JPA - specific feedback of faults - Computing.co.uk

#1
Thought that this might be of interest here - a cut & paste from a thread I have just started on PPRuNe.

Rather than hijack any other JPA thread, this is an attempt to focus on specific JPA/JPAC faults that can be forwarded onto someone who might be able to influence things......

This began when someone shortlisted JPA for an award - Computing Awards for Excellence 2007 - it's under "Public Sector Project of the Year" Now, whilst the Drugs Squad finds the person concerned, there is a chance to add your feedback either via the comments here (15 pages so far - no complimentary remarks at all) or if you wish, straight to a more direct source.

The chief reporter from Computing contacted me asking for information; I have her permission to list her contact details:

I am the chief reporter for Computing.

You posted some comments about the shortlisting of the JPA for the Computing Awards and I wondered whether you would be willing to have a chat with me about what the problems with the system are/were. I am happy for our conversation to be entirely informal and off the record if you would prefer.

All the very best
Sarah
020 7316 9629
Sarah.Arnott@incisivemedia.com
Over to you guys!! :wink:
 
#2
Apart from being a new system, which the army always has difficulty with at first, it is a system that relies heavily on the individual taking responsibility for maintaing his or her own record.

In the past there were Pay & Docs clerks within a unit who knew the nuances of the soldiers, their jobs and in some cases what allowances they were allowed. Now a days, the Admin Office is 20% or more undermanned because JPA is to be funded on the back of savings, but this is in fact a false economy.

Soldiers who have a low educational standard or be inexperienced in life skills will find this challenging until they have done things regulalrly. Updating things like Next of Kin or Emergency Contacts is likely to be the main cause for worry. Soldiers have a habit of changing their minds about who they want the MoD to notify because of things like family disputes, falling out with girlfriends/boyfriends etc. There will come a time when Mrs Smith finds out her son was killed in the paper or on the news because Pte Smith's new girlfriend of a week is down as the EC and or NOK.

I believe that JPA is an attept to push the responsibilty of admin onto the soldier and for the "system" to wash their hands of any administrative difficulties.

The support for JPA is poor at best, with JPAC failing on a regular basis to contact the soldiers when queries have been raised but still closing the calls none the less. They are Hardly ITIL compliant. The SLA's that have been set up benefit them and not us, with few avenues for complaint or redress that are effective in resolving an issue quickly and expediently.

Almost everyone who has had to do something on JPA from all 3 services has had something adverse happen, and whilst claims get paid quickly, it is likely to be a system that holds back servicemen from a service they have always enjoyed under the old way with their old pay and admin services.

JPA is certainly the future, but a retrograde future in my opinion
 
#3
Brillaint read of the comments, I have added my own, though I think they must have got the message by now :D
 

Bowmore_Assassin

LE
Moderator
Book Reviewer
#4
Claims paid more quickly - all good and that is about all that is good. You cannot replace a decent military clerk with a software programme.
Bad - OJARs on JPA - all bad, takes 3 times longer to write one as opposed to the 'old' OJAR system. Also, JPA is not up to date in terms of organisational nomenclature and you cannot put your posting preferences on it, even though you are supposed to. I could go on but suffice it to say overall it is a time consuming pain in the arrse and not user-friendly.
 
#5
I find it strange that when the standards of reading and writing of our recently joined soldiers are falling, we deploy a super HR IT system. If soldiers find it difficult to read and write (or type), then how the hell are they going to ensure that their JPA accounts are accurate?

As an aside, and as a degree educated bod, I find that JPA's use of a different language to the one that I have used for years, is intensely irritating. But this is progress, right?

Litotes
 
#6
At a SPS sminar last weekend lots of points were raised on the nuances and problems with JPA, the party line is "this is what you've got, get used to it and get on with it" - no more money left to add any more changes! Word is some of the bolt ons we currently have may be removed due to the amount of re engineering required before deploying updates and the cost thereof.
 
