The announcement follows a review of the 85-year old charity led by the board of trustees, chairman Sir Moir Lockhead and chief executive Simon Skinner.
The trust cares for 129 properties including nearly 70 gardens and designed landscapes. It proposes to restructure over the next three to four years, focusing on the following priorities:
• Reducing running costs by 10 per cent
• Advancing conservation as a cause that displays the benefits and widens the appeal of heritage to many more people in Scotland
• Significant levels of new investment in key properties in order to deliver world-class visitor experiences
• Attracting more visitors and providing opportunities to increase income to fund investment in conservation
• Focusing accountability and decision-making at property level, closer to members and local communities
A thorough reconfiguration will start at the top with the trust's leadership, with management structures being simplified.
Specialist staff across a range of conservation and professional disciplines would be teamed up with regional groupings of heritage sites to provide what would be in effect advisory services to properties. These experts would be based out in the field, instead of at the trust's HQ. Whilst there is an expected reduction in the trust's total number of staff, staffing levels at properties will be unaffected.
Savings of around 10 per cent are expected to come from new ways of working, modernised admininstration systems and simpler processes. Savings are to be redirected into conservation anc priority projects.
The aim will be to bring in an extra £8-10 million per annum of additional investment income for the charity thanks to these efficiency changes, more paying visitors, increased numbers of members and growing donations.
Sir Moir Lockhead said: "This is an exciting new chapter in our 85-year history, providing new opportunities. Hard work has turned around the Trust's fortunes in the last few years, but we are now ready to move up to the next level to ensure we fulfil our mission of conservation in ways that are more relevant to today's Scotland."
Chief Executive Simon Skinner explained that the trustees had judged that upfront investment in key properties will give the greatest and quickest returns in visitor numbers, income, and conservation outcomes.
"Speed is of the essence here – we have got to act now to make sure that our places and the stories they tell remain compelling, relevant and engaging. Competition and visitor expectations in the heritage sector have never been higher. The trust simply has to raise its game to challenge on both of these fronts."
The priority properties will be confirmed in due course by NTS trustees.
Skinner added: "I've felt strongly that there needed to be a rebalance of activity within the Trust, giving much more control and influence directly to our properties. After all, it's because of those special places that the charity exists."
Once these projects have been delivered, the trust will use the experience and additional finances to focus on other properties and look at acquiring more in the long-term - possibly looking at more 20th century properties, Skinner said.