Using templates to create your digital strategy

Using templates to create your digital strategy will help you work through a set of diagnostic questions that indicates your organisation’s recommended priority areas along with relevant performance indicators to guide you through digital transformation.

This resource is available in English and Welsh
Tullie House Museum, Carlisle – a couple explore an exhibition on the Border Reivers, the people who lived in the Anglo-Scottish Border region from the late 13th to early 17th centuries.
Image courtesy of Ioan Said Photography © Ioan Said

Using templates to create your digital strategy

1. Creating a digital strategy for your organisation

There are many ways to write a digital strategy for your creative or cultural organisation. In this resource, our expert, Dr Amelia Knowlson, University of Leeds, outlines some of the options available to you.

Available templates include the Arts Council England’s Digital Strategy and Plan which is designed to deliver a step-by-step change in approach and capability.

Download Arts Council England’s Digital Strategy and Plan (PDF file 514kb)

There are also supporting resources from Charity Digital as well as the Digital Culture Network.

These templates aim to cover common aspects of an organisation, from scoping the current situation to setting out achievable and measurable tasks to developing skills and assigning responsibility.

2. Using a template to create your digital strategy

The exact template you use for your digital strategy is not important. The purpose of the template is to prompt you to reflect and ask yourself some difficult questions. You may choose to spend some time exploring several template approaches to help you see your organisation from different perspectives.  In doing this, you are very likely to find one that works for you and your organisation.

When you have chosen which template you want to use, make sure that your digital strategy has actionable objectives and goals. You also need to make sure that all your objectives, activities and targets have named individuals or teams with responsibility for them.

How you decide to put together your digital strategy is up to you, but it should be reflective of your organisation and the challenges it faces. It is a planning tool and so should feel useful to refer to. It should also help create a document of consensus – giving direction and clarity for you, your board, your staff, and volunteers. Your digital strategy should relate to your organisation’s current priorities. When creating your organisation’s digital strategy, try to relate it to the key areas outlined below. In the final section of this resource is an activity designed to help you plan your digital strategy. You should think carefully about how often you will revisit this exercise.

3. The Arts Council England digital policy and plan guidelines

Arts Council England have developed some helpful guidelines to creating a digital strategy. Their Digital Policy and Plan guide has been developed to help heritage organisations of all sizes make sense of digital. You will find their advice invaluable in developing your own digital strategy.

Download Arts Council England’s Digital Strategy and Plan (PDF file 514kb)

On page 9 there is an example digital plan which you can use as a template to start your own digital strategy.

4. Finding your strategic development areas

Having considered your digital objectives, next you need to reflect on priority areas for your organisation. The ten points set out below are often seen as the biggest concerns or areas of priority for any business or organisation. Rank them in order of most (10) to least (1) concern.

10 represents your biggest concern from this list, for example, perhaps your organisation’s biggest weakness which you need to prioritise.  Whatever you rank lowest represents an area that you don’t need to worry so much about – either it is irrelevant or perhaps you are already strong in this area.

Below is a list of areas you should consider:

1. Your uncertainty about the future – is there anything you are worried about not being able to keep up to date with? This could be market trends, changes in audience behaviours, funding landscapes, policy frameworks, or technological changes.

2. Financial management – to what extent are you concerned about financial management in your organisation? Do you have the skills, resources and digital tools to manage issues of cash flow, profit margins, reducing costs, financing, and grant capture (if appropriate)?

3. Monitoring performance – is improving performance monitoring a priority for your organisation? Perhaps you already measure indicators of success for your business, audience and visitor numbers, revenue, or the impact on other beneficiaries for example? Or perhaps you feel you (and any trustees) would benefit from knowing more about how your organisation is performing.

4. Regulation and compliance – there are all manner of policies, laws and regulations which affect organisations differently across industries. How up to date is your organisation in regulation and compliance? Are you on top of everything, or is it an area of concern for you?

5. Skills and knowledge– do you have the right people in your organisation, whether staff, board members or volunteers? Are there areas of skills gap?

6. Technology – technology is rapidly changing; do you have the right level of technology available to you for the kind of organisation you are? Do you feel limited by the technology available to you?

7. Use of data – there is increasingly enormous quantities of data being generated in our daily lives. Do you feel you could benefit more from using data to support your decision-making? Perhaps you feel that you need to collect more data about your audiences and visitors for example, or perhaps you may feel that you could make more use of data sets from your local authority or the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

8. Customer service – how do your customers, audience and/or visitors engage with you? Is it mainly online or in person? What is their experience like? Do you get complaints about the way you engage organisation engages with them? Or perhaps you lack the mechanisms to gather feedback.

9. Maintaining reputation – how do other organisations and the wider public feel about your organisation? Do you have external visibility? Perhaps this isn’t important for you or that it is already a strength. Alternatively, perhaps you want to do more to raise your profile or improve the reputation of your organisation?

10. Knowing when to embrace change – at what point is change necessary, whether wholesale or just minor, but significant, adjustments? Not everything that is new is better but resisting change for too long is equally problematic. Is knowing when to ‘take the plunge’ one of your biggest priorities or not?

What emerge as your top three priority areas?  How can your digital strategy help you address these priorities? Do you think digital tools and skills could help?

You can also download a template of this prioritisation matrix (PDF file, 348kb).

5. Further resources

Some of the other resources you could use when creating your organisation’s digital strategy include:

Arts Council England Digital Culture Network

Jisc – How to shape your digital strategy – Culture is Digital Policy paper


More help here

Interior of York Minster illuminated for the exhibitions and performances that are part of Minster Nights

Using a situational analysis to create your digital strategy

Start planning your digital strategy by learning how to conduct a situational analysis and exploring the SWOT and PESTLE frameworks. This resource highlights the benefits of taking a structured approach and helps you identify suitable resources to assess your organisation’s digital readiness.

Poppies foreground an atmospheric image of the memorial spire at the International Bomber Command Centre, Lincoln

Developing a quick wins approach to your digital strategy

Developing a digital strategy is an ongoing process and heritage organisations should strive to identify and implement improvements that will deliver continuous value. However, implementing a quick wins strategy will enable your organisation to achieve immediate results whilst setting the foundations for long-term digital transformation. This resource offers some ‘top tips’ on simple ways to get started.


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Published: 2022
Resource type: Articles

Creative Commons Licence Except where noted and excluding company and organisation logos this work is shared under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (CC BY 4.0) Licence

Please attribute as: "Using templates to create your digital strategy (2022) by Dr Amelia Knowlson supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, licensed under CC BY 4.0


More help here

Digital Heritage Hub is managed by Arts Marketing Association (AMA) in partnership with The Heritage Digital Consortium and The University of Leeds. It has received Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and National Lottery funding, distributed by The Heritage Fund as part of their Digital Skills for Heritage initiative. Digital Heritage Hub is free and answers small to medium sized heritage organisations most pressing and frequently asked digital questions.

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