New Zealand Post International (NZPIL) will install the Post-Link system into the South African Post Office (SAPO) as part of the strategic management contract it has won.
The multimillion-dollar SAPO contract is the largest postal contract ever tendered internationally and has been subject to an intensive bid and evaluation process run by the South African government since July 1998.
New Zealand Post chief executive Elmar Toime says NZPIL- a subsidiary of New Zealand Post - will provide key executives to turn around SAPO's operational and financial performance, eliminating the need for government subsidies.
As part of the three-year contract, SAPO's technology will be upgraded and New Zealand-developed postal systems and products will be introduced.
NZPIL will install Post-Link, a New Zealand-developed front-of-counter system, which supports all transactions - such as BillPay at post shops in New Zealand.
Post-Link will be installed in all post shops in South Africa over a 12-month period.
NZPIL managing director Drew Stein says it will be one of the main cornerstones of the IT upgrading programme.
He says SAPO's front-of-counter technology is not up to international standards.
"And it certainly won't cater for the expansion into the different products we - together with SAPO - will be implementing."
Stein says NZPIL will ensure that Post-Link integrates with SAP, the ERP (enterprise resource planning) software that SAPO is introducing for its financial management and accounting procedures.
Stein NZPIL will also review the SAP implementation - not yet completed - to ensure that it will bring the bene- fits that the initial project brief said it would.
"Our concern is that, with the growth of the company and the direction the company is going to take, the existing system and implementation not only caters for current needs, but that it will cater for future needs as well."
NZPIL will also ensure SAP integrates with SAPO's existing system and does not stand-alone.
Stein says NZPIL is not stopping the SAP implementation; once the review is completed, the implementation of SAP will continue.
The third and final element of the IT upgrade is in the mail centres.
US-based Lockheed Martin - with whom NZPIL has a global alliance - has been subcontracted to review mail centre technology to make recommendations on how it can be upgraded to world-class standards.
Stein says the NZPIL-SAPO contract is a partnership, so NZPIL is working with the executive in the board of SAPO.
"But it is important that the three strands [Post-Link, SAP review and mail centre upgrade] be addressed in an urgent sense. We are talking with the SAPO board about that now."
Stein says the IT component is one strand of a whole suite of issues that need to be addressed in transforming the post office from a loss-making concern into a profit-making concern.
He says the technology New Zealand has, is - in the main - far superior to anything in the South African system.
Along with Lockheed Martin, Deloitte & Touche Consulting and Britain's Royal Mail have also been contracted by NZPIL to play a supporting role in the SAPO contract.
Four or five IT staff will be sent to South Africa from New Zealand. They will be among 78 New Zealand Post staff seconded to work there in the first six months of the contract.
NZPIL successfully bid for a five-year contract to manage the Trinidad and Tobago postal system and a management contract with the Botswana postal service, which began on April 1 of this year.