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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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DAM LA 2010 Conference

“DAM LA 2010 is the place for everyone involved in the process of managing digital media.”

On November 15 and 16, the DAM LA 2010 Conference will take place at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel in Hollywood, California.

This is the West Coast DAM Conference complete with:

  • Case Studies, Panels and Presentations
  • DAM Professionals
  • Keynote
  • Linkedin Group
  • Sponsors/Exhibitors
  • Tutorials
  • Tweets

During DAM LA 2010, I will be presenting…

From pre-DAM to workflows with DAM: Identifying your use cases

In the initial research of Digital Asset Management solutions for your organization, pre-DAM use cases are analysed to help decide on the best DAM solution for your organization’s business needs. This is not simply management’s need, but the potential DAM users’ needs with all their real world workflows. We will walk through how to do this from A to Z, including commonly forgotten parts of the workflow.

Of course, if you are reading this blog, you can save $100 by registering for DAM LA 2010 Conference by using the discount code.

You can also save on the hotel reservations with a special discounted room rate by requesting the group rate for the Henry Stewart Events or simply book the hotel online.

Don’t forget Sunday night, November 14, 2010 will be the first Socal DAM Meetup.

See you there!


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Why do I need a DAM?

Some organizations may have considered a DAM (Digital Asset Management) system, but thought:

“We’ll do it later” or “We don’t need one of those DAM things.”

In the same breath, you might as well pick any of the following phrases below:

  1. “We don’t need to save money now.”
  2. “We will be here forever, so we will be able to preserve our institutional knowledge.”
  3. “We love filing cabinets full of CDs, DVDs, tapes as well as multiple external hard drives, shared drives, folder structures on our computers and other ‘organized’ methods to store and manage our files every day. There is no other way to do this today.”
  4. “We can’t find anything promptly, and we’re okay with that.”
  5. “We can wait until tomorrow when the other office is open with the files we need for that presentation today.”
  6. “We will continue to wait for Joe to come back from vacation and Susan to return from sick leave to retrieve files we really needed for that public release last week.”
  7. “We love employees who hoard company assets on just their computer that are so important to our business. What could possibly ever happen to their computer or them for that matter? Our employees never go anywhere.”
  8. “We love to wait hours or days for files, don’t we all?”
  9. “We like to waste time and money and so do our managers.”
  10. “We don’t need to know what files we have. Why would anyone want to know that?”
  11. “We don’t accumulate many files each year. We trash our intellectual property every few months just to clear our limited hard drive space. It’s really no big deal.”
  12. “There is no other way we can be more efficient. We each have our very own sets of standards and procedures followed sometimes.”
  13. “We love paper. It’s so cheap. We like swimming in it too. What’s a PDF anyhow?”
  14. “Why would we change how we deliver stuff? Mailing stuff is really cheap and fast nowadays. We don’t even need email today.”
  15. “We can only collaborate in person or by email nowadays. What will they think of next? Telecommuting for office workers? We would have to trust our employees.”
  16. “We have to hold all our files very close, so no one can find our files including us.”
  17. “We love re-creating files over again because we can’t find it to use it again. In fact, we’ll do it all over again next month.”
  18. “We love to think inside the box. We don’t streamline anything around here. I know because I’m an innovator. We don’t need any changes here.”
  19. Improve workflow? Our work flows just fine around here. We do not need to upgrade any software nor hardware each decade.”
  20. “Change costs money. Technology can’t save the organization time and money. We just need more people to work harder and longer hours. That’s why they are here, and they know it.”

None of these ridiculous phrases have to be true in any organization today. Everything listed in bold can be done with DAM. If you don’t believe any of these ‘unspoken ways of doing business’ actually happen in your organization, find out how all your files are really stored and managed every year. Be ready for a surprise. Aside from what was discussed in the last 20 points above:

  • Can you find every file created last month or last year?
  • What if the person looking did not create nor archive any of the files they are looking for themselves?
  • How quickly can these files be accessed?
  • How many files do you have?
  • Where are these files kept?
  • Are they archived for future use?
  • How many files are redundant (not a backup copy nor a different version)?
  • How can you be sure without opening each file?

There is a better way. With a DAM, you can know the answer to all these questions. Planning for a DAM can make any organization really audit their assets and their workflows. A properly implemented DAM can make an organization streamlined and standardized. If a DAM is applied to an organization the right way, people can efficiently and effectively store, archive, search, find, use, reuse and repurpose assets as needed. Anyone who should be able to access files can securely find out what is available at anytime from anywhere with an internet connection.

Stay tuned to this blog for more on DAM and how it can help your organization.