DAM Saves the Day – Sheryl Connor Podcast

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Sheryl Connor Widen Podcast

We looked at our workflow, and things that we were doing manually, we thought, ‘Okay, we can do that using the DAM.’" — Sheryl Connor, Exactech

Eight weeks before the Exactech national sales meeting, Sheryl Connor and her small team set out to implement their Widen Collective® digital asset management system. It’s the busiest time of year for their creative team, but they were inspired to launch the new system at the big event. Sheryl and the team decided to focus on their international customers and the product launch materials they needed for 2018 and got to work implementing the DAM system.

“Right before our national sales meeting, our entire server went down. The entire company was shut down,” Sheryl says. All was inaccessible, except for the Collective; the presentations for the national sales meeting were already in the DAM system. The leadership team was able to go into the Collective and access what they needed. “It saved our national sales meeting.”

In addition to covering for the down server, they successfully launched the Collective.

“I think when Colleen, my co-worker, presented that we were putting the system in place at our global offices meeting, the only question we had was, how fast can we get a login?” Sheryl says. “They were just so thrilled that we were listening to them with their challenges, and we were finding a solution. It was amazing to see within those first weeks how many users were on and actually using the DAM.”

For the full story, listen to the episode nine of the Widen Implementation Podcast. Host Bill Banham talks with guest Sheryl Connor about how Exactech was able to pull off the tight implementation and the results.

Episode topics include:

  • Getting internal teams educated and ready for the DAM kickoff
  • Leading groups and managing access during the implementation stage
  • Understanding and evaluating integrations between DAM and third-party systems
  • Building a branding strategy and marketing technology map which lead to success
  • Who should be the keeper of your DAM system

Listen to the full episode of this Widen Implementation Podcast!

Listen to episode 9

The Widen Implementation Podcast helps customers prepare for and execute their DAM system rollout. Each episode features conversations with a DAM champion who has implemented the Collective. We hope that these podcasts will equip future Widen customers with the tips and insights they need to execute their own successful implementation.

Want to hear more? Listen to the bonus soundbites:

About our guest

Sheryl Connor is the creative director at Exactech. She works with marketing communications professionals to translate business goals into unique brand and product experiences. Sheryl leads the design of print-based marketing initiatives and tradeshow exhibits to support Exactech’s integrated communications plan. She also supports the design and development of digital communication tools.

Exactech develops and produces innovative bone and joint restoration products that help surgeons worldwide make patients more mobile. They work with offices and distributors around the globe.

About our host

Bill Banham is a marketing and publishing professional based in Toronto. He is the founder of the HR Gazette and Iceni Marketing as well as the co-founder of the WorkingTech show and the InnovateWork event series. Bill hosts several CPSA podcast shows on topics including social selling and tech, business strategy, and sales strategy.

Listen to more episodes from the Widen Implementation Podcast series.

Full episode transcript

Please note this podcast is intended to be heard. This transcript may contain errors.

Bill Banham: Hi. My name is Bill Banham, and I'm happy to be the host of the Widen Implementation Podcast series, focused on helping customers prepare for their digital asset management implementation. In this series, we are going to talk to people who have implemented the Widen DAM solution. It's our hope that each episode will help future Widen customers by giving them a few tips regarding the implementation process.

In this episode of the Widen Implementation show, I chat with Sheryl Connor about what it means for clients to select and implement the Widen digital asset management solution. Sheryl is creative director at Exactech. She reached out to the Widen team in early 2017. Exactech is growing rapidly, and they were seeking new ways and technologies to keep control over content and brand. Sheryl was charged by the Exactech leadership team to find a better way to create, store, manage, and distribute assets internally to investors and to doctors. Sheryl Connor, Creative Director at Exactech, welcome to the Widen Implementation show.

Sheryl Connor: Hi there. Glad to be here.

Bill Banham: Firstly, Sheryl, tell us a bit about your role with Exactech when you were tasked with implementing Widen.

