Making business investment decisions is difficult no matter how big or small the organisation. The risks can be enormous in financial and reputational terms.
As a large business, Origin has teams of highly skilled people who analyse opportunities in a forensic manner. Charities do not have Origin's capacity when it comes to decision making, but the risks are just the same.
The Big Issue, Australia's most successful social enterprise, asked our volunteers for help in making decisions on expansion. Currently The Big Issue magazine is available in capital cities. The magazine is sold by homeless men and women who get 50% of the sales price for their effort.
"Origin's volunteer team went above and beyond with this project."
The challenge was handed over to a team of five Origin managers participating in the 'Evolve at Origin' management training program: Megan Curry, Risk and Insurance Manager, Contact Energy, Wellington; Greg Curcio, Category Manager, Melbourne; Sharon Gorman-Hansen, Sales Support and Delivery Manager, Brisbane; Neil Millar, Manager Exploration Operations, Brisbane; and Steve Ramsey, Financial Reporting Manager, Sydney.
Not only did the team come up with a recommendation on expansion, they developed a decision-making tool so that The Big Issue management could have a replicable process for making many types of business decisions.
Sally Hines managed the project at The Big Issue. "Origin's volunteer team went above and beyond with this project. I wanted to know if The Big Issue's street magazine enterprise had the capacity to extend its reach into Newcastle and Wollongong. I thought I'd get a short report with some advice. But that's not what I got.
"The Origin team did deliver a comprehensive report, but more importantly, they developed a software tool which allows me to plug in data – for any city or town. The tool analyses the data and then delivers a report which analyses many different variables necessary to consider for any expansion.
"This tool has so much potential for The Big Issue's operations. Using the tool, we'll be able to undertake situational analysis on different cities and towns and make informed, rational decisions.
"This project was a true example of a partnership. Origin and The Big Issue have a long history together and this skilled volunteering opportunity was a three way win. The Big Issue got a terrific business tool, Origin's volunteer team got the opportunity to use their professional skills to benefit those in the community who need it most and our vendors got a win too – this project inspired the volunteers so much that I hear they are out there buying The Big Issue each fortnight."