Audit Wales, a global pandemic and staying connected

7 min read Written by: Victoria Ford

As we move into April 2021 my time working with Audit Wales is coming to a close.  My background in the public sector and our company’s focus on public sector transformation in Wales meant that the opportunity to support Audit Wales was one we jumped at. When I met the Auditor General for Wales, Adrian Crompton, in a coffee shop in Cardiff (remember those days?) back in January 2020, he talked me through his priorities and his vision for audit in Wales.

Audit Wales has three strategic aims.  These are to: 

Assure the people of Wales that public money is being managed well. 

Explain how public money is being used and how it meets people’s needs.  

Inspire and empower the Welsh public sector to improve. 

As part of delivering against those strategic aims Adrian was looking for support in three areas: 

  • to oversee the Transforming Communications programme, including launching a new brand 
  • to develop a new communication strategy and ensure Audit Wales is organised to successfully deliver against that strategy. 
  • to support Adrian with senior restructuring, focusing on transformation and engagement, and recruitment of a new Head of Communications. 

Responding to a global pandemic 

I was delighted to be involved and started working with the team there in February 2020. And then COVID happened.  Like all organisations there was an immediate shift of focus to make sure colleagues were safe and provided with everything they needed to be able to manage the sudden move to home working, and that the business could continue to provide the services it needed to. 

In the first week that all staff moved to home working, one line from Adrian stood out to me ‘I want the organisation to feel more connected than ever despite the distance and remote working’.  So that’s what the comms team set out to do. 

Internal comms, culture and change 

I have always had a love for internal communications and how supporting people and culture should be at the heart of any change.  In the last 12 months I’ve been able to use that knowledge and focus to support Audit Wales in keeping their workforce connected.  

We’ve successfully introduced: 

  • A weekly all staff email from the Auditor General, an opportunity for him to share information directly with the whole organisation 
  • A monthly all staff Zoom call – this time a two-way channel to encourage conversation and engagement 
  • An organisation wide cascade, incorporating corporate messages with local impact, with messages tailored for teams and individuals 
  • An ‘Ask Adrian’ function where anyone can post questions to the Auditor Genral  
  • A fortnightly pulse survey to check how everyone is feeling and see what we need to change 

As a result of this, and the focus and commitment of leaders and managers across the organisation, the pulse survey has consistently told us that over 80% of the organisation feel they are well informed or very well informed about the response to COVID and the changing circumstances. 

Progress and delivery 

Alongside all of this the Audit Wales team has also: 

  • continued with transforming the way communications are delivered in Audit Wales, including launching the new brand in April last year,  
  • signed off a new communications strategy focusing on aligning communications to organisational objectives, audience insight and evaluation 
  • recruited a new executive leadership team 
  • recruited a new Head of Communications 

All of this has been done in the context of Audit Wales’ focus of ‘Self. Family. Work. In that order’. An approach I couldn’t be prouder to have been a part of. 

Cheering from the side lines 

Dropping into an organisation to provide support always feels like a privilege.  You get insight into how the organisation works, you have access to brilliant and committed people and you get to share your expertise and learn new things in equal measures.   That’s what it’s been like to work alongside the team at Audit Wales.  It’s always rewarding when you know that it’s time to step aside and let them continue the journey.   That time is now and I look forward to watching what they achieve, and supporting from the side lines.