(FORT PICKETT, VA.) -- Author C. JoyBell C. once said "The only way we can live is if we grow. The only way we can grow is if we change. The only way we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we're exposed, and the only way we become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open." The Virginia Army National Guard took its first steps towards change on April 5, 2019 when the state went live with the Integrated Personnel and Pay System -- Army. With the program available to them for nearly two weeks, Human Resources Specialists and Commanders are already seeing how the program is going to help them complete their tasks more efficiently.

"Once you enter a Soldier's information into the system, the system does the work for you," said Sgt. Sean Henderson, Joint Force Headquarters, State Enlisted Actions Noncommissioned Officer. "Instead of emailing your contact in another state, IPPS-A notifies the state that the Soldier's information is in the system."

Henderson is referring to transferring a Soldier from one state to another. Virginia and Pennsylvania are the only states who are currently live in IPPS-A, and in the short time the system has been live in Virginia, Henderson said he has completed transfers for four Soldiers. One is transferring to Pennsylvania, while the other three are going to Michigan, Texas, and Florida. The improvement in time taken to complete the transfers already has Henderson exited for the day IPPS-A is live for Army National Guard states and territories.

"What used to take four systems and 45 minutes now takes one system and 15 minutes," said Henderson. "So, with IPPS-A, in the time it used to take to complete one transfer I was able to complete three."

Task efficiency isn't the only benefit the VAARNG is noticing with IPPS-A. Improvement in talent management and the role that will play in analyzing readiness while producing a more mission capable Army are long-term impacts Human Resources Specialists and Commanders are noticing.

"You can see all aspects of the Soldier from the highest level of education they've attained to what certifications they have," said Staff Sgt. Shanna Holland, Human Resources Noncommissioned Officer, VAARNG. "The transparency in the system is what will make the Army stronger. You can see a Soldier's entire skill set."

Prior to IPPS-A, one system the National Guard used is the Standard Installation and Division Personnel Reporting System (SIDPERS). Though effective, there were limits to the systems capability.

Now, with IPPS-A, Commanders can check the system daily to see what actions they may need to sign.

"There's nine tabs I can go through to look for forms I need to sign, as well as information about Soldiers," said Capt. Isaac Rivera, 3647 Support Maintenance Company Commander. "It's going to be a centralized location for a bunch of things within my command that I'll be able to see."

Rivera likes that he won't have to keep forms he signed on his computer. With IPPS-A, he can log-in, do a query for a Soldier and the date range of when he signed an action for that Soldier if Rivera or the Soldier need the form.

Soldiers now have the ability to self-profess skills and submit personnel action requests (PAR) to update their qualifications and certifications. Rivera is looking forward to having this talent info at his fingertips.

"My Soldiers are able to get certifications," said Rivera. "With IPPS-A, I can track which Soldiers have which certifications. As the commander of a maintenance company, that makes me very excited."