The process of managing digital assets is becoming increasingly difficult as creative teams churn out content of all forms using a myriad of asset types. There’s so much content being created at any given moment that it’s become a real challenge for businesses to govern the proliferation of content creation, inflow and outflow. Many companies struggle with massive quantities of digital assets including images, videos, graphics, advertisements, logos, PDF’s, and audio files, just to name a few. Making the realization that a digital asset management (DAM) system could solve many of the day-to-day hurdles of your creative teams can surely be an “Aha!” moment for leaders in your organization. However, before going on a DAM party brigade, it’s important to take a step back and perform due diligence before that “Aha” moment results in an “Uh Oh” outcome. User adoption is one of the most commonly-shared challenges companies face as they roll out a new digital asset management system. In this blog post we will go through 10 important components to ensuring DAM adoption across your user base.
1. The importance of the DAM champion’s role
We often see that a DAM project is desperately needed, though the project has trouble getting off the ground due to the lack of a champion to push the project forward in an energetic and strategic way. The role of the DAM champion is to spearhead the DAM acquisition process, bringing the passion and foresight to see the value in the project. The DAM champion should be someone who is comfortable reaching out to multiple departments within the company and encourage others to participate. They should also fully understand how each department will use the system and what their needs are in order to set it up for success. Communicating the value proposition of the DAM internally to not only teams and departments who will be using it, but also to upper management and important stakeholders is critical so that the project will be widely accepted.
2. Clearly define your goals with your vendor
Realizing that you may need a DAM system was probably the moment you admitted that finding and managing digital content was becoming a huge bottleneck for your teams. The truth is, no team manages their digital content perfectly, but there are a few things you can do to ensure that your content management strategy is as seamless and easy for your team as possible. It’s important to examine what things in specific are dragging your team down, so that you can identify distinct ways that the DAM system will help your team through these obstacles. Identifying clear goals is a crucial step in the DAM implementation and user adoption process.
More often than not, we see clients come to us with various specific pain points that led them to acquire a DAM system. Common pain points we hear include having so much content that it’s difficult to find what users need, poor organization of content, inconsistent data attached to content, difficulty sharing between team members, and difficulty tracking content misuse, to name a few. Boiling down where your team is struggling the most will help you have a better understanding of what features you’ll need in a DAM and how it will need to scale down the road.
3. Ensure scalability by planning for current and future goals
It’s critical that while talking through your current and most pressing goals with your DAM vendor, you also consider what long-term and future business goals you hope to achieve through the implementation and use of a DAM system. What will your company’s needs be in 2 years, and in 5 years? For example, maybe your content library currently consists of mostly images, but your Marketing department has defined a goal of increasing their video content by x% within 2 years; a DAM’s features around video will eventually be more important. Chances are, your content library will grow year over year, so ensuring that the DAM system can scale with your expanding collection is crucial. Will you need workflow tools that allow for automation of your processes such as resizing, converting formats, and updating usage information? Are your team members struggling with sharing content internally or externally to the various channels and platforms they use? What other Martech tools will you need your DAM system to integrate with? Asking yourself and your team these questions will help you determine how the DAM will support your current and future business goals.
4. Have a clear timeline for the phase out of old processes
Ask yourself, what is your realistic timeline for the new system to go live? Do you have a well-defined and agreed upon deadline, or is a more gradual transition from your current process to the DAM just fine? Figure out how much data you currently have and where it lives so that you can determine the process of data export and subsequent import into the DAM. Phasing your old systems and processes out is a difficult task and is often met with resistance from users. Be sure to support them through the process, but also be firm and set dates when old systems will no longer be accessible. Keeping this operation structured will help you tenfold in the long run.
5. Provide education and ongoing training opportunities for users
Training is essential for widespread user adoption because it instills confidence in your users and allows them to get comfortable with using the DAM system. It is important to have an extensive training plan that is continuous and is revisited even once the system is live and users have been working in it. The initial training you provide to your users will set the tone for how they feel about the system moving forward, so be sure to have a training plan that caters to different learning styles and all of your user groups. Power users for example, will need more extensive training than casual users who are only in the system once in a while. Work with your vendor to develop a training plan that make sense for your team. Chances are, training can be held by your vendor, by your internal DAM team, or a combination of the two.
