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The Australia Post – Case Study

Paper Outline

The Australia Post: Background Information
Overview of the organizational structure of the Australia Post

Notable strategic organizational development and change in the Australia Post

Areas of focus for the company as it enters into the future
Organizational transformation using Information Technology
The labor problem


The Australia Post – Case Study
The Australia Post: Background Information
The Australia Post is state owned agency in Australia. The name Australia Post is the brand name of the Australia Postal Corporation. It operates in the Australia mail dispatch industry. This is one of the oldest agencies under the Australia Public sector and which has been operating since the early 1800s. Since then, it has managed to undergo transformation in order to cope with the changing business environment. The agency deals with the delivery of a wide range of mails in the country. The firm has been operational for quite a long time. Also, the company has been expanding its business operations, which now include electronic mail delivery services and the distribution of electronic mail services. The other services that have been introduced by the company include the billing services and money transfer and banking services (Herr and Herr, 2011).
The company is operating in an industry that is very competitive. The competition arises from active firms in the industry including TNT, DHL and FedEx. This can be termed as one of the companies in Australia that has undergone a great deal of business transformation. The transformation has greatly contributed to the success of the company. Most of the changes in the company have taken place within the last twenty years during which competition in the industry has been stiffening. Most of the changes have been aimed at broadening and diversifying the range of service delivery by the company. As of today, the company carries out operations in three major areas which include letters and the associated services, retail merchandising and agency services, and parcel delivery and logistics. The firm has expanded its operations, which are now discharged via various subsidiaries and joint ventures. One of its main joint venture is Sai Cheng Logistics International which is a subsidiary of the China Post (Brimson, 2008).
Overview of the organizational structure of the Australia Post
The Australia Post has an elaborate system of corporate governance that is stipulated in the way it spreads and discharges organizational responsibilities. The organization has various administrative hierarchies eminent in the administrative bodies running the company. These include the shareholder ministers and the board that has two administrative committees. However, it is evident that there is little hierarchy in the organization due to the little number of administrative organs. This denotes reduced centralization in the organization which is a precursor to faster communication and discharge of duties for improved performance of the corporation (Financial Review, 2012; Australia Post, n. d). Many organizations are working on de-bureaucratization as a means of pacing up work and delivering best results. Australian Post has little bureaucracy that is contrary to many other government agencies. This is the reason why the corporation has managed to position itself in the industry which has many private and competitive firms (Palmer, 2007). The overall administrative body of the company is the board which is led by a chairman and deputy chairman. There are nine directors who form the board of the Company. Out of the nine directors, eight of them serve as nonexecutive members. The only executive member who sits on the board is the managing director who is also the chief executive officer of the corporation. The board is the overall decision making organ of the organization. It deliberates on the strategies of the companies before either approving or disapproving them (Australia Post Website, 2012).
The second powerful organ of the Australia Post is the executive committee, which is chaired by the chief executive officer of the company. This committee is composed of executives heading different operational sections of the company. They are the main strategists of the organization. The exact members who sit on the board include: the executive, general manager in charge of postal services; the executive, general manager heading retail services and the executive, general manager heading e-services. Others are the executive, general manager heading the finance and business service operations; the executive, general manager in charge of corporate affairs and the general manager heading the human resource department. Lastly, there is the general manager in charge of governance and assurance and the chief of staff. The committee meets to deliberate on the strategies of the company and then forwards their recommendations to the board, which further deliberates on them and makes the final recommendations. Each operational section of the company is headed by the general, chief executive officers who are directly accountable to the chief executive office of the company. The chief executive officer of the company is answerable and accountable to the organization’s board (Australia Post Website, 2012).
The Board is the chief accounting body to the shareholders of the company. It sets the objectives of the company and lays down the strategies to help in meeting the objectives. Planning is done on a three year basis. The board prepares and rolls out its corporate plan after every three months. The plan is closely monitored as it continues to be implemented. A progress report is prepared quarterly and forms a basis on which the plan is streamlined. For the effective discharge of the elaborate functions of the organization, the board operates through board committees. There are two main board committees for the organization; the human resources committee and the audit and risk committee. The audit and risk committee concentrates on handling matter to do with finance, accounting, auditing and risk control for the organization. The human resources committee concentrates on the matter to do with the employees of the corporation. These include the formulation and deliberation on human resource policies, remuneration and structural issues. The formulation of different administrative units in the organization helps in the deliberation of different issues in the organization. The issues are deeply discussed so as to get solutions and streamline the performance of the organization. The issues are separated and handled in an amicable manner. This is a desirable step and action in strategic management and can be termed as good foundation on which to carry out corporate governance (Australia Post Website, 2012). The organization has many employees working on both permanent and temporary basis. By end of the year 2011, the organization had 23,369 permanent employees and over 10, 000 non permanent employees (Australia Post Website, 2012).
