By Amanda Koons
Work on the Integrated Personnel and Pay System – Army (IPPS-A), the Army’s new web-based personnel and pay solution, has been enhanced by an effective partnership between acquisition and functional professionals.
The Army currently relies on more than 40 stove-piped personnel and pay systems that do not efficiently share information with one another. Once fully fielded, the Integrated Personnel and Pay System – Army (IPPS-A) will offer human resources (HR) professionals, leaders and Soldiers a self-service, common access card-enabled Web portal that will be a one-stop-shop for personnel and pay information.
IPPS-A will ensure that Soldiers and their families receive correct pay, accurate credit for service and appropriate benefits, even as they change components. It will serve Soldiers across all three Army components: the active, Army National Guard and Army Reserve.
IPPS-A’s development is a collaboration between the assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology and the deputy chief of staff Army G-1—like most programs, a collaboration between acquisition and functional professionals.
PARTNERSHIP YIELDS DIVIDENDS
Such a partnership starts at the top, according to IPPS-A leadership. Collaboration facilitates communication and saves time and resources in the development environment.
“We’re really an embedded customer because we’re right on board with the acquisition team,” said IPPS-A Functional Management Division Chief Col. Robin Parsons. “The partnership sets us up for future success as we build a strong functional foundation with each increment.”
Just as the need for an integrated personnel and pay system has evolved over time, so too has the importance of acquisition and functional integration.
“In my years in acquisition, it’s only become more important to develop a strong relationship with your customer. It is our job to continue to ensure collaboration across team members continues throughout all phases of development,” said Col. Darby McNulty, project manager for the IPPS-A Project Management Office.
THE ROLE OF IPTs
The IPPS-A team is taking a methodical approach toward benchmarking and measuring program performance by continuously analyzing lessons learned, applying the improvements and re-analyzing the results. Embedded integrated product teams (IPTs) have played a critical role in the early stages of IPPS-A’s first release.
IPTs were created for seven different groups: management; infrastructure; extraction, transformation and load; security; testing; integrated logistics support; and PeopleSoft, a software package that combines HR, financial and other enterprise resource planning tools. Each conducts formal and informal after-action reviews to allow the team to constantly re-assess progress, which has proven highly beneficial to the program.
Sometimes collaboration is as simple as developing a common skill set across the two parts of the organization. Among acquisition, HR and pay professionals, coming at the challenge from different angles often results in deliverables that are greater than the sum of their parts.
“True business process re-engineering happens best when functional professionals understand the target technology. As a result, we’re helping the IPPS-A functional team receive training in Oracle’s PeopleSoft 9.2 software,” said McNulty. “We need to stay current on the latest modern technology and provide it jointly to the acquisition and functional professionals. Eventually, this allows us to provide it to our true end customers, HR professionals, leaders and Soldiers.”
Training is one of the areas that has greatly benefited from the IPPS-A program’s joint venture. The IPPS-A team, in collaboration with the Human Resources Command, Soldier Support Institute and Combined Arms Support Command, is currently working a major collaborative effort that will ultimately provide an affordable, superior training capability that will be enthusiastically embraced by the functional community.
“We are using the latest, state-of-the-art technology to develop fully integrated, end-to-end IPPS-A training solutions across all three components, at all position levels, that work across the full spectrum of training, including deployment,” said McNulty.
SRB FIELDED TO NATIONAL GUARD
The partnership has already led to the successful fielding of the Soldier Record Brief (SRB) to the Army National Guard as part of IPPS-A’s first release.
The SRB offers HR professionals, leaders and Soldiers centralized access to personnel information online and provides a synopsis of a Soldier’s military career information. Fielding SRB included standardizing the source and data for every Soldier’s HR record across all components.
The SRB provides a snapshot of a Soldier’s military career, including personnel information, qualification skills, training and assignment history. It will eventually replace the Enlisted Record Brief, Officer Record Brief, DA Form 2-1 and the Reserve Component Manpower System Automated Record Brief for all components.
The development and deployment of IPPS-A is ongoing. The first release will continue with the fielding of SRB to the active component and Army Reserve. Release 1 will establish IPPS-A as a trusted database with robust reporting capabilities. Each subsequent release will build upon the previous release’s design and capability.
IPPS-A collaboration will continue to evolve throughout the remainder of the system’s releases. “We must continue to collaborate and innovate throughout the next releases of IPPS-A,” said Parsons. “We will make changes throughout the lifecycle for the benefit of Soldiers and their families and to take full advantage of the enterprise resources planning system’s capabilities.
For more information about IPPS-A, visit www.ipps-a.army.mil/.
MS. AMANDA KOONS is a contractor supporting strategic communications for IPPS-A. She holds a B.A.in government and history from the College of William and Mary.