Planning a strategy is a good place to start, or further, your digital journey. This guide shows you how to plan a practical digital strategy with actionable aims. You will see how to make a plan that you can use to focus on using technology, reach new audiences, improve business performance, market yourself better, manage change, create new products or reimagine old processes.
After using this resource, you will be able to create your own digital strategy, starting with:
- The goals of your organisation
- Who your customers and employees are
- What you want to offer or produce in the future.
Our expert, Dr Amelia Knowlson, University of Leeds, explains how you can start to plan your digital strategy.
The fields of arts, culture, and heritage use digital technology in many ways. These include producing, sharing and consuming heritage, how people learn about technology and organising work-based processes in a strategic way. You are not alone in thinking about the myriad of ways you can apply digital technology. Here are some of the things a digital strategy can help you do as an organisation:
- Understand your current digital strengths and weaknesses
- Envision where you want to be
- Plan how you can engage with new online audiences
- Maximise digital technologies to manage your collections
- Set out actionable goals
- Measure, evaluate, and improve these goals as technology advances.
The importance of situational analysis
Two essential first steps to create your digital strategy are to:
1. Assess your current situation
2. Establish where you want your organisation to be.
This second question is really important. To what extent do you expect that an increase in your digital capacity will change fundamental things about who you are as an organisation? Perhaps you want the digital strategy to better support your existing organisational goals, or alternatively you may want to use the digital strategy to help you completely change and re-evaluate these? When you complete this type of assessment, you use situational analysis.
The two most common frameworks for situational analysis are:
- PESTLE (Political, Environmental, Social, Legal, Economic)
- SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats).
Completing a situational analysis will help you explore the internal and external factors influencing your organisation. You may discover potential digital opportunities to reach new audiences, limit possible threats via new work packages or take advantage of changes in government policy:
You may wish to use these frameworks in a brainstorming session with staff and/or trustees. First try completing the PESTLE analysis.
- POLITICAL – do you know enough about how political changes might affect you in the future?
- ENVIRONMENTAL – are there particular issues and concerns around sustainable development and green initiatives which might impact what you do?
- SOCIAL – how well do you know your audiences? Are there current debates and cultural changes which are important for you to engage with?
- TECHNOLOGICAL – are you up to date with skills and technological resources or do you feel you are lagging behind? Do you feel other organisations are using technology more effectively or are you cutting edge in how you use digital resources? What are the latest trends that you feel might benefit the heritage industry?
- LEGAL – what are the legal and policy frameworks that impact your work? Have these changed?
- ECONOMIC – what are the trends in terms of the local and national economy? How do you feel the cultural and creative sector is performing? Is your audience particularly impacted by economic change?
Once you have explored this you would then transfer this thinking into a SWOT analysis. In fact, many strategists would suggest that from the PESTLE analysis you may want to first think about whether you see any Threats in the things you have identified or indeed are there any Opportunities for you to maximise? You can then look at your own heritage organisation and reflect on whether you have any Weaknesses which make mitigating the threats or indeed responding to opportunities a challenge. Finally, you can reflect on where your key Strengths lie as an organisation. Focussing on your strengths can help you establish the best way to frame your digital strategy. Conducting the SWOT in this order is referred to as a TOWS analysis.
Further sources of support
When starting to think about digital, it is important to remember you are not alone. Organisations such as the Arts Councils and the Arts Marketing Association have good resources to help you. Here are some further links you may find useful:
- The Arts Council England self-evaluation toolkit
- The Heritage Fund Business Plan Template and Guidance
- Arts Marketing Association – Learning Pillars and Blocks
- Culturehive – How to develop a meaningful digital strategy
Now you have a better understanding of situational analysis, we suggest you apply this for your own organisation. There are two interactive pdfs for you to download and complete. You can do this analysis on your own or with colleagues. It may be useful for several of you to complete an analysis independently and then meet to discuss similarities and differences.
Use the templates we have provided to complete your own PESTle and SWOT analysis.
- Download Template to support your PESTLE analysis (PDF file 108kb)
- Download Template to support your SWOT analysis (PDF file 95.9kb)
Please attribute as: "Using a situational analysis to create your digital strategy (2022) by Dr Amelia Knowlson supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, licensed under CC BY 4.0