Another DAM Blog

Blog about Digital Asset Management


Do I need people to run a Digital Asset Management solution within my organization?

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.)

  1. 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?
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.


How can I get more DAM user adoption?

This blog covers many typical issues and questions asked about DAM solutions. One of the big questions is how to increase DAM user adoption (how many people really use the DAM).

Some people believe the DAM will magically be adopted by everyone who is involved and expect everyone to love the changes instantly, especially if it makes sense to management to have a DAM. If it were only that simple. A DAM is rarely a set it and forget it solution. A DAM can grow with the organization,  but the assets don’t automagically get uploaded and used. That takes user involvement. Change in many places is often met with the excuse “we’ve always done it this old way and it works. So why change now?”

Here are a few things to consider regarding user adoption:

It is a change in mindset to begin using a DAM as a centralized repository for assets which can be searched thoroughly instead of using any prior asset storage methodsWhy do I need a DAM? This involves explaining to users exactly how and why the DAM will make their lives and work easier.

It is a change in workflow to use a DAM. In order to change the workflow to use a DAM, the users  pre-DAM workflows first need to be understood and documented for each role by interviewing people who will potentially use the DAM in the future. Genuinely ask users for their assistance and feedback on a regular basis. Ask them to be open, but respectful with their comments/suggestions, use candor and discuss the workflow thoroughly from beginning to end. Ask senior employees as well as junior employees because their perspectives may vary as well as their ideas for improvement. Listen to the critics you interview with a grain of salt and see what valid points they make. You may find that mind sets may be stronger with some people than others. Early user involvement will help user adoption. This is particularly true if the DAM and its workflows directly help the users in their daily operations and resolves some of their previous workflow issues. If users see the DAM and the new workflows using the DAM as beneficial and easier in the long run than what they used to do in their previous workflows, user adoption will occur.

  • What are their current issues with the workflow without a DAM?
  • How do they search and find assets without a DAM?
  • How long does it take them?
  • Can they find what they are looking for most of the time?
  • Does everyone understand their role in the workflow?
  • Do they have any ideas on what could be done to improve the workflow?
  • What are the workflow variables? How can they be minimized or handled better?
  • What is missing?

How will the DAM be rolled out to users? Will it be rolled out by:

  • Date
  • Project
  • Department/Group
  • User/organizational role

Make sure to have a lot of patience. User adoption, acceptance and understanding will not happen overnight.

Users will need some training depending on their role and involvement with the DAM. No one will come out of the womb with this knowledge, but try to keep it simple. If you need a software engineering degree to use the DAM, you might need to have some engineers make it easier to use. Hopefully, the DAM has an easy-to-use GUI (Graphical user interface).

Threats of firing employees who do not “accept” generally do not go over very well and are rarely fruitful. Some employees may have great difficulty changing their workflow and if they clearly “don’t get it” after numerous training attempts and some time to adjust to the changes, they may need to be reassigned to something else or possibly dismissed if they can not perform the new workflow tasks.

Have some type of support for the DAM users and the workflow in person as well as documented in writing. This can include a service level agreement from the DAM vendor, but an administrator who knows the organization and workflows around how the DAM is used is recommended. Having step-by-step instructions with screen shots can help the documentation.  Any documentation should be kept up-to-date whenever the organization and workflow evolves.

What is the best use the skills and institutional knowledge of the users and roles in the new workflow with a DAM? What will need to change and what will remain the same for each user/organizational role?

How will  metadata be acquired or created for assets to be uploaded/imported to the DAM?

If you are missing some people with a particular set of skills for this new workflow, some people may need additional training or hire some with these new talents. This may include skills to deal with metadata, taxonomy and various scripting to automate parts of the workflow when possible.

Having a contest to help name the DAM may help give users an increased sense of ownership. Eventually, many of the assets the users create, acquire or use on a daily basis may be uploaded to the DAM. The more the organization recognizes the DAM as a resource where users know they can find what they need, the quicker the user adoption will often occur.

As more assets get uploaded to the DAM, promote the existence of assets available in the DAM to users and potential users to increase awareness. This will build the DAM as known resource which will increase in popularity and increase user adoption.

What are you doing to increase user adoption?