Getting Started with Digital Asset Management (DAM): How to Set Goals
When you are thinking about implementing a Digital Asset Management system for your organization, you probably have some goals in mind. Perhaps your assets are spread throughout various personal hard drives and cloud storage systems and you hope to centralize them somewhere. Or maybe you are tired of people requesting files from you every half-hour and you would like a system where they can get the content they need by themselves. Or perhaps you are having trouble finding files and need a system that provides better metadata and contextual information to make searching easier. These are some of the many issues that a DAM can help solve.
Solving them can be the immediate goals of a digital asset management system but thinking even more deeply about what you would like to achieve with your DAM can make your use of a DAM more successful and valuable over time. Goal setting can help you plan your implementation, and give you ways to measure success over time. In this blog post, we will discuss some of the most common goals, and in our next post, we will discuss how to achieve these goals and ways to measure them.
Establishing Concrete Goals
At the beginning of your DAM journey, it can be useful to write your goals down and keep them somewhere useful - like in your DAM! At times during your implementation, it can be easy to forget your goals. You’ve spent a lot of time gathering your assets, figuring out metadata, and creating folders and permission levels. When you are thinking about the minutiae of a system, sometimes the bigger picture can get lost. Having your goals well established and written down can bring that back into focus.
Your goals should come from your overall business goals. What is your organization trying to do in various areas? Your company may have overall goals around revenue, increasing brand presence in the market, improving operational efficiency, measuring ROI from content development, or any number of other goals. Your DAM may fit in well to meeting those overall business goals. To the extent you can create a direct line from your DAM goals to your company’s overall goals, the more important the DAM, and your role as a manager of a DAM system, can be within the organization.
Below you will find a list of some of the major goals that people hope to reach with Digital Asset Management. There is some overlap between the different goals, as solving one of these problems usually helps solve a few of them!
Every company and organization wants to have a well-known and well-respected brand. That may be an explicit goal of the company - expand the reach of the brand. A common challenge many organizations face when trying to build their brand is the problem of brand consistency. As logos are updated over the years, re-designs occur, promotional materials are re-created over and over, it can be a challenge for people to find the correct content.
You may be surprised by the ancient and outdated brand assets people have stored on their personal hard drives! This can lead to big problems. If everyone is using different materials, it can make the organization look unprofessional and disorganized. That can cause confusion and harm the brand story you’ve worked hard to build. An inconsistent and messy brand can crush your ability to gain and keep customers.
Having a DAM allows you to maintain a “central source of truth” where all of your most up-to-date assets live. With proper training, everyone at the organization will know to visit the DAM when they need branded content. By pulling from the DAM every time, your organization will present a consistent message to all clients.
Example goal: Use only approved brand assets managed by central brand team.
Uploads and Distribution
Getting files to and from designers, photographers, clients and colleagues can be a big pain. In order to email a file, you may have to download it from where it lives, upload it to email and then send. If the file is too big, you may have to use a service like WeTransfer or DropBox, or even an FTP. The problem with these services is that they are built for individual users, not an organization, and everyone has their own separate libraries where things can get lost. It can also create what is called “shadow IT,” an unauthorized set of software and apps that can cause security risks.
Fortunately, DAMs provide a great solution to the distribution dilemma. By storing all assets in one, cloud-based location, all it takes is the click a button to share any file or set of files, big or small. No need to download or upload to share files or use non-approved software, everything is in one easy to share location. Many DAMs will also allow you to fine-tune how you distribute with Download or View-Only settings, expiration dates, and forms that those receiving assets must fill out.
You can also create links for your photographers and designers to upload into the DAM directly. That way there is no transfer from one system to another, all final assets are already where they need to be.
Example goal: Reduce number of storage tools used.
Example goal: Increase speed of distribution.
“Can I get the 2019 horizontal logo?” “Do we have any photography from the latest product launch?” If you manage your organization's assets, you have definitely heard requests like this before. When one person holds or is in charge of marketing and branding assets, photography and more, they can get a lot of requests for assets. Finding and sharing these assets can take up a lot of time, and that time spent searching for files could be better spent on something else.
With a DAM, you can give everyone at your organization access to these kinds of assets. Because of powerful search tools and an easily navigated structure, users can find what they need quickly and easily, reducing requests for content. DAM permission levels also allow you to customize what different user groups, hiding or highlighting certain kinds of content. Users can download or share what they need, and you will have far fewer requests!
Example goal: Reduce number of fulfillment requests.
Example goal: Reduce time spent on fulfillment requests.