Operating as a government agency and utilizing the government resources, the Australia Post has undergone tremendous strategic changes that have helped to position the company in the industry. This has enabled it to become self sustainable in the sense that it funds its own operations and makes profits (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, 2006). This has enabled the company to have the widest coverage and clientele in Australia which surpasses the clientele of the private competitors by far. This is a great achievement for an agency of the government thatoffers services at subsidized rates. From simple delivery of parcels and mails, the Australia Post now deals in a wide range of business activities that make the company match the prevailing demand for services. Financial and banking services have been fully incorporate into the operations of the company. Also, direct marketing functions and database management operations have been fully adopted and are being discharged by the company. Logistical and fulfillment functions are also among the operations of the company. All these denote huge growth and the aspect of business adaptability by the company. The company has had a strong transformational growth curve that has been prompted by the strategic changes that have been implemented by it (Australia Post, n. d).
Notable strategic, organizational development and change in the Australia Post
In the year 2009, the National Archives of Australia joined hands with Australia Post in developing the Records Authority. This set the requirements and guidelines for either keeping or destruction of records in the core areas of operation. These areas include commercial operations, customer relations, corporate governance, collection management, mail operations, external relations, stamp management and post fleet and logistics management and strategic management. Under this deal, the National Archive of Australia was to commit to understanding, creating and managing the records on behalf of Australia Post. This eased activities for Australia Post as it gave the company the permission for the destruction, retention, and even the transferring of records to the National Archives of Australia. The authority assesses the records and sets timelines of the retention period for the records. The assessment report is the basis on which Australia Post disposes records that are no longer in need. This has improved record management by Australia Post. Therefore, this has positively impacted on the general, administrative practice of the company. Important information is sorted and safeguarded for future reference (Australian Government and National Archives of Australia, 2009).
Areas of focus for the company as it enters into the future
Bryan(2005) noted that futuristic prospects are important for any company that has a vision, and which intends to have sustainable growth. The future prospects of growth are based on the present developments and the opportunities that are imminent in the industry. So far, it can be argued that the organization has done well in capturing a number of opportunities that are prevailing in the business environment in which it exists (Australia Post, 2009).The company needs to work on the further broadening of its market and business shares in certain business segments which look more promising. These include the banking and the financial services sector. More customers are found here, and the company can attract if it deeply ventures into offering these diversified services. Strengthening the market share in the delivery of express mail is another can further enhance the performance of the company (Australia Post Website, n. d).
The prospective areas of growth for the Australia Post lie in the improvement and upgrading the way they deliver their services. Improvement of service delivery systems is one of the most effective ways through which an organization can improve its performances. Effective organizational change often originates from within the organization. Internal change strengthens the internal systems thus fastening the quality of services that are delivered by a company. One way of improving efficiency in the organization is by strengthening of automated systems to enhance the speed and efficiency of delivering services to customers. Automated systems are faster and result into a cut overhead costs that emanate from the use of analog systems of delivering services to customers. Automation can be a precursor to attaining one stop shopping services. This is in respect to the range of services that the company is offering. This will thus further attracts more customers hence more opportunities for the company.
Organizational transformation using Information Technology
Child and McGrath (2001) observe that information technology is the key too that is being used by organizations to transform their services and improve the performance. The Australia Post is one of the organizations that have realized the essence of employing information technology in service improvement. The program to use information technology in improving service delivery was fully initiated in the year 2006. This was to serve as part of a retrenchment program that was supposed to relieve the inefficient staffs by replacing them with IT systems controlled by few employees (Tay, 2012). While the systems were introduced, it was difficult to attain the objectives of the strategy due to various setbacks that still haunt the organization up to this moment. The setbacks emanates from labor and industrial relations principles. The organization had permanent employees who according to labor laws cannot be easily removed from the organization.
As of today, the organization has approximately 1000 IT staffs. However, the overhead costs of the organization have not significantly dropped as was expected. This is because the organization has been forced to retain most of the staffs by reassigning them to other tasks within the organization. However, it is worthwhile echoing the introduction initiation of information technology business projects in the corporation as they have improved the general performance of the organization. Sizable progress has already been made in improving the service delivery using IT systems in the company. In addition, significant progress is projected to come from the projects being initiated. More positive outcomes from IT projects are expected as the company continues to embrace it. Also, there is one thing to note concerning the use of IT in business performance improvement. This challenge is derived from the experience of IT use introduction in Australia Post. Until the time the new systems pick, the organization often finds problems of adopting and sustaining them (Palmer and Dunford, 2002). The overhead cost of operation costs are often higher in the initial stages of application or use in the organization. It takes quite a lengthy period to realize the full benefits of information technology use in business. Introduction technology use into the operations of an organization is a whole business process and a big step in organizational change. It involves the rebuilding of the entire working structure of the organization since it comes with many elimination and additions (Hutchinson, 2011).
