5 Tips for Making the Most of Digital Asset Management

Creative teams today are dealing with more distribution channels, more file formats, and more specialized digital requests than ever before. Ask yourself how many times per week you encounter the following questions:

Can you resize, reformat, download, upload, or email the company logo to me?
I can�t find the original image we used in our spring campaign. Do I need to repurchase it?
Hey, where is the latest version of our new homepage banner?
How many pieces did we create for last year�s holiday campaign � and in what sizes?
Do we have international usage rights for this image?
Can you help me find the layered PSD file for this project, or will I have to recreate it?
The answers to all of these pesky questions can be found in digital asset management (DAM), an absolute necessity for teams that create, manage, deliver, and archive hundreds or thousands of digital assets every year.

Many companies wonder why they�d need such a thing. After all, they already use Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, OneDrive, and Adobe Creative Cloud, not to mention internal servers and hard drives.

And that�s exactly the problem. According to McKinsey Global Institute, the average worker spends almost 20% of each workweek � 1 day out of every 5 � searching for and gathering information from disparate locations and sources. Implementing a single repository for all digital assets can save hours of time per worker per week. In fact, 73% of top performing content marketers rely on centralized assets and content.

Transferring your entire archive of PSD, AI, PNG, MOV and other files to a cloud-based system is no small initiative, but the following five tips will set you up for success.

1. Get Stakeholder Buy In

Identifying and engaging with your key stakeholders � everyone who creates, manages or needs access to digital files � is an essential step in the process. The more champions you have lobbying for the successful use of your DAM system, the more likely you are to achieve widespread adoption.

Don�t be afraid to tout some of the lesser-known benefits of DAM software, such as the ability to:

Convert files (from PSD to web-friendly PNGs, JPEGs, or high-res PDFs for example) right in the DAM, with one click.
Publish images to your web channels or social media sites directly from the DAM.
Share assets through a direct link, a download link, or as a collection, without having to rely on an FTP server, email attachment, or USB drive.
Control access and keep files safe with different levels of access and permissions.
Set assets to expire, so outdated brand materials aren�t continuously used, seasonal content becomes inaccessible, and rights-managed images are unavailable past a certain date.
Capture metadata (like file type and color type) directly from where the asset is created.
Find what you need in seconds using filters and searchable keywords.
Control your brand with centralized branding guidelines, approved versions of logos and other assets, and automatic expirations and notifications.
Don�t settle for a solution that doesn�t offer all of the above.

2. Choose the Right Solution

Surprisingly, almost half (48%) of creative teams don�t have any form of digital asset management system in place. And of the 52% who do, many are using outdated, on-premises solutions that lack the flexibility to keep up with current tech trends (like the social media explosion), not to mention integrating with other marketing technology.

Whether you�re upgrading or implementing a solution for the first time, get fully acquainted with your team�s specific requirements before selecting a vendor. First, understand the types of assets (images, audio, video) you need to manage, then enlist the help of your IT team to determine your functional needs (search, file conversion, distribution) and IT requirements (security, hosting, platform).

3. Don�t Skimp on Training

Everyone who will be touching the DAM solution � from sales and marketing to finance and HR � should be trained on how to use it. Provide in-depth, comprehensive training for the system admins who will be naming and adding new files, organizing assets, setting expiration dates, capturing metadata, and more. You�ll have to define your naming conventions, folder hierarchies, and required metadata fields in advance of this training.

Regular system users, on the other hand, only need to know how to find files, access the DAM from mobile devices, distribute files to clients and customers, and create collections for ease of collaboration.

Also consider assigning one or more individuals from your group to act as a �Digital Asset Manager� or �Librarian,� who will be tasked with consistently cataloguing and updating information in the database. This can help prevent key information from being omitted or misspelled � errors that can make it difficult to locate important assets in the future.

4. Integrate with Other Solutions

Your DAM solution should support integration with other IT systems, eCommerce systems, content management systems, websites, intranet sites, project management solutions, and design software like Adobe InDesign and Photoshop. And don�t forget Single Sign-On, which conveniently allows employees to use their existing credentials to access the system.

These integrations can�t happen all at once, so prioritize which ones are most important to your organization, and tackle them gradually. For example, if third-party marketing platforms are especially essential, start there. Imagine the time your team will save once they can access DAM assets directly from the platforms they�re already using for automation, blogging, e-mails, and social.

5. Hold Everyone Accountable

With any new software solution, adoption can be a problem. People are used to the old way of doing things, and it takes time for them to adapt to new processes.

Luckily, it�s fairly easy to set up a process for inserting completed assets into the DAM. In fact, many systems allow you to create a pre-built workflow that automatically sends completed, approved files into the proper folder structure. It�s like magic.

But for those who are merely looking for assets and not creating and uploading them, a little bit of accountability may be in order. Stakeholders who are used to emailing a designer for the latest logo or banner size may need to be reminded once or twice of the power they now have at their fingertips. Once they realize that accessing the DAM takes less time than writing an email and waiting for the designer to reply with an attached JPEG, they�ll quickly comply.

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If your team is among the 48% who are organizing their digital files using technology designed in the last century, a DAM system will bring you racing into the present. Imagine a world where your designers simply create assets in a couple of universal sizes and upload them to one central repository, before moving on to the next high-value project. Meanwhile, that one guy in HR who needs a black-and-white version of the logo as a .PNG file can open the DAM solution and get it himself. That world is well within reach.
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