Without a DAM, assets can be everywhere. Just to name a few, you might find them stored on personal hard drives, network drives, thumb drives, CDs, Google Drive, Dropbox, legacy systems, and employees' personal email. As you can imagine, it can be hard to find a specific file when they are stored all over the place. You may need to send emails, call colleagues, and sort through layers of folders just to find the one thing you need. Some studies show that employees spend 19% of their time searching for files. Reducing that number seems like it should be a goal for every organization!
When you implement a DAM, you go through the process of finding all of the assets that are spread all over the organization, and upload them to a single location. While this process can take some effort as you must survey many constituents at your organization such as photographers, designers, the marketing team and anyone else who creates or stores assets, it can be well worth it in the end. Having everything centrally located reduces the time spent on searching which frees people up to do other important tasks.
Example goal: Reduce time spent on file searches.
Example goal: Reduce number of storage tools used.
Your organization probably spends lots of time, money and effort creating compelling digital content. But after it has been used for its original purpose, is it ever reused? Or does it get lost among the many storage locations that your organization uses never to be seen again?
Or perhaps you did a photoshoot once that would be perfect for a project you are working on now, but you can’t find the photos. Maybe they were on the hard drive of someone who left the company, or perhaps the photographer still has the originals. Either way, it’s going to be hard to reuse those photos if you can’t find them.
When you organize your assets in a DAM, it’s easy to find and reuse them. You can store all campaign materials in the DAM with metadata that helps you find it easily. Looking for an old summer campaign? If tagged correctly, it should be easy to bring back all old summer content. A photography shoot from fall 2017? It should be a breeze to locate with DAM.
Example goal: Eliminate loss of assets.
Example goal: Measure ROI of content creation.
Metadata is the information that gives your assets meaning and context. It can include information such as creator, location, date created, usage rights, product line, season, and much more. When you store assets on your hard drive or network drives, or on cloud storage, there is nowhere to enter this kind of information. Not only is this inconvenient as assets lose their context, it can cause legal problems if they are used incorrectly. Ensuring content is used correctly and liability for misuse of content is lowered are great goals that can be achieved with a DAM.
Digital Asset Management allows you to enter rich metadata around all of your assets quickly and easily. This will help you find what you need fast, and also let you know how to use an asset. There may be expiration dates on certain items, or perhaps you need to get approval to use a photograph. No matter what the circumstance, having rich metadata is useful to all organizations.
Example goal: Maintain rights information on all assets.
Example goal: Reduce time spent on file searches.
Linking Goals to DAM Maturity
The term “DAM Maturity” refers to how well established, integrated, and well-used your DAM is over time. This topic could be a blog post of its own so we won't go into all the details here, but it is important to note that your DAM goals may change over time as the DAM system matures within your organization.
In the beginning, your goal may be to simply to move assets off of individual hard drives and network drives and into the DAM. Or you may put newly created content in the DAM for centralization, and add older content over time. You then may start inviting key users to the DAM to download content, share out content from the “single source of truth” and give feedback. At this point, you may have a simple metadata structure.
As your DAM becomes increasingly mature, you may invite everyone at the organization to become a user so that they can self-serve assets and encourage everyone to reuse content that is stored in the DAM. There may be individuals who stand out as power users who adopt the DAM into their creative workflow, and you may choose to make them admin users. You might also use the DAM to work with your freelance photographers, designers, and vendors as well as clients. Your metadata may become more detailed and rich as your schema develops. Check out this post for more on metadata issues like this.
Eventually, all of your assets may be centralized in the DAM with all of your users self-serving, distributing, and re-using content. You might use the DAM to serve all assets to your website using embed links rather than upload assets to your content management system. Additionally, you may have a well-developed set of guidelines that helps govern metadata, users, usage, and predicts future needs.
Please remember that you don’t need to do everything all at once. You may have heard the phrase “boil the ocean.” It refers to that gargantuan, impossible task that you’ll never be able to do. A lot of organizations try to do that with DAM - making it everything to everyone from day one. Don’t do that. Focus on the immediate, pressing needs and build goals for those. You can solve other things down the road when you have more knowledge and experience.
It is important to establish goals early on in your DAM journey. Having these goals will clarify the steps you need to take in order to meet them and who the key players are at your organization. Your goals will help keep you grounded as you move through the steps of implementation and remind you of why you decided to buy DAM software in the first place. And as your DAM matures, your goals will change and expand—the DAM will grow alongside your organization.
In our next post, we will talk about ways to keep you on track to meet your goals through governance, as well as how to measure your goals to prove the efficacy of the DAM to your organization.
For more in our Getting Started with Digital Asset Management Series, check out these helpful resources: