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Blog about Digital Asset Management

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Why do I need permissions and roles in DAM?

Any Digital Asset Management (DAM) solution worth implementing across an organization should have the following:

  • The ability to assign roles or groups of people who share the same permissions to do things in the DAM. At the very least, there should be at least a few roles  available to assign any user of the DAM:
    • Administrator role often has full control of the DAM and is empowered with full permissions to do anything necessary including configurations.
    • Regular user role usually has limited permissions to do specific things such as preview assets and maybe download assets directly from the DAM.
    • If you wanted to expand to a third role, there is often a power user role. Typically, power users can do more than the average user, but less than the administrator. Often, a power user can upload assets to the DAM.

Depending on who in your organization is supposed to access what collections of assets and be able to do specific tasks with these assets, you may want to create a role which meets each criteria. Why use roles/groups rather than grant each individual user specific permissions one at a time? Well, how many DAM users do you have? Roles are a simple way to bunch groups of users together who need the same permissions. This way, permissions are granted in a uniform manner to users who fall in a specific user role.  This can speed up the process of adding a new user or editing their permissions, instead of visiting each collection and permission for each individual user throughout the DAM.

  • You could have user roles which can preview (read-only) specific collections of assets, but not other collections.
  • You may have roles which can preview, edit, upload and download assets but not delete assets (such as your power user role).
  • You may want a role which can preview and download from only one collection of assets relative to their job function because they often need to use or refer to just these assets.

I would not recommend allowing all users to have all permissions to do everything in the DAM (aka free for all) because that often leads to a lot of inconsistencies, accidents and chaos, particularly deletion.You probably had that before you had a DAM. So, why go back to those times? Do you miss the chaos and headaches for some reason? The idea here is to empower users within each user role to be able to access/do/see what they need in the DAM for their job function. Unless assets are restricted for specific uses or for specific eyes only, there is little reason to limit the access to previewing assets in the DAM, but it is up to the administrator and their management to decide what level of access should be granted to whom. If a user needs to access/do/see more (and is permitted to), permissions and roles can be changed by an administrator to allow more access and usability to users of the DAM.

How do you use permissions and roles within your organization’s DAM?

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Who should upload assets to a DAM?

When implementing a DAM, one of the questions that will come up is who will upload (aka import) assets to the DAM with the metadata. Often, the case is uploading to the DAM will be a regular process with a stream of new assets. That is unless the organization stops producing new assets, limits the total number of assets in the DAM or is not using the DAM (aka another shelf baby).

The answer to who should do this depends on the following:

  • How complex or easy is the process to upload assets and metadata to the DAM?
  • Is the uploading process clearly defined?
  • Who will be trained to perform the upload task regularly?
  • Who is the best fit for consistent and methodical uploading of assets and metadata to the DAM?
  • What is the volume of assets to be uploaded regularly? (Will you need more than one person to upload assets to the DAM?)
  • How long does uploading assets and metadata take per asset? (Develop an average metric to use for scheduling purposes)
  • How often will the organization need to upload assets? (daily, weekly, monthly?)
  • How quickly will you need to upload these assets for your business needs? (Is this tied to any production needs or deadlines?)
    • Who is faster at uploading, better at uploading and/or cheaper for uploading (pick two)?
      • Someone within your organization?
      • Someone outside your organization?
      • The DAM vendor, if they offer this service?
  • Who has the time to do the uploading? What other job duties  do they have? Will their schedule permit them to upload to the DAM in a timely fashion?
  • Who will communicate when assets and metadata are ready for uploading to the DAM?
  • Who supplies the assets? Who creates the metadata?
  • Is there a quality control check for uploads? Do you need one?
  • Who is responsible for linking the metadata with assets?
  • What happens after assets are uploaded to the DAM? Do people need to be notified when newly uploaded assets are available in the DAM? Is the DAM used as a centralized distribution point for assets?

Like any position in an organization, find the people with the qualifications necessary and the willingness to do the work. Typically, this position involves:

  • Data entry skills.
  • A mindset for working with data.
  • Positive attitude and ability to think constructively (no, you don’t want a robot).
  • Willingness to learn new things.
  • Technical savviness is a big plus.

Be sure the individuals working on the DAM understand:

  • What the job/tasks involve and what it does not.
  • The process or workflow.
  • This is not creative position, but rather a creative problem solving position involving data entry.
  • Communicate regularly. Listen to them when they have questions or suggestions since they be able to improve the process or even streamline it for all.

A few words of caution when picking the individuals who will do the uploading to the DAM: Do NOT randomly pick a person from your staff to do this task. If you don’t pick the ‘right person’ to do this task, not only do you risk the task not being done correctly (because they don’t get it or can’t wrap their head around it after training), but you also risk having a high rate of attrition and frustration until you find the ‘right person’ to do this task regularly. If the person did not intent to do this type of work (which often resembles data entry), they may be quite reluctant (particularly at first) to do this. Remember, no one is born with this knowledge nor mindset. Training is a must.