6. Provide access to how-to guides, videos & other knowledge base content to help your users
Once you have completed your initial training, remember that practice makes perfect, so preliminary training you provide for users will likely not leave them extremely comfortable working in the system just yet. Your users will still need the ability to quickly reference how to use certain tools, best practices, and internal DAM guidelines to ensure they are utilizing the system properly. You likely won’t have to compile these training resources yourself, talk openly with your vendor about what resources they provide for onboarding and ongoing training purposes. For example, MerlinOne provides clients with access to MerlinUniversity, an all-encompassing training portal that has video courses users can access at any time. Once finished with the entire course, users will receive a certificate. Resources like this, as well as written guides will provide your users with a sense of comfort while they work to learn the system and engrain it in their daily workflows.
7. Plan for all of your user groups
As we said before, not all of your users are going to be power users, and it’s important to keep that in mind when formulating your DAM training and user adoption strategy. A key factor in user adoption is not changing how people currently perform their jobs, but rather explaining how the DAM will help them. Avoiding the disruption of existing workflows is also crucial for your user adoption strategy, which may mean not asking users to abandon tools they are already familiar with. This is why many DAM vendors offer integrations with popular tools that creative teams use on a daily basis. User adoption is about integrating the DAM system into the workflows of each user group you have, so be sure to check out our user group spreadsheet to segment your user base into groups. Defining your user groups will help you develop specific training strategies for each group.
8. Be Transparent About your usage policies and how data will be stored; make DAM mandatory not optional
Creating an internal DAM policy document for your users is a critical step to achieving widespread user adoption. This policy document will guide users on the intricacies of how they are expected to use the system. This document will include everything from how data is stored, how metadata should be attributed, data ingestion principles, and common metadata terms and usage examples. Not only will this document educate your users on the importance of consistent and uniform usage practices, but also provides a point of reference for when a user gets confused. As we continue to say, engraining the DAM into the existing workflows of your users is the best way to achieve user adoption and optimal system performance. Make use of the DAM mandatory, not optional, and provide your users with a stacked toolbox of resources to aid their training process.
9. Set up a feedback loop for your users
Make sure you have set up a list of people who are the correct points of contact when users run into problems with the DAM. Who is the internal point of contact for help with the system? Who is the point of contact from your vendor who will be able to help? Provide your users with access to internal support and the support team of your DAM vendor. Setting up a feedback loop is an essential step of user adoption. Users should have a dedicated space where they can ask questions, and work through confusion together with support from the right people. Depending on the size and scope of your DAM implementation, this feedback loop can range from automated surveys to one on one workshops. Be sure to utilize the DAM reporting tool and run user reports to analyze how the system is being used and by whom. If these reports show lower than expected usage, make it your mission to find out why. Barriers to adoption can likely be overcome when users are provided with an open line of communication, a toolbox of resources, and both internal and external support.
10. Hold users accountable
Since we’ve determined you need to create an internal DAM policy document, it’s important that the system administrator holds users accountable for adhering to this set policies. Take user feedback and adapt your policies when necessary, but also keep users on track and make sure they are complying with internal best practices. Be proactive and available to help when users need, especially in the beginning stages of the roll out. Before implementing your DAM, it’s important to understand some common implementation mistakes, and how you can recover from them. Use reports to your advantage and back up your claims with data. If users aren’t using the system when they should be, bring it up and be open-minded to hear the reason why. All of these responsibilities of a DAM manager or system administrator are fueled by the duty to create widespread user adoption of the DAM system.
Setting up a solid foundation for all of your user groups through education and ongoing training is one of the best things you can do to make the implementation and continued use of the system a seamless process. Working closely with your DAM vendor to clearly outline both current and future goals will serve as a substructure of your evolving DAM project. In addition to outlining goals, having a set timeline for phasing out old systems is crucial. Creating a policy document that summarizes how assets are expected to be handled upon ingest, and how they are to be used within the system is important so that your users have a reference point of established best practices. Implementing a DAM system is a great business decision that will prove its ROI over time. If you’re interested in estimating what the ROI of a DAM implementation will be for your business, check out our free DAM ROI calculator. Widespread user adoption can be achieved, and setting the right foundation for users from the start of your DAM journey is the first step.