Sheryl Connor: Well, when I first started at Exactech 14 years ago, we didn't even have an artwork library where we actually stored our images. We always had to go to either an asset agency to get them or we'd have to go to the printer to get files. We had no central location, so any time anybody needed an image, I had to figure out who was the photographer that took that, find the photographer, get the image, etc. That was one of the first things I was challenged with, actually, start the local artwork library.

Then, just noticing the trends and spending so much time getting artwork for people at the artwork library, I thought it was time to evolve. So, I started researching what digital asset management was and looking at various companies, and it kind of started from there.

Bill Banham: Okay, and what were some of the fears you had regarding implementing a DAM system?

Sheryl Connor: Actually, getting leadership to actually see the value. At Exactech, we're very customer-focused. We focus a lot on our external customers. What the creative team likes to do is also focus on our internal customers, but the creative team really likes to focus on how to make the internal customer experience with us better, because the majority of the time, that's who we're communicating with. We don't get much face time with our external customers, so we work a lot with the internal customers.

There's really more of trying to have leadership understand the value, and it was also critical once I got Colleen's buy-in from the international side to see the driver, and she wanted it done before a big meeting that she had. That meant only an eight-week timeline, and it was during our busiest season, which is the fall season, getting ready for national sales meetings and our biggest trade show.

Bill Banham: This the show that I was referencing Colleen Raccioppi who is also [at] Exactech, and there's another fantastic interview to Colleen, which you should check out separately.

Tell me a little bit about that meeting, then, you had with the leadership team, Sheryl, to get them understanding the value of a DAM solution.

Sheryl Conn0r: It's really interesting, though. I approached it first with our IF team to see if they had an ideas on how to make things easier. Then, I looked at various companies, tried to get a budget together, and then I started hacking other people's budgets. I tried to get other people to give me money. It wasn't even so much trying to sell leadership on the idea of the DAM. It was more me finding the money saying, "Let me do this. We have the money. Trust me that, in the end, you'll see the value."

They're just now understanding the value of the DAM, but even during the implementation, they really had no idea. So, in a way, it was really complimentary to myself and my co-workers that they talked with us enough. They said, "Okay, they found the money. They feel it's really important, and let's trust them, and let them implement." Now I can't tell you how many rave reviews we have about this DAM. There's a constant joke, "That DAM software is DAM amazing." We have a lot puns and play on words right now.

It was just a very interesting process, so it wasn't really necessarily trying to get them to understand it. It was more just finding the money and having them trust in us that we needed to do what we needed to.

Bill Banham: Well, you can tell you can't even tell me how many great stories there are about the Widen system. I'm sure that we can try and get some of those out of you today as part of this interview.

Okay, thank you for sharing. Let's get into the details of your environment then. Can you give us a sense of the volume you have to migrate, how many digital assets, what types, and how many users?

Sheryl Connor: We have around 4,000 assets that include video, photography, native design files, PDF. Our initial onboard was to onboard around 40 users, and it was mostly directed at our international teams, because they're the ones that had the most challenge of accessing our local artwork library. So, that was our soft launch, to get those users up and running. We're hoping in this next year we're going to onboard 150 more users. We've looked into the Portals and things like that, but what we've found is we really just wanted more users. We just loved our searchability of actually being on the DAM versus on Portals.

Bill Banham: Okay, right, and so we're going to talk more about the users later, but you've triggered something, which I find pretty interesting about Widen. You mentioned you've got 40 users at the moment and you're looking to onboard at about 150. Tell me a bit about the scalability, then, of Widen. Is it a tool, in your opinion, which is pretty straightforward to roll out to wide audiences in multiple departments?

Sheryl Connor: Oh, definitely. We were a little anxious about the whole training plan. How do I get everybody on board and trained? What we just found out is, basically, it might be like watching one of the amazing Widen videos that you have on the Widen University and then it's just using it.