In order to get consistent results in uploading assets to a DAM, the easiest way is to have a finite group of trained and practiced individuals to upload all assets and metadata to the DAM. This will help:

  • Focus the accountability for all uploaded assets.
  • Limits the scope of issues that could occur.
  • Make it easier to resolve any issue before it becomes rampant or repetitive.

The smaller the group, the better trained the group can be (if all trained at the same time) and the more consistent the results will be in the DAM (if they all practice this regularly).  If you do keep all the uploading within your organization, train a finite group rather than one individual in order to have a backup in case that one person is sick, on vacation or leaves the organization for any reason, particularly in today’s job market.  I would not recommend giving every DAM user access to upload freely to the DAM, otherwise you risk correcting issues more frequently and this is often a recipe for a growing disaster of inconsistency. This task should be left to a select few DAM power users.

Who uploads assets to the DAM in your organization?


How can I bring more ROI to our DAM?

A DAM is an investment. What is an organization gaining from the implementation and utilization of a DAM? Are you getting a continued return on your investment?  If you do not know, you are probably not getting much from your DAM right now or you may not be using it much either. This can be fixed.

A DAM is made to yield ROI if used properly. The benefits may be a combination of both hard costs and soft costs.

Realistically, if you have a DAM, you have invested time and money into it. You obviously want to get your money’s worth on a regular basis, right?  Originally, one group or one department may have needing a DAM when you first got it. If more people knew what DAM could do for them, they would want to use it too! That is a GOOD thing (We will talk about budgets and sharing the costs later). Sharing the use of the DAM across departments and groups can bring more ROI as long as you have some governance behind this ‘spreading the wealth’ with the DAM.

About that governance part, you do want some control over who does what with the DAM because the last thing you want to happen is a free for all nor dumping ground for everyone’s garbage with no order nor metadata. That is a very bad thing. It is worse than ‘garbage in, garbage out‘. In the case of a DAM, it is often ‘garbage in and garbage stays in‘. This is because people rarely revisit the metadata of assets once it has been imported to the DAM and the simple lack  of metadata makes finding assets much, much harder. Your DAM is only as good as its metadata.

Beyond content, file type and versioning in a DAM, an asset is an assets is an asset. You need to be able to find any asset quickly. If that is not happening, improve the DAM’s metadata and/or search functions to yield quicker and more accurate results.

All of the people able to upload to the DAM (aka power users) should be well trained, disciplined and methodical.  Your workflow with the DAM should require this. Training and ongoing support should encourage this. As discussed in an earlier blog post, documentation can enlighten when it is written properly, made readily available and updated as needed. Any user must understand that metadata is what is used to search for assets. Without this, users are not going to be happy when trying to find specific assets.

Your organization must determine who should access what assets in the DAM. Many DAM solutions can be set up to have multiple collections of assets. Each of these collections can have assigned users and roles (a set of users). Your organization can deem whether to give permission to specific users to access specific collections in the DAM. With the idea of controlling permissions, you can add more assets and share them accordingly.

If you really look at what assets are in the DAM and what assets could be added to the DAM for use throughout departments, it is rare to see only a select few individuals needing access to these assets. If only a few people need to see these assets, that is often called a silo unless there are legitimate security or confidentiality reaons. The more people know what assets are there and where to readily access them, the more likely these assets will be used, reused and/or repurposed. The more assets are used, reused and/or repurposed from the DAM, the more ROI you get. Build workflows to determine what should occur with these assets.

If you share assets throughout the organization, you could share the costs of the DAM throughout the different departments which use the system. How you divide the costs is up to you to decide, whether it is by:

  • Monitoring who uses the DAM the most
  • Who stores the most in the DAM
  • Dividing the costs per user
  • Dividing the costs equally among all groups

Carl Pritchard said “Knowledge is Power – Shared”(sm)

A DAM is all about sharing assets among users. These assets are often institutional knowledge and/or intellectual property which the organization has created and/or acquired. Share these assets more widely within your organization and you have brought more ROI to both the DAM and more importantly, your assets.

This is the case unless you like silos. Do you hide assets in the DAM and plan to keep them there for posterity? Do you want different groups creating the same asset over and over again? Do you like inconsistency or lack of continuity within your organization?

Do not start the process of finding ways to squeeze out more ROI from a DAM while wearing blinders. Explore all the options first. Then, you can narrow the options down to what brings out the most value. You may find that sharing assets via a DAM with most of the organization is a good idea.

Knowledge is Power - Shared (sm) is a registered
Service Mark of Carl Pritchard of Pritchard Management Associates.