Agile internal audit adoption set to enhance performance and value for large telco

Find out how PM-Partners helped this Singaporean/ Australian telecoms provider adopt an agile internal audit approach to enhance organisational impact and deliver more value to stakeholders.


  • Our telecommunications client needed to enhance its internal audit function to achieve greater efficiency and better, faster results.
  • PM-Partners helped lead an Agile Working Group to adopt an agile internal audit approach, develop agile enablers and role model agile practices and behaviours.
  • Pilots are underway and results indicate this approach is driving a more outcomes-focused, collaborative auditing process, timelier insights and accelerated delivery of value.

Customer background

Our client is a telecommunications conglomerate providing ISP, IPTV, mobile phone networks and fixed line telephony services in Singapore and Australia. Through considerable expansion, the company also own shares in many regional operators.

The challenge

The telco’s internal audit team spans Singapore, Australia and a variety of joint venture partners across several Asia Pacific countries. Consisting of 60 people covering four different vertical audits, the team was asked by senior leaders to achieve greater efficiency and effectiveness and enhance organisational impact. However, it faced considerable obstacles to progress, including the often-held negative perception of the auditing process in general, friction between auditors and auditees and a reliance on lengthy, final reports.

A decision was made to form a multi-country, multi-vertical Agile Working Group (AWG) to drive the adoption of agile mindsets and processes and make the internal audit function more outcomes-focused and iterative. This shift in ways of working was designed to enable greater collaboration and better, more timely results, thus elevating internal audit’s performance and delivering more value to stakeholders.

To track progress towards these goals, key performance indicators (KPIs) of an Agile Internal Audit included:

  • Increased engagement with auditees
  • Incremental delivery of the product(s) – e.g. audit report/findings
  • Faster audit report deliverables.

How PM-Partners helped

An Agile Working Group (AWG) of geographically dispersed volunteers had been set up but members lacked experience with agile and were not functioning as an agile team themselves. PM-Partners came on board to help form an Agile internal audit framework and drive agile practices and behaviours. The aim was to support the group as they role-model this way of working and help other teams launch pilots.

Our work was led by a PM-Partners principal agile consultant/coach who took on the Scrum master role for the AWG. After the team completed an initial form-storm-norm-perform cycle, our coach worked to smoothen the cycle to the introduction of norms for an AWG. This involved:

  • Introducing a Scrum-based suite of ceremonies, while providing training and, where necessary, one-to-one coaching
  • Empathising with individuals to ensure their adoption of agile practices matched the needs of the team (what we call ‘systems thinking’).
  • Developing internal audit agile enablers, including an audit-focused agile playbook, guidelines for auditees and audit management, as well as simple instructions for audit managers adopting Scrum or Kanban for their audits.

The coach also provided training to one cohort of auditors and, at the time of writing, is providing specific coaching to multiple pilots now using the internal audit agile enablers.

Outcomes delivered

A number of pilots are underway and results so far show that the client is on track to meet their KPIs. The AWG has developed a fantastic set of agile enablers for auditors, auditees and audit management which are successfully being used to drive:

  • increased involvement of auditees in the audits
  • more focus on audit outcomes
  • iterative provision of audit findings and recommendations (in the form of briefer, timely reports, rather than a lengthy end of audit report)
  • more efficient scheduling of tasks by individual auditors, auditees and audit management (as work is broken down in a more granular way)
  • speedier completion of audit deliverables
  • improved perception of audits and auditors.

Audits are mini-projects and, just like any project, the aim is to deliver value as quickly as possible – our client is well on the way to achieving this.

What’s next?

We’re still on a journey but we’re already seeing broader adoption of the agile internal audit approach, including across bigger audits led by more than one team. The aim is to continue to expand this way of working across teams and eventually to implement agile at scale.

To drive continuous improvement we’re also adding more sophisticated tooling and we’re currently running tooling demonstrations with the client. Measurement is also key to make the agile internal audit service more data driven.

Reflecting on progress to date, PM-Partners Principal Agile Consultant/ Coach Stephen Parry says:

“Many people think that adopting agile ways of working is for tech projects or product development only. In my experience that’s not the case. The response from auditors and auditees has been amazing and that’s the most pleasing outcome so far from this engagement. Effective audits create value for the business by enabling auditees to remedy imperfections in their work or operations. Other parts of businesses that consider themselves a support function or operational can benefit from similar thinking and achieve faster delivery of value.”

To find out how we can help you accelerate value delivery in your business unit through the adoption and implementation of agile mindsets and practices, contact our expert team or call 1300 70 13 14 today.

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