COLUMBIA, S.C. - Chief Warrant Officer 4 Michael Looper, South Carolina Army National Guard Human Resources Systems Chief, is recognized as an Integrated Personnel and Pay System -- Army (IPPS-A) Best of the Best Soldier for leading the team from South Carolina successfully converting from the Standard Installation and Division Personnel Reporting System (SIDPERS) to IPPS-A.
South Carolina was part of fielding group six for the conversion from the previous human resources system to the new system, officially going live November 2019, along with Mr. Michael Atkinson, Mr. Kevin McCaskill, Msg. Nathan Reitz, Sfc. Devon Ealey, Sgt. Shareka Peterson, Sgt. Corinne Best, Sgt. Janella Lawton, and Sgt. Roderick Gaskins. Pennsylvania was the first state to go live in 2019 with the National Guard being the first Army component to implement IPPS-A, with the expectation of all 54 National Guard states and territories to be live in the system by March 2020. Now, after nearly nine months of work, South Carolina is one of the 20 states that are currently using IPPS-A as their primary human resources system.
"Nothing was more important to me and my team than this conversion," said Looper. "We are dealing with Soldiers' data, which if not handled properly can impact them and their families. We made sure we did this in the most thoughtful way possible."
Looper said the biggest challenge he and his team faced was the unknown of preparing Soldiers' data to be transferred from one system to another when the two systems were not created for the information to be identical. Understanding the Army Organizational Server (AOS) was a big part in learning how to transfer all that data. Looper said learning AOS is a task team member Sgt. Corinne Best took on by herself.
"Sgt. Best taught herself how AOS works," said Looper. "We needed to know why some data didn't match up and understanding AOS cleared up the confusion."
Though there were many challenges throughout the conversion process, Looper is proud of how his team overcame each obstacle they faced. However, his proudest moment came during South Carolina's Rehearsal of Concept drill in October when it was announced they had successfully transferred nearly 9,000 Soldiers from SIDPERS to IPPS-A with no issues.
"That accomplishment speaks to the talent of the team because we achieved that together," said Looper. "I'm lucky to be the spokesperson for this team."
South Carolina still faces unknown challenges as human resources specialists throughout the state learn to navigate the new system, but Looper is excited for the program to reach its full capabilities.
"The team has carried this program from its infancy in South Carolina," said Looper. "Now, I'm ready for it to get up and walk on its own as the field starts to work in IPPS-A as the primary human resources system."