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Five ways DAM and project management tools can help your teams meet deadlines

by Nate Holmes, August 14, 2017

We hear from a lot of organizations that meeting deadlines is a big challenge. Teams are so used to being behind on deadlines that it’s often considered to be exceeding expectations if they simply finish their work on time. This puts stress on your teams, and the of quality of work usually suffers.

So what do you do? If your teams are left with the following questions unanswered, it’s probably time to evaluate your process and eliminate the confusion with project management and digital asset management (DAM) software.

What did we do last time?

You sit down at the project kickoff meeting and everyone’s wondering, what did we do last time? But there’s no need to start every project from scratch. An easy way to revisit annual events, monthly campaigns, or whatever you’ve done in the past can help your team get a jump start on new or reoccurring projects.

A project management tool can give you a look at the process you used and who was involved. More robust project management tools will help you set up repeatable processes that you can use for similar work. It helps you take out the unnecessary guesswork of how to get work done and lets your teams focus on the creative development and execution.

A DAM system helps you find the final work you deployed, prior versions of the project, and analytics on how it performed. By applying metadata upon upload, your teams can find the files faster and look at relevant information on the file, like description, copyright, and expiration date. Metadata gives more context to your files.

Has everyone provided feedback?

You sent out the mockup for feedback in an email chain to seven people. It’s been three days and you’ve only heard back from two people. Has everyone who needs to provide feedback on the mockup done so?

To reduce the time spent in review and approval, you need to limit the number of rounds of revisions. To do this, you need to include only the people critical to the success of the project. It’s ok to include three different people to review for copy, brand, and legal. Just don’t include two people for each edit request or send it out to a large group, just hoping the right people will respond.

Visibility is critical to eliminating confusion and frustration in the content production process. Unlike managing feedback in an email chain or spreadsheets, a project management tool helps eliminate some of that guesswork and mind reading your designers have to do by establishing who’s involved, what their role is, and when they should be involved. Once you’ve established those roles, you can set up repeatable processes and workgroups in your project management tool.

Why are we already behind?

Trending topics for social media, market demands, and live events can throttle the urgency for creative work. But not everything can be created and delivered now. Instead of leaving your teams in a constant state of catchup, set them up for success by establishing realistic timelines and deadlines for projects. Deadlines are like goals. The SMART framework to set specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time-bound goals works for deadlines, too.

A project management tool helps you plan better by setting up stages for the process and identifying timeframes. Some tools are more focused on time tracking and enforcing deadlines. Other tools focus on helping to set realistic timelines based on past project data. Either way, you should have a clear understanding of your team’s bandwidth to properly plan work.

Where is that _______ file?

You can fill in the blank with partner logo, product photo, or an expletive (if you’re asking rhetorically out of frustration). Not being able to find the right files slows down the creative process, whether it’s looking for past work as examples, a graphic element for a presentation, or a photograph for packaging design.

A DAM system provides the central location for all your files. By applying metadata and organizing it, your files are faster to find. Think of it like shopping on Amazon. You search for what you want and filter down to what you need.

A DAM system can also help distribute files outside of the organization. This helps your teams spend less time being the “finder of stuff” for others, giving them more time to be creative and productive. They just shoot over a link of commonly requested files to the partner or agency then get back their work quickly.

Did anyone actually use that slide deck?

Is my work being used? Is this project worth my time? Even if there’s no choice in what work someone’s doing, it’s helpful to provide context to the entire vision of the project. No one wants to be doing work just because they were asked to. Providing context to the strategy and the data on how collateral performed can help everyone feel greater ownership.

DAM data provides two key insights. The first is on the performance of the DAM system. A DAM admin can answer questions, like what terms are people searching? Are people finding files by browsing by category or are they searching and filtering more frequently? These data points help to optimize the organization and structure of the DAM system to help users quickly find what they’re looking for.

The second key insight is on how the individual content is performing. Was a sales PDF downloaded? Which style of product photography shoots is more popular? How many times was an image viewed via an embed code on your website?

Slow down to move faster

A perpetual state of rushed work isn’t healthy for teams. Questions of who’s doing what, where things are, and what did we do last time add to the urgency and confusion. It’s time to slow down. Take time to listen to the needs of all your teams. Map out how they can work better together. Then give them the tools and process to make it happen. 

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Topics: DAM, Workflow

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