Arlington, Virginia – In starting off the new year, the Integrated Personnel and Pay System - Army (IPPS-A) team reflected on its achievements, beginning with a Microsoft Teams session celebrating going live with the Army National Guard (ARNG) two years ago on January 7. Within the last two years, IPPS-A completed migration of Release 2 to the ARNG in March 2020 and completed the building of the system in September 2020 for its Release 3 phase to the Active and U.S. Army Reserve (USAR) components.
“This is a special day,” said Col. Gregory S. Johnson, IPPS-A Functional Management Division, chief. “A lot of people, whether they be Soldiers, contractors or government employees have put a tremendous amount of time and effort into getting this program to this point. Taking time to recognize that type of sacrifice is an opportunity I will always take.”
“Through the hard-work and dedication of the team and the Guard, we hit major milestones in bringing 21st century capabilities to our Soldiers,” said Johnson. “The last two years demonstrated the resolve of the team and the Army in making this system a reality. 2021 is big year for IPPS-A, bringing the Active and Reserve Soldiers into the fold, and this modernization effort will positively impact Soldiers at every phase,” said Johnson.
IPPS-A is the number one human resources (HR) modernization effort for the Army and will be live across the Total Force in December 2021. IPPS-A is a critical enabler for The Army People Strategy and its transition to a talent management system and an HR data-rich environment.
During January 2021, IPPS-A will host other virtual engagements across their social media channels to commemorate the program’s milestones including the IPPS-A “Live” townhall, with Army deputy chief of staff for personnel, Lt. Gen. Gary M. Brito, as a featured guest.
“IPPS-A is truly a transformative system,” said Brito. “To see the impact IPPS-A is already having in the National Guard only increases my excitement for December 2021, and the impact the system will have on the Active and Reserve components. IPPS-A will better Soldiers’ lives by reducing pay and personnel errors, providing full transparency of actions and implementing mobile, self-service capabilities.”
The start of this journey began when IPPS-A first went live in Pennsylvania for the limited user test in January 2019. The test helped members of the IPPS-A Release 2 team and the PAARNG see where the system needed upgrades as well as how to improve the migration process. These developments paid dividends during the remainder of the implementation throughout the ARNG.
“I was extremely excited when we completed migration to the National Guard,” said Maj. Leonard (Lee) Baklarz, IPPS-A Functional Management Division sustainment team lead. “One of the best outcomes of Release 2 is the resource we learned that we have in the Guard. We continue to use the user base to provide us solid, candid feedback, to help us prioritize what we need to improve on, how to get better, and how to continue to refine the system, and processes.”
The system has had a positive effect on the Guard since it went live. As of December 2020, there have been over one million pay actions submitted in IPPS-A, with an overall accuracy rate of over 99 percent.
IPPS-A has had more of an impact on the Army, however, than just pay action accuracy. Many Soldiers in the ARNG were activated to State Active Duty in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. ARNG leaders used IPPS-A in order to quickly assess their formations to ensure they were able to fulfill the mission’s personnel requirements.
“What we did was unlock IPPS-A’s already existing innovative capabilities and made sure that human resources Soldiers in the Army National Guard had flexibility to maneuver and update the statuses of their Soldiers,” said Baklarz. “They needed to be able to report duty statuses to the Army using IPPS-A instead of using something like an excel spreadsheet that required tedious additional data entry.”
Preparation for the deployment of the system to Active and USAR components began September 30, 2020, with the conclusion of product level testing (PLT) for the Release 3 version of the system. In its latest version, IPPS-A contains 37 functional epics, which are groupings of related functionality that serve as the framework for IPPS-A. The system integrator test team assessed each feature within each epic during PLT to verify required functionality.
Prior to PLT, system integrators showed their work in the final conference room pilot (CRP) held August 20, 2020. System integrators are PeopleSoft experts who complete the configuration and development of the system.
“The purpose of CRPs was to review system development and functionality to gain subject matter expert feedback,” said Lt. Col. Brian Hollandsworth, IPPS-A Release 3 design and development lead. “System integrators and stakeholders being able to view these epics during the next CRP was a win for the progression of the system.”
The Release 3 team participated in the formal kickoff of the developer integration test (DIT) on November 17, 2020. The DIT is a series of tests conducted by the system integrator to test the end-to-end functionality of the system. DIT will run until April of 2021. The kickoff meeting allowed all members of the triad to clarify execution of the testing and ensure all parties had an understanding of the way ahead.
As the program gets closer to Release 3 implementation, the emphasis of the data correctness campaign increases. The campaign is designed to identify and correct data inconsistencies within every Soldier record and authoritative system in the Active Army and USAR. The goal for correcting these inconsistencies is to ensure seamless record transitions to IPPS-A prior to Release 3 go live.
“We want Active and Reserve Component Soldiers to get off on the right foot with IPPS-A,” said Johnson. “The only way they can do that is if their records are up to date. That is why we are pushing the data correctness campaign. It makes a big difference.”
“We can’t stress how important it is for Active and Reserve Soldiers and HR professionals to get involved now,” said Johnson. “Soldiers know what should be in their records better than anyone else. Updating their records in current systems now will ensure the correct data migrates into IPPS-A this year.”
IPPS-A integrates over 1.1 million Soldiers into a multi-component personnel and pay system and will deliver Total Force visibility to support Readiness, Talent Management and Auditability. IPPS-A will provide Soldiers with online access to a comprehensive HR record online 24 hours a day and deliver mobile self-service capabilities. For more information visit, https://ipps-a.army.mil or follow on social media.