What we've done is in our weekly team meetings, we just share best practices. As people use it more, they're just like, "Oh, did you see this? Did you see this?" It's so easy to understand and interpret. It's not really ... we didn't really see the need for much of a training plan, and we especially were concerned with our international customers, which English is not their native language, but we've had no problems whatsoever.

Bill Banham: So, how did you navigate the data migration process?

Sheryl Connor: Well, first it was a nice spring cleaning. Myself and the rest of the creative services team, we each took a section of our artwork library and we basically cleaned house. We decided how many years back we wanted to go in terms of files for this first implementation, figuring when we get requests for things that I'm on the DAM, then we can just upload those at that time.

We also had a very tight timeline of eight weeks for our international customers, and so we decided to focus on our ... product launches for 2018. Once we migrated the product launch materials for those launches, then we moved on to the rest of our artwork libraries, and we still haven't totally onboarded some of the legacy materials. That's what's going to be an ongoing process for the next year. One of the most valuable quotes that I can say from our onboarding coach, Margo, was she kept on saying, "Your DAM of today is not going to be your DAM of tomorrow. It's not going to look the same, so don't worry about being so concise as to what's on there, how's it organized. It's going to naturally evolve, and it should."

That was just comforting, and it was hard for us as overachievers. We like to plan, and we like to organize. We want it all perfect on launch. It was just kind of freeing, like it doesn't have to be perfect on launch, but can be evolved. And it is evolved. It looks totally different from even in November.

Bill Banham: There's probably a meme there somewhere with a couple of beavers at the bottom of a property ladder having a conversation. Come back soon. I'm sure we'll come up with a nice little meme for that.

Okay, what would you recommend to others going through the data migration show? What should be first, and what should or can be ignored?

Sheryl Connor: Again, I think you look at your ... like we did with the product launches, what is your most urgent request? What are the things most requested? Get those up there first. I think cleaning, because I like to spring clean. I think cleaning everything out, getting everything streamlined first, and don't feel like you have to upload everything. You can upload as you go, which is nice, because you can also find out what's really important to your users and go from there.

Bill Banham: Okay, we're going to give lots of focus to those lovely users very shortly, but before that, certainly the digital asset migration part is important, Sheryl, but the people you involve doing that initial implementation were likely as important. How did you prepare the key members of the team, those key superusers, if you like, internally, to get ready for the DAM kickoff?

Sheryl Connor: It's interesting, though, because like I said earlier, that's the busiest time and during our year, which is the fall season. Everybody's really busy. I'm trying to prepare for our national sales meeting and our largest tradeshow. That comes up right in January and February, so I think the internal team, as much as we try to prepare them ... we showed videos. We told them how great it was going to be and how easy it was going to be. I couldn't think it was just glossed over. People were just like, okay, and they didn't really pay much attention to it. They didn't really get how this was going to change lives.

We tried to use the materials that Widen provided. I loved the whole spreadsheet that showed the timeline and what we were going to accomplish. I showed that as much as possible as we were going, but, basically, at every work point where we got an assignment, I just asked for help on that assignment. Then, it's just really now that those super users really understand what's going on. It's like they had to touch it and feel it and get inside of it before they really even understood. It's sad to say, but we didn't really prepare them that much. We kind of said, "It's happening."

Bill Banham: "It's happening, guys. Let's go with it."

Is there anyone, however, that you regretted not including early on or wished could be there, but for some reason, they weren't able to join?

Sheryl Connor: No, actually, Exactech is an extremely, extremely collaborative company. It's collaborative where we get so many people involved in so many projects, it's hard to move forward. Actually, not that we designed it this way, but it was great that we wanted to do this during our busiest season, because nobody paid attention, and we were able to get it done. I feel that if we involved more people, it would have extended and the timeline and the process would have taken longer. So, no, I'm actually glad nobody else had time, and there's no one else that I really thought was integral. I think the team of the three that we had were perfect.

Bill Banham: The perfect trio, okay. Kudos to that.

