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How do I create use cases for DAM?

A blog reader asked about how to create use cases for DAM.  I gave a presentation about this topic during a DAM conference.

What use cases did you have before DAM was part of the equation? Before you had a DAM, were your workflows documented?

All too often, use cases are not documented. In fact, they may be locked in multiple silos where each person (even within the same group ) do things differently.  Therefore, migrating to a workflow with DAM becomes a mystery. Without use cases, the user adoption of the DAM is often lower if users do not know why nor how nor when to use the DAM.   Where does DAM fit in the users’ daily workflow? Use cases can also affect the choice of a DAM solution.

Use cases need to be documented and shared.

Another reason for having use cases is training for new people. How do newly hired people find out how to do their job? Are they born with this knowledge? Should an employer expect everyone to know how to use all the tools and policies of the organization to get their job done?  Not likely.

Enter a new person (new hire) to the organization. What are they supposed to do? What tools are involved? When do they use the DAM and for what purposes?  Should new people operate differently than people doing the same tasks for years within the same organization? Not likely, but they often do. Does each person who coaches a new person give their own version of how to do things (plus or minus a few steps)? Is this standardized? This is often not only due to a particular level of experience, but lack of documentation and poor training. And we expect consistency. Somehow. Maybe by mind reading? That is not likely going to happen.

When you start researching a DAM for your organization, instead of looking at shiny features, see if it would work well with your use cases by presenting them to the vendor during a demo. Have real assets you would likely be working with along with real use cases. Ask the vendor to demo their solution for your use cases with your assets with metadata from start to finish in front of you.

Start building use cases with what you have and how you do things today.

  • What do you do today?
  • How do you do it?
  • Who does what?
  • When does it happen?
  • Why is it done that way?
  • What is the process?
  • What tools are used?
  • How could this improve?
  • How can this be done more consistently?

Be sure to consider the people, process and technology (in that order) which are involved from start to finish. Not sure who/how/what is involved? Ask by using…

  • Surveys
    • Online or paper form, with long answer questions, not simply ratings
    • All roles (don’t expect 100% return, even with a prize)
    • Send to everyone including decision makers and potential DAM users doing the daily work
  • Group workshops
    • Be aware of who is talking and who is not
    • Include all group members
    • In case extroverts have all the say while introverts remain quiet in the corner getting frustrated, have people take turns talking so everyone contributes
  • Individual interviews of:
    • Not just senior staff, but junior staff for a varying perspective
    • Both computer literate and those who prefer analog
    • All roles

When reviewing who is working, consider their role in the organization, not just their name so you can build and scale these job functions as needed.

Who makes the initial request? Who/What takes the request? Who handles/processes the request? Where does the request go after that? and after that? and after that? (note a pattern to fill the gaps)

How many other people do the same task(s)? Is this redundancy to handle volume or act as a backup? Can this scale up or down today based on the amount of work to do?

What is the volume of requests? Where do the requests get filled/completed? Who does this? Who/What delivers the end product/service?

Consider the whole life cycle of typical project from idea to delivery. And walk through all the steps.

How much communication is involved in all this? Likely not enough.  It is not enough to lock decision makers in a room. As discussed earlier, there are different points of view to keep in mind.

Keep the communication channels open among all differing points of view.

Stay positive. When negative points need focusing, laugh about it, then find a resolution.

Create roles. Envision the end result. Have a goal. Make it clear. Try even mind mapping. Simplify when in doubt. Follow through. Measure the results.

Avoid jargon and acronyms (so anyone can understand it). Be open to feedback, but have a schedule with deadlines and accountability.

However you create use cases, write them down and share it within your organization.

Let us know when you are ready for vendor neutral consulting on Digital Asset Management. We can also help you create your use cases.

How do you create use cases for DAM?


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What are some DAM job descriptions?

“Mind readers wanted.”

This is first line from an actual Digital Asset Management (DAM) job description posted this year. More on that later.

Aside from asking where to post and find DAM jobs, several people are asking what are typical DAM job descriptions. After presenting this information during a DAM Conference, here are parts of actual DAM job descriptions and knowledge shared by several DAM professionals on the job market today.