#7
Litotes said:
As an aside, and as a degree educated bod, I find that JPA's use of a different language to the one that I have used for years, is intensely irritating. But this is progress, right?
No, just shows how incompetent the MOD is at purchasing IT projects. If we have a good project, its down to the contractors honesty and integrity - which does exist
 
#8
I've been forwarding comments from PM's sent to me via PPRuNe, some of the JPA errors or overall difficulties are amazing. If the system was linked to a civilian organization, the Financial Director (or equivalent) would be reading his P45.

I hope that lots of you have been emailing the reporter direct!!
 
#9
MikeJenvey said:
I hope that lots of you have been emailing the reporter direct!!
Bearing in mind the recent DIN...

msr
 
#10
<<<< Bearing in mind the recent DIN... >

Would that stop wives, partners, significant others, passing on useful information about JPA fiascos, loss of pay, etc, etc....???
 

Grownup_Rafbrat

LE
Book Reviewer
#11
MikeJenvey said:
I've been forwarding comments from PM's sent to me via PPRuNe, some of the JPA errors or overall difficulties are amazing. If the system was linked to a civilian organization, the Financial Director (or equivalent) would be reading his P45.
Sadly the experience of JPA is very common in civvie street as well as in the military and pretty much all public IT now. Successive Governments and trendy business leaders have 'saved money' by 'outsourcing' their IT to the lowest bidder. This means that the low bidder does not need to deliver a working system which meets the needs of its users, only to meet the dates and contractual obligations outlined in the contract. i.e. 'If it meets the contract, it works and we get big bonuses'. Those who draw up the contracts, being novices, don't do it well enough to enforce the development of decent software.

The way these companies work is to turn the development of IT into a production line, rather like the car industry. Only instead of starting with a design, a chassis and adding bits to it until it looks like a car, they start with a Project Manager, a Requirements Manager, a Contract Manager, a Testing Manager, a Commercials Manager, a Communications Manager, and some other Managers to check that the Project Metrics are correct. Remember, a system is fantastic if the Project Metrics are all green, not if it is fit for purpose!

The actual work is done by separate teams - one lot will look at the requirements (or fit them to the off-the-shelf package which the company knows because they are 'technology partners' with the supplier), another lot does coding, another lot does testing, another lot designs the security, the networks, etc. They may or may not work in the same country or speak the same language. The chances of any of them understanding the business of the end user, whether it's a soldier, a worker in a Job Centre or a Bank Clerk, are nil. All they know is which 'technology partners' they must use.

Because the jobs are de-skilled and there's a need to keep costs low, they're all paid rubbish wages, morale is at rock bottom, and that's another reason why a rubbish job is done.

No individual or person has any responsibility for making sure that the delivered system provides useful functionality. Key checkpoints are missed due to the time constraints imposed by contracts, and at the end it's all thrown live because there's no money left to finish the job.

When it fails final testing, there's always a bunfight where all the suppliers blame one another and fix the problem onto network/coders/late requirements/reluctance to change, etc.

No-one takes into account the time spent by end users or helpful people doing the job which the system doesn't do, as the 'savings' have to be clawed back quickly to demonstrate success and get the massive bonuses for the Client-Facing Directors of the Company.

Post live enhancements then take years and years because there's no money left. And what budget there is has to be used first to change key operational components when their supplier is taken over by the competition.

And of course, the High-ups in the Bank/MOD/DWP/Client end up with jobs or directorships in Accenture, EDS, IBM, CSC, BT ad nauseam.

After nearly 30 years in the IT Industry, I'm totally disillusioned by this mess, and frankly shocked that any IT works at all. Ever.

Rant over. Better go and lie down now.
 
