Achieving high performance in the postal industry

Defining High Performance

In the postal industry today, operators are at a crossroads. The environment has been evolving for many years as a result of a number of converging trends and challenges.  Technology has created a new communications landscape, customer expectations for high quality and low cost have risen dramatically, and the world’s economy has gone global. At the same time, however, mail remains one of the most powerful distribution, service and marketing tools available in the world today.

The key question for posts is how they will exploit the competitive advantages they have, whilst minimizing and dealing with the challenges they face.

Accenture has embarked on a long-term, accredited research program to understand High Performance in specific industries, including the postal industry. We define “high performance” as enduring or sustained superior performance relative to peers, as measured by a set of widely accepted financial metrics. Each metric reflects a different perspective on the organization’s results and, together, they portray a comprehensive picture of business performance.

Our study of high performing posts shows that there is no single strategy for success, and many paths to business achievement. However, our analysis does show that leading companies such as TNT, FedEx and Norway Post, do employ a number of basic building blocks to achieve their success.

Examples of the key building blocks are:

Market Focus and Position: Simply put, “Which markets will you compete in and how are you positioned?” High performing posts identify their target markets and then pursue these aggressively, linking actions to clear, coherent strategies and matching services and products to clearly defined customer needs.

Our research also indicates that the specific strategy itself is not the key factor in success; rather it is the clarity and consistency of the strategy (which will evolve with time and changing market conditions) that is characteristic of the high performers.

Distinctive Capabilities: This refers to what the high performing posts do well, what they are known for in the industry. Typically, such capabilities reflect an advantage in either cost or customer experience. For example, posts can create a cost advantage by finding new ways to manage back office operations through outsourcing or the application of new technology.

Posts with a customer experience advantage might use new technology to offer new services such as self-service kiosks and online services.

For the most part, however, there is a lack of differentiation among posts in these areas and we believe there are continuing opportunities for differentiation in Supply Chain Management, Sales and Marketing and Information Technology.

High-performance Anatomy: It is the character and culture of an organization that most determines its success. There is no single, winning culture. Winning posts do a number of things very well. Strong leadership sets a clear vision and strategy that is communicated consistently. Leaders welcome and inspire innovation and use employee talent and energy effectively, particularly at the operating level. Good staff relations are characteristic of the high-performing post. It is all about building organizational capability to perform at ever increasing levels in future years.


Accenture’s research and analysis demonstrates that High Performance in the postal industry is:

  1. Discoverable – Who the high performing posts are
  2. Measurable – How high performance can be demonstrated
  3. Replicable – How posts have achieved high performance

About Accenture

Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company.  Copies of the full report on which this article is based can be obtained from Accenture – their home page is

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