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News | Feb. 8, 2023

User-Centered Approach Guides USMIRS Evolution

By Derrik Noack

The development and launch of USMEPCOM Integrated Resource System (USMIRS) 1.1 in 2021 was one of the most critical modernization efforts in USMEPCOM’s history. Feb. 10 marks the second anniversary of the system launching, but there are no “terrible twos” here. With updates released biweekly and major innovations due later this year, USMIRS 1.1 is on track to reach high viability before it even turns three.

When it launched, USMIRS 1.1 only contained the essentials. The barebones program was just enough to process an applicant into the military. By design, the initial minimal viable product has grown with user feedback.

“We work with users to really get an understanding of what they want from the system,” said Jake Rhodes, J-6, technology development division chief. “We bring them into our design sessions and our IT specialists visit the MEPS for feedback. Obviously, we have policy and procedures that can limit designs. Sometimes we can’t give them the world, we can only give them a continent. But the user remains our focus.”

So far, the system has greatly increased efficiency in the daily tasks of MEPS personnel. Frank Schwartz, Milwaukee MEPS’s lead human resources assistant, worked with the legacy System 80 and USMIRS 1.0 systems during his 37 years at the MEPS. The days of remembering specific codes are long gone and he enjoys the ease of USMIRS 1.1.

“Manual processing seems Jurassic to what it is now,” Schwartz said. “There were some people who thought, if it wasn’t broke then why fix it, but it was a pretty smooth transition. Finding and transferring information during processing is so much easier now and we waste a lot less paper.”

Software releases for USMIRS 1.1 are like commercial technology updates, with bug fixes, performance enhancements and overall improved user experience. As of the beginning of February 2023, roughly two years since the launch, the version is “USMIRS V.1.93.0.” The first digit, 1, will stay the same and signifies the major version. The middle digit is what changes every two weeks with the software release. The last digit is the hot fix version. If there is an error or bug needed to be fixed outside of the two-week cycle, the last number will change.

“If it’s a big feature, it might take multiple sprints to finish,” said Rhodes. “Document upload, a big feature for us, took three sprints.”

From start to finish, developing and launching software releases is a seven-step process. It takes a lot of coordination from both internal and external parties, but the design process remains user centered.

“First, we work with the J-3 Product Management branch to obtain the business requirements,” said Rhodes. “We then translate them into technical requirements. From there we work with developers and designers. We then do quality assurance and user acceptance testing, and then we do the deployment planning. We reach out to actual users in the field and run the designs by them and see if they work with their process flow. Then we work with our Quality Assurance branch, who does final testing and validation.”

Significant innovations planned include USMIRS 1.1 and MHS GENESIS integration, as well as applicant photos in the system.

“We know those things will add a lot of value to the users’ lives,” said Rhodes. “We have a big list of priority items that we’re working through over the next year. Obviously, we can only do so much, and develop so fast, while still making sure we are doing our quality assurance.”

USMEPCOM Product Management welcomes feedback following each software release. Users can share their thoughts or ask questions by visiting the product management milSuite site. To submit feedback, use the “ask USMEPCOM Product Management” feature at