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Software makeover delivers speed to mail company

Date

Lia Timson

Zoom in on this story. Explore all there is to know.

Mailplus and Australia Post vans jostle for position.

Mailplus and Australia Post vans jostle for position.

Has a piece of software ever been responsible for doubling your company's growth rate?

Mail delivery service Mailplus says it achieved growth of 24 per cent and 20 per cent in the past two years, up from an average growth rate of 9.6 per cent, after adopting new software.

Chief executive Chris Burgess is adamant the growth was due to a decision his company made three years ago to abandon two disjointed business applications in favour of one.

Revenue is expected to be about $24 million in the financial year to June 30, up from $20.5 million in the previous year.

Mailplus is an Australian mail delivery service known as "first and last mile". The company's 150 franchisees run their own businesses ferrying parcels between regular customers and Australia Post on daily runs.

Franchisees canvas, sign-up and bill small business clients nationally – something that Burgess says became nearly impossible to do using the company's nine-year-old bespoke systems, originally built on FileMaker and MYOB.

"Filemaker and MYOB weren't keeping up. We were getting complaints from franchisees that the system was crashing all the time. We like to provide transparency to the franchisees, so they aren't calling us every five minutes," Burgess said.

Previously, the process from prospecting to signing up a client could take weeks. His annual software maintenance bill alone was $100,000. Now, he says, it takes just a few days.

By transparency, Burgess means allowing franchisees to tap into the company's customer relationship management (CRM) system and interact with invoicing and sales applications, including contracts, remotely.

They can now do that using an iPad and iPhone application integrated with the cloud-based Netsuite financial and ERP software used to run the entire business.

Franchisees use the mobile devices to receive leads from head office, update the customer database to aid telemarketers, as well as produce electronic contracts for customers to sign.

Although he says newer versions of his old software might have provided some or similar functionality, the company needed to segment individual franchisee accounts and allow them to manage those accounts remotely. Salesforce was also considered as a replacement option.

"Being a franchisee business, we need a point of difference in the marketplace. We believe our software is that. People are genuinely impressed by the way they can interact with our business and head office."

He says reorganising all business processes around the new system has allowed the company to achieve scale and sign-up more new customers with the same staff count.

Burgess says the company is ready to take on a partner to extend its services, but wouldn't reveal which company. It plans to start selling products such as pre-paid and pay-on-delivery satchels to non-account holders in partnership with another courier or postal service.

"We are now looking to optimise the mobile technology to work as a mobile point-of-sale [terminal]."

The parcel delivery system is burgeoning worldwide on the back of exponential growth in online shopping.

Australia Post has already re-engineered its business to capitalise on that growth and make up for falling letter-delivery revenue. It is counting on the launch of a digital mailbox service and 24-hour parcel lockers as part of a $2 billion strategy to future-proof the company.

Last month, it purchased Qantas' 50 per cent stake in StarTrack freight business.

"Australia Post are trying to maintain their market share because there is an enormous amount of value, increasing every year – they are optimising their business to be a parcel delivery business. It's a significant shift in logistics. We're well-placed to be that first and last-mile partner," Burgess says.

He is hoping to eventually secure up to 15 per cent market share among small business customers, up from the current estimated two per cent.

Can you credit a software or IT decision with such quantifiable results? What's your experience?

8 comments

  • I will credit switching to MYOB as the biggest mistake my company has made. Every time I use it the software costs me time and slows me down due to the numerous bugs. I can understand why MailPlus ditched it.

    Commenter
    thestevedavis
    Location
    Australia
    Date and time
    November 12, 2012, 12:43PM
    • We use Netsuite where I work and it is very good. It's American so has it's little things that it does strange, but it is also very customisable.

      Commenter
      Bitters
      Date and time
      November 12, 2012, 3:05PM
      • Ridiculous.
        The parcels industry is going through the roof at the moment, due in most part to online shopping.
        Australia Post are struggling to meet the massive demand, and have seen parcels growth of over 30%pa.
        Mailplus is picking up the scraps of what AP can't handle, and the increase in growth for Mailplus has very little to with their software optimising. I guess it wont stop their CEO giving himself a pat on the back though (and a nice big bonus).

        Commenter
        XIII
        Location
        Syd
        Date and time
        November 13, 2012, 7:04AM
        • If you're a retail operation I'd recommend looking into Sage. they have a very powerful erp and crm solution. we required point of sales for our retail outlets and a local pos provider (infocentral) integrates into Sage. Very grateful we upgraded from MYOB that's for sure.

          Commenter
          JBriz
          Date and time
          November 13, 2012, 7:10AM
          • What is making a real difference out there to SMEs is www.1300mbp.com. The My Business Portal is the ready to go office in the cloud with all these low cost online applications. As a accountant I've found it able to get a entire business off the ground in hours. Your can work remotely and from home. One man bands can be as powerful as a medium corporate. Established businesses can save so much cost. Forget accounting in the cloud like Xero. This is the whole office.

            Commenter
            Paul
            Location
            Sydney
            Date and time
            November 13, 2012, 8:35AM
            • I an accountant that specialises in business transformation through introducing integrated ERP solutions especially Pronto which I consider one of the best local products capable of bespoke design without it costing $1m like a high end like SAP (think BHP). Most medium sized businesses start use MYOB / Quicken etc and think its acceptable when all it does is basic accounting (all of which can be altered, deleted or modified !!). But it lacks functionality such as costing, inventory management and so much more. 95% of businesses use it for its primary function - Accounting and dont use it for management. Thats the biggest mistake with software. Think like an accountant or think like a business.

              One company a civil construction operation had "no idea" what any job cost them turning over $20m. After implementation they could "cost" every single job precisely and identify labour, equipment and vehicle inefficiency down to last dollar and made their teams accountable with job plans & budgets. Introduced project scheduling and timetabling. We then shaved 30% off costs for a far leaner result. Stock loss fell 20% when we locked the warehouse and allocated every item to a project rather than treat it like a supermarket. Cost $100,000 under $120K budget. Cost savings in first year $300,000 straight to owners wallet. Business sold to competitor $30million just for the software and reputation.

              I have no issues with MYOB / Quicken etc its a great small business tool. Its also the perfect tool for any small business to remain a small business.

              Commenter
              Paul
              Location
              Sydney
              Date and time
              November 13, 2012, 8:46AM
              • It's probably not fair to blame the software. MYOB has a range of software including software for larger, more complex businesses. As businesses grow, they become more complex and their software needs change. Making sure that the software meets the requirements is only the starting point. At this end of the market, it's not one-size-fits-all. Implementation and change management within the company are also part of the equation. Moral of the story - don't sit on your old bespoke systems for 9 years. Do your research to find software that fits, including looking at MYOB EXO as a good option for growing businesses.

                Commenter
                sherpa RB
                Date and time
                November 13, 2012, 11:46AM
                • Hi all,

                  This is the MYOB Official Team. In the article, the client MailPlus used parts of our solution together with another brand, not our full solution. We apologize if you had problems in the past but we are rapidly expanding to a robust cloud solution for our products, as reflected with our recently launched Account Right products.

                  We also offer solutions that cater to your business needs as the complexities grow. MYOB Enterprise Solutions include a wide range of ERP systems that connect every department - in real time. Our Enterprise Partners will customise a solution to suit your individual needs, so if you are experiencing the pains of growth, please contact us for more info. http://www.myob.com.au

                  Cheers,
                  MYOB.

                  Commenter
                  MYOB Official
                  Date and time
                  November 13, 2012, 5:14PM
                  Comments are now closed
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