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Blog about Digital Asset Management

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What is the best DAM solution?

What specifically is your organization going to do with Digital Asset Management?

For those of you who have not read this blog before or did not realize it, I am and remain vendor agnostic. Everyone should realize there is no one DAM fits all solution. Many DAM vendors will claim their solution is the best for you and they may try to sell you a solution even if it does not meet your needs.

I have looked at 90 DAM solutions in the past. Someone claimed there are as many as 150. Which solution is right for your organization?

The right DAM solution for your organization will depend on the following:

  • Your business needs
  • Your organization’s particular use cases
  • The types of assets you are dealing with in the past, present and near future (Are they all supported?)
  • The file size of the assets (can that solution deliver your assets or is there a bandwidth issue using one model versus another?)
  • Usability of the DAM system
  • Your potential users, their geographic location(s) and their available bandwidth
  • What features you need, want and/or would like to have (not just because it is shiny or sounds cool, but is proven to work)
  • How many users, number of assets and fields of metadata can the solution scale to
  • Internal IT support (Got any?)
  • Your budget (Cost is not the only factor, unless you only want to pay for something that does not meet your needs)
  • Your schedule (make room)
  • Your organization’s adoption of change
  • And many other factors

Again, there is no one-size-fits-all DAM solution. There is not one DAM system that could monopolize the whole field of Digital Asset Management. Of course, there are bigger vendors than others, vendors that only do DAM, some open source solutions and some systems which will work together with other systems you may have.

Each DAM system and solution is different. Some upload differently. Some handle file names differently. Some have more strengths in some areas than others. Some have more weakness because they are less developed or updated less often. Some DAM systems are constantly updated, versioned, changed and/or bug fixed. While others are not so much.

What is the best DAM solution? There is no one answer. It depends. What are you going to do with it?

First, research within your organization what your organization has in place now and what it really needs going forward. Where are the gaps? This includes researching the people, processes and technologies you have now. In case your organization has no idea how to do this, look into using a consultant. Select a consultant that is not tied to any specific DAM vendor(s) unless you have already made a decision on using a particular system. Hopefully, it will meet your organization’s needs.

What are the goals of the organization (not just one person) for the DAM? Which systems meet those goals?

Which system meets the business needs as described early on?

Which DAM system is scalable? (scalable for your assets, metadata, users and workflow)

Which DAM vendor and system can your organization work with? Is it too complex with too many features? Is it too simplified with not enough features? Is the vendor available before and after the commitment to using their system/services? Or is all outsourced?

Which DAM system make no sense to your engineers nor  IT department?

Which DAM system can work with your organization’s use cases?

Which DAM vendor can tell you how it would work and then show you a working example from start to finish using your assets?

Which DAM vendor is friendly to you just for your business, but has no existing support for you after you sign up?

Which DAM vendor can not show you anything that works, but will promise you the moon and stars? Which DAM vendor should you run (do not walk) away from?

Which DAM vendor, integrator and system will deliver what you need? Which will/can not?

Which DAM vendors will offer you a white paper to download and have 5 different reps call you about the exact, same thing? (This would require them using a CRM system properly)

Which vendors will invite you to a webinar which you attend and you ask some questions by typing them in (which can be captured), but they ignore them and then call you a month later asking if you had any questions? Then, you ask what was the topic of the webinar, but the person calling you does not even know. (If you only knew how many webinars I attend per month)

Which DAM vendor is financially stable? Many DAM vendors are private companies while some are large publicly traded companies which have DAM as part of their available offerings.

Which DAM systems has had so many owners and different names and different development teams that barely anyone knows how to manage it or use it even on the vendor’s side?

Would you pick a DAM solution without consulting your IT department first? Not a good idea.

Would you pick a DAM solution based on a game of golf with rep or sitting in a sauna with them? What does either of these have to do with selecting technology that meets your organization’s needs? Analyst Theresa Regli warns us about this. Heed that warning.

Did you really think I was going to mention one vendor? One product? One service? Seriously? No.

Be wary of any vendor (or anyone for that matter) saying they have the right solution for you without them knowing anything about your organization, the people, the technology you use, your use cases and your specific reasons for seeking a DAM solution.


What does DAM have to do with change management?

While I could blog about change management on the asset level, I will reserve that for a future blog post. I want to take a more global perspective of the change management involved with the implementation and operation of a Digital Asset Management (DAM) solution….within an organization.

Just like many projects today, as soon as we begin implementing and operating a DAM within an organization, we often need to deal with people, process, and technology changes.

So let us say we want a DAM within an organization. Now what?

• Install, declare “we have a DAM” and walk away?
Someone else will volunteer to do this, right?
• Buy a DAM, upload some stuff, expect people to use it (somehow) and that’s it, ain’t it?

No. Back up unless you want another solution to collect dust (aka shelf baby)

There is a fundamental shift which needs to occur within the organization as soon as we realize we need to implement a DAM, where we will need to deal with changes to:

  1. People
  2. Process
  3. Technology

This involves turning a DAM system into a real DAM solution. If we don’t have all three involved and working together, this will not work properly.

  • If the people don’t use it, the system becomes a ‘shelf baby’.
  • If there is no process (established and documented in writing), how are people supposed know what to do with the system? People are not born with this knowledge.
  • If there is no DAM system, the people do not have the technology to manage digital assets throughout an organization. There is no sense pretending you have DAM process if you have no established DAM solution, unless you have a fantasy organization. One would hope we treat our organizations like a business rather than a playground.

