President Abraham Lincoln once said, "Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four hours sharpening the axe."

Sharpening their axe is precisely what the Integrated Personnel and Pay System -- Army's (IPPS-A) Design and Development team has done in conducting 173 working groups with key stakeholders as they prepared for the Release 3 phase of the IPPS-A migration.

IPPS-A Release 2 is currently being fielded to the Army National Guard. Release 3 is slated to be fielded to the Active Component and U.S. Army Reserve in December 2021.

"Most of the working groups have been about getting to the critical design of what IPPS-A needs to do," said Lt. Col. Boyd Bingham, IPPS-A Functional Management Division Build Lead. "Most of the working groups have been collaborating with Subject Matter Experts from IPPS-A stakeholders to find out what the system needs to do for them."

Considering that IPPS-A is changing the culture of Human Resources in the Army, buy-in from key stakeholders is critical to achieving that change. So, ensuring their equities are articulated in the development of the program can only further help with the acceptance of the new program.

"To get all the big players to come in and tell us what we need to do for them can only increase their excitement," said Bingham.

Maj. Brian Hollandsworth, IPPS-A Design and Development team lead said his team understands how to build systems, but it's always more beneficial to have input from those the system is being designed for. One reason is because the insight from eventual users helps point out errors in development that builders may not have noticed.

A review by the U.S. Army Reserve identified redundant systems and interfaces in the initial design drafts. Removing the redundancies saved IPPS-A money and allowed the program to focus attention on new efficiencies and data accuracy.

"The Reserve discovery created a more efficient use of funds, because the funds not used in one area of design will always be used in another area," said Bingham. "From an efficiency and data perspective, it allows us to bring in data from one source instead of multiple sources."

Though he and his teammates understand the complexity of Human Resources in the Army, Bingham still believes having key stakeholder input can only lead to success when developing a program like IPPS-A.

"We're 55 out of the 42,000 HR Specialists in the US Army," said Bingham. "That's why it's so important to get the stakeholder input."