW)

What is COW?

COW is the system which allows contact details for people at the University of Bath to be maintained. This data is displayed in Person Finder on the University of Bath website.

COW is due to be replaced with an entirely new web application around May 2012. Various changes were made to COW on 1st December 2011 to prepare for this, and to support the adoption of new processes approved by VCG.

Responsibility for maintaining the contacts directory is given to Designated Maintainers in each department (academic and non-academic). These individuals are only able to amend contact details for their own departments (and any sub-units) and must be approved by the Head of Department to carry out this role.

Important documents

The following documents relate to the new policy for non-payroll roles from 1st December 2011:

Updating details for existing people

Log in to COW using your BUCS username and password.

Searching for names

The default is to search for staff. If you wish to search for a student, select "all" in the drop-down box to the right of the search box. Please note that if you are searching for ex-staff and they have a current student status you will not find them unless you select "all".

Type the surname. COW returns all people in the selected category whose surname matches the given text. This search is case- and diacritic- (accent) insensitive, so that searching for 'chate' will return 'Chaté' and vice versa.

The wildcard character % may be used to substitute for any letters in any search term. Thus it is possible to search for all surnames which include text by using the % in front of some text. For example, %ington should return Billington and Harrington.

If the name you have entered occurs in the database more than once, the system will display all the names that you have to choose from, together with their person code, status and department. To view or edit a record click on the person code.

Viewing all your payroll staff

Click the "List Payroll Staff" button to list all people with payroll entries within your area (or other areas but who also have a role you control). This displays a hierarchical list of all the Organisational Units you are Directory Maintainer for at the top of the page, which you can click to narrow the search (click the "Reset list" link to widen it again). Below this is a list of all the matching people, with links to edit their details as on the search page.

Viewing all people with non-payroll roles

Click the "List Non-Payroll" button to list all people with non-payroll roles that you control. This displays a hierarchical list similar to that for payroll people. NB: You may get a few people showing up on the list of non-payroll staff that are actually on the payroll, but not in the same department as the role you have permission to edit. The list errs on the side of showing too many people, rather than too few, as it is intended to provide a list of records to check.

Changing a record

Type in the new details and click on the "Save Changes" button to accept and save the record.

When staff member or student details are displayed on screen, fields which you do not have access to are displayed in bold. For example the full name of a payroll staff member is "owned" by Human Resources and can't be changed by a COW maintainer. (This is not the case for a non-payroll member of staff who has been entered by a COW maintainer. In that case the COW maintainer will have access to the name details.)


A new role may be added by clicking the button labeled 'Add New Role'. You may add as many roles as you wish. Roles may represent genuinely separate roles, or the same role but in more than one location. Where a role is in the same (or a child of the same) department as a Trent job, the system will merge the data when it is populating the LDAP. This is how Person Finder 'Job' roles obtain phone numbers, locations, descriptions, etc.

When adding a new non-payroll role from 1st December 2011 the relevant authorisation must be seen and hardcopy kept for audit purposes. The correct role type must be selected from the drop-down list, an appropriate expiry/renewal date must be set, and the 'Supporting material viewed and maintained' tick box must be ticked to confirm that the correct process has been followed.

By May 2012 all existing roles will also need to have supporting material viewed and maintained, and a relevant role type and date set. Any that don't will have a short (~ 2 months) expiry set when the data is migrated to the new system so that you will be prompted to review them.

Research Postgraduates

Checking the 'Research Postgraduate Role' box will cause the information entered into the role to be merged into the student's SAMIS-sourced student role, allowing location, phone numers and description to be combined with the course data from SAMIS. The full implementation of this requires some changes to Person Finder which will happen during the first half of 2011. In the mean time, an additional non-payroll role will be displayed with the title 'Research Postgraduate', and the role information will be prevented from merging with any old job role in the same department that happens to be lurking on the system, as has happend hitherto. Thus there will be an improved appearance in Person Finder and improved data consistency even in advance of the Person Finder changes.

When the system comes to process the role it will delete it if it can't find a current research-postgraduate SAMIS record in the same department as the role.

Role Title

This is a required field for non-payroll roles.
For payroll roles, data entered in COW is merged with data from iTrent for display in Person Finder and the job title from iTrent will overwrite anything entered in this field.


This is a required field.
You can only assign a department if it is part of the departmental hierarchy that you are set up to administer.


Select the Building from the drop-down menu. This will populate the Level drop-down, and once you have picked the level the Room drop-down will be populated. Then select the room from the Room drop-down. To help with this the drop-down shows both the room number and any category/name assigned to it by Estates. When displayed in Person Finder a more aesthetic version will be displayed, with correct capitalisation of the building and in most cases only the room number shown. For certain specific category/name values this text (or a modified version of it) will be used in place of the room number, for instance '2 SOUTH C0.2 - RECEPTION' will be displayed as '2 South Reception'. To discuss which text values are displayed in place of the room number please email directory@bath.ac.uk.

The data is drawn from Archibus, the University's Estates system. If there are missing or incorrect rooms or buildings then please email the address listed at the bottom of the COW page so that Estates can correct their records.

There are a few buildings on the list that are not University buildings, such as the Holburne Museum and the Wolfson Lab. These are distinguished in the Buildings drop-down by being in mixed case (all the Archibus ones are in block capitals). When selected these buildings do not populate the Level or Room drop-downs, and will be displayed in Person Finder as just the building. In all other cases COW will not let you enter a partial location - building, level and room must be either all set or all clear.

