ARLINGTON, Va. -- Chief Warrant Officer 4 Ricardo Estrada, IPPS-A Design and Development Analyst, had served for 18 years before joining the Integrated Personnel and Pay System- Army (IPPS-A) in February 2018. The career-long HR Professional wasn't convinced IPPS-A was the answer to the Army's outdated Human Resources systems.
After one month on the project, he began to see how the system will streamline HR processes, which will make the completion of HR/Pay tasks much more efficient.
"IPPS-A is long overdue," said Estrada. "I'm excited to see all three components in one system and be able to provide any service member quality customer HR/Pay service."
Estrada took his new found enthusiasm with him on the road as he traveled to different locations to provide Soldiers and key leaders an update on the program. He noticed the more briefings he did the more enthusiastic Soldiers became about IPPS-A.
"You could tell the Soldiers we briefed were apprehensive about the system," said Estrada. "But, after we began introducing quotes from Army senior leaders supporting IPPS-A into the briefings, you could see their apprehension dissipate. They began to understand what the system will do for them.'"
Estrada's face-to-face meetings with Soldiers became vital to the program, according to 1st Sgt. Jamaal Black, Senior Enlisted Advisor, 5th Battalion, Seattle Military Entrance Processing Station. Estrada's travels from Germany to South Korea, and Hawaii, along with multiple installations across the county allowed HR professionals and key leaders to better understand the benefits of IPPS-A.
"He allowed for questions and answers after each engagement to answer any concerns Soldiers were having," said Black. "His knowledge put a lot of HR pros at ease over implementing a new system."
These efforts were recognized during Estrada's promotion ceremony on January 9, 2020. Estrada promoted to Chief Warrant Officer 4, which is the second highest Chief Warrant Officer rank.
Col. Gregory S. Johnson, IPPS-A Functional Management Division (FMD) Chief gave remarks during the ceremony, and mentioned how hard he fought to bring Estrada to the program in 2017.
"Chief Warrant Officer 4 is a pretty monumental rank," said Johnson. "I negotiated hard to get the right warrant officers on our team. Since we're taking time to recognize his promotion, clearly I won the fight."
Estrada had served for 17 years prior to joining IPPS-A, and experienced personal frustration in not being able to assist Army National Guard and Reserve Soldiers while in a mobilization environment.
"I first deployed 18 years ago and I couldn't provide service to Soldiers in the other components except by going through a liaison," said Estrada. "Seventeen years later, I still had to follow the same process."
Along with briefing the National Guard about IPPS-A, Estrada met with stakeholders and leaders during the Preliminary Design Review (PDR) and Critical Design Review (CDR) for both the Release 2 and Release 3 phases of the IPPS-A system migration.
Black and Estrada worked together during the PDR and CDR phases. Black says much of the work would not have been completed if not for Estrada's work ethic.
"He's really one of the best of the best," said Black. "He laid a lot of the foundation to ensure the working groups were complete. He didn't let up until everyone was in agreement across the board."
During the development of the system prior to Release 2, Estrada pushed hard to ensure the work being done was pushed forward, said Black.
"He was instrumental in mobilization, and onboarding," said Black. "Without his efforts both would not have been pushed forward through governance. He worked tirelessly in ensuring the IPPS-A team and stakeholders were on the same accord in order to ensure both Business Process Reviews were approved."
IPPS-A Release 2 is currently live in half of the ARNG's 54 states and territories, and will be live throughout the entire ARNG by the end of March 2020.
Estrada is excited for the program due to its functionality and believes ARNG Soldiers will see the difference in efficiency immediately.
"The process for a Soldier switching states is more streamlined now," said Estrada. "I've seen transfers completed in less than three days with IPPS-A when the process took weeks with the previous system. Guardsmen don't have to worry about their benefits being cut off during their transfer anymore."
He is also excited for the future of the system and the impact it will have on Army Human Resources.
"This system is long overdue," said Estrada. "I want to see IPPS-A come to fruition. Being promoted means the Army sees potential in me and allows me to continue serving."