Organisational network analysis


Organisations are facing ever increasing challenges, digital transformations, big data, regulatory pressures, dynamic workforces and economic uncertainty. In continuing to provide robust assurance, internal audit must look through multiple lenses across the organisation.

If you haven’t heard of organisational network analysis, we urge you to take the time to read this. Wherever you are in your audit career, it is vital learning.

Organisational network analysis (ONA) is a way to make sense of the informal and insightful communication networks that exist alongside formal hierarchies. It is about people and relationships - key elements of successful internal auditing.

In this paper, we work through the technique and look at how it can benefit internal auditors.

Why is ONA so important?

Organisation charts describe the way information flows through a hierarchy. They are easily produced for traditional structures yet are less suited to flat or matrix structures, agile ways of working and the drive for less formality from millennials.

ONA is not a new concept yet it offers a much needed lens to help get under the surface of organisational culture, communication and efficiency. Internal auditors understand the significance of culture. It’s why we invest resource to audit it!

The key component in all of this is communication: the relationships that occur within, across and outside of the organisation. Experienced auditors recognise that it is often what is said in corridors, over a coffee or in the lift that holds more influence and power than the words recorded in the minutes of a formal committee meeting.

ONA is a tool for capturing knowledge communities and informal communication networks.

It has the potential to expose the intangible ‘glue’ of an organisation so we can engage with it.

The diagram below shows the difference between the formal hierarchy of an organisation and the…