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Anyone who thinks that launching a digital asset management (DAM) system comes down to picking a solution and flicking a switch should think again. One step can make a big difference between a DAM solution that people use and a DAM solution that people ignore: talking to your stakeholders. 

That was the biggest take-home lesson from the webinar Best Practices to Manage a Successful Enterprise DAM Project

Involve Your Stakeholders

“It is so much more than a technical undertaking,” said Laura Myers, a production artist and graphic designer at the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI).

Myers was PADI’s in-house lead for the migration to Canto’s Cumulus digital asset management solution. And to get a sense of the scope of the migration, consider that PADI’s last photo shoot in Hawaii yielded 30,000 shots. It took one year to complete the migration of the photography and graphics catalog, alone.

With so many files to manage, pointing to people as the biggest challenge to a DAM implementation may sound naive. And yet the webinar's poll results mirrored that finding. When asked about the top challenge in managing a DAM project, 36 percent cited gaining user adoption. And this comes from an audience where 50 percent had a DAM solution already in place.

Myers originally planned on a smaller DAM launch for the design team before rolling it out for the rest of the company, but the implementation consultant that PADI hired persuaded Myers to sit down with all stakeholders up front to understand their needs. Involving stakeholders in the process not only provided insight but also got them to support the project.

“They felt like it wasn’t some switcheroo, that we weren’t going to be messing up their workflows,” said Myers.

Talking to stakeholders during the first part of implementation will only bring you part way to success. The other part is making sure stakeholders know how to use the DAM. And that involves ongoing training — not just a one-time session — including personal interaction with the DAM leader if and when possible.

Don't Aim for Perfection

Canto Webinar Thumbnail Image

Which stakeholders should be involved? They include everyone that has to fund, use and know that a DAM exists as a media repository of record. Canto’s Senior DAM Consultant, Siddarth Subramanian recommended starting at the top.

“The first thing you want to do is secure executive sponsorship,” said Subramanian. 

Subramanian argued for DAM's value with statistics from a Canto study showing why organizations implemented DAM solutions:

  • 73 percent of respondents used DAM to ensure they reused their digital content 
  • 70 percent used it to improve workplace efficiency
  • 67 percent found that DAM solutions improved their search results

In order to get these kinds of success metrics, a solid taxonomy needs to be in place to enable efficient discovery of assets. According to Myers and Subramanian, that includes a good file naming system, a good keyword library and custom metadata fields, especially if your assets don’t have embedded metadata.

And sometimes "good enough" is a better goal than perfection. “Your DAM system doesn’t have to be 100 perfect from the get-go,” said Myers. “For us, we decided that 80 percent ready to go was 100 times better than what we started with.”

The article was written as a recap of a webinar sponsored by Canto.

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License Title image by  dannyfowler