#12
However, if my facts are correct, JPA was a military version of a civilian application (can't remember the name). However, the complexity of the huge number of military differences (trades, qualifications, units, dozens more!) has dragged JPA into a never-ending stream of "bolt-on" fixes. Likewise, the huge number of military personnel needing to access JPA clearly wasn't trialled adequately. Many civilian companies use a personnel system that can be accessed (securely) via a PC/laptop. At one unit in the Middle East, there are over 400 "permanent" personnel + dozens of transit/short stay personnel. One JPA terminal...... useless.
 
#13
Its Civvy Name is Oracle i believe, the name has been left there so that we feel we're getting the same.

I told my wife that JPA was based on Orace and she laughed, her company (a large multinational) stopped using it because it couldn't keep up with people moving around on business.......lucky we don't get involved in moving around then isn't it?!!!!!
 
#14
Make_it_fit said:
Its Civvy Name is Oracle i believe, the name has been left there so that we feel we're getting the same.

I told my wife that JPA was based on Orace and she laughed, her company (a large multinational) stopped using it because it couldn't keep up with people moving around on business.......lucky we don't get involved in moving around then isn't it?!!!!!
Most of the big banks use Oracle......Its a VERY powerful piece of software, its just a pity that the forces have bastardised it as usual.....
 
#15
EX_REME said:
Make_it_fit said:
Its Civvy Name is Oracle i believe, the name has been left there so that we feel we're getting the same.

I told my wife that JPA was based on Orace and she laughed, her company (a large multinational) stopped using it because it couldn't keep up with people moving around on business.......lucky we don't get involved in moving around then isn't it?!!!!!
Most of the big banks use Oracle......Its a VERY powerful piece of software, its just a pity that the forces have bastardised it as usual.....
We bought a COTS version of Oracle and rather than bastardising it to suit our purposes, we changed our practices to meet the needs of the system.

Is anyone else having problems accessing www.computing.co.uk?
 
#16
<<<< We bought a COTS version of Oracle and rather than bastardising it to suit our purposes, we changed our practices to meet the needs of the system. >>>>

Unfortunately not practical for JPA - cancel all leave, detachments, deployments, specialist pay, etc, etc, as it can't cope with those elements (& numerous others)!! :wink:

A thought, if anyone is concerned about the DIN or COMSEC in general, if you want to PM me with your tales of JPA/JPAC woe, then I will cut & paste the text of your message only & forward it to Sarah Arnott. This will obviously cut out any easy way of tracking backward to IQ addresses, etc. However, unless you have no qualms about identity, including something like "I am Lt-Col Smythers of the 21st Foot & Mouth Brigade" might not be appropriate!!

Yes, seems that the "computing" site is currently down - I will check with Sarah.
 
#17
JPA is actually a tailored version of PeopleSoft, an enterprise computing package used by many companies for payroll & personnel management. Oracle is a database management package which does the "filing" bit of the system and sits under the PeopleSoft application.

PeopleSoft does not actually need to use Oracle as it can run of any relational database package that used SQL, however as Oracle bought out PeopleSoft a few years back...!

PeopleSoft is not the major player in the field, this is a product known as SAP. (as I understand it, Oracle is using PeopleSoft as a bit of a loss leader to grab SAP markets, however I digress.)

The way that SAP and PeopleSoft work is that they provide slabs of pre-written code to implement core business processes such as warehousing, sales & production. Software companies, then "tailor" this to meet specific requirements. There is really no limit to the amount of rewriting you can do, however the more you want to deviate from how PeopleSoft think you should run your organisation, the greater the cost and the higher the risk of c*ck up...

So... and I'm sure you all see where this is going..

1. Replace Mil pay staff posts with civvies.
2. Disband all regimental pay and record office and centralise in Glasgow.
3. Recruit swathes of civvies who do not understand what they are doing.
4. Obtain "savings" by cutting staffing levels.
5. Ban "clients" from making enquiries.
6. Find there are too many problems with idiot clerical staff.
7. Decide only solution is to "computerise"...
8. Discover that treasury will only fund if tri-service.
9. Go to tender for cheapest solution.
10. Select supplier who has the longest track record for failure.
11. Be over ambitious in the implementation plan.
12. Ignore disasterous initial fielding.

