You may have read my call for a DAM Glossary from February 2013. Recently, Ralph Windsor started http://damglossary.org using a previously existing DAM Glossary. This publicly available website has no sponsors, is freely available, is as vendor neutral as we can hope for and allows users to append to this DAM Glossary (after registering). But the DAM Glossary is not yet complete. There are plenty of words, terms and definitions still missing. In order for the DAM community to benefit from this DAM glossary, we need to append these to the DAM Glossary.
Append those missing words, terms and definitions
Now the DAM community needs your help to append this DAM glossary with all the missing DAM words and their respective definitions. Look at it and see which words/terms are missing. Earlier, I found a few terms missing off the top of my head, such as:
Rendition (not the CIA’s version)
Transformation (not related to that movie with similar title)
You may find other missing words/terms and other respective definitions in a vendor neutral sense. All you need to do is register on http://damglossary.org/register and apply the missing acronyms, definitions and words
Why should we append the DAM Glossary?
Several vendors (you know who you are) use special words regularly in their marketing, instruction, consulting and user interface. When you ask for a glossary of terms with definitions, it rarely includes all those super special words they use. If you were to ask three people who work for the same vendor for the definition of a particular word, you may get more than three different definitions. Some vendors themselves have not yet defined these special words in writing internally, but use them externally. Not only is this unacceptable, but this confusion propagates fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) in the DAM community and market itself.
Enough. If we are going to listen to or use special DAM words/terms/acronyms to explain functionality and tools in the DAM space, these better be defined either in the common dictionary or in damglossary.org. If it isn’t, point it out and ask for a written definition to be shared. Then have it shared with everyone on damglossary.org. That way we will not have to guess nor ask constantly what does that [frustrated] word mean and why does everyone we ask have a [completely] different definition for it.
Start appending the DAM Glossary for the sake of clarity, consistency, transparency and knowledge sharing throughout the global DAM Community.
Many people do not read instructions. They may enjoy reading what they want to read, but instructions are not one of those preferred works of non-fiction that come to mind. When was the last time you read instructions? Why? There is often the assumption and expectation things will be easy to understand and easy to use. When we download a new software application to one of our devices, do you see piles of instructions, guides, or manuals? Not likely.
And are we expecting other people to read instructions as well? Newsflash: many do not read instructions even if their lives depend on it. Some manufacturers in certain sectors include instructions to supply warnings, notices and legal documentation attempting to limit their liability in the case their product or service is (was) used incorrectly and disaster occurs. An example of this was a product mailed to homes as a free sample. This sample came in a small packet and included an image of a lemon on it. People instantly assumed it was lemonade mix, so they mixed it with water and drank it without ever reading what it said on the packet. The organization received countless calls and complaints from potential consumers who got sick. Most of them did not read the fact that this was dishwasher soap with a new lemon scent and an added citric acid cleaning agent. Reading is either clearly overrated for the masses or a means of separating the people who want to be informed from those who are too lazy/busy to bother.
Some manufacturers do not even include instructions anymore. Why? The product or service should be easy enough and users should just want to use it. They expect user adoption magically happen with some high hopes. Maybe that works with some mobile devices and some of their respective apps through simple, smart design. Never mind the precautions, warnings or issues that could arise. What could possibly go wrong? Users are smart enough to just know how to use it, right? Well, if you add some humans to any equation, you will get some inconsistencies, variables, and yes… errors. Sure, we can blame the:
poorly designed user interface (usability testing can help identify these issues)
lack of forethought in the system implementation, so everyone must think like the person who created it (user testing can help identify these issues as long as they walk through all the processes and note what/where is a miss)
the whoops on the real world which avoids the end-to-end walk-through of a solution to be sure it works
One organization had a lot of user errors, so they started focusing on the tasks that caused the user errors and tracked them. This could identify system flaws needing correction. Here is how to start on the path of accountability. Every instance an error happened:
the user was tracked by name (who)
the type of error was tracked (what)
the frequency of the error was tracked (when)
where the issue was occurring in the system was tracked (where)
what the user did incorrectly to cause the error was tracked (why)
the recommended changes to the process were communicated and documented (how)
Every time an error happened, a template email was sent to that individual user and their supervisor which included:
their specific error
the impact of this error to other users and the system (there often was one)
a recommended fix (for the user to complete)
a set time frame to fix the error properly (one to two business days)
a follow-up to be sure it was completed and the error log to close out that particular instance of that error.
Before implementing this error correction, the policy was fully documented and shared openly. As soon as this process started, error rates dropped significantly. That is the effect of accountability. Prior to this, accountability was not visible. Note that errors do not completely disappear because “perfection” is not a realistic goal for any organization. There is room for improvement for users, processes, and likely the system.
How to have MORE errors
There are the counterpoints to all this…
Assume too much or just assume everything will work the way you expect it to (just like the world will continue to revolve around you)
Ignore all issues you encounter. Do not verbally mention nor document in writing the issues for anyone to know about.
Do not test thoroughly or just ignore all testing completely (The testing fairy is coming soon. Just don’t wake up from that dream)
Do not verify any information down the exact character. In fact, just do not check on anything at all
Do not follow specific instructions. Do not have clear, up to date instructions. In fact, do not have any instructions at all (see assumptions for similar results).
Do not have a simple, easy to use GUI. If you really try, you could skip having a GUI completely.
Ignore all usability experts and their literature. Why would you want anyone to actually use the system your company paid for?
