Auditing is not just for taxes or financials. If you want to bring clarity to the digital assets you have, auditing is one of the ways to do this. You can audit digital asset whether you have a Digital Asset Management (DAM) solution today or not. The following is what you should think about ...

Why Audit Your Digital Assets?

Some people fear the idea of an audit because of what it may uncover. I recommend embracing the idea of an audit as a good practice in the long term so issues get resolved instead of brushing them under the carpet. An audit can bring clarity about assets and around collections of digital assets to help make informed decisions about them. It also helps establish process, policy and presidence around managing digital assets.Too often, digital assets just sit there as they remain:

  • undervalued (or not valued as true assets should be)
  • poorly used (used only once or remain unused)
  • unknown to many users who may need/want them
  • not found upon search

What are We Auditing?

Start by deciding which perspective you are taking:

  • Financial (making/saving/accounting money. Avoiding financial liability)
  • Customer (or internal user/use cases)
  • Learning and Growth (improve or create value/KPI)
  • Legal (avoiding legal liability. This often relates to rights management as mentioned by Tracy Guza)
  • Process (before/after launch of DAM)
  • Technology (DAM and other tools)

What are the Objectives?

  • Are you getting your house in order?
  • Finding digital assets? Faster?
  • Finding/requesting/creating relevant metadata for these assets?
  • Creating use cases?
  • Documenting what you have as far as people, process and technology? (Is it fragmented or simply non-existent?)
  • Finding the gaps? (Gap analysis: what you do not have, but need now)
  • Deduplication? (reducing duplicate assets)
  • Find a measure to inform about a particular 'objective.'
  • What are you starting with and what do you end up with?

Are these Objectives SMART?

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Actionable
  • Realistic
  • Time Bound

How to do an Internal Audit of Digital Assets

  • Find out what you have
  • Where are the assets located now?
  • What format are they in? Do they need to be re-formatted?
  • Are these usable?
  • Are these assets:
    • A need
    • A want
    • A nice-to-have
    • Unusable
    • To be archived only
  • How many assets? (volume)
  • How big? (file size/storage needs/user needs)
  • What type of assets?

How to do an Internal Audit of the Metadata

  • Track down any documentation available (make the connection between digital assets and often separate information about these assets is frequently a challenge for many organizations)
  • Do we have metadata for every asset?
  • Embedded vs. associated metadata
  • Does this metadata include:
    • File attributes (file type/size/dimensions/resolution/frame rate)
    • Content attributes (who/what/where/when)
    • Rights attributes (can I use/reuse/repurpose the asset?)
  • If the digital asset was acquired externally:
    • Where from?
    • Are these licensed or owned?
  • If the digital asset was created internally:
    • Who requested it
    • Who created it
    • For which project?
  • Is all this metadata searchable?

How to do an Internal Audit of Search

  • Survey your users
  • Are they finding what they need? Why not?
  • Does your solution have useable, user friendly search capability?
  • Is search powered by usable metadata in a usable format?
  • When you search, are the search results finite enough?
  • Can you filter the results?

How Long will the Audit Take?

The time to conduct an audit will vary depending on the:

  • Plan of how and why the audit will be conducted
  • Amount of specific analysis and testing needed
  • Locations of your digital assets (Do you know where they are all hiding? Are they accessible?)
  • Volume of digital assets (Asset count, anyone?)
  • Format of digital assets (Is it usable and not an obsolete format, as mentioned by Linda Tadic)
  • Provenance of digital assets (What is the history of the asset?)
  • How much manual fixing (vs. programmatic fixing)is needed (in case you have a digital dumping ground).

When was the last time you audited your digital assets?

Learning Opportunities

Editor's Note: Another article to read by Henrik de Gyor is:

-- Does Your Digital Asset Management Solution Scale?