Let's now move away from that trio and talk more generally about the users. You mentioned earlier there are around 40 at the moment with plans to roll out to another 150, which is fantastic. Did you focus on satisfying a certain group of users while going through the implementation process, or were there groups you intentionally ignored to stay ultra-focused on the mission?

Sheryl Connor: Yeah, we focused 100% during implementation on our international customers on our global offices who can't access our servers here in Gainesville, Florida, and we only focused on those materials that they had urgent need for. We figured once that was in place, then just the other audiences would get on board and fall into place. I think if we didn't focus first on that small group of customers and if we took more, a broader approach, I think it would have gotten more complicated. It was really nice to start with a small group of leaders, a small group of assets, and really focus and learn so that we didn't get overwhelmed by the broader audience's needs.

What I found out after that is the concerns I had about the broader audience have just disappeared. Everything's just falling into place.

Bill Banham: So, you had a small group of users to start with so that you could manage their expectations, really any information that they needed. Were there any common themes when it came to the questions that they had for you guys around how to access and use [of] the Widen system or maybe, more fundamentally than that, maybe the logic of why to use a DAM system?

Sheryl Connor: Well, I think when Colleen, my co-worker, presented that we were putting the system in place at our global offices meeting, the only question we had was how fast can we get a login. They didn't question why. They were just so thrilled that we were listening to them with their challenges, and we were finding a solution. It was amazing to see within those first weeks how many users were on and actually using the DAM.

Colleen, my co-worker, she fields more of the questions from our global international offices, so they didn't contact me directly, so I'm not sure how many questions she had right off the bat. But the small number of users that we onboarded after that launch have had very little, one or two questions here and there, and otherwise have been very self-sufficient on utilizing the DAM.

Bill Banham: Okay, now it's time, Sheryl, to get into the more technical stuff, if you will. Let's talk about the strict governance models that can help with implementation of a DAM system. Firstly, how did you start thinking about who needed access to what?

Sheryl Connor: We looked at the role. Our company is organized. We have a marketing and communications team that's comprised of creative services, which are our designers, our marketing and communications managers, and our events managers. Basically, that team is the hub of every creative asset. The market and communications managers act like project managers or an account executive if you're from the agency world, and they go out and they get work from the rest of the company. Then we product anything of the digital assets.

So, what we looked at was how the different internal and external users interacted with the marketing communications team as a whole. Then we based on how the work would each individual of the marketing communications team and the creative team and we created roles based on those interactions.

I think that the first thing is to look at your process when creating digital content and who the various stakeholders are and the content expert and just work through that workflow. It seems to us become very clear on what types of users needed what type of access.

Bill Banham: Okay, it sounds like you guys had it down. How would you advise others listening to this show today to think about setting up sharing and distribution permissions?

Sheryl Connor: I'd just look at your current workflows and it works. It seemed, just for us, we looked at our workflow and things that we were doing manually, we thought, "Okay, we can do that using the DAM." So, then look at your user and how they interact with the creative resources now, and that leads you to know what access they need within the DAM.

For instance, just in our world, we have product managers that are the content experts, but then they only need view the creative resources, the images that are PowerPoint. Really, they don't need anything to access, except for the photography section or their own business unit sections.

Then, we have our outside vendors, which we wanted to get away from using our FTP site, because that was just getting cumbersome. Our vendors basically only have access to see what is on the DAM, and then they're only able to upload into a certain asset group and then we release it once it is approved.

Bill Banham: Thank you very much. Now, governance and structure is certainly important, but it also seems how the DAM system connects to other technologies is a core structure that needs attention up front. How did you get your mind all the possible integrations between DAM and other systems?

Sheryl Connor: We are in the process of doing that now. This has been an eye opener by implementing the DAM solution as to what else is possible. Right now, the DAM interacts with our webcasts, but we're looking at even how to more fully integrate that process as well. Same thing with our single sign-on. The IT department here is just now looking at single sign-on, so we're just now working to determine how that can integrate. Another project that's going on is we're implementing Salesforce, so there's big discussions on how are we going to implement the Widen solution to help with the Salesforce. But, otherwise, Exactech is really a little bit far behind on just their processes and all of the integrations, but that's definitely something that's going to become more of a focus in 2018.

