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Interactive Personnel Electronic Records Management System
The United States Army uses a web-based information system called Interactive Personnel Electronic Records Management System (iPERMS) to access a Soldier’s electronic record. This information system requires certain hardware and software requirements on the server side and the client side for the system to be accessed and managed. The hardware for this system is comprised of the physical components that are required for this system to work. On the other hand, the software for this system is a collection of codes uploaded into the hardware to make the programs and functions of the system. A lot of the factual knowledge on this information system cannot be accessed on the internet however, some software and hardware requirements are known based on experience and others are hypothesized in this essay. Even though iPERMS can be more effective with a few improvements, it is a competitive information system that competes with foreign and military rivals to gain and maintain the upper hand.
Server-Side Hardware Requirements
For iPERMS to be supported, I believe this information system requires a web server because it has its own individual web address that requires access to the internet. This information system allows data to be transmitted and received to and from end users across the web, which is another indicator that iPERMS requires a web server. This information system is accessed by a large group of service men and woman and is very capable of having a server farm, in my opinion. In any case of a hardware malfunction causing iPERMS to lose data, the Army uses an archive system where everything can be restored as a backup device.
Server-Side Software Requirements
User authentication is required to log in to iPERMS, which further requires a smart card reader. This smart card reader uses ActivClient software and takes information and certificates from a Common Access Card via chip, through a Personal identification number and grants access to authorized users, with the appropriate access. This information system uses enterprise software. It is used by the entire organization and relies on the internet to interchange data between end users. If I were to make an educated guess on this information system’s cloud computing software, it would use Platform-as-a-Service because it has the ability to develop, test, and deploy its own custom software applications in the cloud. This allows every person in the organization to have access to the information system. This information system does not use a free and open source software, instead, I believe it uses Unix, a source code that is not distributed to the public. In my opinion, iPERMS does use custom software that runs on the server to manage the system because this system is specific and only accessible to individuals serving in the Army with appropriate access. The database software that is used to store and input data into the system is Army Golden Master SHB-A Windows 10 Enterprise, I believe.
Client-Side Hardware Requirements
On the client-side, the hardware requirements to access this information system, at a minimum, would be a desktop computer, laptop, tablet, or any other device with access to the internet. Whatever device is used by the operator, this hardware must be accompanied by a Smart Card Reader with ActivClient software. Also, a Common Access Card will be needed to authenticate access into the information system. A keyboard will be required in order to type the website’s Uniform Resource Locator and the Common Access Card’s Personal Identification Number to grant access into the system. A router that connects the computer to the internet, whether wireless or not, is a mandatory piece of hardware to gain access into iPERMS.
Client-Side Software Requirements
Since iPERMS is a web-based, integrated imaging system that provides roles and rules and a secure, encrypted end to end records management, the client must have Java SE Runtime 8 enabled on their computer (United States Army, 2015). This allows the individual to view specific documents that are uploaded in TIFF. Additionally, the client must use Internet Explorer, rather than any other web browser such as Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari, or Microsoft edge, in order to prevent limited capability that will display errors and distortions (United States Army, 2015). The client will also need to have Adobe Reader version 11 or DC capable, Microsoft Windows OS Version 10, ActivClient for the Smart Card Reader, and an internal memory of four gigabits (Directorate, 2019).
Competitive Analysis of the System
This information system gives a competitive advantage to the users of this system by enabling them to upload their documents into the web-base imaging system. This allows Human Resources Command (HRC) to look at these records and determine who is best qualified for promotions. Additionally, HRC can use these same records to select qualified service men and woman for competitive assignments and duty locations across the globe. Basically, this system allows us to maintain readiness for the possibility of our country going to war. This concept engages the Soldiers to be successful and competitive and strive to make our military stronger than our rivals. If the United States military did not have this information system, there would be no competition or motive to drive service men and woman to be successful, in my opinion. For example, if individuals were promoted automatically, regardless of accomplishments, what would motivate those individuals to earn such achievements. Furthermore, the military encourages self-development in the civilian aspect, which is also used for potential rewards. This allows us to stay strategic in both military and civilian aspects, which can be a competitive characteristic compared to foreign and military rivals.
When considering Porter’s Five Forces theory to iPERMS, we can determine the level of competitiveness using the five factors that Porter believed to be of importance, which are competitive rivalry, threat of new entrants, threat of substitution, supplier power, and buyer power (Manktelow et al., n.d.). First, we must consider who are rivals are and how many we have. Being as we are the United States of America, our rivals can develop from anywhere, friend or foe, at any moment. Second, we must consider the possibility of others entering our organization and using our data against us. Once our systems are exposed, it can be mirrored and improved to compete against ours. Next, we need to determine if there is any other way of substituting our software. Also, we must look at our supplier’s power. Since iPERMS is unique for the Army, I believe the supplier is limited however, we could resort to a different supplier of similarities. Finally, we need to consider the buyer power of our information system. Because iPERMS is a military information system, it is not sold to its users. Also, because this is a military information system and is not shared with the public, it is not promoting the use of benefits or using network effects to gain or maintain a competitive advantage.
Recommendations for Improving the System
One issue this information system has is in the software. Many personal computers cannot access this site because of the software configuration. It becomes a hassle when you must figure out a way to configure your personal computer in a manner to access this system at home. I would improve this dilemma by changing the software to be more generalized and easily accessible across any computer. It already has specific authentication requirements such as a Smart Card Reader and a Common Access Card.
Another issue I would focus on improving is on the hardware side. Sometimes, this system is shut down due to the number of users on at one time. I would expand the hardware to a larger server farm to prevent any downtimes caused by overloading the system. This will allow the organization to be more effective and save time and money.
A third issue this information system has is the lack of ability, for the individual user, to upload his or her own documents. I would add additional features in the software to allow the individual to upload new documents and records into the system, so they can be electronically submitted, rather than manually submitted, to the unit administrator for further processing. This will give the option to the Soldier of submitting his or her own achievements anywhere and anytime. Once submitted, the unit administrator can review the documents for accuracy.
In conclusion, in order to access iPERMS successfully, certain hardware must be existing and in working condition on the server side as well as the client side for access into the information system. Furthermore, certain software must be installed on the hardware, on both server side and client side, for certain functions and programs to work effectively. The role of this information system allows the United States Army to maintain readiness and stay competitive for future endeavors. This is accomplished by allowing service men and woman to be recognized for their achievements throughout their careers through a successful information system. Although there are some improvements that can be made to this system, such as a larger server farm, software configurations, and roles of user accessibility, it keeps us ahead of our potential rivals.
- Directorate, A. G., (2019). iPERMS Access. Retrieved from https://www.hrc.army.mil/content/iPERMS%20Access.
- Manktelow, J., Swift, C., Bishop, L., Bell, S., Bruce, E., Jackson, K., … Robinson, R. (n.d.) Porter’s Five Forces: Understanding Competitive Forces to Maximize Profitability. Retrieved from https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMC_08.htm.
- United States Army. (2015). Army Military Human Resource Record Management. (Department of the Army Pamphlet 600-8-104). Washington, DC: Headquarters, Department of the Army.
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