A waterfall in the English Lakes to illustrate a communications audit

A communications audit is a bit like a waterfall

During my time at Toyota Material Handling UK I learnt a little about the Toyota Production System and this learning has impacted on my way of working ever since. This is particularly true when it comes to reviewing communications and using communications audits.

One of the main things that I took away from my time at Toyota was the idea of Genchi Genbutsu – going to the source. This is the idea that a problem is best solved if you see it for yourself. I take this idea into my work in communications with a communications audit, which takes place before every project.

A communications audit is an evaluation of current methods of communication used by an organisation to reach both their internal and external audiences. An audit reviews the communications methods used by an organisation as a whole to, see whether they are aligned with the strategy. It also looks at the tools used and assesses how relevant and successful they are in achieving the organisations targets.

An organisations position in the market in relation to its competitors is assessed to discover the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats which it could use to its advantage, and whether some communications methods or messages have greater impact than others. As part of this, share of voice is evaluated to identify opportunities and set targets for the future. Share of voice is the amount an organisation is talked about in relation to its competitors.

A communications audit can be very wide, taking in every aspect of an organisations communications, all the way to what is written on invoices. Alternatively, it can be very narrow in focus, only taking into account a very specific part of an organisations communications, e.g. their trade press coverage or social media presence.

A report is usually produced to present the findings from an audit – this can take a number of different formats, many prefer a presentation but a written report may be required to deliver more in depth information.

From the audit a new strategy can be formed to move the organisation in the right direction for it’s targets. Continuing with the teachings of Toyota every strategy should be regularly reviewed in line with Kaizen – continuous improvement. With this in mind it should be remembered that an audit is never completely finished and only shows a snapshot of performance at one point in time.

Find out more about how I can help you with a review of your communications activity and a number of other services.

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