It is one thing to decide on a new digital asset management (DAM) system – it is quite another to expand the concept into a company-wide solution. Forward thinking firms are using DAM for just that, however, focusing the new process technology on better collaboration and workflow techniques.
Despite these obvious advantages, implementing DAM can be troublesome without the appropriate tactical and strategic processes in place. Business objectives may not line up with the features that a particular DAM brings to the table. For instance, no DAM can infer metadata that does not already exist somewhere in your infrastructure. Nor can it build you a classification strategy that is personalized to your organization.
Also, even though you may find a DAM that is perfect for you, your company may also lack the internal expertise to fully implement the solution. Because we’re talking about fundamental changes to your process infrastructure, one mistake reaps many more over time.
The number one objective is to get everyone across departments as excited as you are about a new system adoption. This may be difficult for people who are set in their ways. However, there are some tried and true methods for shaking people awake.
1) Define Your Goals & How You Will Measure Them (OKR’s – Objectives and Key Results)
Decision makers need to know how a new DAM brings value. Department heads have quarterly reports and sometimes annual bonuses tied to results, and they very well can’t have a new system disturbing that process, now can they?
The first step to excitement about a new DAM is defining objectives and key results. Give all affected parties a voice in this process, and hold the discussions interdepartmentally. That way, everyone will understand what the new system is there to do and how success will be defined.
2) Lay Out Your Strategy & Put an Implementation Tactical Plan in Place (Phase it Out!)
The notion of phased implementation is one that is too often overlooked. You do not have to make a singular, holistic change in order to reap the benefits of a new DAM.
Organize your implementation strategy around your metadata, taxonomy and current assets.
First, take inventory of any and all assets that are due to be migrated. Look for internal structures that can give you a template for a new taxomony, and note any naming conventions in your assets that help to enable discoverability and deduce metadata.
How is your metadata currently applied? If there is no real system, or no metadata at all, then you will need to create it before you import your DAM for best results. Don’t worry if you don’t have a naming convention – you may actually be helping yourself. With a new DAM, you have a chance to initiate a new naming convention that speaks to your current needs rather than trying to tweak one that was not really working in the first place.
Before you import, get rid of assets that no longer have a real purpose. The more you can eliminate, the clearer your migration will be. You may also want to implement an approval process for asset creation. You definitely want to identify your main assets so that they can be updated and update other assets around them as necessary.
3) Create a Framework for Systems Integration
Have a complete plan in place before implementation. Regardless of the software package that you use, you should be crystal clear on the KPIs of your project, defining processes for common tasks, and having relevant content ready to go.
The first aspect of your framework is your point man (or woman). Who is going to be primarily responsible for maintaining your assets and moving them through the systems change? Keep in mind this does not have to be an in house champion – plenty of companies are doing well outsourcing the point man position to a third party consulting firm or IT company.
After you have your point man in position, make sure that all system requirements are fully articulated. You will need to evaluate your needs now and in the future, with the time frame considered one of the most important choices you will make.
Once you are ready to implement, make sure that you have all file formats documented for your new media library, user groups with permission levels set, proper segmentation of those user groups from file formats and proper sizing for certain image formats. Make sure that your website structure corresponds as closely as possible to the structure of your business.
4) Form a Project Team & Training Agenda
Determining your campaigners and advanced users is a vital step in properly implementing your new DAM. Your project teams will only be as good as their leadership, and the people who have the most access will naturally set the training agenda.
Communicate to your new “heads of state” the purpose of each training. As a matter of fact, they should have somewhat of a voice in the agenda. Team leaders must have a top down view of the purpose of training so that they can invoke the larger meaning on trainees while teaching the particulars.
The efficacy of DAM training programs should not be contingent on the trainers themselves, however. The process must withstand employee turnover – even the turnover of the DAM librarian. The best agendas have multiple training paths to accommodate different teaching and learning styles.
5) Keep on the Pulse of Your DAM Road Map Post Implementation
Business objectives change in real time, and so do success metrics, best practices and in house talent. In order to see a DAM road map through, think of it as a destination that is always slightly out of reach, not a Google-Maps-certainty with mile marker countdowns.
You must constantly probe to ensure that the initiatives that inspired your new DAM setup are valid. If not, then you must tweak course until you come up with a flight plan that matches with your new destination. This can only be done through consistent communication between process point men, training leaders and end users.
6) Communicate with Your DAM Vendor Often
You may outsource various percentages of DAM implementation to a third party vendor. Regardless of the exact number, users staying in contact with the DAM account manager is essential to a robust implementation. There will likely be aspects of the software that are not immediately accessible to the layman or to the new upstart, and attempting to decipher a new process while implementing it is too much for even the biggest, most tech-savvy companies.
Look forward to a three year investment or so that must be maintained regardless of industry changes or employee turnover. Until then, your DAM manager should be available to help with strategic challenges, updates, tech support and other issues.
Sometimes people get set in their ways even in the face of inevitable improvements. Do not become impatient – these people just need more proof as to how a new system will have a positive impact on their jobs. Keep in mind that everyone has personal motivations, and with good reason. Quarterly evaluations are always just around the corner, and no one can use the excuse of a new system for underwhelming individual performance metrics!
Using the best practices mentioned above will make sure personal motivations line up as closely as possible with company goals. It will also ensure that you, as a manager and point man, are responsible for communicating the real world changes that your company is about to undertake. The result will be better asset management, of course. More importantly, you will see better communications within your company and higher levels of trust between departments.
While implementing a DAM system may seem daunting, the long term benefits will certainly outweigh any challenges. If you set goals, plan appropriately and create a rock star team to help ensure the success of the system, the DAM implementation process will certainly be more seamless.