If someone has more than one location then it may be most convenient to set up multiple roles, each covering one location.

The first entry on the Building drop-down is 'No Location'. This should be used to indicate that the role genuinely has no location that can be entered, and will help distiniguish these cases from cases where the location data is simply missing. Person Finder will not display the text 'No Location'.

The 'List Payroll Staff' function shows locations, and provides an easy way to check for people with missing location data, and to run your eye over the whole set of data for payroll staff that you are responsible for maintaining.

Linking a PA

It is possible to create links to PAs, secretaries, etc from a role for display in Person Finder, including a phone number.

To activate this, one or more LINK(...) entries must be placed in the Notes section of the role. You can still keep notes in the field as the system will ignore any text outside the LINK(...) expression.

The syntax is:


For example, the following entry would make a link described as 'PA' to the person with Username abc23 and display phone number 1234 (on the internal view) or +44 1225 381234 (on the external view):


The following would link to person bcd34 displaying phone number 8765 under the description 'Diary Secretary':

LINK(bcd34, 8765, Diary Secretary)

Multiple LINK(...) entries can be included. Due to the way LDAP works there is no guarantee over the order in which they will be displayed.

Entry of telephone numbers

Each telephone number entered must be linked to a personal information record and is recorded as part of the role. More than one type of telephone number may be entered for each role (telephone, fax, mobile).


Except as described above, text entered in the Notes field is only visible to Directory Maintainers with authority over the role. It may therefore be used to hold moderately-sensitive information about a role or role holder.

Non-payroll role type, authorisation and Expiry/Renewal date

All new non-payroll roles must have these fields populated, as described above under Roles. You should fill in these fields for existing non-payroll roles if you can, ensuring that you have filed the relevant authorisation before ticking 'Supporting material viewed and maintained'.


The identity of the person who created each record is displayed along with the username of the person who last updated it.

Deleting a role

To delete a role, select 'Clear This Role' then click 'Save Changes' to re-save the record.

Deleting a person

Exiting from a record

Click the Exit button to return to the Search screen. If you have changed anything be sure to click Save Changes first.

Adding new non-payroll staff entries

Non-payroll staff are staff who are not in the Human Resources database (iTrent) but who nevertheless need to be added to the University database so that they can have access to University resources such as computer accounts and so that their contact details can be made available to systems such as Person Finder. From 1st December 2011 new rules apply, and authorisation must be obtained from the relevant authority as described above under Roles.

To add a new non-payroll staff entity first perform a Search to make sure there is no existing entry in the database. Please note that if you are searching for ex-staff and they have a current student status you will not find them unless you select "all". If the database finds a duplicate record it will warn you that other records match the details you have given and provide a list of them. To select one of these records click the person code, to ignore the list and add a new record click Add new non-payroll staff.

  1. First create the Personal Information record by entering details for Title, Forename, Surname, Middle Names, Date of Birth etc. It is a pre-condition of enjoying the services that follow from registration as a non-payroll member of staff that full name and date of birth are provided to the Directory Maintainer who is setting up the database entry. The purpose of this is to provide a mechanism by which data from different sources referring to the same individual can be recognised as such. The date of birth will be treated as confidential and will not be displayed or used for any other purpose.

    Prior to saving you can clear all the fields by clicking on Clear.
  2. Click Save.
    • The system will again perform a search and if it finds any matches it will display the list of matching entries.
    • If you are sure that your new member of non-staff is not already in the database click Save again and proceed to enter role information for the record.
    • If they are listed just click on their person code to enter role data.
  3. Click the link to Add a Role.


General telephone number updates


This is for updating telephone details which do not relate to individual people i.e. enquiry telephone numbers, fax numbers or telephones and mobiles which are distinguished purely by location or department use (e.g. Swimming Pool).

Log in to the telephone number update part of COW using your BUCS username and password.

Types of phone available in this form

Entering a query

To enter a query in the telephone number update form do the following:

  1. Type in the extension number you wish to search for and click Search. Use the Wildcard % to search for groups of numbers beginning with the same two digits.
  2. When the number is listed click the hyperlink for the number to update the record.

Changing a record

Update the fields for Phone Number, Phone Type, Description, Location and Email Address and click Save.

Adding a new number

  1. Use the Search box to check that a record for the number does not already exist
  2. To create a new Stand Alone Phone Record click Add
  3. Fill in the details for Phone Number, Phone Type, Description, Location and Email Address and click Save
  4. Click Exit to return to the Search screen

Deleting a record

  1. To delete a non-person phone record, call up the record and click Delete
  2. When prompted click OK
  3. All details for the record will disappear

Exiting from a record

Click Exit to return to the Search screen.

Fields in the telephone update form

Description field

Any helpful information may be entered in the description field, which is currently limited to 60 characters.


You can only assign a department if it is part of the departmental hierarchy that you are set up to administer.

Email addresses

There is a space to enter email addresses. The format of email addresses is not checked by the system, so take care to enter them accurately.


New Designated Maintainers

Designated Maintainer is a trusted role and approval must be given by the Head of Department in order for the additional accesss rights to be granted.  To add a new Designated Maintainer fill in the Authorisation of Designated Maintainer form, with appropriate signature, and then either scan and email to it-sec@bath.ac.uk or send via internal mail to the Security & Identity Managment Team, Computing Services, 4 East South.

To remove Designated Maintainers, email the request to it-sec@bath.ac.uk