Bill Banham: Which is a lovely lead on to the next question, which is to highlight future integration potential. Did you create, or are you currently creating, a marketing technology map for your organization or did you have Widen help you create one of those?

Sheryl Connor: Well, it's interesting, because just last week, they were having meetings with Salesforce as they're working with that implementation, and they asked the same thing with the technology map, which is new language for Exactech. So, that is definitely something that we're going to explore. It's on my list to have with my follow-up phone call with Widen to just find out more information about that.

Bill Banham: Okay, now we are at that point in the interview show where we get to talk about the wonderful, exciting, but possibly a little bit scary launch phase. You mentioned that you guys launched during a very busy period in your year anyway. How did you know that you were ready to launch?

Sheryl Connor: We felt very confident after our onboarding coach. She was very good at making sure that we stayed on task, that we had everything we needed for our meeting. She helped my colleague with, actually, her presentation and what to talk about. We had 100% and even more of what we wanted on the DAM uploaded, but I feel like we even exceeded our initial launch plans, because everything was so efficient. I can't say enough how much our onboarding coach, Margo, was integral and how impressed I am with Widen's processes. I've been sending around the Widen processes to other people at Exactech to just say, "We need to mirror this. This is the best example I have ever seen, actually, any kind of software or process implementation."

Bill Banham: Wowza. High praise, indeed. If you at the customer service team at Widen are listening to this, congratulations to Margo and to the rest of the guys there. You're doing a great job.

Sheryl, would you recommend people going through the implementation process to have certain materials, messages, or campaigns preplanned to help them make the launch as successful as possible?

Sheryl Connor: Definitely, because you have ... it focuses your work so you don't get overwhelmed. You have a clear strategy. You know when you've succeeded. Also, if you have a clear plan on what your users want, it drives them to the DAM, and then you get the success of people actually using it. You have to entice people to want to go there in order to see the beauty of it.

At Exactech, with leadership, it's just an interesting story. Right before our national sales meeting, our entire server goes down. The entire company is shut down, but Widen for us was still working. So, I was able to have all of the presentations that we needed at our national sales meeting were already on the DAM. That gave a reason for our leadership to have to go to the DAM, because they were able to get the presentations they needed, and that drove them. I kept telling them for months, "Go to the DAM. See how wonderful it is." It wasn't until they had an immediate need for something that was really important that they were able to go to the DAM. Now, everyone is raving about it. It saved our national sales meeting.

Bill Banham: Okay, we've briefly mentioned a little bit so far that you've currently got around 40 users. You're looking to ramp up that number in the next 12 months. You're almost kind of in a soft launch, early stage area at the moment with the number of people you've got involved. What would you recommend to others in terms of that rollout process? Is it advisable to start with a smaller number and then blow that up after six months, 12 months, and so forth when you've got the core understanding of the benefits and uses of it all at Widen?

Sheryl Connor: Yeah, for me, it just eased my fears, because if we had decided to launch it to every employee at Exactech, we're 600 employees worldwide. I didn't have the full understanding. At launch, I felt like I was 80% only comfortable with the DAM, but I wanted that extra comfort to know that I only have 40 people asking me questions at first. Then, I could get more comfortable with the DAM before releasing it to everyone. It was just a scary, daunting idea that we would release it to the entire company worldwide. If something ... I wasn't as knowledgeable or confident, then I would have all those users asking me questions or needing things. I just think for the administrator’s own comfort, even though the DAM's really, really easy to use, you don't really know that until you've worked with it for a few months to realize and put your fears aside that this is not a difficult thing to manage. So, I'm very confident in expanding to the rest of the users in the coming months, and I don't have any concerns whatsoever.

