The Integrated Personnel and Pay System–Army is the Army’s 21st century human resources, pay, personnel and talent management system. It will be fielded to all three Army components by December 2021. The idea behind the upgrade is for the system to fundamentally change the culture and practices of human resources in the Army.
Army human resources (HR)—the systems that feed information into a Soldier Record Brief, for example—is a Gordian knot. The Integrated Personnel and Pay System–Army (IPPS-A), like Alexander the Great, cuts that knot apart. The Army’s “knot” has over 200 HR and pay systems, with over 650 interface and data exchanges for soldier records. Maintaining this environment is costly, labor intensive and presents lots of room for errors. IPPS-A is built using HR/pay software and systems used by private industry. The Army also wants to manage its soldiers better, and modern technology aids the talent management process.
“We have a tremendously talented force,” said Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville. “But right now, we don’t take full advantage because our system doesn’t allow us to manage it effectively.”
Reaching the Goal
How is IPPS-A reaching its goal? The first step was completing the system’s deployment to the Army National Guard’s 54 states and territories in March. Over 350,000 soldiers are live in the system. As of August, IPPS-A had a 99% accuracy rate on over 515,000 pay actions, which has resulted in more accurate and timely pay for soldiers.
IPPS-A is now prepared to do the same for the active Army and the U.S. Army Reserve and add new features for the Guard. Release 3 of the system—coming in December 2021—is 100% built and tested. Over 1 million soldiers will be brought together into one system with seamless transitions between components, mobilizations and deployments.
Representatives from the U.S. Army Human Resources Command reviewed the system in August. Lt. Col. Brian Hollandsworth, design and development lead for IPPS-A Release 3, said the command representatives were pleased with the progress they observed.
“They said it’s like seeing a child mature,” Hollandsworth said. “Another comment was, ‘The system looks fabulous.’ So, they are pleased.”
IPPS-A’s workflow ensures that transactions are routed through defined and approved processes, guaranteeing HR and pay transactions are auditable and meet Army audit readiness standards. IPPS-A will provide a complete audit trail, recording date and time stamps when users initiate, review or approve a transaction.
In addition, commanders will have the ability to delegate authority to sign and approve actions. This can be accomplished through the workflow options the system provides. Commanders can set up how they want certain tasks to route through IPPS-A to their personnel departments.
Mobile App Available
Another way the system will improve soldiers’ HR/pay experience is through the IPPS-A mobile app. The app allows soldiers to access their personnel records using a mobile phone or tablet. The app has the same level of sophistication and security as secure banking and personal service apps. Through the app, self-service transactions like submitting leave requests will be automated, paper-free and transparent from initiation to approval.
IPPS-A offers increased analytics and reporting for commanders through a single database. The system will also enable talent management. One feature is the 25-point soldier talent profile. The profile will capture soldiers’ knowledge, skills, behaviors, experience and readiness on a granular level. The profile will provide leaders with a more holistic talent profile for each soldier and help the Army make better-informed talent decisions.
IPPS-A directly impacts Army readiness by ensuring commanders, HR managers and career managers can see the talent in their formations. IPPS-A will initiate a marketplace for assignments, facilitate talent assessments and streamline both career planning and succession planning. Through this process, IPPS-A will deliver improved talent information flow and greater transparency between Army components to employ and retain the best soldiers.
Commanders will be able to understand their soldiers’ talents in ways they can’t in current systems.
A result of the current HR system is inconsistencies and errors with personnel data. In order to correct data that will be loaded into the system, IPPS-A is emphasizing a crucial data correctness campaign for Reserve and Regular Army units. These efforts will ensure that every soldier’s data is accurate coming into IPPS-A and matched to the appropriate authoritative systems. Ultimately, HR data determines pay and benefits, so getting it right from the start is important to ensuring accurate pay.
“The point of the campaign is for soldier records to be up to date in existing systems prior to conversion to IPPS-A,” said Maj. Eric Kim, data correctness lead for IPPS-A Release 3. “We want [Reserve] and active soldiers to get off on the right foot.”
The program encourages leaders to start engaging now with their soldiers about the system. The IPPS-A website has a product called “5 Questions to Ask your G1.” The one-page summary provides information about when the system is going live, how soldiers can prepare for the migration, what steps are next to prepare for Release 3, upcoming training and how the system impacts readiness.
IPPS-A hosts monthly live question-and-answer events, podcasts, demonstrations and more. Training begins this spring.
For more information, visit the IPPS-A website at ipps-a.army.mil and social media channels at Facebook.com/IPPS-A, Instagram.com/usarmy_ippsa, Twitter.com/IPPSArmy.
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Col. Gregory Johnson is chief of the Functional Management Division for the Integrated Personnel and Pay System-Army, Arlington, Virginia. Previously, he handled personnel issues as J-1/G-1 of Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command-Iraq and as G-1 of the 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas. He also served as deputy personnel officer of the 1st Cavalry Division, among other assignments.