ARLINGTON, Va. -- Every Soldier who has spent time in the Adjutant General career field remembers using multiple systems to complete one task. If asked, many would tell you one centralized system would make their jobs much easier.

Maj. Sherri Zimmerman, Integrated Personnel and Pay System -- Army, Requirements and Data Branch lead is one of these Soldiers. When Zimmerman learned the Army finally decided to create a centralized human resources system, she jumped on the opportunity to be a part of the development of the database now known as IPPS-A.

"I knew how important it was to try and have one centralized system," said Zimmerman. "As an S-1, you're accessing multiple databases and the data never transfers from one system to another and gives you the same results. Leaders can't make decisions with information that is old. So, we needed a better way to organize information in the Army."

Due to her background, Zimmerman anticipated working with the development side of the IPPS-A team. However, she learned soon after joining IPPS-A that Col. Gregory S. Johnson, IPPS-A Functional Management Division chief had a different plan for her.

Johnson made Zimmerman the head of the Requirements and Data Branch due to her experience working in science labs and having to organize large amounts of complex data.
He also let her know he wanted to start being more proactive with resolving HR issues than always being retroactive.

"He knew data was important and needed a lead, so that's why he put me there," said Zimmerman. "The biggest problem when you deal with retroactive stuff is people don't get paid or get promoted. That's a backwards way of doing business."

Zimmerman's initial tasks were real simple; learn the data. She needed to understand the information going into IPPS-A, how that information is going to work in IPPS-A, and what data needed to be brought in from external HR systems.

She was also tasked with finding where the errors were in data coming from external systems into IPPS-A.

"Col. Johnson always asked what's the biggest data problem?" said Zimmerman. "What errors show up out of that information? What are the problems? Is it a format or interface perspective? These are questions I needed to provide answers for while trying to understand how to decipher and organize the data myself."

In order to understand the data, Zimmerman spent a lot of time with IPPS-A's project management organization (PMO) data team learning what the data meant in Army terms.

As her time on the project progressed, additional staff members were hired who are capable of doing the technical analysis of the data on a larger scale. This additional ability of her team members thrilled Zimmerman as she knew the pieces were now in place for her team to produce the information she needed all along.

"I knew we had the talent that could take our mission to the next step," said Zimmerman. "We could produce the metrics and narrow the information down to errors users fix, errors systems fix and start solving those problems on a larger scale."

Her motivation for wanting to join the IPPS-A project is to help the Army develop a centralized Human Resources system for the Army. Three years later, Zimmerman feels the groundwork has been laid for the data team to accomplish its mission even in her absence.

"Without the foundation, you can't get to the final result," said Zimmerman. "I feel very rewarded that I committed my time to influence change and get the data portion of this project where it needs to be."