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 that lays within 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 firms has been in operation for quite a long time and has been expanding its business operations which now include electronic mail delivery services as well as 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 among them TNT, DHL and FedEx. This can be termed as one of the companies in Australia which has undergone a great deal of business transformation which has brought it to where it is today. Most of the changes in the company have taken place within the last twenty 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, the company carries out operations in three major areas which are 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 a number of subsidiaries as well as 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 which is stipulated in the way it spreads and discharges organizational responsibilities. The organization has various administrative hierarchies eminent in the administrative bodies running it. These include the shareholder ministers and the board which 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 which 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, I 2007). The overall administrative body of the company is the board which is led by a chairman and deputy chairman. On the board sits nine directors. Out of the nine directors, eight of them serve as non-executive 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 are 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 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 matter on matters 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 deliberated on deeply thereby getting solutions to them and streamlining 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 god foundation on which to carry out corporate governance (Australia Post Website, 2012).
The organization has many employees working on both permanent and temporary basis. As of the end of the year 2011, the organization had 23369 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 it to have a widest coverage and clientele in Australia which far much surpasses the clientele of the private competitors. This is a great achievement for an agency of the government which offers services at subsidized rates. From simple delivery of parcels and mails, the Australia Post now deals in a wide range of business activities which makes it 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 which has come into being due to the strategic changes that have been implemented by it (Australia Post Website, 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 the 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 it 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 positively impacting on the general administrative practice of the company. Important information is sorted and safeguarded for future reference (Australian Government and National Archives of Ausralia, 2009).
Areas of focus for the company as it enters into the future
Bryan, 2005, notes that futuristic prospects are important for any company which 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 lay here and the company can attract then 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 the strengthening of automated systems to enhance the speed and efficiency of delivering services to the customers. Automated systems are faster and result into a cut I 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 for the range of services that the company is dealing in. this will thus further attracts more customers thence 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 suppose to relieve off work the inefficient staffs by replacing them with IT systems controlled by few employees. While the systems were introduced, it was difficult to attain the objectives of the strategy due to various hick-ups which still haunt the organization up to this moment. The hick-ups 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 but 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 and more 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 of time to realize the full benefits of information technology use in business. Introduction technology use into the operations of an organization is 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 logins as has been. 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 to expand its business range and to improve service delivery to customers hence raising more 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 more 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 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 where 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 which is helping it in exploring many business opportunities presenting themselves both in the industry and outside the industry. Child and McGrath, 2001, note 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 field that can attract more 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 the 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 in which it operating (Dunford, Palmer, Benveniste and Crawford, J 2007). The program was launched three years ago in order 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 the 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 in the company. Before entering a business partnership agreement, a company has to way the all the possible risks and benefits that can be derived from the partnership. 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 whoa 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 going on. 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 thence it is difficult for the organization to lay them off (Ham, 2012).
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