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Reimagining Process, Technology, and Culture at an Evolving National Museum

The client’s perspective

As a national museum’s program operations and presence grew, its leadership sought to prepare for a changing future. Founded as a public entity, its people, politics, processes, and technologies were established using federal processes. As its reach expanded over time, it began to seek the flexibility and benefits of aligning more closely with a private-sector model. Moving toward a private-sector budget structure would give the museum more flexibility to apply new, industry-leading operational practices that would optimize its business practices.

As it worked to drive greater business process efficiencies and effectiveness across the organization, the museum recognized the value in bringing outside expertise on board to assess its progress and back-end business functions, and provide recommendations to adopt private-sector best practices successfully.

A new view

The museum engaged Eagle Hill to assess multiple business process areas, with the goal of designing and implementing business process improvement (BPI) initiatives to simplify processes, reduce costs, build staff capacity, and drive institution-wide culture change.

Eagle Hill began by assessing processes in four areas: travel management, procurement, gift and revenue processing, and hiring. We conducted extensive interviews, focus groups, and surveys among the museum’s C-Level leadership, key stakeholders, and process participants to map current processes, design future-state process models, and identify existing gaps within each area. Right away, we found that although the museum was eager to apply business best practices to its back-end functions, many of these processes remained rooted in the organization’s federal origins. Numerous operating procedures were paper-heavy and duplicative. We believed the workplace environment could benefit significantly by transitioning to a model that brought customer service, results, and culture transformation to the fore.

After gathering and presenting our initial findings, Eagle Hill’s work ran in concurrent streams. First, we started the nuts-and-bolts roll-out of BPI in two initial areas: hiring and travel. We developed a streamlined, faster hiring process for the museum’s growing staff. We also found that the museum was using a number of federal policies and practices for travel when they didn’t need to. Our team defined the timing, roles and responsibilities, performance metrics, and reporting structures for all new functions, and created tools to guide the implementation of new process changes. As our implementation work in these domains proceeded, we set goals and provided project-management training to museum teams to build staff capacity and transition our work smoothly back to the museum in a short timeframe.

From our multiple business process assessments, the Eagle Hill team recognized that accountability was a cross-cutting organizational challenge for the museum. As a result, we looked for ways to improve the museum’s approach to performance management. While we followed the methodology of our prior BPI work, our performance management effort had a much higher profile—and a greater impact across the institution. We had found inconsistent, informal appraisal processes and a lack of communication between supervisors and employees, so we first designed communications training to enhance supervisor-staff relationships. This training employed new tactics for having performance conversations and providing in-the-moment feedback.

We delivered this training first to museum leaders and supervisors, and then to all non-supervisory staff members. In addition, Eagle Hill helped define and develop both staff and leadership core competencies, refine the goal-setting process, and begin a revamp of the formal performance appraisal system. Our performance management work has helped the museum catalyze its desired culture of mutual respect, clear and frequent communication, and accountability. Implementation of our recommendations continues today.

As Eagle Hill’s relationship with the museum deepened through our BPI and performance management work, senior leadership asked for Eagle Hill’s assistance in a separate effort: improving its customer relationship management (CRM) processes. While the core of the internal project was a move to a new CRM technology system, we saw much bigger implications—namely, that CRM at the museum would not be just a technology platform, but an entirely new ecosystem of stakeholder engagement.

We evaluated the existing CRM organization against the museum’s priorities and helped define the vision, desired outcomes, and structure needed to launch a new service organization within the museum that would transform its diverse relationships with donors, members, and constituents. Ultimately, the new CRM organization would deepen constituents’ connection with—and investment in—the museum’s aspirations. Eagle Hill’s support facilitated a successful transition to the new CRM shared-services organization and a seamless roll-out of the new CRM platform.

An unconventional approach—and breakthrough results

The museum initially chose Eagle Hill because, apart from our qualifications, its leadership liked that we were smaller, and that we customized our approach to the museum’s unique organization, challenges, and goals.

Eagle Hill did not disappoint, fully understanding the museum—how it worked, its culture, its ambitions, its challenges—before identifying new strategies and solutions that would evolve the organization in the way it envisioned. Eagle Hill helped the museum see their way forward in a new light. From the very beginning, we took an unconventional approach to reimagining the museum’s back-end business processes. Our benchmarks, therefore, were not just other museums or government agencies—they were Fortune 100 companies with proven, best-in-class business processes.

Overall, our work had an impact on both organizational and process aspects of the museum’s operations, driving efficiencies, building workforce capacity, and effecting institution-wide culture change in line with its strategic planning efforts. For example, Eagle Hill helped increase the museum’s internal hiring satisfaction metrics by more than 100 percent and shortened its hiring timeline from an average of 111 days to an average of 49 days. Further, our accomplishments included developing a new change management strategy for the CRM technology implementation, redesigning the museum’s institution-wide performance management process, and successfully standing up a Business Improvement Program to manage roll-out and measure the success of business assessment projects across the organization.