More people are interested in getting a Digital Asset Management system to help them actually manage their thousands or even millions of digital assets they are accumulating every year. Storage is much easier today, but actually managing and finding what is needed in a timely manner takes more effort. Once an organization selects one of the 200+ possible DAM systems and get it operational, a harsh reality sets in which few people talk about… It still takes people to keep the system working properly. To be clear, I am not referring to people running on a hamster wheel to make it run. They run more in the sense of a mechanical turk. Not like the crowdsourcing service available today, but often an internal service with institutional knowledge of your organization’s workflow, business, culture and other needs. Yes, I am referring to people embedded within your organization or at least working closely with the teams of people who request assets, create assets, upload assets, meta tag assets (kind of important part often overlooked), distribute assets where they are needed repeatedly. It is a thankless job few people understand.
This is not an IT function. If the DAM “works as designed” and it often does, IT often does not care.
You need people (at least one) who are close to the actual users who are using the system. This is where you position them.
Yes, it takes people to aid the user adoption of a DAM system. It is much more than a cheerleader role. It is not just [build/buy/license/setup/test/train/make operational] and they will come. This might be true in baseball teams, but not with DAM. Your organization has to deal with change. And let us not discount how few people embrace change. The change can be positive, obvious and even pain relieving, but human nature and company culture will still prevail. Even if it goes against logic, change is still resisted.
Enter the DAM Professional.
Someone recently asked me how can they justify headcount now that they have a DAM since they were working from 7AM to 11PM. This sounded very familiar, so this sparked the idea to write this very blog post since I have helped several companies to do this.
First of all, here are some of the wrong ways to attempt to justify an increase in headcount for a DAM.
(Note italics on this blog are used to explain humorous, but incorrect methods which are sadly seen too often in the real world.)
- Assume/Hope/Pray/Pretend people will notice you working insane hours and that will automagically grant you staff/assistants/contractors/helpers/elves/metadata fairies. May as well keep hallucinating and this might happen only in your mind. Back to reality. Try talking to your supervisors about the issue, but they will need to see measurable results that will be hard to dispute instead of a few weeks of long hours which is ‘normal’ nowadays in the workplace. Does the squeaky wheel get the grease?
- Run around screaming with arms waving above your head while bumping into desks, doors and walls until exhausted. This is repeated a few times per week. More often, this behavior is replaced with whining to people who could not care less or have no power to change your situation. If there are true pain points, they need to be discussed sanely with your supervisors. Whining is not measurable result unless you are attempting to measure how much more you will be ignored and avoided by your co-workers among others.
- Cry to get your way. Unless you have a weak supervisor who knows nothing, off to counseling you go for the emotionally unstable and deal with the unprofessional, childish behavior when the water works have ended. The problem will be waiting for you if/when you return. There is no crying in DAM.
- Expect money to rain from the sky to help pay for more help. Keep hallucinating. This is not gonna happen even if your organization has millions, billions or even trillion dollar budgets. It ain’t gonna happen. Priorities need to be justified. Read on and I will explain how to justify this as a priority.
Yes. I have seen all these scenarios. Others reading this may have also.
I have seen many people resign, retire, outright quit, get fired and simply wimp out over DAM. Admittedly, its not easy and can be painful. But, there is still no crying. You are not alone even if it may feel that way sometimes.
Digital Asset Management is not for everyone. Long hours is sometimes part of the deal, but burnout should not be part of the deal. So how do you justify the increase of DAM solution headcount.
Even if you are a salaried employee, you work a certain number of hours every week. Maybe you work too many or maybe you are working a bunch more than you’d like doing tasks that are less fun then others. Multitasking or not, no task gets done without time. Someone’s time will be used to get a task accomplished.
No task gets done without time.
As a DAM professional, you have a lot of tasks which no machine can do. At least not yet. A few tasks can be automated and/or possibly done by other people.
You can review in this previous blog post on what skills a DAM professional needs to know and the levels of DAM experience.
If you need to justify your first DAM professional, I would suggest reading one of my earliest blog posts which is just as relevant today as the day I wrote it on Why do I need a Digital Asset Manager? If your organization still does not understand the need for people to run a DAM, they may need to fail in order to learn and someone will need to point out why they failed. Sometimes DAM Consultants can help point this out and help fix this since employees rarely speak up. It sometimes helps having an outsider say it [even if it was said before].
It does not matter what you title a DAM professional since I am in the opinion that titles mean less and less today. I was a Digital Asset Manager for a number of years and managed a DAM all by myself until I justified an increase in headcount. Working 60-80 hours can do that. If it is Tuesday and you have already worked 40 hours that week, you should be well on your way to justify an increase in head count as long as your accounting for what you did during your working hours. Sleep does not count toward work hours, but it helps to get some.
Bottom line, technology does not work alone. We have a while before it does. It works with and for people. Not the other way around. If you have no people using your DAM, you just adopted another shelf baby which will collect dust…instead of assets and value to your organization. Poof goes your ROI. Pick people who will champion your DAM for your organization.
When you are ready for some vendor neutral consulting on Digital Asset Management, let us know.
October 12, 2015 at 3:50 PM
I am that person. I work with designers, printers, comps, and internal staff. I am uploading files at least once a day, updating constantly, and figure out ways to make the system work easily for us. I enjoy my work.
On any given day I can be pulling down application files, fonts, images and final pdf for a title to be revised. I pull not only interior files but also jacket files. It isn’t uncommon to get a request to pull chapters from a book, place it in a pdf and let the staff member know what art is available.
I am the contact person when simple answers are not enough. Europe has different paper sizes, that needs to be noted in the email. (Ask me how I know) I have to figure out if a book is a reprint, restock, strictly an ebook. Make sure conversions are uploaded in a timely fashion, finding and solving problems and alerting our vendor of changing needs.
I am invaluable. I can work independently, and I understand how small things add up to a working DAM system. I love the challenges and believe it or not there is a beauty in structure and everything meshing easily for the end users.
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