4 Steps to Successful Digital Asset Management

Aug 26, 2015

Article ImageDid you know according to a 2014 industry survey by The Real Story Group, DAM implementations are thought to be successful only 50% of the time? However a working DAM implementation will save you hours and hours of wasted time and greatly improve your work processes.

Here are a few pointers outlined by industry experts to improve your odds.

1. Examine your workflow and see where the pain points are. Do you want to use it for workflow, archiving, localization, collaboration, compliance, publishing? Or is it a combination of all of these? Do you want to be able to collaborate on content? Are you frequently outputting images in different formats manually? Do you want to provide access rights to a wide range of people in internal departments or even outside agencies? Are there things you are doing manually that could be easily automated? Can you never find the right version of something without asking? Do you want a departmental installation that is cloud based or are you envisioning a larger group of people will be using the system.

Create a list of these issues. Ask both the content producers, and also the content consumers how they would like to find their media assets in a perfect world. In short, identify what you want your DAM to do. Each use case will have specific requirements. Map out each and every possible use of the system, so you can discuss this when you are in the process of evaluating vendors.

2. What do you call things? If you have beautifully created assets and they are not tagged with metadata, the likelihood of you finding that asset again for reuse is zero. DAM's are able to search for content based on how they are tagged. This tagging or metadata is specific to your company. You'll need to develop a metadata strategy if you don't already have one.

To use your asset management system to search for items by keyword, you'll need to identify the tags that describe your content. This can be a combination of industry terminology and specific terms relevant for your company. Some of this metadata is automatically populated, generally the information about how the media was created. The high value metadata information will need to be input by the users.

Key advice is to do this BEFORE you start your system installation. If you do it while you are learning how your system works, you are setting yourself up for more problems.

3. Add the metadata. This is where the hard work begins. Each piece of content that comes into your system will need to be tagged. With new content, you will need to start doing this as you create current work. But what about your existing content? You will need a method of adding metadata to all your content. This alone should make your head spin. It's a big project.

The asset management software you have may have a system integrator which can help in this area. Otherwise, you will need to assign a coordinator and resources to this part of your setup. A small departmental implementation can take 2 - 3 months, a larger one up to 10 months, depending on how many assets you need to ingest.

This means a change to how you previously did your work. This is a big deal for most people. Don't underestimate how hard this is. The result when your system is running will be vast, but there is a lot of work to get there.

4. Create training, your new asset management software is changing your work processes, you'll need to teach all users what this means. Who is your caretaker for the system? Who can create training for your different user groups? You can create internal training or have your vendor supply training. There are benefits to both approaches.

If you do this internally, you will have an individual or more who are the real champions of the system. If you use an outside vendor, you may get up to speed quicker. Whatever you do, one big reason system implementations fail is you are changing how you work and change takes time. You want users remembering how to use the DAM and not going back to storing assets locally where others can't find them. That would defeat the whole process and set your company right back to not knowing where your assets are.

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock.)