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Wales Audit Office draws on junior staff for transformation

03/07/17

Early prototypes from internal project team include healthcare data portal and HTML medium for reporting

Wales Audit Office (WAO) has begun a digital transformation programme in which junior staff have a pivotal role, taking their ideas for the development of 14 prototypes in the way the organisation uses technology.

Dragon flag on map of WalesStephen Lisle, the performance audit lead at the Welsh Government’s central audit body, told UKAuthority that the prototypes are aimed at solving practical problems, each has proved some value and they are being individually considered for further development.

He said the move was the idea of the auditor general, Huw Vaughan Thomas, as a way of bringing fresh eyes to persistent problems. It began with a staff conference and a call for expressions of interest – which prompted a healthy response – following which the staff who were interested were interviewed by Thomas.

The structure involved a team of six, including himself as project manager, from different areas of the WAO. They worked on a short brief to develop recommendations for the board and provided monthly updates directly to the auditor general.

Issues and improvements

“The idea was to say ‘These are issues we have, these are things we want to improve upon, come and be part of it’,” Lisle said.

“A lot stuff we read about digital suggested it is best to have a go at stuff, learn by doing in a failsafe environment, and through this project we had a little bit of resource to experiment. It set us on a path of trying out 14 very small prototypes, nibbling away at little practical problems and trying to solve them through technology.”

One of the ideas has been the development of a healthcare performance data portal that automatically takes data already in the public domain from NHS organisations around Wales. It is being used internally to replace the need to find the data for individual exercises.

“We’re hoping this portal will give us an information base, especially in deciding which type of audit to do,” Lisle said. “Once you’ve started an audit it can provide live data on performance in that area.”

Interactive reporting

Another prototype is aimed at developing a new HTML based approach to reporting, to replace Word and PDF documents with a more interactive online model that enables users to drill down to the details they require. The WAO is trialling the Adobe Spark graphic design app along with the Adobe Muse website builder.

Lisle said this could change the way that auditors write to make their reports more accessible and engaging.

“It is still to be decided which of the 14 will go forward,” he said. “There will be recommendations to the board and we have to decide how and when we can mainstream them to the organisation and who can take them on. Some will probably be discontinued; that is to be decided.”

He added that WAO is actively presenting its work around Wales and that it could be picked up by other public sector organisations.

Image by NordNordWest CC SA 3.0 through Wikimedia

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