Implementing a DAM solution can help resolve many of the bad habits (as described in the twenty point of my first post) when it comes to dealing with the organization’s digital assets.

Digital assets are not going away anytime soon.

Change management can also involve expectation management.

Status quo is no longer an acceptable way of business, regardless of the economy.  No sense in sitting on our laurels because we did something a while ago. What have you done lately? Many organizations lose control (and market share) by resisting change and failing to adapt.

It is your choice to adapt in one of three ways:

  • a proactive manner
  • a reactive manner
  • Ignore it and hope it will go away…like mobile phones and computers (this is the best way to become a dinosaur)

What could this change with a DAM solution look like?

For people, this may involve…

Before Change• Closed environments

• Isolated

• Lacking communication

• Slow delivery

• Localized thinking and action

• Coveting “MY” assets

• “MY” budget

• Endless meetings

• Fear of loosing control

• Already ‘know it all’

After Change• Open environment

• Collaborative

• Easier communication

• Rapid delivery

• Globalized thinking and action

• Sharing OUR assets

• Chargeback for use across organization

• Fewer meetings using DAM light boxes

• Empowering by engaging and sharing

• Willing to learn new things regularly

For those of us actively using social media, this may already sound familiar. The mindset of “my” assets vs. “our” assets is similar to sharing. After all, if we work for an organization, what we create (e.g. digital assets) while working for the organization is often owned by the organization, so those are in fact “OUR” assets, not “MY” assets. Sharing is good. Otherwise, no one knows these assets exist, even within an organization.

As for process, this may involve…

Before Change

• Pick the cheapest technology available, then find out how to we can conform to the technology’s needs

• Fragmented training with inadequate  documentation presented once

• Individualized view of workflow

• Difficult to budget projects

• Difficult and time-consuming to find assets

• “I don’t know where it is”

• Liability to reuse

• Rights and permissions unknown

• Subjective process

After Change

• Pick technology which meets our business needs first, then budget for it

• Training with supporting documentation available online

• Standardized and documented workflow based on roles

• Easily report projections for budget per project

• Easily and quickly found assets

• Quickly know what we have available

• Easier to reuse, due to documentation on a per asset level

• Rights and permissions easily accessible and legible

• Objective process

As for technology, this may involve…

Before Change

• We conform to technology

• Unknown duplication of assets

• Different applications and versions of software per employee

• Limited threshold

• Obsolete=time to update

• Coveted technology within a department

After Change

• Technology conforms to our business needs

• Reduce duplication of assets (via check sums)

• Uniformed sets of applications and versions of software per role

• Scalable threshold

• Regularly scheduled updates

• Technology used across departments throughout organization

How do we manage change?

To paraphase Peter Drucker, we can not manage change if we do not measure the change, find out what is improving and what still needs improvement.  When you have a DAM (and use it), run reports from the DAM regularly (yearly, quarterly, monthly, weekly or more enough if needed). Filter reports and analyze for same factors regularly, measuring the results for each factor. Establish metrics or common measures to use as reference. If results are not steadily improving on a regular basis, analyze why. The reports are black and white (purely objective), but the analysis may be gray (subjective) if you do not establish documented metrics.

  • How many users are using the DAM? How often?
  • How many assets are in DAM?
  • How many assets get uploaded to the DAM (per week/month/year)?
  • How many assets are being used (per week/month/year)?
  • How many asset are being reused? How many times?

What about management issues?

  • We can evaluate employee competencies by running reports and analyzing each individual users’ results as well as group results on a regular basis in order for them to have an objective measure of exactly what can be improved.
  • Technical competencies are a must within each role and function, but training is often needed to keep up-to-date with new software versions, so budget the time for employee training. Train with written documentation for workflows. What is different from before? Be clear where questions can be directed to.
  • Weigh the option of a weekly report over a weekly meeting with management. Live 360 degree feedback and candor can be very valuable during times of change (which are more frequent nowadays). Some of the best feedback may come on a individual basis rather than as a group, depending on personalities and comfort level.
  • Not everyone will embrace nor accept changes overnight. Recognize the issues by listening and find a resolution in order to increase user adoption.
  • Sometimes, individuals may not be suited for this type of work and may need to reassigned (or sometimes even shown the door), if:
    • They are unwilling to change with the organization
    • They demonstrate being a hindrance to results
    • Regularly fail to meet the objectives in a timely manner when given adequate support
  • If needed, find the links between the DAM reported results per user,
    measure their individual ROI and add it as another objective factor in the performance reviews for every DAM user.
  • Management as well as stakeholders should be proponents and be model examples to changes.

How do we apply change management?

  • Awareness – why is the change needed (document issues and feedback)
  • Desire – to support and participate in the change (involvement and leadership is needed)
  • Knowledge – of how to change (plan, document, train and share)
  • Ability – to implement new skills and behaviors along with time and budget needed (provide training with documentation and have continued support available)
  • Reinforcement – to sustain the change (provide support, reports and governance)
  • Acknowledgement – recognize top performers within their roles regularly. Point out their key successes and results as goals for others

Charles Darwin said, “In the struggle for survival, the fittest win out at the expense of their rivals because they succeed in adapting themselves best to their environment.” In this context, it is not the strongest who survive, but rather ones who best adapt to change.

Let us know when you are ready for some vendor neutral consulting on Digital Asset Management.

How do you manage change and DAM in your organization?