What does a good museum management system look like?

Tags: What does a good museum management system look like, How to choose the correct technology platform for a museum, 8 things you should take a look at when choosing a Museum Management System.

This is such a hard question to answer. For us, it depends on where you are in your maturity path. Please don’t understand maturity by size or funding (money) - we’ve seen museums of large size that are not necessarily high on the maturity scale and small museums whose practices will blow you away! Your institution can also be mature in certain areas and not in others.

Now coming back to the initial question - what does a good museum management system look like? How do you choose the correct technology platform for a museum? Here are some important areas that you should be looking into.

Architecture - Forgive the technical jargon, but this is important.  When the pandemic started, just as probably every business in the world, we panicked.  We didn’t know what the existing months were going to look like in terms of growth, but our competitors' lack of modern architecture saved the day.  People using server-based systems (software installed in your computer) could not work from home -  kind of a problem during Covid; that brought new clients.   Then a huge hack on one of our competitors helped as well - their database got encrypted in exchange for ransom money - I won’t wish that on my worst enemy.  And then people wanting to integrate with other platforms helped as well - having an API-ready platform allows you to connect to other systems.  So for your next museum platform, make sure you are picking a cloud-based platform with an outstanding security record. 

Functionality - There are three or four platforms out in the market trying to fight for the top position in the museum, cultural institutions, parks, and zoo market.  We all have similar functionalities, we have some that others don’t (and vice versa).  Here is where the maxim “Know thyself” comes in handy.  Pick a solution that fits your maturity model and that will allow you to grow at your own pace and within your budget.  Also, pick a vendor that continues to deliver functionality and stays on top of what the market needs.  Make sure you are asking your vendors how many releases per year they have, how much customization can you do, and if there are costs involved for those releases or customizations

Constituent 360º View - Let’s say that you had a super year selling your memberships and you need to predict how many of these memberships will be renewed.  Well, the odds of knowing that without having the attendance information is pretty slim.  So your ticketing needs to be extremely tied to your Customer Relationship Management system (CRM).  How can you advertise those new toys in your shop if you can’t take a look at the household and figure out how many of your members have children or family memberships?  See why everything needs to be integrated?  No integration means probably a loss of income

Data Migration - This is one of the biggest pains in the *ss and one of the largest hidden costs.  It is tough on you, and tough on your vendor.  Data migration is the hardest part of the technology implementation.  That is of course if your vendor does allow you to migrate your data.  This is not a small point.  Make sure your vendor allows you to easily migrate your data, if they give you the run-around about this is due to two possible causes: one: they can’t do it; or two: they have a horrible data model and it is too much work (which also means that it will be painful to move to another platform).  Your data is important, and “it is difficult” or “It’s not possible” is not a good answer.  You might have to make a decision around the budget (difficult or time-consuming, which means more money), but it should be your decision and not your vendor's.

Customer Service and Long-Term Partnership - Changing or choosing a Museum Management System is a long-term decision.  You want a partner that is there for you and not a company that will just refer you to their knowledge base or gets you on an infinite loop of phone extensions.  Make sure that you have at least an hour of their time per month to go over questions, challenges, and special cases.  Also, functionality releases are the best customer service - that means they are listening to you, which means they care to make their service better and deliver you with new superpowers.  You are in a competition, and every superpower counts!

Reporting Capabilities - This is an area that is often neglected.  Vendors will often blow you away with functionalities and features, but poor reporting and poor reporting capabilities (they are different) will drive you to want to switch functionalities soon enough.  A tool may give you the reports that you need, and depending on your level of maturity that will suffice.  But as you progress through your maturity path, you’ll start needing reporting capabilities and not only canned reports.  So think through your reporting needs, have them ready for the demo and give them to your vendors in advance, so they can be ready to show you.

Ease of Use and Training - If you need to have a Ph.D. to use the platform, you are in trouble.  Times are tough, rotation is high, and you need your people up and running as soon as possible.  So the platform you are getting needs to be intuitive, and tutorials need to be available.  Your vendor should provide you with a recording of every session they provide to you.  A piece of advice regarding training: you may think you may need in-person training -and we do offer it-, but in our experience, they are harder to document, and people are still forgetting the content the next day.  Nothing beats good documentation, good customer service, and tutorials available

Referrals - Ask your vendor to provide you with the names and numbers of a few clients.  They will tell you the advantages and shortcomings of the platform.  More than anything, ask them about the reaction of the vendor in times of help.  Were there for you?  How many releases have they gotten?  Have they seen upgrades?  Have they had any downtimes?

Other things that may be pertinent to you depending on the size of your organization are Data Limits, Permissions Flexibility, and Add-ons possibilities.  This again depends on where you are on your maturity path.

I hope this article helped. We know that finding all this in one place can be a hard task and that is why at Veevart we have made it easier for you. We have developed a platform that is built on top of Salesforce, we have thought about your fundraising, membership management, ticketing, shop, rentals, groups, and other needs of your cultural institutions. We would love to understand your challenges and see how we can help, please reach out to us to know more or schedule a demo.

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