Believe everyone works and thinks like you (revisit assumptions again)
Be sure to have extra slow processors to make people believe the system is frozen or non-functional. It might be acceptable in some people’s mind if a simple process with a few bits of data take a half-hour to two hours to yield the results requested.
Be sure to blame the end-user when the system is not working, but it is best if the results are inconsistent just for that added bonus.
Confusion is always welcome. With open arms.
Do not document anything. When working with other companies, trust everyone freely and believe that they will document everything for you, understand it all your way, and do not share this documentation openly.
Believe everything (including coding) is really easy and it will automagically be completed overnight flawlessly. Every day. With no documentation nor specifications. Nor testing.
Every IT department can read minds. They have an app for that.
Eventually, everyone can read your mind.
Trust everyone. What could possibly go wrong? You do not need any verification either.
Do not plan ahead.
Do not train users. Ok, maybe once and believe they will remember it all.
Do not supply any ongoing support for your user community. They will figure it out.
Errors go away if you ignore them enough. Errors do not multiply when you do this. Errors are so much fun. Dream of getting more over time and it will happen in reality.
After four years of blogging about Digital Asset Management (DAM), I keep reporting what are the most popular blog posts based on the number of times people have clicked to read a blog post. The top 40 most read blog posts from Another DAM blog for the past four years (2009-2012) are…
While I was posting far less often in 2012 (new supply few times a month), the readership (demand) has only increased year over year. This is yet another sign that Digital Asset Management is still growing. Some say the DAM market will surpass the billion dollar mark in 2013. Most of the blog posts listed above are still very relevant to people’s need for more DAM information today.
A few people and even some companies (whom I have not worked with) actually asked me to stop blogging because I am “…giving too much away…” so I simply keep posting more. Why? Because this is not true. For those who have read my blog posts, I list the questions you should be asking within your organization about Digital Asset Management.
Now I have listed the top 40 most read blog posts from the past four years out of over 155 blog posts to date. I still have over 95 drafted blog posts yet to finish and release when I have free time. I know who my audience is because they communicate with me directly and they suggest ideas for posts. DAM is not about sharing less, otherwise you are missing the point about sharing with your:
Be helpful. You should there to help the people, the process, the technology and the information work together. No small feat in many cases nor a temporary effort.
Be honest. Brutally honest if needed. Do not hold back much. The truth may require revealing news people do not want to hear, but rather need to hear (if you have read my blog or know me well enough, you will know what I mean).
Be patient. Not everyone will be technical nor understand what is involved.
Listen. To your users. All of them. Not just to yourself talking and repeating yourself.
Be specific. Do not assume people know, even the obvious. Remember, not everyone is technical.
Speak up. Interject as needed. Do not ‘wait your turn’ or your points will be overlooked. Leave your emotions elsewhere. This is business.
Be accountable and hold others accountable for their actions (or lack thereof) when it comes to the DAM and everything else in your purview. It is a ‘two-way street’ whether we realize it or not. Top to bottom and back.
Be proactive as well as reactive as needed. You should not be ‘fire fighting’ issues all day, every day (otherwise, there is a prioritization and process issue).
How and when to say “No.” Contrary to some people’s belief, ‘yes men‘ can hurt the organization as well as themselves especially if a constant “yes” is believed to always be the right answer. It is not. Reality checks are necessary for all.
Do not kill yourself, physically nor mentally. Nor anyone else for that matter. Even if it starts to sound really tempting. Really.
There is at least one process, right? And it is followed?
How do DAM users interact with the Digital Asset Management process and system?
Help establish a process, test the process in the real world, document the process in writing and train users on the process/workflow as needed (especially when lacking). Work one-on-one or with small groups. Why? Large groups and committees are like large ships…they are harder to steer in any direction and slower to start, stop or react in general. Don’t believe me? Try it. Find out yourself.
How does metadata entry occur from sources (owned internally and/or externally) to normalization of the data to entry into the DAM. Then, track the process all the way through to use within system to yield the requested search results.
Manage by assigning, measuring and prioritizing daily. Of what you ask?
There is plenty more to assign, measure and prioritize…
Establish a process of user adoption from the beginning of the selection process of a DAM system to the integration of other systems to the regular operations of the solution. What are you doing to encourage your users?
How to make coffee (or tea) without spilling it nor burning yourself. (Like most things, carefully.)
Digital Asset Management solution within your organization
Metadata validation and when applicable, metadata automation
How to use and apply the LAMP solution stack (in case you thought there was nothing else to learn to improve your skills)
Java (the programming language as well as the coffee)
Love information and data. Really. It may not love you back, but it is a give and take relationship. You get what you put into it, along with compounding value over time. Of course, I am talking about metadata. You should be one of the information experts within your organization.
Know what is available (and what is not), where it lives, how to get to it, how report on it, how to filter it and analyze it.Explain it. Train people on how to take ownership of it in their role, how to complete their part (metadata), the value of this information and why.
Know the difference between data, information and knowledge.
If you want a baseline to know how mature your DAM solution is now within your organization, start studying the DAM Maturity Model (DAM3), which was based on ECM3 as it continues to mature. Using DAM3, you can plot how mature your DAM solution is within organization today as well as where it could improve.
I write this as I leave my position where I was Digital Asset Manager for over 5 years. I have accepted another position as a Digital Asset Management professional in a different capacity to assist other organizations with DAM.
If you need vendor neutral assistance or advice on Digital Asset Management, let me know.