Museums are busy places, and you may have more tasks to complete than hours in the day. It’s easy to feel cut off from other departments in your museum, and silo mentality can hurt both your department and projects. When your tasks require cross-department collaboration, you can find your busy schedule makes it impossible to connect with other team members.
From curators to conservators, everyone uses the same collection data. Our seven tips will help improve the state of your organization’s collection care by working with an integrated museum system. The right software can simplify workflows, improve inefficient methods of communication, and provide information faster, all while saving time, money, and reducing stress. So whether you’re archiving photography for preservation or caring for delicate glass or ceramics, there are many reasons to choose this type of system. Here are a few that top the list:
1. Better Reporting
If your museum depends on multiple systems to store data—such as a Digital Asset Management System (DAMS) and Collections Management System (CMS)—you may find that often, your systems become out of sync and are filled with outdated information. Multiple systems don’t always integrate properly, leaving staff with the extra task of repeatedly entering redundant information. Sometimes, your DAMS or other system can feel like a black hole, requiring you to hand control of your assets to the third party system administrator. Using integrated museum software allows you to control your assets, while eliminating redundant data entry. Once data is entered, it’s automatically and instantly available everywhere. Now you can easily find the state of all the objects in your collection, and whether they’re out on loan or in storage, you can be certain that those collection items are properly cared for.
2. Reduced Mistakes
Keeping clean data is paramount for your staff and museum collection care. When data must be entered multiple times into more than one system, by multiple people, it creates opportunities for mistakes. Add in multi-department workflows and it’s a full blown recipe for human error. Having one point for data entry allows you to reduce your busy-work while minimizing the need for data cleanup.
3. Time and Cost Savings
When you rely on multiple software systems, third party integration fees seem to crop up every time you add a new tool to your kit. Unfortunately, most of those integrations don’t work properly, leaving you frustrated as you add “troubleshoot the integration” to your to-do list. Using integrated museum software eliminates the need to manage those frustrating and expensive third-party integrations, because all of your data is beautifully stored in one central location.
When you use an automated and integrated museum system, projects are easily accessed from the dashboard. Workflows are handled in the system, and assignments are created in an automated step-by-step process. You’re always aware of what step each project is on, and who is responsible for each task. If you’re working on paper, or in email, it’s easy to lose track of communication. With an integrated software system, clear communication helps your team strengthen accountability while completing the job more efficiently, and you can be certain that no collections care tasks are left uncompleted.
5. Personalized Workflow
Having to complete your tasks using a system you’re not fluent in can really slow you down, and learning multiple systems in order to provide details for another team member takes time, sometimes feeling more difficult than completing the task itself. Working with an integrated museum system allows everyone to work with a single database, and in their own preferred environment, with customized settings and controls to best suit each user’s needs.
6. Team Flexibility
When your team isn’t held back by the restrictions of a complex integration, they can spend their time on what matters. Giving your team the time and space to get creative with their tasks promotes productivity and innovation. Your integrated museum software easily tailors your workflow to fit your needs instead of the needs of your multiple systems. This also helps to future-proof your data and assets: when your museum wants to take on a new project, you’re able to simply implement that project, rather than having to assess if it can be done using your multiple systems.
7. Synchronized Online Collections
Sharing your collection online connects your objects to your audience, but requires your records to be constantly updated for accuracy. If your online gallery is managed through multiple systems, or worse, managed by a third-party or outside team, it’s difficult to track what information is up to date, and what’s been left behind. Using a museum software suite that stems from one single database ensures your object data is consistent and up to date, with no extra work required.
When you work with multiple, disparate systems, you take part in a very careful balancing act. If you add any new integrations, or if one integration breaks due to a software update, it can send everything tumbling down. Your team is constantly forced to spend time and money fixing and maintaining your integrations, or avoid system updates altogether, causing your technology stack to fall behind current standards, ultimately restricting the projects your organization can take on. When you eliminate multiple systems, and choose integrated museum software, you ensure the technology you use will support you long into the future.