A new chapter for two Australian icons
Lonispace, is a 15-year veteran in the Australian Integration market place, who specialise in getting the most out of an SOA implementation for their customers and more recently ensuring their customers achieve their goals when embarking on their Digital transformation journey. To further enhance their digital capabilities Lonispace and Novon have joined forces, bringing Data and Information Integration together in the one offering. We have just completed such an assignment for StarTrack Australia who were recently purchased by Australia Post.
StarTrack is one of Australia’s largest and most successful logistics and ecommerce companies operating throughout Australia. StarTrack was acquired by Australia Post in 2012 and integrated into Australia Post by 2014. Essentially Australia Post and StarTrack’s parcel businesses were combined and the blue parcel Post logo was launched, providing a much larger, more flexible and broader delivery options to the Australian logistics and ecommerce markets.
The new combined entity, Australia Post Parcels has a more diverse and complex business offering than Australia Post had traditionally operated, whereas StarTrack’s business had always been very diverse with over 100 different parcel delivery options, Australia Post had fewer than 20 parcel delivery options when they purchased StarTrack. By 2014 Australia Post had invested more than $1 billion in (facilities and technology over 3 years) to upgrade, enhance and add additional locations to their nationwide distribution and logistics facilities, ensuring Australia Post Parcels would offer exceptional customer service to their combined client base.
Several of these key investments were – Some additional, modern and large depots added in NSW and Victoria, 2,500 new scanners were added and Australia Post’s core applications, (SAP, Service Now, Salesforce, Scanners, etc.) have been integrated with StarTrack’s core applications, (TEAM, PeopleSoft, Teradata, Scanners, etc.) using the TIBCO middleware technology.
When Lonispace started at StarTrack the merging of the two businesses had only just begun, so for the first few months we focused on uplifting the maturity of the StarTrack SOA implementation so that they would be ready to integrate with Australia Post. We used our SOA Operating Model to identify the hot spots that would cause difficulties when merging with Australia Post and that were also holding StarTrack back from realising the full potential of their technology investment.
As the merger of the two organisations gained momentum it became very clear that each organisation had implemented different integration strategies. Australia Post with SAP as its core application had little need for additional process sitting outside SAP, so their integration implementation reflected that in the form of an EAI deployment. StarTrack however had a need to add processes around their core logistics and supply chain application, therefore they choose an SOA implementation, this enabled StarTrack to add processes to suit specific customer ecommerce / supply chain requests on an ongoing basis.
These two architectural approaches evolved different cultures within each integration team that required a change management approach to augment these differences. The change management activity was conducted alongside specific business projects during the integration of the two businesses.
Interop – These are a series of projects that are focused on ensuring any Order (consignment, label, or freight item) whether it originated from Australia Post or StarTrack would be processed correctly so that the customer receives the order in the quickest possible time at the lowest possible cost. Key challenges resolved in these projects were; how to integrate more than twenty different scanning device types across the two organisations, managing the interaction between two very different data models, how to provide real time views of customer orders in transit and allow a customer to place an order anywhere, via any medium and deliver on time at the lowest possible cost.
MDM – Locations – Customer – Having a number of different systems providing customer and location data can create data accuracy challenges, particularly if you have more than one source system that requires updating if things change. Providing a master data reference is the long term simple solution, this was the approach that StarTrack adopted and asked Lonispace to help them implement.
Digital engagement – Australia Post have a fairly mature digital business with significant revenues already being generated. Their integration with and ability to grow alongside the core integration business however faced certain technical challenges. Lonispace has been able to offer design advice and a POC that we believe will resolve a number of timing inconsistencies between the Digital team.
Data Integration Enhancements – StarTrack as already stated had implemented an SOA, however consistent with many other Australian organisations at that time, the implementation had architectural and design limitations that only surfaced when higher than expected throughput was experienced, particularly around Christmas. Lonispace spent considerable effort mapping the offending processes that caused the architecture and design limitations and remediated them during 2016. These changes allowed a threefold increase in throughput for StarTrack consignment volumes with very little cost to the business.
A successful partnership
The acquisition by Australia Post of StarTrack has helped stem the losses the company would have otherwise realised. Australia Post had, since 2012 been losing money in its traditional postal services due a significant decline in letters and mail volumes. The Parcels business (StarTrack) of Australia Post has helped stem these losses enabling the combined company to post a profit in the first half of FY 2017 of $197 million.
For us the job is done, the integration practice is stable, it has significant upward capacity and it has merged gently with Australia Post with only benefits being visible to their customers. While there is always room for improvement, for the new Blue Post Parcel business I think we will see this new entity create greater inroads into the logistics and ecommerce markets as they delight their customers with exceptional customer service.