By Blaire EdgertonJune 1, 2018
Actor Alan Alda, star of the long-running sitcom "M*A*S*H," once said that "Listening is being able to be changed by the other person." As the Integrated Personnel and Pay System -- Army (IPPS-A) program builds the next-generation HR and pay system for the entire Army, it relies on a user-centered design process to engage with a variety of stakeholders. This ensures feedback from Soldiers and Army Civilians, including Commanders, leaders and HR Professionals, is captured and applied. The IPPS-A team has facilitated over 1,170 critical engagements and messaging activities with stakeholders across Congress, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Department of the Army, and all three Army Components in the last 23 months alone.
In preparation for the roll-out of IPPS-A's initial capabilities to the National Guard in 2018/19, the IPPS-A team has launched a full-court press on ARNG engagements and messaging activities. User Juries, Stakeholder Reviews and other events facilitated by IPPS-A allow Soldiers and Army Civilians to experience using the IPPS-A system, receive side-by-side assistance from IPPS-A technical experts, and offer feedback in advance of the changes that are coming.
"System development must always include the voice of the customer and for us it's our Soldiers and HR Professionals," said Jeffrey Thomas, Army G-1, senior program analyst and User Jury facilitator. "User juries provide hands-on, scripted scenarios where users work independently and collaboratively manipulating data, processing requests, and reviewing or updating HR records inside the system."
These developer-to-user engagements also reinforce the advantages of IPPS-A for leaders, HR Professionals and Soldiers. For example, for Commanders, First Sergeants, and Command Sergeant Majors, reports will become dashboards in IPPS-A where all personnel and pay actions are centralized in one system. IPPS-A will display unit readiness and overall talent within each unit, thereby facilitating improved decision making and allowing leaders to focus on the more pressing demands of the day.
As IPPS-A inches closer to the ARNG roll-out, the program relies heavily on feedback from stakeholders at all levels to improve the utility and usability of the system and meet the unique needs of the National Guard. Top concerns voiced by ARNG HR Soldiers at recent events have included questions pertaining to IPPS-A's functionality, provisioning, training and deployment, and infrastructure. One question in particular remains at the top of mind for all ARNG personnel: "When can we get our hands on the system?"
We answer this by producing demonstration videos that showcase the system, which are currently available on the IPPS-A YouTube page (www.youtube.com/c/IPPSA). Live demonstrations of the system will be conducted later this year at the National Guard Association of the United States conference in New Orleans, the Enlisted Association of the National Guard conference in Charleston, West Virginia, and at the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) conference in Washington, D.C.
In addition, Release 2 Training products will be available in July for preview and preparation for NET. NET Pre-requisite Training (DL) Access in IPPS-A will roll-out to Release 2 Fielding Groups starting in August.
"Release 2.0 for the Guard is to get all states and territories on a common platform and to be positioned for Release 3 when IPPS-A goes Army-wide," said Lt. Col. Robert Atkinson, Senior Army National Guard IPPS-A Liaison. "IPPS-A will empower the M-Day Soldier so they can track their personnel actions without having to go to an armory."
To make that happen, the IPPS-A team remains committed to collecting feedback and building a system that is transparent, efficient and comprehensive in meeting the needs of the ARNG and the Total Force.
"The process for us is taking into account process differences by state and territory and merging processes across all three components to successfully field and deploy new capability," Thomas said. "This would not have been possible without the ARNG."
To learn more about how IPPS-A will improve the lives of Soldiers, Commanders and HR professionals across the Total Force, visit https://ipps-a.army.mil or follow us on Facebook and Instagram.