Tag Archives: SSD

Army Career Tracker helps leaders monitor SSD, mentor Soldiers

ACT_LogoEarlier this year the Army made it mandatory for Soldiers to complete their respective Structured Self Development Courses before attending their corresponding level of Noncommissioned Officer Education System courses – SSD I before attending the Warrior Leader Course, SSD III before attending the Senior Leader Course, and SSD IV before attending the Sergeants Major Course.

Because of this mandate leaders across the Army are becoming more involved in the supervision of their Soldiers’ progress, or lack thereof, in SSD course completion. Many still are asking the question, “How do I track a Soldier’s progress within SSD?”

The answer is the Army Career Tracker – a web-based leadership tool developed by U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command’s Institute for Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development, or INCOPD.

“The capabilities of the Army Career Tracker allow both first line supervisors and the command the ability to track SSD,” said Jeffery Colimon, chief of the Learning Integration Division, INCOPD at Fort Eustis, Va., and a retired sergeant major. “In more than one way the first line supervisor can track the progress of the individual Soldiers who are enrolled in SSD and the command, using the staff function, can aggregate the data and find out exactly how many people are enrolled in SSD and how many have graduated  –all the way down to the individual Soldier level.”

While not mandatory for enrollment as of yet, the Army Career Tracker has more than 650,000 users, about 50 percent of the target population, which includes Army civilians, officers, enlisted and Reserve Component Soldiers. Colimon said that with the revision of Army Regulation 350-1, Army Training and Leader Development, due out early next year, all personnel will be required to have an Army Career Tracker account in order to access their individual development plan.

“One of the most dynamic things about the Army Career Tracker is that we have the capability to allow the proponent to place the career map in a section on the ACT called My Planner. In that section users are able to see the career maps of their current MOS (military occupational specialty) and grade, and also look across the [entire] career field to see what the recommendations are for key areas such as SSD, assignments, training, civilian education, and credentialing,” said Khadijah Sellers, a senior operations analyst with Enspyr, a contractor working with INCOPD to develop and maintain ACT. “All that can be selected by the users and can be added to the individual development plan within the ACT and is the only place where the IDP is contained. It also has been mandated to be used and will in an upcoming revision to AR 350-1 as a requirement.”

That requirement, Sellers said, mandates that within 30 days of an individual going to their first duty station and with the assistance of their leader they will start their IDP and it will be reviewed annually for the duration of their service.

“That is one of the forcing functions that we have,” Colimon said. “In addition to that, there are emerging regulations on sponsorship which also has some mandatory functions that are inside the Army Career Tracker for Soldiers, the sponsors and the key stakeholders. They will be required to go into ACT in support of the sponsorship of an individual.”

 Cognos reporting system

With the Staff Function reports, G3s can see all the way down to the individual soldier as to how many are enrolled and completed.
With the Staff Function reports, G3s can see all the way down to the individual soldier as to how many are enrolled and completed.

While the ACT is a single point of entry for career and leadership development, it is also a powerful management tool which allows leaders at all levels to see what their Soldiers are doing as it relates to education and training and career management.

“One of the great things about Cognos and the staff role function is the command can [see] all the way down to the lowest UIC, company, detachment level and also is able to provide a by-name list out of that showing where the individual’s status is,” said Brian Lijana a training analyst with TMG Government a contractor supporting ACT. “We have a few different reports that track SSD. There’s an SSD report that gives straight forward facts of who is enrolled and who’s completed in each level regardless of rank, regardless of what schooling or NCOES courses they have taken. Then we also have our PME report. This report has been built in with logic to take into account the MEL/MES codes (the military education level and status codes) and match that with their SSD to show exactly what that Soldier needs – if they are required to enroll or complete WLC, or they need to complete SSD I, and that is based on their rank and their MLS code and SSD completion.”

Lijana added that with the Cognos reporting system, supervisors or first line leaders can look at a Soldier’s record and instantly see what that Soldier has done.

“When a supervisor, first line leader, looks at a Soldier’s record they see a thermometer. This thermometer is listed with the same PME structure SSD I, WLC, ALC, SSD III and so on all the way up to SSD V, and it can show what a Soldier has completed, if they are enrolled in a level and what their next level would be,” he said.

The reporting systems of the Army Career Tracker provides supervisors and first-line leaders all types of reports on individual Soldiers like this report above which shows a Soldier’s level of military education completion, goals attained and a comparison charts to others in the same occupational specialty.
The reporting systems of the Army Career Tracker provides supervisors and first-line leaders all types of reports on individual Soldiers like this report above which shows a Soldier’s level of military education completion, goals attained and a comparison charts to others in the same occupational specialty.

That kind of reporting ability allows for ACT to be a great tool for career counseling, Colimon added.

“This thing about tracking SSD and the first line supervisor to see this and that are collateral benefits that we have built into the system. None of them will be successful if in fact the individual doesn’t go in there, with the assistance of the first line supervisor, and manage their career,” Colimon said. “[Through ACT] the first line supervisor can actually coach, mentor and counsel an individual with a specific framework. They have a [map] to do that right in front of them. [The supervisor] can make recommendations on training and education opportunities as well as assignment opportunities, and the individual can see what is required of them to reach the next level.”

