Case Posti Next: Accelerating radical transformation in a 380-year-old company
Posti is going through a bigger business transformation than any other Finnish company ever. Paper-based communication is dying but ecommerce is growing. The economy of the future is based on digital services. For Posti, surviving means embracing new ways of working, new technologies, new business and new talent. The story of Posti Next is a story about radical change.
Are postal services a thing of the past? Looking at the data, printed communication is indeed decreasing fast, in Finland by 15% annually. But the same time, parcel shipments are increasing very rapidly, due to the explosive growth in ecommerce. “Posti is going through an X-shaped disruption. A huge part of our business will soon be gone, but at the same time there is massive growth on the other side of the organization,” says Pasi Ilola, the brains behind Posti Next.
Even though Posti is Finland's leading postal and logistics services provider, it hasn’t been a monopoly for decades. Posti faces dozens of competitors in its business, and especially in the highly competitive parcel and ecommerce business. The field is changing extremely fast, and providing a great customer experience is vital. Hence developing software and creating new digital services in an agile way is the key to Posti’s competitive advantage in the market.
Finding new ways of working
A little more than 3 years ago, Pasi Ilola was hired to lead the development of Posti’s digital services, including an app that came to be known as OmaPosti. While Ilola himself had been working with agile project models for most of his career, he soon noticed that his way of doing things was something new to Posti.
“At Posti people really knew how to run large projects, but in general development proceeded slowly,” Ilola recalls. To keep up with a constantly evolving market and customer needs, Ilola recognised that a faster and more efficient project model was needed. He wanted to build cross-functional teams that would produce value for customers through ongoing development and evaluation. The OmaPosti project, where a team of 10 was doing all the work in an agile way, was an early example of doing things differently.
To create a data-driven mindset at Posti, new talent was also needed. Ilola wanted to bring in people with a startup mentality and skills in data and technology. He decided to create an internal movement for accelerating change and improving the employer image of the company. Thus Posti Next was born.
Changing the company one hoodie at a time
When Ilola started leading the Posti Next movement, he decided to order the community its own uniform. The Posti Next hoodies became a symbol for change. “While in places like Silicon Valley hoodies are the de facto uniform, at Posti wearing a hoodie amongst suits has a rebel vibe to it. I think that the hoodies have subconsciously changed the way people act,” Ilola says.
Word of the new movement inside Posti started spreading. In two years, Posti Next expanded from one team developing OmaPosti into a community of dozens of teams of forward-thinkers, committed to building new digital services and a mindset that takes Posti to the next level.
Posti Next ties together all of the work that drives Posti’s digital and cultural transformation, be it a small detail, like using Slack for internal communication, or a huge innovation, like AI-empowered Street Data. For two years the Posti Next people have been exploring the newest trends and phenomena and actively participating in the latest discussions. Next also offers a possibility for everyone interested in change and new digital services to gather together in demo sessions, where new services are introduced and tested.
Challenging the status quo is in the heart of Next. But as Posti’s role in daily life changes, one thing never will: the mission to make everyday lives smoother. Posti Next aims to improve the digital well-being of everyone in this country.
Crushing the perceptions of Posti
The relentless work has borne fruit. When meeting new talents interested in working at Posti, Ilola has noticed that people have finally started seeing Posti as a modern data and technology driven company that puts the clients’ needs first.
The biggest change Next has caused is the spreading of agile thinking throughout the whole organisation. “People at Posti have always had a myriad of potential ideas, but the problem has been the execution phase. Posti Next has given them the ability to make these ideas happen,” says Ilola. At the same time, Posti Next has expanded from a small experiment to an operational model for the whole company. Even the executive board has been seen wearing Next hoodies.
A concrete example of change in Posti is the process of improving the customer experience in receiving parcels. The development is today made by a cross-functional team that has all the skills needed to make changes in any part of the chain. With an agile process, the work that used to take years is now being done in weeks. Customer satisfaction has risen up to 90%.
And what happened to the project where it all started from? OmaPosti is now a shared project of a total 8 agile teams developing a massive entity. The service makes everyday life easier for its over 785,000 active users. OmaPosti has been Finland’s most popular app in App Store and Google Play already five times, outpaced apps such as Netflix, Facebook and WhatsApp and won an award from Apple as one of the Top 10 apps for 2019. The next step is expanding the service to benefit Finnish companies with OmaPosti Pro.
“I’m extremely proud of Posti Next and also positively surprised how a 380-year-old company can go through such big changes in such a short time,” Ilola says. “Posti is turning into a company that creates value for its customers quickly, in an agile way and across organisational boundaries. And what made this possible was changing the way of working.”
Posti Next is a team effort; it is our people who create the change. As we write the next pages of our future, we are looking for talented, driven individuals with top skills in digital development, design, and marketing to join our community.
Get to know some of our up-and-coming leaders and the projects they're working on.
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