JACKSON, Miss. -- Meet Chief Warrant Officer 3 Sara Smith, Mississippi Army National Guard Systems Integration Branch (SIB) Chief. She is being recognized as an Integrated Personnel and Pay System -- Army (IPPS-A) Best of the Best Soldier for leading the team from Mississippi successfully through the conversion from the Standard Installation and Division Personnel Reporting System (SIDPERS) to IPPS-A.

Smith has been the MSARNG's SIB chief for two years. She said her goal at the beginning of the migration was to set her team and the state up for success. To accomplish this, they focused on achieving a blank Force Management Identification (FMID) report. A blank FMID report means each Soldier in the state has received an FMID number by the time their state has reached the cutover portion of the migration process, which ensures there won't be delays with their pay once the conversion from SIDPERS to IPPS-A is complete.

"Our number one priority was to ensure data accuracy and reduce our blank FMID numbers to zero," said Smith. "Soldiers not receiving an FMID in IPPS-A would result in pay and benefit disruptions so we felt that was the most important task. We focused on UMR (Unit Manning Report) clean up and wanted to have our data as best as possible before transition."

Smith said convincing Human Resources Professionals in her state of how much IPPS-A will improve human resources and finance processes for the Army was the biggest challenge she faced during the migration.

"Once our HR Professionals at State level attended the lessons learned training with the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, they realized how important this migration is because they saw first-hand how much IPPS-A is going to improve things for the Army," said Smith.

Despite challenges, Smith is most proud that she and her team were able to achieve their goal of blank final FMIDS report once it was time to cutover from SIDPERS to IPPS-A.

"We worked for two months on achieving a blank FMIDS report," said Smith. "We worked on weekends and days the state was usually off. For the number to be zero we were pumped. It made the extra work worthwhile."

Now that Mississippi is live in IPPS-A, Smith says she is impressed with the improvement in efficiency from SIDPERS. Transactions that used to take three days now take just one, according to Smith.

"With SIDPERS, if I needed to transfer a Soldier to a different Unit Identification Code and the Soldier had an attachment, I would have to remove the attachment one day, transfer the next day and then attach them back on the third day," said Smith. "With IPPS-A, I can do all three in just a few minutes. That's certainly an improvement in efficiency."