Vital is a government-owned fuel supply company that operates in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). They are a mid-sized business with approximately 80 employees, and fuel terminals dispersed across the four main island states. Vital bought the operation’s assets from Mobil Oil Micronesia in 2008.
When Vital took over from Mobil Oil, the operation’s physical assets were in need of upgrading, operational and business IP was non-existent (not part of the sale), the Board were inexperienced in a high risk industry, and they carried a debt-to-equity ratio of 80%.
They needed both short term assistance and long term solutions for implementing stronger governance, business processes and operational structures. The main objective was to reduce financial risk and create long lasting business stability across all their operations.
After assessing the situation together, we recommended an approach that would provide ‘line of sight’. We knew this approach would ensure that their objectives became deeply embedded in their corporate infrastructure. We conducted a joint revision of current practices and IP, and identified the following areas to focus on:
- Risk Management
- Process mapping and reengineering
- Procedure writing (from back office to shop floor)
- Training development and facilitation
- Competency dictionary
- Competency assessments
Change Factory worked with the Vital Board and executives to create a definitive vision and mission, develop short and long-term business strategies, and identify challenges and areas of risk that needed to be addressed. We then ran a number of intensive workshops to help them recognise and articulate the company’s needs, and create plans appropriate to the region and appropriate to their operational aspirations.
With this understanding, we could begin to evaluate the full range of deliverables and services we could provide, and begin conversing about how to make the vision happen.
Plan Development and Review
We collaborated with key stakeholders (Board, executives, terminal managers) to develop a full change program that would align with their new goals and help overcome inherited challenges.
The program comprised of several project streams that targeted different development needs. For example, we worked on Board development projects and training, and recommended a full set of procedures to be written for all tasks and processes. The first phase of procedure-writing focused on strengthening financial control, then we moved on to bolstering the operational areas that fed directly into these financial areas (such as purchasing and product receipt).
Knowing that the agreed strategy needed to be implemented over considerable time and with sensitivity to ‘change saturation’, we made sure we integrated key periodic quality and reporting points. This gave Vital assurance that we were providing services to plan, and that changes were tangible and visible.
During visits to FSM, we met with all stakeholders to gauge progress, identify issues and adapt methodologies where required. We also reported regularly on progress and maintained phone and email contact as part of an ongoing review.
To date, we have provided coaching and training to professionally develop the Board, and written policies, processes and procedures, all of which enable Vital’s people to execute the strategy and deliver to the vision.
Vital now has:
- A high-functioning Board, that benchmarks itself against the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD)
- A risk management system that complies with ISO31000
- 650 documented processes and procedures with an assessment system that ensures people know how to do their job
- An integrated competency development system, with a linked remuneration system
- Reduced debt-to-equity ratio from 80% to 30%
- The fuel price differential between Guam and Pohnpei has reduced from US$1.50 a gallon to less than 10 cents a gallon.
Vital is an entirely different business from when we began working with them. This turnaround has given greater financial stability within the company and provided more opportunities for employees. They now have:
- A knowledge management system built to maintain IP, develop staff competency and standardise processes
- A competency-based training system that benefits all employees
- An internal leadership development program (iLead) designed to empower all employees to take personal ownership for their role in the company and their own development
- The ability to fund new asset purchases and upgrades
- The stability and infrastructure to influence (and even reduce) the price of fuel in FSM, which impacts everyone in the country.
One of the highest impact projects we have implemented is an internal leadership program called iLead. The program is designed to empower all employees to take personal ownership for their role in the company and their own development. Employees who complete the training can see how their job contributes to their family, community, and—through flow-on benefits—the nation.
Change Factory helped Vital clarify their business goals, systematise their processes and create new IP, and they now enjoy much lower financial risk, and can even afford to expand their operations into other Pacific markets. They are the first company from FSM to do so and are a model for other government-owned infrastructure companies.
Our Future with Vital
We continue to support Vital by documenting processes, and supporting staff development as they expand into renewable energy and alternate electricity generation in the region.