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1.1 To enable museums to achieve objectives and aims in a rapidly changing environment, a strategic forward plan is inevitable to clarify the rationale and understand the reasons for the decision making.
1.2 Plans need to perform flexible in order to respond to continual change and challenge, especially when the environment is risk-averse. Therefore, the 'do-nothing' approach would fail. Measures should be arranged to ensure that the identified need for radical change can be successfully implemented and any barriers and conflicts (internal or external) anticipated and minimized.
1.3 This report will highlights the elements of a forward plan for a museum and show how each elements is significantly linked with achievable strategies as a starting point.
2. ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS IN A FORWARD PLAN OF YOUR MUSEUM
The essential elements of a forward plan for a museum play a key role respectively, as the outputs of museums are often intangible, the benefits of investment are often difficult to quantify, in order to provide a creative strategy to demonstrate motivation, responsibility, coordination and evidence that a museum could be enhanced with appropriate decision-making and control.
2.1 Creating a mission statement
When you set out a forward plan, firstly, you need to consider why the museum exists and why it is important. Without a specific purpose, forward plan may be vague. Also, you must put weight on specific values of the museum to suit an aim of your plan. Then, you need to discuss your audiences. It is helpful to break down small target group of audiences. Visitor is usually divided into two groups, local and other area's people. You also consider the audiences according to gender, age and their interest. Nowadays, museums are considered as a part of the leisure economy with a new concept of relationship between the visitor, the museum and the market. (Kotler and Kotler, 2000) Thus, understanding and identifying the current situation and role of museums are integral for creating strategy within the appropriate context. Museums as the public sector organizations, need to take a proactive approach to correspond to the possible changes consistently. Therefore, you should find the answer for the extent of the environment that drives changes within a system in control of your own change processes. At the starting point, your museum should prepare for the changes, as you are able to control over the external environment merely, by building internal consensus and gaining decision-making powers.
2.2 The current situation and external/ internal environment review
To make an innovative forward plan, you need to review internal situation as well as external environment. SWOT is an efficient analytical tool to analyze them. SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis mainly focuses on the need for museums to understand accurately about their strengths and weaknesses. You can not only make priorities in planning but also handle the weakness and threats. To review the current situation, you need to check the number of current visitors, financial state and management of museum collections. External environment also must be considered. Political change and legislation can affect to managing museum. In addition, social and demographic changes also make a difference in making plan. Finally, market research is essential because managing museum is to make a profit like other organizations. You should actively analyze the local and national economic change continuously. In controlling various factors that might affect management, it would enable you identify the balance between the external environment and the capacity of internal resources with suggestions for future strategic planning of museums. Within a responsibility for managing change of museums, especially local- size museums, it would be hard for aligning the internal and external environments. Therefore, managers must take a responsibility for adopting diverse theories as guidelines to your own situation when the internal, external, cultural and political factors are considered. In this stage, PEST (Political, Economic, Sociocultural and Technological factors) analysis is the pragmatic tools to assist museums in order for you to confront and engage with objectives and aims.
2.3 Setting a vision for the plan period
The vision of the plan should consider the length of a period whether you want to target a short-term or long-term based plan in order to achieve developments. In this process, your museum is analysed to figure out your organisational ambition. Throughout encapsulating the key ideas, the quality of internal capacity is developed and enhanced whilst a museum runs for the planned period. As a result, 'changing the culture' will be the outcome of the strategic process, once a vision in the plan succeeded according to guided visions. Your visions can be related to achieving greater visibility, enlarging the size of an audience, or raising financial income. However, for local size museums, a vision for the long-term period plan is difficult to be determined as they sometimes struggle to survive from one year to the next. (Davies, 1993:54). However, a vision based on longer-term planning more enables museums to survive within strategies as better quality of services are possible for visitors.
2.4 Developing strategic aims
After reviewing, you should establish primary strategic aims to achieve your plan. In this stage, you must consider not only financial sector but also other specific areas in establishing strategic aims. Firstly, you must think about collections and resources management. Moreover, you arrange easier access to your collections and services for visitors. Educational function is a significant role of museum. Finally, your aims must make main stakeholders satisfied. Your aim should include the method of how partnership enhances the delivery mechanisms for the public sector management. Thus, the successful aims of the strategic plan are followed by building partnerships, developing relationships and appropriate strategies in order to cope with the environment as museums are not immune to changes from internal concerns to an external nature. The strategic aims need to consider more diverse range of risk for avoiding any possible risk.
2.5 Linking objectives with performance measures to achieve aims
After establishing strategic aims, such as targets or goals, need to be classified which are attainable in the short-term period, normally within a maximum of 12 or 24 months. In this stage, you need to keep in mind following conditions. Objectives should be specific, achievable, realistic measurable and time limited, for each strategic aim, and then museums can achieve progress and measure that progress.
2.6 Allocating responsibilities and time
To carry all objectives together in limited time, you should allocate responsibilities and time properly. Each individual or department needs to take possible quantity of responsibility. Also, scheduling the timing is helpful to implement your plan in the planned time period. In reality, people sometimes spend their time mostly on routine maintenance tasks, therefore, it should be kept asking whether all the objectives set from the above stages have been achieving on a balance between challenging and maintaining.
2.7 Allocating costs and producing budgets
In a commercial environment, the need for museums to reconfigure their purpose and value proposition is vital for maintaining their services. (Roper and Beard, 2001) In other words, museums should also consider for the revenue side as they are placed in the rapidly changing economic situations like the other business. In order for museums to sustain and develop, the need for fund and investment upon expenditure projections is an essential factor for any strategic planning. (Smith, 2001) Therefore, you need to make a plan for projects including income and expenditure of your museum based on your affordability. You have to list following elements. In the income part, firstly, income from visitors as well as from endowment and bank interest can be included. In the expenditure part, you need to consider expenditure for employment such as staff wage, national insurance and pension. Also you need to think about increasing of energy and other utility costs. Expenditure should be matched by income of the museum in a year to avoid loss.
2.8 Performance indicators
Once all the elements have been implemented, you need to monitor your progress towards achieving the planned aims and objectives, and efficiency of your performance. If your plan is failed, you need to revise or amend a part of plan. Thus, in the final stage, you need some performance indicators to investigate the performance and demonstrate credibility or efficiency. Number of visitor and income are obvious indicators to monitor the plan. Also, if your plan is successful, number of group booking in your program may increase. More business-like approach is useful for consistent revision of roles, strategic aims, objectives in provision of service. (Belfiore, 2004) However, as museums need to consider the importance of evaluating their performance rather than focus on the convenience of measuring regular financial outcomes, you should not rely on statistical indicators as it often shows a tendency to measure numerical values. Finally, a current quarterly or annual review and update should be continuously generated on a regular basis to maintain its value and relevance.
In this report, the essential elements of a forward plan for museums are analyzed. As mentioned above, each element plays a significant role in achieving your aims and the relevant objectives. Furthermore, linking and balancing elements correspondingly are also integral at each stage. Therefore, you should consider these elements respectively in depth to produce a successful forward plan of your museum. You also need to revise and amend your plan continuously in order to challenge promptly in the rapidly changing environment.