In today's digital landscape, managing digital assets often feels like trying to hit a moving target. With employees working remotely and the increasing use of cloud-based storage, it's common for files to be scattered across different devices and platforms, making it difficult to keep track of them. This decentralized system can lead to confusion, decreased productivity, and data loss.
Data loss can be costly to an organization, especially when the lost data is digital or creative assets. Not only are the resources put into producing the asset wasted, but so is the opportunity cost of not using the asset to generate value for the brand.
That's why organizations must implement a strategy for gathering and managing their digital assets in a centralized, organized manner. This process not only improves productivity and efficiency but also ensures that valuable data is secure and easily accessible to those who need it.
Five Steps to Centralizing Digital Assets
The process of gathering all your digital assets together can seem overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. By following a few key steps, organizations can efficiently manage their digital assets and reap the benefits of a centralized system.
The first step in gathering digital assets is to “map” them. Essentially, this means creating an inventory of all existing files and data that's current and relevant to the day-to-day operations of your organization. Start by creating a list of the kinds of assets that fit this description.
What are the most valuable assets you produce and use? This list can be as high-level or granular as you’d like, but be sure to acknowledge that the more detailed you are now, the less you’ll need to archive and sort through later. Once this is done, map where those valuable assets live. This includes files stored on local devices, cloud storage, and any other platform where your organization's data is stored.
Once you’ve created an inventory it's important to classify the data based on its importance and sensitivity. In other words, among the assets you’ve inventoried, which are the most important ones o make secure and available to the people that need them?
Prioritizing your assets helps determine the level of security needed for each asset and ensures that critical data is protected. It also guides your plan for what to do with them once they're collected. Some helpful questions to ask during this stage include:
- Which assets drive the most value for our brand?
- Which assets do we use the most?
- Which assets would be the costliest to reproduce?
- Which assets are the most aligned with our current brand guidelines and goals?
- Which assets do people ask for most often?
After prioritizing your assets, it's time to centralize them in a single location. While this sounds daunting (and is), the first two steps in this process should help you know how to begin. A key thing to remember is that your end-users, the people creating and using digital assets every day, need to be involved throughout the project. Their understanding of your assets and institutional knowledge is crucial to the success of the project.
As you collect assets, you need a place for them to go. Determine what the best single source of truth would be for your organization. Many organizations choose to implement a dedicated digital asset management (DAM) platform to serve as the central hub of all their creative and marketing operations efforts.
If you need a short-term solution, you can use cloud-based storage platforms like Dropbox, Box, SharePoint, and OneDrive to serve as a central repository for assets while you evaluate your other options.
What’s the point of gathering assets in one place if they're still difficult to find? Without implementing organizational tools and principles that work together to build a DAM program, collecting your entire library of assets in one place may hurt your team’s ability to find what they need rather than help it.
To ensure consistency and ease of use, it's important to standardize file names, metadata, and organizational structures. This helps eliminate confusion and makes it easier for your end-user to locate and access the assets they need. If you’d like to learn more about building these standards and applying them to your gathered assets, Stacks would be happy to help.
The final step is to implement the new system and train employees on its use. Once all your assets are in one place with new and improved organizational standards applied, end-users may have a bit of a learning curve. Ensure that best practices, processes, and roles and responsibilities are documented and easy to reference.
Regularly auditing and updating the system ensures that your organization's digital assets will remain organized and secure. Make sure that as assets are created they are ingested into the new library and old or out-of-date content is archived properly.
Gathering digital assets together is a crucial process for organizations looking to improve their productivity, security, and efficiency. By following the steps outlined above, they can effectively manage their digital assets and ensure that their valuable data is easily accessible and secure.
Following these steps, however, can be easier said than done. Most of the time, digital asset management isn't part of anyone’s job description, and thus executing a project like this can be nearly impossible. If this is the case for your organization, consider letting Stacks support your team with our bandwidth and expertise. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help!