ACT levels the playing field

The ACT can manage a Soldier’s entire career, however short or long that may be, by allowing them to see what training, education, assignments, or certifications they might need in order to meet their goals. Because this is available to everyone, it establishes a level playing field, something that was not the case in the past when it came to career management.

“In the past, we had a lot of Soldiers that were equipped with good information from their leaders, their first line supervisor, and then we had Soldiers that were not equipped with that information,” said Master Sgt. Chadwick W. Wormer, ACT senior military analyst at INCOPD. “The ACT is leveling the playing field by giving every Soldier the same information and the same opportunities at their fingertips so they don’t have to base their career on good, or not so good, leadership.”

ACT has the ability to pull information from multiple systems in order to alleviate the need for an individual to go to different websites and portals to see their information, Colimon said.

“One of the things that is unique about the ACT is that all data is personalized within this cradle to grave, hire to retire, system,” he said. “What can I do within the current window of opportunity within my career to enhance my military education, civilian education, credentialing, and certifications, and also to become a better professional Soldier?”

Because of limited user licenses available for the Cognos reporting system, Wormer said that they are limiting the Staff Function report to the G3s at each post.

“We try to ensure access is given to the highest level G3 on the installation,” Wormer said.  Once the access is given, it is asked that the user share with everyone on the installation.  The report is in Excel, so it is easily sorted, filtered and further broken down by UIC.”

Installation G3s needing access to the Staff Function reporting must fill out INCOPD Form 1-R-E. To request a form email ACT.now@us.army.mil.

USASMA continues SSD update

The U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy announced recently that the entire suite of Structured Self-Development levels, or SSD, is going through a maintenance phase in order to bring a better NCO professional development product to the field.

Similar to the new interface that was developed for the Advanced Leaders Course Common Core, the new Graphics User Interface for the suite of Structured Self-Development Courses will now bring a more user-friendly experience.
Similar to the new interface that was developed for the Advanced Leaders Course Common Core, the new Graphics User Interface for the suite of Structured Self-Development Courses will now bring a more user-friendly experience.

“We never stop when it comes to ensuring we provide the force with the best possible NCOES experience and that includes all of our distance learning courses as well,” Command Sgt. Maj. Rory Malloy, USASMA commandant said. “Earlier this year we improved the user experience of those enrolled in the Advanced Leaders Course-Common Core, and now we have set our focus on doing the same for structured self-development.”
Currently the entire SSD suite is going through an update.
“All SSD I and SSD V lessons are in a maintenance phase in order to update course materials with current references and a new user-friendly graphics user interface,” Sgt. Maj. Andy Tafua, director of Structured Self-Development said. “It will have a new look and feel, something we believe those enrolled will appreciate.”
Tafua said that SSD III and SSD IV have already incorporated the new GUI and will be introduced to the force after the first of the year.
“SSD III will have seven new lessons added to the course and SSD IV will have 25 new lessons,” he said adding that SSD V went through a limited user test in September and that they are currently addressing all identified deficiencies and hope to have the course ready for release by the end of 2014.
The new GUI updates replaces the older Flash-based interface which was slow and buggy, said Jason Henderson of the Academy’s Interactive Multimedia Instruction section which developed the new interface.
“The new interface is fast, stable and only uses Flash when absolutely required,” he said. “New navigation reduces mouse travel and allows for a more user-friendly experience.”
Some of the improvements with the new interface include: Student progress is displayed using a progress bar and page numbers; references are linked and take Soldiers to the exact page where content is located; and lessons now have a full-featured audio control which allows Soldiers to pause, play, or scrub to the exact point in the audio clip they desire.
“The new GUI has been tested on Mac OS 10.7, and Windows 8, 7, Vista, and XP; Internet Explorer 11, 10, 9, 8; Firefox 25-17; Safari 6, 5; Chrome 29-23; Opera 12,” Henderson said noting that the Army Learning Management System may limit the browsers and operating systems accessing their system. “There are many other new features that enhance the learning experience and Soldiers will reap the benefits by having a much better learning experience.”

 

Note: MILPER MESSAGE 13-343, STRUCTURED SELF DEVELOPMENT (SSD) SEMI-CENTRALIZED PROMOTIONS, ISSUED: [25 NOV 13]. This message applies to Active Army and the USAR and AGR. Effective 1 Jan 14 completion of SSD-1 is a promotion eligibility requirement for consideration to the rank of SGT. On or about 2 Dec 13, SSD-1 will no longer qualify Soldiers for earning 16 promotion points for course completion and will be removed from the eMILPO correspondence course table. Commanders must ensure SPCs and CPLs complete SSD-1 before recommending them for promotion board appearance or command list integration (CLI) to SGT effective with the promotion board cycle for 1 Jan 14. On or about 1 Jan 14, all promotable SPC and CPL who have not completed SSD-1 will be automatically removed from the SGT  recommended list (as ineligible). https://www.milsuite.mil/book/docs/DOC-125732 The number to the SSD Help Desk is 1-800-275-2872 opt. 5