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Strategic priority 5: Work smarter

Better ways of doing things

Streamline business processes and systems to achieve organisational efficiencies:

  • develop and implement conservation/preservation activities informed by priorities, risk management and significance assessment
  • review all fees and charges for programs, products and services to ensure pricing consistency, value for money and increased revenue
  • review stand-alone information technology (IT) applications to ensure they meet functional needs and better integrate across business units.

OUR TARGETS

Transition corporate functions into shared services centre as part of budget initiative.

The number of items conserved for preparation for display or digitisation will be greater than 0.1 per cent of total collection count.

WHAT WE ACHIEVED

The Museum cooperated with a number of other Canberra-based cultural institutions to develop options for sharing back-of-house functions.

The Museum achieved a result of 0.39 per cent of total objects conserved for preparation for display or digitisation during 2015–16, well above the target of 0.1 per cent.

Highlights

Corporate functions transition

During 2015–16 the Museum worked with other national cultural agencies to explore opportunities for increased efficiencies and cost savings through consolidating back-of-house functions.

Enhancing key services

The Museum continues to implement a range of IT projects to deliver operational efficiencies and streamline business processes. As part of the ongoing enhancement of its technical infrastructure, the Museum has completed the following IT projects in 2015–16:

  • implementation of janusSEAL software, which enforces security classification policy on all email messages
  • upgrade of core networking equipment providing continued security compliance and improved performance and reliability
  • improvements to IT security compliance through the implementation of the Australian Signals Directorate mitigations strategy, which will ensure the Museum is better protected against cyber intrusions and targeted cyber-attacks
  • establishment of an Information Governance Committee, in line with the National Archives of Australia, Digital 2020 Policy, whose function is to oversee the Museum’s approach to digital information governance and develop policies, frameworks and standards around the Museum’s business systems.

The Museum has continued to build on the business benefits arising from the adoption of Records Manager 8, the electronic document records management system, including:

  • improvements to electronic workflows
  • better information sharing
  • enhanced security access and version controls.

The Museum has also implemented an Information Management Framework to ensure the Museum meets all governance requirements for electronic recordkeeping.

Caring for the collection

The Conservation team continues to provide input into all facets of the Museum’s work through a number of programs and initiatives designed to enable access to the National Historical Collection and ensure the long-term care and preservation of the Museum’s collection well into the future. During 2015–16 work on caring for the collection included:

  • the preparation of collection and loan objects for display in exhibitions, such as Encounters: Revealing Stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Objects from the British Museum; Unsettled: Stories within; and Happy Birthday Play School: Celebrating 50 Years.
  • facilitating access to collection objects for loan to external agencies and institutions, and for research needs
  • continued care and maintenance of the Museum’s permanent gallery exhibitions and an ongoing involvement in the touring exhibitions program
  • continued care of the collection through preventive conservation programs and the implementation of a prioritised conservation program, which ensures that areas of the collection requiring conservation treatment or preventive work can be identified and treated.

Conservation performance results for 2015–16 included:

  • exceeding the target for the percentage of total objects assessed/condition checked in the reporting period (3889 objects)
  • exceeding the target for the percentage of total objects conserved in the reporting period for preparation for display or digitisation (591 objects)
  • exceeding the target for the percentage of total objects treated for preservation purposes in the reporting period (1363 objects).

Learning from our visitors

Establish evaluation, benchmarking and evidence-based decision-making to plan and manage performance:

  • integrate visitor evaluation and evidence-based research to inform the Museum’s programs.

OUR TARGET

Establish general visitor survey.

WHAT WE ACHIEVED

The General Visitor Survey was re-established in June 2015. Results will assist the Museum to develop relevant and engaging programs for its audiences.

Highlights

Understanding visitors and their motivations and experiences is a critical component in determining how the Museum develops and implements its programs. The Museum conducts general visitor, public program and
educational program surveys, and also obtains feedback from forms, online channels and Museum hosts. This qualitative and quantitative data assists the Museum in developing and improving its programs and products.

Visitor Evaluation Strategy 2013–16

The Museum has undertaken visitor evaluation since the mid-1990s, using a range of techniques such as focus groups, exit surveys, national awareness surveys and formative and summative evaluation. In 2013 the Museum established its Visitor Evaluation Strategy 2013–16, which drives the collection of core visitation statistics in alignment with the key performance indicators established by the Department of Communications and the Arts.

General Visitor Survey

The Museum relaunched its General Visitor Survey in June 2015. The General Visitor Survey received 5386 responses during 2015–16. In all, 96 per cent of visitors who undertook the survey reported that they were
satisfied or very satisfied with their visit to the Museum and their participation in public programs.

Audience Research and Analysis working group

In April 2016 the Museum convened the Audience Research and Analysis working group, which has oversight of the planning and execution of a range of ongoing audience research and evaluation activities.

The establishment of the working group supports a coordinated approach that:

  • identifies gaps in our knowledge of the Museum’s audience
  • aligns research priorities and projects with legislative requirements, key performance indicators and project deliverables
  • ensures efficient and effective use of resources and information across the Museum
  • integrates visitor evaluation and evidence-based research to inform the Museum’s programs.

