Working in Partnership: Benefits and Challenges


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Presentation at Museums Association conference: Museums on the Web, 10 June 2009, Victoria and Albert Museum, London

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  • Working in Partnership: Benefits and Challenges

    1. 1. Working in Partnership: Benefits and Challenges 10 June 2009 Carolyn Royston
    2. 2. What this talk will cover • This talk is based on my recent experience with NMOLP: – Benefits of working in partnership – Working with the right partners – Understanding your partnership – gaining commitment and working with constraints – Some lessons learnt from NMOLP
    3. 3. About me • Currently Head of New Media, IWM • Project manager NMOLP until March 09 • NMOLP was first time I had worked in the public sector • Previously Head of e-Learning in a UK new media agency
    4. 4. Partnership working
    5. 5. Benefits of working in partnership • Potential to add value and extend your existing offer • Opportunities for shared knowledge and skills • Can provide shared content and technology platform • Provide new ways of working • Springboard to genuine partnership working
    6. 6. However, to make it work Be aware of the following: • Need buy-in from senior management • Project needs clear benefits and value for all involved • Clarity about what project will deliver (and what it won’t do) • Capability and capacity clearly identified • Agreement on how you will work together • Legacy strategy and sustainability issues built into project plan
    7. 7. Different types of partners • It doesn’t always have to be other museums or galleries • Work out what sort of organisation(s) will add value and fit with your wider strategic aims • Don’t rule out commercial partners or organisations outside your sector
    8. 8. Variety of approaches • Be creative with your partnership and ways of working • Key Question: How can you get the most out of the partners and partnership? – Phased approach – Different contributions as part of a whole – Smaller partnerships out of the larger partnership
    9. 9. NMOLP
    10. 10. Nine national museums • British Museum • Imperial War Museum • Natural History Museum • National Portrait Gallery • Royal Armouries • Sir John Soane’s Museum • Tate • Victoria and Albert Museum • Wallace Collection
    11. 11. NMOLP – what is it? • Large-scale UK digital learning project • Audiences are students, teachers & lifelong learners • First time national museums have worked together collaboratively on public facing project • 3 year project launched March ‘09 • Funded by the Treasury, sponsored by DCMS
    12. 12. Funding Criteria • ‘Invest to Save’ budget: – No new website or portal – No new digitisation or curatorial content – Must be sustainable for at least 3 years post-launch
    13. 13. Size of Organisations Large Medium Small British Museum IWM Sir John Soane Natural History Museum NPG Wallace Tate Royal Armouries V&A
    14. 14. What have we delivered for our audiences? • Resources for schools (WebQuests) • Resources for lifelong learners (Creative Spaces) • Linking together 9 national collections via a cross- collection search • Resources that can be used & shared across all 9 national museums
    15. 15. This is what we made • WebQuests • Creative Spaces
    16. 16. Managing NMOLP partnership
    17. 17. Issues when I started • Project plan written and funding allocated • Partnership already determined by project funding • Technical solution promised but implementation not scoped out • Content deliverables outlined but not fully defined
    18. 18. My approach • Visited every partner for fact-finding • Discovered different expectations about what the project would deliver for each partner: – Institutional – Departmental – Individuals
    19. 19. Key areas I focussed on • Developing collective aims and objectives for project • Managing expectations from the start – What this project will deliver and what it won’t deliver • Establishing people’s commitment to the project – Not just showing up at meetings – active participation • Importance of deadlines to everyone • Identifying the potential barriers to success for: – Each institution – Departments within institutions – Individuals working on the project • Legacy and sustainability
    20. 20. Why was this important? • Partners needed to take responsibility for the project in their own institutions • I couldn’t solve their institutional issues • But we could discuss those issues which: – Enabled us in many cases to find collective solutions and offer support – Build relationships between partner representatives – Ownership of project brought more commitment from partners
    21. 21. Building commitment • Gaining commitment from people in the project: – Assign different roles and responsibilities for people – Different types of meetings – Active involvement from partners – Set realistic deadlines – Acknowledge achievements along the way – Be transparent about decisions – PM is the leader of the project
    22. 22. Working with constraints • Lots of constraints on this project: – Number of stakeholders and meetings – Different capabilities and capacities – Technical differences – Copyright restrictions – Brand conflicts – Marketing and PR conflicts – Sustainability issues
    23. 23. Working with constraints • Try to anticipate as early as possible what the major issues might be • Prioritise these issues and allocate adequate time and resource to deal with them • Be decisive about ways forward – need agreement on how to tackle these issues • Re-visit if necessary throughout lifecycle of project
    24. 24. Legacy • Needs to be built into original project plan • Re-visited throughout project • Sustainability plan for technology • Sustainability plan for partnership – How will the project continue to be managed? And who will do it? – How will decisions be made? – What happens after the evaluation? – How do you disseminate what you have learnt? – How does the project impact on future developments both within the sector and outside?
    25. 25. Key lessons I learnt • Partnerships require work – All the time! • Spending time on the partnership early on will benefit you throughout the project • Engage your senior managers and build advocacy for project • Scope out the project and shape it to fit your partnership • Legacy and sustainability need to be discussed and agreed from the start • A good project manager will lead your project but implementation and delivery is a collective responsibility
    26. 26. Carolyn Royston