Am I right or am I right?
 
#18
HE117 said:
JPA is actually a tailored version of PeopleSoft, an enterprise computing package used by many companies for payroll & personnel management. Oracle is a database management package which does the "filing" bit of the system and sits under the PeopleSoft application.

PeopleSoft does not actually need to use Oracle as it can run of any relational database package that used SQL, however as Oracle bought out PeopleSoft a few years back...!

PeopleSoft is not the major player in the field, this is a product known as SAP. (as I understand it, Oracle is using PeopleSoft as a bit of a loss leader to grab SAP markets, however I digress.)

The way that SAP and PeopleSoft work is that they provide slabs of pre-written code to implement core business processes such as warehousing, sales & production. Software companies, then "tailor" this to meet specific requirements. There is really no limit to the amount of rewriting you can do, however the more you want to deviate from how PeopleSoft think you should run your organisation, the greater the cost and the higher the risk of c*ck up...

So... and I'm sure you all see where this is going..

1. Replace Mil pay staff posts with civvies.
2. Disband all regimental pay and record office and centralise in Glasgow.
3. Recruit swathes of civvies who do not understand what they are doing.
4. Obtain "savings" by cutting staffing levels.
5. Ban "clients" from making enquiries.
6. Find there are too many problems with idiot clerical staff.
7. Decide only solution is to "computerise"...
8. Discover that treasury will only fund if tri-service.
9. Go to tender for cheapest solution.
10. Select supplier who has the longest track record for failure.
11. Be over ambitious in the implementation plan.
12. Ignore disasterous initial fielding.

Am I right or am I right?
I think you're right....;-)
 
#20
I won't paste all the replies from the thread on PPRuNe, but this is my latest post from there:

Anyway, spoke with Sarah this morning, the plot thickens....... shall we say the "opposition" might be getting worried!! Sarah says big thanks for all the contributions so far (she is aware of the "gagging" DIN), & reiterates that anything sent direct to her is in complete confidence - more inputs welcome via PM to me (cut 'n paste of message text only, no screen-name, etc) or email directly to her:


Sarah.Arnott@incisivemedia.com


Probably at least one more week timescale for feedback (maybe more), so please keep the horror stories rolling in. Not quite enough for a book yet, but not far off it!!

However, this load of twaddle HAS to be included, just to show the corporate mentality of EDS:

From EDS's website
Q: From EDS’ perspective, what other client initiatives stand out as shared services successes?
A: Trudy McKnight

There are also some remarkable examples if you look outside the United States. For example, EDS recently implemented the Joint Personnel Administration (JPA) system for the UK Armed Forces Personnel Administration Agency (now known as the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency).

JPA is an innovative, envelope-pushing application modernization program that makes comprehensive use of Oracle Suite functionality. The program has enabled a world-class business transformation in the way that the Ministry of Defence (MOD) provides pay, pension, and personnel administration services to the UK Armed Forces. JPA has allowed the ministry to harmonize and rationalize pay and allowances across all three services; supports remote secure system access whether on land, at sea, or on operational duties worldwide; and provides self-service access for more than 300,000 users to view pay slips, change personal details, and submit on-line expenses and leave requests. JPA also supports a one-stop Enquiry Centre that handles 20,000 calls a week.

As you’d expect, the benefits for the MOD have been significant. Less administration is required to deliver an improved service; information needs to be entered only once, reducing errors and saving time; management reporting has been improved; and the time to introduce new policy or legislative changes has been reduced.

The business benefits from JPA to the MOD started to flow almost immediately. In its first full year of operation, the program is expected to deliver overall savings of £100 million, which is being redirected to operations."

"JPA is an innovative, envelope-pushing application modernization program" etc, so you must all be wrong.


The site also has her email address:

trudy.mcknight@eds.com
 
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