User Adoption is typically one of the key factors that dictate whether or not a Digital Asset Management initiative is successful. While there are many resources that cover the features and capabilities of #DAM technology, practical information about the adoption subject is much harder to find. This webinar panel discussion aims to address that imbalance. Sponsored by Insight Exchange Network and the DAM Guru Program, join and interact with Lisa Grimm, Ian Matzen, Henrik de Gyor, and Ralph Windsor as we discuss one of the most complex and demanding problems faced by DAM users today. This webinar will be moderated by Frank DeCarlo.
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.
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.
As discussed earlier, how long did it take to get a DAM working within your organization from the day it was decided by stakeholders and sponsors to the day you measured user adoption with favorable results of a working Digital Asset Management solution will vary. Obviously, this is not just about a DAM vendor handing off an empty shell and running away, but rather having DAM with:
Defined users, roles and admins able to use the system
Up-to-date training with supporting documentation
Working features and functionality
Configurations set for your initial needs (and adjustable for the future)