The 4 Most Important Museum Digital Project Components

Rachael Cristine Woody

Rachael Cristine Woody

July 21, 2021

This is the last post in the current miniseries. So far, we’ve covered The Difference Between Museum Digital Programs and Projects and How COVID Has Changed Museum Digital Projects Forever. In this post I’ll lay out the primary components that must be considered at the beginning of every digital project: objective, stakeholders, resources, and deliverables. 

No matter what type of project you’re working on these four components should always be addressed first as they’ll inform the rest of your project framework.

Defining the Components for a Successful Digital Project

  • Objective: The ultimate goal for the project. This is the desired outcome(s) as informed by the impact of the project’s defined deliverables.
  • Stakeholders: The people who can (and should) contribute to the project. 
  • Resources: The tools (software and hardware), setting, and people required to successfully complete the project.
  • Deliverables: The quantifiable products that will result from the project.

Composing the Components of a Digital Project

Objective: This can serve as your project mission statement—the reason why you’re undertaking the digital project. To form an effective “Objective” think about the desired outcome(s) as informed by the impact of the project’s defined deliverables. Of the four components you may find it helpful to create this one last.

Stakeholders: Stakeholders are people (individuals who may be serving as an organization/community representative) who have a “stake” in the digital project. They may be the people being served by the project or can benefit from the project; and/or they may be the people who can assist or consult on the project because of their skills, knowledge, and experience. As a result, these people can be both internal and external to the museum and if they are members of a community who have been under-invited to previous museum activities than it is critically important that you engage with them early and equitably. Please see my previous post Responsible Practices for Working with Communities and Collections for more on this subject.

Resources: If you’re new to digital projects this component can be difficult to think of, at first. If so, please see my previous post What to Do When It’s Your First Museum Digitization Project for support. Given that this is a digital project you’re going to need hardware and software appropriate to the collection items you’re working with. You will also likely need focused staff time, contractors, or vendors for the project—depending upon your circumstances. Other resources like space, digital tools knowledge (training), and funding (to acquire tools, training, and assistance) may also be needed. It’s important to think of them all now so that you can verify you have all the resources you need for a successful project.

Deliverables: What’s the end result? With digital projects it’s usually quantifiable products; such as: number of items digitized, number of exhibits created, number of digital visitors, etc. It’s sometimes easier to think of these items first and then work your way backwards through Resources, Stakeholders, and Objective.

Conclusion

This is just the beginning of what it takes to construct a successful digital project. Stay tuned as I continue to cover this important facet of our work with more information, resources, and recommendations to help make your job easier.

Additional Reading

The Critical Difference Between Museum Deliverables and Outcomes

Responsible Practices for Working with Communities and Collections

Museum Digital Project Specifications

Who are the Stakeholders in Museum Digital Projects?

What to Do When It’s Your First Museum Digitization Project

Museum Forecast 2021

LAMs are More Alike Than Different: Physical vs Digital Nature of the Work

Margot Note’s free e-book, “Demystifying Archival Projects: 5 Essentials for Success,” courtesy of Lucidea Press

Rachael Cristine Woody

Rachael Cristine Woody

Expert Rachael Cristine Woody advises on museum strategies, collections management, and grant writing for a wide variety of clients. In addition to several titles published by Lucidea Press, Ms. Woody is a regular contributor to the Think Clearly blog. Register here for her upcoming webinar, “Museum Digital Project Fundamentals” on July 28, 2021. And learn about Lucidea’s Argus solution for powerful and innovative museum collections management.

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