The Paperless Office

Discussion in 'Reports & Promotion' started by skintboymike, Feb 18, 2011.

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  1. Firstly, the two scenarios which have prompted this thread;

    1. I have just been asked by my TC to summarize, in 5 bullet points, my personal achievements for the last reporting year. Now forgive me for any wrong assumptions I may make, but isn't that what the 'Personal Objectives' section of JPA is for? I spend time every year ensuring my objectives are up to date, but obviously no one even looks at them.

    2. The procedure for submitting leave requests in my unit involves asking first if the dates we want are free, then writing out a leave pass, then forwarding the leave pass to SHQ for the clerk to process on JPA. `

    Now, this thread isn't to whinge about the above two points (they are relatively easily obstacles to tackle). However, I've become increasingly annoyed at the lack of trust being shown by the COC when it comes to their troops' use of DII and JPA. I personally think they are very handy tools (if a little unrefined) which have the resources to do away with a great deal of pointless paper shuffling. A lot of money, time and effort has been spent getting this kit up and running, so it seems a bit of a waste if no one is really using it properly.

    I should point out that this is the second unit I've been to that has these hang ups and apprehensions, so it's certainly not an isolated case. Why is the army so loathe to trust modern technology?
     
  2. Personally, I think that is a step missing from the JPA SJAR/OJAR.

    In addition to specifiying personal objectives (and there is some debate whether these objectives should be 'specified' from higher, or 'agreed'), I believe the subject should also be given the opportunity to comment on how (or if) they met their objectives. I think it is this which your TC is asking for, and I would make the most of such an opportunity to have your say, whilst you have time to think about it.
     
  3. Any self respecting boss should know what his boys and girls have done without having to ask them to spell it out for him. Why are Personal Objectives even on JPA, if not to be used as a point of reference when appraisals are due?

    I would never let technology (or lack thereof) negatively affect my SJAR. As it happens, I regularly update a Word document saved on my laptop, which shows what was achieved and when (I don't plan objectives too far ahead, life's too unpredictable for that). This enables me to have my objectives to hand at a moment's notice.

    I only intended to use those two scenarios as examples of how negative the army can be with regards to sole reliance on IT. Let's face it - Absence Requests, SJARs/OJARs, Personal Objectives, Expense claims - they can all be achieve without wasting a single sheet of paper. However, the army still insists upon making hard copies of everything, or, worst case, running a complete paper system alongside the electronic version. Waste of time, waste of resources.
     
  4. Auld-Yin

    Auld-Yin LE Reviewer Book Reviewer Reviews Editor

    SBM, I agree that a good boss will know what his guys have done. However the perception of what has been achieved may be totally polar so it is not a bad idea to get then thoughts of someone prior to discussing the issues. You may have a different view on what you have done, your main effort and how that has gone towards achieving objectives. Getting your view recognised is important and you should use the opportunity to the full.
     
  5. JPA Role = information lifted largely from Job Spec.

    JPA Objectives = in year objectives set by 1RO, in consultation with Subject, at Start of Appraisal Period. Should include any secondary duties, CPD, specified tasks etc - to be reviewed at the MPAR point.

    This is often misunderstood, put simply how can you deliver an MPAR without setting objectives; how can you deliver an SJAR without reviewing objectives and testing & adjusting at MPAR point.

    As for asking for bullets of achievements, i think that this is perfectly reasonable. 1ROs can't know everything about everybody that they report on, particularly if there are large numbers in the reporting chain - however if the Start of Appraisal and MPAR are done properly this should mitigate the need.

    As for leave passes, i've seen this done both ways. Keeping track of leave just from JPA can get tricky, plus its always good to have a back up of leave address in Troop Commanders' Bible for when JPA access not avail.
     
  6. A-Y, My boss is asking for a 5 Bullet point summary of my reporting year, nothing more, nothing less. He has no interest in my own perceptions of my achievements, he merely wants something to write about in an SJAR for a soldier he doesn't know as well as he should. I have provided over and above what was asked for, in an effort to ensure nothing from my reporting year is missed. My SJAR will be right up there with the best in my regiment - that's not going to be a problem, and I have no concerns whatsoever in this respect (but the way my trade is, I've basically got the shiniest lottery ticket, and that's about it). However, that's not what I'm trying to bring people's attention towards.

    After typing up my SJAR he will print off a hard copy, which will live in my P-File (probably together with the summary I've given him). Whenever I submit a leave pass it will also live in the P-file. All my course reports, correspondence, claims, leave passes, MPARs, SJARs, EVERYTHING will live in this P-file. A hard copy P-file. One single copy. When it gets lost (as one has done in the past) that's it, it's gone forever. Surely JPA has been given to us as a transparent way of dispensing with the mountains of unnecessary paperwork?
     
  7. Good practice, assuming one actually receives an initial consultation or MPAR in the first place. I didn't receive the latter this year, I have never received the former.

