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U.S. Department of Defense

Modernizing the military enlistment process

What is MIRS?

MIRS, or the MEPCOM (Military Entrance Processing Command) Integrated Resource System, is a software system used to track military applicants during their enlistment process. It houses applicants’ aptitude tests, medical exams, pre-enlistment interviews, background checks, and more. Over a three-year period, Tandem’s software consultants engaged with MEPCOM team members to lead a complete re-envisioning of the system.

The Legacy System

Tandem led the development of the front-end user interface, back-end systems, and integrations for MIRS 1.1, which replaced the legacy MIRS system that had been in place for more than 25 years.

The legacy system was extremely inefficient and cumbersome because data processed at a particular facility wasn’t available to any other MEPS location until the overnight syncing process finished.

Moreover, it crashed frequently, and memorizing the many customized keyboard shortcuts made for a steep learning curve. There were efforts to modernize the system over time, but ultimately the system needed an overhaul to achieve the needed level of efficiency, security, and reliability.

User Research & Prototyping

To create an intuitive workflow while processing such a high volume of sensitive information, Tandem’s product design and software engineering teams conducted extensive user research and prototyping before using an Agile development process to build and test the product.

 

When completing user research, Tandem talked to field advisors from all three departments within MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Stations) located across the U.S.  Tandem used the research findings to create a product that mimicked the field advisors’ workflow and incorporated their feedback to enable them to do their job effectively and efficiently every day.

Building & Testing the Product

Before putting any hands on keys, we gathered and solidified requirements from more than a dozen stakeholders to create comprehensive, end-to-end requests. Many of the services we integrated did not have APIs and had varying degrees of access for testing environments. We gathered all of the information into one place, and by doing so, we helped MEPCOM and its stakeholders learn more about their business logic than ever before.

Between 5 branches of the armed services and several external Human Resources and medical organizations, the team had 11 integrations to account for when building and testing MIRS 1.1.

 

Over three years, we completed around 60 demos to ensure that every integration worked together seamlessly. Tandem transitioned MIRS from text files to a GraphQL API customized for the information they needed, which helped drive consistent implementation that is easier to maintain and iterate.

 

With this consolidation of implementations, iteration and continuous improvement is much more streamlined than it had been with the legacy system. Today, more than one million applicants are in the system and nearly 90,000 enlistment contracts have been signed.

Creating the user flow, customer journey, and screens to reflect the contracting process was extremely rewarding because it was so critical. Tandem’s product design team carefully considered the user flow and each page layout, making sure to include familiar acronyms and jargon. We created different paths based on how the applicant was contracted. Without this feature, applicants would legally not be allowed to process through the military. Importantly, MEPCOM team members can now see all of the applicants’ information in one place rather than logging into multiple portals.

 

Ultimately, the improved user flow has improved morale and dramatically decreased onboarding time at MEPS locations across the United States. It used to take several months and a 200-page manual for new employees to become proficient with the old MIRS system — after the complete redesign led by Tandem’s product designers and software engineers, that training now takes a matter of days.

Training Materials

Tandem developed training materials to facilitate the adoption of MIRS 1.1 in MEPS across the United States. To make the transition painless, we created 20 clear and engaging training videos covering each feature of MIRS 1.1 so that both new and existing employees can familiarize themselves with the application. All the training videos live in a library, so anyone onboarding or who needs pointers has a repository of videos they can visit.

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Throughout the three-year project, Tandem evolved MEPCOM’s software development approach from a waterfall process to an agile one, transforming the way they work. MIRS 1.1 is a modern, user-friendly, intuitive platform that helps field advisors process applicants through to the military faster than ever before. This program is at the center of the advisors’ jobs. Not only does MIRS 1.1 help field advisors get their work done, but it’s also something they genuinely enjoy using — and that’s how we know we’ve done our job right.

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