How to Choose Your Next Digital Project Idea

Rachael Cristine Woody

Rachael Cristine Woody

March 16, 2022

The scope of the digital project you select will be influenced by the priorities of the museum, the needs of the collections, and the resources you have available. There are multiple factors to consider when choosing and developing your digital project idea.

This post will help guide you through the process of considering and balancing competing needs and selecting a path forward that matches museum priorities and the resource available to you.

Museum Priorities

First, check your digital project ideas against the priorities of the museum. You can identify museum priorities by referring to the mission or strategic plan, as well as how your position is described. The museum has prioritized the payment of your work which is a good indicator that it values that work. When reviewing each digital project idea, run through the following prompts:

  • Does it support the museum mission, strategic plan, initiatives, etc.?
  • Does it fit within your job description?

If a digital project idea fails either of these prompts then it should be removed from your list. For ideas that have made it past this first filter it’s time to determine how each project may help to get work done and/or meet a need.

Getting Work Done and Meeting Needs

Next, compare the ideas to how well they meet the criteria laid out in the “How to Identify Museum Digital Project Ideas” prompt:

  • Which idea will make your life (job) easier and by how much?
  • What deliverables have people (colleagues or patrons) repeatedly requested that each project idea could provide for?
  • Which idea assists with performing the most clean-up or updating of digital assets or data? 
  • Which project idea has been on your to-do list the longest?

At this point, we’re going to assume that every digital project idea on your list is one that is in alignment with the museum mission and fits within your purview. Now it’s time to consider your resources and which projects will have the biggest impact.

Ability + Impact

This section provides prompts to help you determine: 1. That you have what you need to execute the project successfully; and 2. That the project will have a noticeable positive impact. As you run through each of these prompts, you’ll notice we’re determining to the best of our ability whether we have the capacity to execute the project. If we do, then how much benefit could this project return?

  • Do you have sufficient time to dedicate to this project in order to be successful?
  • Do you have the appropriate resources needed for the project?

If the answer is “Yes.” to both, then it’s time to compare the impact potential of each idea:

  • Which projects provide a high Return on Investment (ROI)?
  • Which project will have the largest or longest positive impact to your daily work and/or the stakeholders you serve?

Finally, it’s time for a personal and subjective question:

  • Which projects are you the most excited about?

In the end, if you have several projects that have made it through these prompts, then I encourage you to choose the one you’re most excited about. You know the museum, collections, and stakeholders involved and you’ll have a good sense of what should be worked on next. Additionally, digital projects are often measured in months or years and you’ll want a project that can help hold your interest.

Conclusion

Remember, these questions are meant to provide you with insight into how each project may be of the most use to you (and the museum) and, therefore, the best project to choose. It’s not an exact science.  Also, don’t throw away the brainstorming notes you’ve made for your other ideas as next week we’ll create a blueprint for future digital project work with the leftover ideas and information.

Additional Reading Available via Lucidea’s Think Clearly Blog:

5 Times LAMs Should Bring in a Consultant

5 Prompts to Prioritize Museum Digitization Projects 

Building a Comprehensive Museum Digital Program 

Considering Museum Digitization Tools by Item Type

The Critical Difference Between Museum Deliverables and Outcomes

How to Choose the Right Tools for Museum Digital Projects

How to Establish Museum Digital Project Core Areas

How to Evaluate a Museum Digital Collection 

Include these Museum Digitization Standards in Your Next Project 

Part 1: How Much Will Museum Digital Projects Cost Me?

When to Consider Museum Digitization Vendors 

Who are the Stakeholders in Museum Digital Projects?

Rachael Cristine Woody

Rachael Cristine Woody

If you’d like to learn more about this topic, register here for Rachael’s upcoming webinar, “How to Identify and Select Your Next Museum Digital Project” on March 30, 2022. Rachael Cristine Woody advises on museum strategies, digital museums, collections management, and grant writing for a wide variety of clients. In addition to several titles published by Lucidea Press, she is a regular contributor to the Think Clearly blog and an always popular presenter. And remember to check out Lucidea’s Argus solution for powerful and innovative museum collections management.

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