How can you guarantee that your digital asset management (DAM) project will be successful? You can set significant short and long-term goals and secure a budget and buy-in by involving stakeholders. You can effectively implement your new system, but what ensures that it will function the way you intended it to? The answer is simple. End-users. The people who work in the system, day in and day out, are the most important factors in the ultimate success or failure of your project. If the system fails, it will be because of a mismatch between the goals, standards, and processes you created during the project and the workflows of the people who are using it afterward.
These disconnects are avoidable and are usually caused by a lack of buy-in or channels for feedback. Your job is to avoid these problems by identifying end-users and securing their trust. Then you can build a system that achieves your goals and enables them to do their jobs efficiently and effectively.
Who are DAM End-Users?
End-users are different for each project and every organization. When it comes to digital asset management (DAM) projects, however, there are two main categories they usually fall into.
1. Asset Creators
Asset creators produce digital assets and upload them to the DAM system. This group of end-users can have many different roles depending on the purpose and structure of your organization. Examples often include photographers, videographers, and graphic designers. Since they are typically responsible for moving assets into the DAM system, they must know what kinds of assets live in the DAM, where they go, what to name them, what kind of metadata tags need to be applied, and the best way to quickly and securely upload and share content. These processes, while important, can be time-consuming and take time away from creating content. Invite a representative to your stakeholder meetings in the planning phase. This way, you can check your creative team's bandwidth before assigning responsibility.
2. Asset Users
Asset users, as opposed to creators, use digital assets to produce value for the consumer and generate revenue. This typically means they need to search, download, and share assets within the system to put them to use. These users are often members of the marketing, sales, or agency teams. These teams are typically most aware of the need for a DAM system and readiest to implement it. Make certain they learn the best ways to search for digital assets, utilizing the folder structure and your organization’s controlled vocabulary. Additionally, teach them how to securely share assets with other teams and external partners.
Why End-Users Matter to the Success of DAM
Once your DAM program is up and running, your end-users will have their hands on the system day in and day out. If you’ve secured their buy-in and adjusted your plans to best suit their needs and limitations, your program will be a smashing success. It will save your organization the time and money that previously went towards hunting for lost assets and reproducing the ones you couldn’t find. Your users can easily maintain brand consistency, stay current with the assets they use, and never have to dig to find what they need. Designers can quickly pull and reuse assets from previous shoots and designs, making generating new, fresh, dynamic content a breeze.
Sounds great, right? But what if your end-users haven’t bought-into your standards and processes? You can create the most straightforward,easy-to-use system for managing your creative assets, but if creators don’t rename, tag, and upload assets to the appropriate places, your library can quickly become a mess. If asset users download and share content they shouldn’t, your organization can also find itself in legal trouble.
Managing end-users and their needs well is one of the most important components of ongoing DAM success.
Best Practices for Managing DAM End-Users
Below, we outline just a few of the best practices we’ve found for handling end-users and ensuring they contribute to the success of your DAM initiatives.
Bring them in early. As important sources of information and keys to ongoing success, end-users should be involved with the planning and development of the DAM system. Representatives from the asset creators and users teams should be in the room during any stakeholder meetings or brainstorming sessions. This builds buy-in and allows them to feel heard.
Ask for their expertise. As the people searching for assets and using the existing systems daily, end-users are experts in the challenges your organization faces when it comes to DAM. They know what needs fixing and what doesn’t. End-users can also identify priorities and offer insight into how assets are moved, used, and what kinds of file names and metadata you already have.
Give room for feedback. Standards and processes are essential to an efficient and effective DAM, but if they are not relevant to your end-users, they are likely to be discarded. Build channels for your end-users to critique the initial versions of your standards such as organizational language and folder structure. Beyond these channels, truly work to listen to their feedback and make concessions where necessary.
Hand them documented standards. Once you’ve finalized your DAM standards, document and formalize them in a straightforward, easy-to-understand format. We recommend pulling them together into a PDF file and sharing it with your end-user groups. This way, they can easily reference the document if they have questions and hold one another accountable for following the procedures your team developed.
Don’t put too much on their plates. Managing digital assets well is important and beneficial, but it requires time and effort to be done effectively. Make sure you don't burden your end-users with too much work. One of the chief goals of DAM is enabling users to do what they were hired to do rather than digging through folders looking for assets. Your processes for uploading, organizing, tagging, and renaming assets need to be as painless as possible. If they aren't, consider outsourcing this work to a DAM consultant or hiring a DAM manager.
Leverage the experience and knowledge of your team to do DAM better. If you’re just getting started with DAM or don’t know how to begin creating some processes and standards, contact Stacks today! We work with organizations big and small to make DAM impossibly easy.