I think DAM consultants and project managers would probably agree that digital asset management is unique to the institution in which it is being deployed. The multitude of DAM software solutions and the ways in which they can be customized is testimony to this. The seemingly infinite variability of such options make the implementation process, well… interesting. Before navigating the rocky waters of a service launch, DAM professionals should define what their role will be.
1. Who are you serving? (If no one, the money is better spent elsewhere!)
2. What value will you bring to your colleagues?
3. Will you continually improve and champion the service?
4. How can you keep track of the value the DAM brings to your users?
There has been much talk about metrics. Establishing measures by which you can track the use of a DAM is undoubtedly important, but how will a DAM professional’s value be measured. These scenarios are impossible to quantify by so-called analytics offered by DAM systems.
• finding a mis-categorized asset for a user
• troubleshooting remote-access issues for a creative who is located half-way across the globe
• ensuring the database is performing at optimal levels
• relieving user angst at not being able to find enough material for a presentation
DAM is a service. As such, DAMS administrators must find ways to measure their impact, and other, intangible benefits they bring to their users. In the end, your users are the most important part of DAM. If they ignore the DAM, opting instead to organize and distribute digital assets from their own workstations, the initiative has been derailed.
Users are king.
That brings me to my next point: you need to recruit some DAM champions. These DAM-philes are generally the first to benefit from, be involved in, and adopt the DAMS. Their most valuable contribution, though, is evangelizing the use of your system. Consider these leaders your DAM avant-garde. I suggest you choose candidates who are outgoing and like to engage with others. More importantly, as a DAM professional, you must act as a DAM cheerleader to these colleagues by encouraging them to go forth and spread the word.
In addition to garnering support from users, it is crucial to ensure that executive stakeholders also have the same understanding you do of your role and the DAM’s raison d’être. As such, the last question that should be posed is:
5. Who do you report to? Will they feel the same about your answers to the above questions?
This last questions touches upon two important aspects of DAM implementation: communication and stakeholder buy-in. Sharing regular updates with department heads about the evaluation, design, and implementation of a DAMS will encourage their confidence in its ability to address their (and their team’s) needs. Do not undervalue the regular briefings you have with management.
As Zimmerman (quoted by Pellack, 2012) wrote, “… stay conscious of the meaning in what you do. If you don’t know the meaning of what you do, you don’t bring much value to what you do”. As such, consider writing a brief mission statement for your DAM including your answers to the above questions. Refer to it periodically. Perhaps print it on company letterhead, frame it, and place it in some conspicuous location in your office. Jokes aside, it is imperative to have a clear idea of why you have a DAM and to communicate this understanding to others. Sure, this knowledge may change in the long term, but having it in the first place will guide you through change management, budgetary meetings, and the occasional conversation at social functions. You want to be prepared in case you are unexpectedly invited to pitch your digital initiative to a potential museum donor, Dean, or CEO.
Pellack, L. (2012). Now Serving Customer 7,528,413. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 51(4), 316-318.
Poole, N., & Dawson, A. (2013, February). SPECTRUM Digital Asset Management. Collections Trust. Retrieved from http://www.collectionslink.org.uk/collaborate/my-groups/app?groupid=23&app=groupfilesharing&do=download&file=SPECTRUMDAM_0213.pdf