Bill Banham: Well, thanks. As you've navigated all these steps, it seems that you might have had some post-launch activities in mind in terms of a bigger rollout then. Did you already know as part of that who was going to be the keeper of them after the implementation was all over?

Sheryl Connor: Well, what I'm hoping is that, eventually, I know how my high hopes are. Right now, I think it's going to stay with me for a little while, but what I'm hoping is that in the next year as others see the value of the DAM, that we can add on to the DAM. My co-worker and I are very excited about the workflow process, and I feel like as that we did not implement.

I feel like once we start adding on the features of the different Widen solutions, then I feel like hopefully we will be able to hire that DAM administrator. Whether or not that's a full-time job or not, I think at least it could be a 50% position in the way that I would like to see the DAM evolve into. But, for now, I think ... I didn't really believe this during the sales process, because I felt like once you instituted the DAM, you really need a full-time employee to manage it, but the Widen sales team kept telling me it's really not. If you have two and three people, depending on the size of your DAM, but two or three people that can spend a couple hours each week, it's easy to manage, and you don't need to have that next hire. I really didn't believe it until now I'm sitting in this place. Right now, I don't feel like it is a full-time job, but where I want the DAM to go, I feel like it could be a 50-60% of another person.

Bill Banham: That person that you may bring on in the future, then, as the keeper, will it be part of their role to offer updates on a regular basis, to provide training to other members of the team? What does that strategy look like to ensure ongoing use of the Widen Collective?

Sheryl Connor: It's really not so much, because I haven't seen the need so much, but perhaps if needed, I was thinking more of this person ... we would even have some kind of communications plan to utilize and make users want to keep coming back. I think there's a whole part of the commotion of the DAM and the management of the DAM that we haven't touched, which is setting up more of a communications plan. Like you mentioned, make it so users still want to keep coming back and use it as another vehicle of communication with our global offices.

That's one thing that we struggle with is communicating the changes in our visual brand and campaigns with our global offices. I see that would be a major part of this person's role.

Bill Banham: Now, another great resource, of course, available to Widen customers to help them learn and get to grips with the different integrations and new releases and to communicate others in intimate positions. Are the regional workshops and the annual summit, have you so far been to any of those, or are you planning on going in the near future?

Sheryl Connor: Last year, we did ask if we could go, and it wasn't enough time to put into our budgeting year for 2018. We already passed that timeline, but it is in leadership's ... I did plant the seed in leadership's ear that it would be a good idea to go, have at least one person go to the annual meeting. I believe you had it last year in November, October, I can't remember. But, no, we really wanted to go. It just wasn't in the budget plans, but I feel like it is really important for us to attend, and like you said, connect with others and see how they're using the DAM.

Bill Banham: Okay, certainly, the feedback that I've received in this implementation series so far is that it's a really great interactive event, and apparently, Madison has the best chili of any city out there, according to one person who'd come along. Anyway, that's by the by. We're coming towards the end of this particular show. Before we wrap things up, I'd love to get an overview idea from you, say two or three tidbits of advice for our audience around the do’s and don'ts of the implementation process. What would be your top things to do and maybe one or two things that you would say to try and avoid in those first six to 12 months?

Sheryl Connor: Definitely trust your onboarding coach that it is an easy process. Trust that you'll have the guidance there. Don't take on too much. Don't try to over-commit. It is a learning process. There's terminology and language that has to be learned, so don't be too hard on yourself if it's a little complicated. Just really trust in your onboarding coach that it's easy as it is, and try not to over-complicate things for you and your team. Let it naturally evolve.

Bill Banham: In the words of Bob Marley, "Don't worry. Be happy."

Sheryl Connor: Exactly.

Bill Banham: Well, that just leaves me to say for this particular interview, thank you very much for being the guest on the Widen Implementation series.

Sheryl Connor: Thank you. It's been a pleasure.

Topics: DAM, Widen Podcast, DAM Implementation

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