ARLINGTON, Va. – The decision by the Army to move from the Integrated Personnel and Pay System – Army (IPPS-A) from its legacy systems is about more than modernizing the Army’s Human Resources technology and practices.
The decision is also about improving readiness among Soldiers, and IPPS-A is accomplishing that through data accuracy. To ensure data accuracy, the IPPS-A Functional Management Division is extensively mapping out how data interacts within the system, according to Lt. Col. John Schulke.
“When data is brought in from an Authoritative Data Source (ADS), the data elements brought in get mapped to where the data lands in IPPS-A,” said Lt. Col. Schulke. “The focus is to tie the elements of an individual’s HR record back to a single source input which will drive changes to their pay. This is really the integrated portion of IPPS-A, ensuring we no longer have to update HR data in multiple systems or multiple places in same system.”
Data maps show how the data comes into the system and where the data lands.
The simplification of how data is mapped to IPPS-A, and the improvement in data accuracy this creates will factor into improved morale, according to Schulke. A perfect example of this is Soldier pay.
“Soldiers getting promoted and they’re seeing it on their next paycheck,” said Schulke. “In a legacy environment, that can takes months in some cases for the process to happen. Especially if they get promoted while they’re not with their home unit. This is how the system directly contributes to readiness and improved morale.”
The impact of the system on readiness and morale isn’t limited to Soldier pay, or even a specific group of Soldiers. Commanders, according to Schulke, will also see an improvement in their ability to impact readiness because of IPPS-A.
He uses an experience of his own while commanding the 101st Financial Management Support Unit while with the 101st Sustainment Brigade.
The brigade was tasked with responding to the Ebola outbreak in Africa in 2009, and needed to know if they had any Soldiers who spoke the local language as a way to mitigate large contracts for interpreters.
“It took us a few day to figure out who spoke what languages in the brigade,” said Schulke. “We had to spend additional days validating their degree of fluency and their deployability status. IPPS-A will allow us to pull the data immediately, and we will have more confidence in data due to there being one system, to include self-professed data.”
IPPS-A will also give time back to Soldiers, according to Schulke. During his Army career, Schulke has performed a Permanent Change of Station on double-digit occasions and knows if IPPS-A was in place, how much time he could’ve saved.
“With each move, you spend hours, days making sure your pay entitlements kicked in correctly,” said Schulke. “You wonder if your pay stopped on the right day when you left your previous unit, or pay you’re no longer entitled to, like jump pay, got stopped. We spend days on that stuff as Soldiers. With IPPS-A, we won’t have to. We will also have ability to see projected changes to pay more easily with global payroll in Release 4.”
Soldiers knowing the IPPS-A audit team is constantly ensuring the system is audit compliant is important to Schulke as he believes it’s another aspect of how IPPS-A is improving readiness and morale.
“The audit team is constantly reviewing various compliance categories to ensure that IPPS-A is audit compliant: Access Controls, Segregation of Duties, Configuration Management, etc,” said Schulke. “We must ensure the data being entered correctly, the right individuals have access to update what is needed, and the system is triggering changes to pay. This will allow Soldier’s to be confident that their HR Record is up-to-date and they are being paid correctly, while giving commanders confidence in the data they have at their fingertips and auditors the ability to provide Army with an audit opinion.” (Story by Justin Creech, IPPS-A STRATCOM)