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Celebrating our GIAA Insights engine

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Innovation, Internal Audit, People, Quality

We're all rather excited in GIAA this week as we're celebrating the first anniversary of launching our Insights Engine! "What is an insights engine?" you may well ask. Let us explain ...

Have you ever had a pile of documents to read and no idea where to start? Maybe you were looking for something specific or you needed to understand the common themes between the documents, but the idea of reading each one in turn and making notes was too daunting? How helpful would it have been to be able to use advanced analytics and artificial intelligence methods to search and filter for specific terms, or look at the common words and phrases?

Well, we’ve equipped our auditors with a tool to do just that and we called it our GIAA Insights Engine. We launched our insights engine on 26 July 2022, and since then we’ve been using it regularly in GIAA to enable our auditors and investigators to find insights across hundreds of reports quickly and efficiently. The insights engine empowers our colleagues to analyse volumes of documents previously thought unimaginable. Since we set up our Data Analytics specialism in August 2021, we developed the Insights Engine from a simple, locally-hosted R Shiny app to become a sophisticated web-based tool that's been used by nearly 50 teams both in and outside GIAA.

The concept is simple: take a large volume of text from documents - such as audit reports but also board minutes, survey responses and consultation feedback - and make that information easily accessible and searchable in a user-friendly tool. our insights engine has been used for our external customers in consultancy pieces, in audit fieldwork, in our responsive insights and in counter fraud investigations. We have also used it internally for analysing our civil service people survey responses, feedback from our customers, and in our quality assurance and improvements processes.

We're sharing this blog to celebrate the official "first birthday" of the insights engine, since it was made widely accessible to colleagues across the agency. We’re also proud to say that it's been used by four external teams across government, with more in the pipeline. We've had fantastic feedback from users, with internal teams telling us:

There's been a behavioural improvement as well as a service improvement as a consequence of using the insights engine

The benefit of the insights engine for drawing down huge amounts of information, giving you the ability to summarise that and take it forward into something really impactful, has been really, really useful

Using the Insights Engine tool meant we produced a timely piece of audit work that added value for the client without breaking the budget.

Feedback from external users has also been positive, with users saying:

I liked how easy it was to use… It gave us a really great way to see what themes were coming up and having a better way of analysing the data, which otherwise we would have been trawling through for hours on end
The Insights Engine has been very helpful… we've been able to analyse documents in a way that we never would have been able to do in a traditional way… It's been something of a dream come true!

If you work in a government organisation and think that the GIAA Insights Engine might be useful for your work, please contact us to explore how we can help you.

Screenshot of the GIAA insights engine with images of celebration
Happy first birthday to our GIAA Insights Engine!




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  1. Comment by John Slater posted on

    Hi Lauren,
    This sounds like a really useful tool, and something we would be interested in using at Nottingham City Council Internal Audit. I'd be grateful if you'd contact me - I think that this would have good applicability across local government, and will mention it to our Core Cities audit group.

    • Replies to John Slater>

      Comment by glynellishughes posted on

      Hello John - it's great to hear that you're interested in our insights engine.

      I will pass on your details to Lauren and her colleagues in our data analytics team and someone will contact you soon.

      Thanks for reading the blog!

      Glyn Ellis Hughes
      GIAA Communication

      • Replies to glynellishughes>

        Comment by Stephen Lisle posted on

        Hi John, I work in the Data Analytics team at Audit Wales and we'd also really appreciate some more information on the Insights Engine please. It sounds really promising. Would you mind putting me in touch with the GIAA team as well please?

  2. Comment by Lauren Petrie posted on

    Hi Stephen,

    Thanks for your comment, and interest in our work - I'll be in touch via email.

    Lauren Petrie
    GIAA Data Analytics Specialism

  3. Comment by Chris Mason-Thom posted on

    Hi Lauren,
    This looks really interesting. I work in Home Office Analysis & Insights, and our analysts often come across similar problems to those described. I'd be grateful if you could get in touch with me to share any more info about how we might be able to use or learn from the Insights Engine.

  4. Comment by Marcus Melton posted on

    Hi Lauren - I work in the Cabinet Office's Government Communications Services Applied Data and Insights team. It would be great if we could link up to discuss your work (and ours)? Thanks!

  5. Comment by Selina So posted on

    Hi Lauren, I work for UKRI and I am interested in this tool, could we possibly catch up so I can learn more about it please?
    Many thanks

    • Replies to Selina So>

      Comment by Lauren Petrie posted on

      Hi Selina,

      Thanks for your comment, and interest in our work - I'll be in touch via email.

      Lauren Petrie
      GIAA Data Analytics Specialism

  6. Comment by Pat Mohlala posted on

    Hi Lauren,

    I work in DSIT, Portfolio and Insights team (Projects and Risks service). I think that the GIAA Insights Engine might be useful for our work and would welcome a conversation to explore how you might help.

    Many thanks,


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