This is part of the equation that involves people along with process and technology for DAM.

While some people may use Digital Asset Management (DAM) sometimes within an organization, there is an increase in the need for people who may work full-time on DAM within an organization. We’ll explore several of these positions so you can have an idea of what some organizations have for talent and resources for those who do this type of work.

Here is a part of a job description for a Digital Asset Manager:

  • Responsible for leading overall strategy, implementation and workflow of the Digital Asset Management system for [organization]
  • Acts as primary liaison between [organization] and various photo studios with regard to image names, new photography and archiving
  • Responsible for assigning appropriate metadata for assets to ensure accurate usage rights
  • Manages the Digital Asset system and facilitate the uploading of assets as well as maintaining and upgrading the system
  • Registers internal and external users to the Digital Asset Management system based on permissions
  • Facilitates retrieval of previously cataloged images/shoots
  • Processes raw images using the appropriate software
  • Archive assets as necessary
  • Generates asset download reports
  • Maintains accurate procedures and records for the system
  • Keeps informed of latest Digital Asset Management technology trends and innovations
  • Other duties as identified and assigned

What are we looking for when filling the human resources gap with people needed to help manage your organization’s digital assets?  There are no hard and fast rules, but rather guidelines. Any of these could be staff or contractual positions:

  • Administrator (DBA)
  • Archivist
    • With Digital, not just analog (print) experience
  • Analyst
  • Consultant
    • Either an internal, permanent staff for ongoing consultation OR an external (temporary), outside perspective looking in with a fresh viewpoint
    • Advisor, coach and/or functional role
  • Digital Asset Manager
    • Support DAM system and users
    • An industry expert in the field
  • DAM Specialist/Coordinator
    • Organize and upload assets
    • Metatag assets
  • Data Entry Specialist* (depending on volume)
  • Engineer/Developer/Programmer/Information Architect
  • Help Desk
  • Intern
    • Temporary position (more on this in a future blog post)
    • Willingness to:
      • Learn about DAM
      • Work on metadata and taxonomy
      • Upload assets
  • Librarian
    • With Digital, not just analog (print) experience
  • Metatagger (aka “Metator“)
  • Project Manager
  • Sales
  • Taxonomist

What we call the position (job title) is less important than what they actually do.

DAM professionals who communicate with management need to have an understanding of high level business needs and how DAM can meet those needs. Why? Because it is important to quantify:

  • Cost savings
  • Time savings
  • Reductions in risk (with knowledge of rights)

Yes, Digital Asset Management is a business need, not just a technology or another database.

If you are looking to hire a DAM professional, such as Digital Asset Manager, have potential candidates include their answers to the following questions as part of the job application:

  1. Have you worked with a Digital Asset Management System? Where? How long?
  2. How much experience do you have creating Metadata Schema?
  3. Do you have any training experience? What type?

That should help gauge the level of experience of most candidates.

Now about that “mind reader” job posting. Often, management and human resources do not know what DAM professionals are supposed to do (a bit difficult to write a job description that way), but they are slowly realizing there may be a need for Digital Asset Management and that is followed by realizing the need to fill a position with a DAM professional. That professional may be assigned (or volunteered) within the organization. The professional may be hired from the outside. Beside that, DAM professionals should use best practices and notice common behaviors when these practices are not followed. How?

  • Communicate
  • Evaluate
  • Recommend
  • Reference
  • Document
  • Estimate
  • Train
  • Plan
  • Budget
  • Deliver
  • Report
  • Anticipate
  • Follow up

That does not take any mind reading. I am not a mind reader. I am a Digital Asset Manager.

Besides, I forgot my mind reading hat at home.

What is your DAM job description?

Administrator
Business Analyst
Consultant
DAM Architect
DAM Director/DAM Manager/Digital Asset Manager
DAM Specialist/Coordinator
Digital Archivist/Librarian
Engineer/Developer/Programmer
Intern
Project Manager
Taxonomist/Metatagger (aka Metator)


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Do you use permissions and roles with your DAM?



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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?