Increase revenue

Increase own-source revenue and manage our financial resources sustainably through:

  • expanded online shop
  • venue hire
  • catering
  • publications
  • reproductions
  • charges for programs and exhibitions
  • donations
  • grants
  • sponsorship
  • philanthropic foundations
  • memberships.

OUR TARGET

Contribute to overall increase in Museum’s own-source revenue by 45 per cent (on figures for 2013–14).

WHAT WE ACHIEVED

In 2015–16 own-source revenue increased by 37 per cent on 2013–14 actual figures.

Highlights

Early indications of directing efforts to revenue generation have been positive during 2015–16. The own source revenue target of a 45 per cent increase on 2013–14 figures equates to $6.625 million. The
actual figure achieved for 2015–16 was $6.262 million. However, a number of revenue-generating activities posted record results that provide the impetus for further growth and consolidation of effort.

The Shop

Retail operations generate revenue for the Museum and enhance visitor experience. The Museum created a range of merchandise related to the Museum’s collection, exhibitions and programs, including a lavish catalogue published to accompany Encounters: Revealing Stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Objects from the British Museum and an illustrated children’s book, Horace the Baker’s Horse, written by well-known author Jackie French and inspired by a baker’s cart in the Museum’s collection. There were no dedicated exhibition shops during 2015–16, but a new licensed product range was developed to support the Museum’s exhibitions travelling internationally.

The Museum Shop posted a record sales year in 2015–16, representing a 12.4 per cent increase on the previous year (well above the level of growth in the general retail sector), and a 1.3 per cent increase
on sales targets. The performance of the online store improved, with transactions double those of the previous reporting period, and takings of $11,399.

Catering and venue hire

Catering and venue hire performed very well during the year, with demand for the Museum’s commercial venues at an all-time high. Catering revenue grew by 15 per cent on the previous year, and positive
comments on quality, service and price were received from visitors. The Museum’s caterer, Broadbean Catering Pty Ltd, entered the third year of its Deed of Agreement with the Museum, and the results indicate a strong consolidation of the catering business. Visitor feedback on the Cafe was positive.

Venue hire includes the commercial hire of Museum spaces for individuals and corporate bodies holding events and functions. Events and venue hire visitation decreased 13 per cent on the previous year,
with 18,637 guests in total. Revenue from venue hire also decreased, due to one of the main spaces for hire being decommissioned for a short time for periodic maintenance.

Donations

The Museum’s fundraising program was restructured during the year, resulting in two general appeals being consolidated into one targeted appeal – Keeping Our Stories Alive. This appeal raised $13,962 to the
end of June, which helped support the acquisition of a historically important three-volume set of books recording French explorer Nicolas Baudin’s 1801–04 survey of the southern coasts of Australia, including its flora, fauna and inhabitants.

Another appeal, in support of the Encounters Indigenous Cultural Workers Scholarships program, was launched in 2015–16, with public support expected to partially offset funds set aside for the program by the Museum and The Prince’s Charities Australia (see Take the lead: Fostering sustainable relationships).

Other donations and philanthropy delivered $74,728 in revenue to the Museum during the reporting period (see Appendix 4, Supporters of the National Museum of Australia).

Janet-Lynne Mack and Michelle Hetherington
Assistant registrar Janet-Lynne Mack, watched on by senior curator Michelle Hetherington, handles a rare illustrated account of Nicolas Baudin’s 1800–1804 voyage to Australia during the launch of the Museum’s annual fundraising appeal, Keeping Our Stories Alive.

Performance reporting

Create a safe, open and collaborative environment that is a pleasure to work in:

  • performance reporting to ensure continuous improvement and increased efficiencies.

OUR TARGET

Report to Council on a quarterly basis.

WHAT WE ACHIEVED

A progress report against the Corporate Plan 2015–16 was presented to the National Museum of Australia’s Council each quarter.

Highlights

Four quarterly progress reports against the Corporate Plan 2015–16 were presented to the Museum’s Council, at four meetings held in Canberra: 20 August 2015, 3 December 2015, 18 February 2016 and 5 May 2016.

During 2015–16 the Museum encouraged an open and collaborative environment through the creation of staff reporting mechanisms to support knowledge-sharing, collective planning and decision-making.

In August 2015 the Museum established the Corporate Management Group (CMG), comprising all Museum business unit managers, senior managers and the executive management team. The function of the CMG is to collectively review, make recommendations and provide advice to the Museum’s executive on operational matters, major projects and programs, and to track progress against the performance targets in the corporate plan. Progress reports on the corporate plan are then submitted to the Executive Management Group (EMG) and provided to the Museum’s Council as a key accountability measure.

Other executive management advisory groups include the Major Projects steering committee, the Acquisition and Collections group, the Executive Exhibitions committee, and the Audience Research and Analysis working group. Each group provides the executive management team with specialised advice, and reports though the CMG structure to encourage information sharing and to strengthen corporate knowledge and collaboration across the Museum. This framework supports greater engagement of staff in Museum decision-making and fosters awareness and understanding of strategic and operational issues and business practices across the organisation.