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Executive Summary

There are many organizations that have been able to stand the test of time in business. This enables them to remain strong and competitive in business. One such organization is Australia Post. This paper presents a comprehensive case study of Australia Post. The paper concentrates on change aspects in the organization that have enabled it to remain strong in the competitive mail delivery industry within Australia.

The paper is divided in several parts. The background part of the paper gives the general overview of the organization. The introduction part of the paper introduces the general organization. This part goes further to narrow on change that has occurred within the organization. It gives a transition into the main body of the paper. This presents a deep look into how change is being introduced and implemented by Australia Post.

The main body analyses the major strategic change initiatives that have been taking place in the Australia Post. In addition, the way these change initiatives have helped the corporation to position itself within the industry is analysed. There are several changes that are noted and analysed under this section.

They include partnerships that the company has entered into, adoption of information technology in its functions, and the integration of e-commerce in diversifying the organisation’s operations. The other change initiative analysed is how the corporation is working on improving the delivery of its labour force. A number of recommendations are crafted at the end of the paper. These could serve as a basis for future development initiatives by the corporation.

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. Also, the company has been expanding its business operations, which now include electronic mail delivery services and the distribution of electronic mail services (Herr and Herr, 2011).

Introduction

Australia Post is operating in an industry that is very competitive. The competition arises from active firms in the industry including TNT, DHL and FedEx. The company has undergone transformation that has greatly contributed to its success. Most of the changes have been aimed at broadening and diversifying the range of service delivery by the company. The company’s operations are focused on various aspects.

One of the areas of focus is letters. It also focuses on parcels and logistics services among other areas. The firm has expanded its operations, which are now discharged via various subsidiaries and joint ventures (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 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.

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 (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 that offers 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 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 (Waddell, Cummings and Worley, 2011).

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).

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.

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.

The overhead costs or operation costs are often higher in the initial stages of application or use of IT in the organization. It takes quite a long time to realize the full benefits of information technology use in business. The introduction of technology into the operations of an organization is a whole business process and a big step in organizational change (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 the 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.

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. The Australian can be 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 (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 (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).

Conclusion

Australia Post is a state owned company that has been in operation for almost a century. This can be cited as one of the best performing government agencies, not only in Australia, but also on the global scene. It can serve as a benchmark of how government agencies ought to embrace change and operate for profits.

The corporation operates under a limited bureaucratic structure. Therefore, it has been easy for Australia Post to effect change that has helped the company deliver good services to its customers. This has also helped the company in improving its services and remaining competitive in the industry.

Recommendations

  • The effectiveness of change and improvement in an organization is dependent on a number of things within the organization. One of them is the organizational structure of the organization. Therefore, it will be important for Australia Post to continue embracing de-bureaucratization of operations.
  • The company has to enhance its human resource practices. This will help it get employees who are modern and competent enough to handle the tasks. Embracing modern human resource practices can help Australia Post to solve the labor problem.
  • Strategic partnerships are also important for a company that aims to expand its operations. Australia Post can develop business partnerships with like minded companies especially in the IT sector. This will help it in upgrading and using information technology while hastening the delivery of services to its customers.
  • E-commerce seems to be promising for the corporation. Therefore, the company is likely to increase and diversify its operations by investing heavily in e-commerce related investments. This includes venturing significantly in the e-marketing business that has been initiated.

Reference List

Australia Post 2009, Getting Future Ready.

Australia Post n. d., The Strength Within.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission 2006, Assessing cross-subsidy in Australia Post, An ACCC report.

Australia Post Website 2012, Australia Post and Telstra sign strategic partnership on Digital Mailbox and IT network. Web.

Australia Post Website 2012, Corporate governance. Web.

Australia Post Website 2010, Future Ready – Australia Post’s business renewal program.

Australia Post Website, n. d., Banking and identity. Web.

Australian Government and National Archives of Australia, 2009, Records Authority – Australia Post.

Brimson, C 2008, ‘An integrated action research action learning leadership development program for managers of Australia Posts’ delivery business unit in SA/NT,’ Gibran Journal of Applied Management, vol.1, pp. 85-108.

Bryan, L 2005, ‘The 21st century organization’, McKinsey Quarterly, no. 3, pp. 24‐33.

Child, J and McGrath, RG 2001, ‘Organizations unfettered: Organizational form in an information‐intensive economy’, The Academy of Management Journal, vol. 44, no. 6, pp. 1135‐1148.

Chillibreeze, 2012, Australia Post reveals digital mailbox plan.

Dunford, R, Palmer, I, Benveniste, J & Crawford, J 2007, ‘Coexistence of ‘old’ and ‘new’ organisational practices: Transitory phenomena or enduring feature’, Asia Pacific Journal of Human Resources, vol. 45, no. 1, pp. 24‐43.

Financial Review, 2012, Australia Post: The enduring power of paper as an effective means of communication. Financial Review.

Ham, L 2012, Stamp out illegal posties: union.

Herr, P and Herr, P 2011, U. S. Postal Service: Foreign Posts’ Strategies Could Inform U. S. Postal Services Efforts to Modernize, Diane Publishing Company, Washington D. C.

Hutchinson, J 2011, Australia Post eyes billion-dollar e-commerce, IT News for Australian Business.

Palmer, I 2007, ‘New organizational forms: towards a generative dialogue’, Organization Studies, vol. 28, no. 12, pp. 1829‐1847.

Stafford, S 2012, Australia Post losing $70 million a year on international pricing structure.

Tay, L 2012, Lessons from Australia Post’s IT “transformation”.

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