    By cuffing it. As many reporting officers regularly do.

    There are two NCO's to report upon. Not too taxing really, is it?

    I'll probably agree with you in part there. My cynicism derives from recent experience, whereby the unit were told that no leave days at all will be carried forward into next year (not even the automatic 15 days). The problem with the system I mentioned before is that it's very difficult to prove you've been refused leave at any point, whereas JPA Absence Management has been designed with this in mind.
     
  8. The problem is that you're dealing with an instinctive bureaucrat (and there's a lot of them about, in uniform as well as in civvies. In fact, I think I've probably seen more in the military than out of it). Such people see new technology as something that has to support long-standing processes, rather than seeking to replace the old process with something that's different, but more efficient.

    A common complaint is something like 'but this won't give me the single page with all the telephone numbers I might need every month, which I've always had in the past, so I'll have to get someone to do it manually. And since they've taken my tp/pl/coy/sqn/bty clerks as a savings measure, I'll have to make one of the lads do it on top of his normal job. This new technology is rubbish..." If he or she were to phone the bn/regt duty clerk (who's generally still in place), then they'll have info that's much more likely to be accurate and hasn't wasted anyone's time producing lists that are rarely if ever used.

    Don't forget the only thing that's more difficult than getting a new thought into a military mind is getting the old one out!

    Don
     
  9. The problem is that if these old dinosaur attitudes are allowed to continue the way they are, the next generation of squaddies will be technophobes too.
     
  10. True, but remember what happened to dinosaurs. We may find that SDSR and all the grief around it marks the beginning of the end for those who are determined to resist change. I wouldn't wish what's happening now on any Army, but if it culls some of those who are determined to try and keep the Army in the dark ages, and let the brighter element take more of a lead, then there may be some benefit.

    In the meantime why not do as I've done, and subtly take the piss out of them. It isn't difficult - we're talking about people who think using a smartphone is evidence of intellectual or technical accomplishment (and that's just to make a call). And what are they going to do when they begin to suspect, but someone's still got to run all this complicated stuff for them - sack you? Cheer up, and enjoy yourself!

    Don
     
  11. MrBane

    MrBane War Hero Reviewer Reviews Editor

    There is not 'One P file'. Each soldier has numerous P files at various locations in his unit. One at your clerks station and one at your CMO, at the very least. If you're a switched on soldier you'll check every three months that the two correspond as best they can. Be aware the CMO copy will not carry much of the admin crap your clerks copy will. Course reports yes, CR's, yes, but it's up to you to check they're all up to date. I know it's not really up to you, but that's the safest bet.

    If you're very switched on there will be at least a third copy, held by you. You have full access to your P file. I popped in to my CMO the other week and asked if I could remove my file for an hour to update my own records with photocopies. More than happy to oblige. However I then got the; "Shut the door, have a seat. Been meaning to talk to you." which is never good! :)

    Also, any 1RO that doesn't know his soldiers is frankly, and honestly, a shit officer. Our old OC knew every single one of us and what we were doing. Ultimately, we're his soldiers that follow him to war. He damn well wants to know each of us in detail as he wants to know the calibre of man he's fighting alongside.

    As for leave passes the motto is simple; "Got leave? Submit it."

    That's why it goes for Approval. You put in your dates for your holidays that you want and then your Approver should give it the thumbs up / down within a few days. If he gives it the thumbs up, tough titty for him if an exercise or whatever is planned in for that period, he should've checked.
     
  12. Correct, but that's only while the soldier is there. When Pte Bloggs is posted the RCMO and his line manager give his files to the docs clerk to forward on to his next unit as one package. I've had to track down some missing docs myself (unsuccessfully), I'm just glad it wasn't mine that went missing.

    A well maintained personal electronic record could ensure that all relevant departments had access to the bits they need, and would do away with reams of duplicated paperwork everywhere.
     
  13. Agreed, however:

    There are sometimes however circumstances where this is not the case through no fault of the individuals, perhaps an unfortunate sequence of postings, here's an example for a Pte rank:

    1RO leaves at end of Feb having signed off so annual SJAR cannot be advanced - ordinariliy the incoming 1RO could delay the report until Jul or Aug in order to know the bloke - however the Pte is posted himself in early June.

    The soldier is on leave for most of March in order to clear his leave card prior to April - let's say he was deployed earlier in the leave year - the unit is then on Easter stand-down until May whereupon the 1RO is on a two week exercise which the soldier is not. The 1RO then returns from exercise and the soldier has a week left in the unit and is booking out prior to his relocation leave.

    In the above (entirely ficticous yet plausible) example who is to blame for the RO and soldier not knowing each other? There is nothing that the RO can do other than rely on others (and indeed the soldier himself) for 'notes' or advice etc and indeed trust hid gut instincts. This is unfortunately the reality of life at times, and I only raise this point as whilst I agree that ROs who don't know their soldiers are shit, there are times when it is simply unavoidable.