One of the major information technology projects that are being implemented by the corporation is the offering of digital mailboxes to their customers. This mailbox is expected to enhance timely and fast delivery of mails to customers. This digital service is aimed to foster secure access to mails by customers. Physical mails will be availed digitally to customers in a single location on the web. Therefore, there will be no need for multiple password and login details as has been the case. A single secure channel will be used by customers to access their bills, notices as well as other statements. The corporation has in the recent times been capitalizing on e-commerce. This has been aimed at expanding the company’s business range of products. This has also aimed at improving service delivery to customers hence raising profits for the company. The corporation has already begun implementing its plan to venture in online marketing business. The company has already opened over 30 superstores in the country (Chillibreeze, 2012).
Online marketing was seen as an opportunity by the corporation due to a substantive increase in the number of online shoppers in Australia. The new superstores are well furnished with diversified services in the offing to attract a significant number of customers. The stores have 24- hour shopping zones with parcel lockers, vending merchandises and self-service terminals. Also, postal services will be accessed in these stores. Online services will be available to allow for online product research by the customer and ordering of the products (Stafford, 2012). Present in the stores are also Australian Post Automated Teller Machines and an outlet – American Express currency exchange. This is a well planned venture especially in this modern business era. In this era, one stop shopping is becoming a business trend that is enormously applauded by customers. Australia Post is deemed to make gains through this new venture. This venture is helping the company in exploring many business opportunities that are present both in the industry and outside the industry. Child and McGrath(2001) noted that the major goals of change strategies of organizations are to identify, learn, and capture new opportunities that exist in the business environment. Best strategies are denoted by venturing in the field that can attract a considerable number of customers. The Australian can to a big extend considered as a business development benchmark for many government owned corporations in Australia and the entire globe (Chillibreeze, 2012).
Australian post has launched a renewal program dubbed “future ready”. This is a business development program that aims to propel the company into the future. It is meant to help the organization to focus and position its operations in accordance to the prevailing and expected changes in the industry and market. It is vital for companies to plan into the future because the business environment presents both opportunities and challenges. These must be identified and acted upon if the company is to maintain a strong presence in the industry (Dunford, Palmer, Benveniste and Crawford, 2007). The initiation of the program was done three years ago to aid the organization to become more customer-centered and by effect more sustainable. One of the main divers in the program is the embracing of digitalization of operations due to availability and importance of information technology. Physical operations have been the modalities of working for the company for a long period of operation. They are seen as having inconveniences and prevented the corporation from reaching and serving more customers as they as they are slow and inefficient. The program focuses on strategic units of operation in the corporation which are retail services, postal services, e-services and express distribution services (Australia Post Website, 2010).
Collaborations and partnerships are founded ways in which firms breach obstacles and enhance the development of business projects. Australia Post has not working solely particularly on projects do with the adoption of information technology systems in service delivery. As a component of strategic development, the firm has signed a strategic working partnership with Telstra concerning the use of IT networks and mailboxes. This agreement was signed in January this year and was meant to enhance the sharing of network in discharging services to customers of both companies: Australia Post and Telstra. The channels of provision of information to customers are being enhanced as the partnership is streamlined. This will be more beneficial to the company as the customers continue to realize improvement in service delivery of the company. A company has to weigh all the possible risks and benefits that can be derived from the partnership before entering a business partnership agreement. This is because the aim of any organization is to maximize the gains made from business. This partnership has been argued to be healthy for both companies due to the early benefits being witnessed in these initial stages of implementation (Australia Post Website, 2012).
The labor problem
The major problem that has been hindering change in the organization is the problem of labor. The company has been having many cash-in-workers who are often blamed for poor service delivery. This is coupled with the earlier mentioned problem of hardship in replacing the underperforming employees even amidst the introduction of information technology systems. However, negotiations between the corporation and the union representatives representing the employees of the organization have been in progress. Early this year, the union recommended that the casual workers be replaced with more qualified staffs who will be employed on a permanent basis by the corporation. This has been thought to be a positive step which will help eliminate inconsistencies in service delivery to customers by the corporation. As the company works on the modality of implementing the recommendations, it remains with one major challenge. The casual employees form a reasonably large percentage of the staffs of the organization. Therefore, it is difficult for the organization to lay them off (Ham, 2012).

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