Metrics and Performance Evaluation Technology for Museums
In a study of 30 leading contemporary art museums worldwide, 33% of managers said they had not set any performance benchmarks whatsoever for their organization. In an information age when thousands of performance software like Salesforce and Hootsuite, this statistic is pretty shocking.
Some people might think:
“We Don’t Turn A Profit, Why Bother?”
These days, museums and other tourist sites are under more and more pressure by government funders to be more accountable. Besides the legal implications of transparency, performance indicators are also important to gain the support of sponsors and donors, who may add to the museum’s collection and income. Curators and directors themselves want to see more visitors and new collections every year. Thus, their focus on performance is ever-increasing, and visitor management systems are becoming more important. But without generating profit, how do museums measure their performance? It’s actually pretty simple to get started. Set a goal, define some metrics, and track your progress.
Let’s start with the easy metrics. The number of people visiting your museum is easy enough to track. Depending on the volume, your agents can manually record each visitor as they enter. Point of sale systems can also track visits while providing information about ticket sales. Apps like Square Register on iOS can even allow you to process transactions from a tablet for a small 2.75% commission. Beyond the basics, 30 leading museum executives often measure artistic quality, reputation, innovation, external relationships and competitive intelligence to evaluate their success.
“You can’t measure artistic quality.”
Artistic quality is subjective, so it’s true that it can be extremely difficult to quantify. That being said, artistic quality could be viewed as the value of all the museum’s collections and exhibits and measured by “the degree to which they contribute to something.” That “something” can be number of visits, visitor satisfaction, or in the case of the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, it could be an impact on beliefs or attitudes. Reputation is an important factor that affects both sides of your ‘supply chain,’ attracting donors and visitors alike. Brand audits such as those described on Kiss Metrics’ “How and Why You Should Conduct a Brand Audit” offer a way to summarize your brand’s strengths and weaknesses in the eyes of your customers. As we are always influenced by the media, media mentions are also a good way to gauge reputation. If you’re struggling on how to monitor this data, check out “5 Free Tools to Track Brand Mentions Online.” A final way to measure artistic quality is through engagement, for example, which stops do people visit, and for how long? GPS and application tracking provided by mobile apps can easily aggregate this data for you.
“We Have New Exhibits All The Time. We are Innovating.”
That’s great, but we still have to measure that. Entrepreneur.com writes that for measuring innovation, businesses typically use 1) customer satisfaction, 2) percentage of sales from new products and services, and 3) overall revenue growth. However, as the article entitled “Know Your Return on Innovation” states, this isn’t necessarily the whole picture, especially not for museums. Why not consider the percentage of visits or overall satisfaction from new exhibits as a starting point. Perhaps most importantly, museums must be using benchmarks to evaluate performance. This means comparing all of your performance metrics like visits, satisfaction, reputations and mentions year over year and with museum customers. It also means sharing information with other museums is the best way for the industry to grow and thrive as a whole. Mobile platforms also offer the ability to quickly collect and aggregate survey information from your visitors, rather than manually compiling it.
“We’re Not a Business and We Don’t Want to be.”
As one national museum executive eloquently put it, the role of the market as well as the need to generate both revenue and capital funds are both recognized as important factors for [us], however it is keenly felt that these should not become the principal drivers.” Instead, the Balanced Scorecard Approach made famous by Kaplan and Norton is a much more complete measurement tool. It looks at four perspectives: the customer, the financial perspective, the employee, and internal processes. No one metric will mean success, certainly not revenue or number of visits. By following a multi-view approach, curators and directors can take in the big picture. There are many free tools available to analyze performance metrics. For a single, seamless visitor management system, MyOrpheo provides custom visitor management solutions with features from GPS positioning, activity tracking, social media and survey implementation.