“I think that the biggest fear was probably that we would end up in the same place that we had been at that current time.” - Michael Shattuck
In episode one of the Widen Implementation Podcast, Bill Banham and guest Michael Shattuck discuss what it took to implement a new DAM system with around 60,000 assets to approximately 1,000 global users in under four months. Michael shares how he and his team successfully selected, migrated to, and launched the Widen Collective®.
Michael Shattuck provides a unique perspective because he is a Widen Software Implementation Consultant but formerly the Global Brand Imaging Manager for New Balance. He also had previous implementation experiences with other DAM technologies.
Episode topics include:
- Fears about implementing a DAM system
- Navigating the data migration process
- Getting internal teams educated and ready for the DAM kickoff
- Leading groups and managing access during the implementation stage
- Tips for sharing and distributing permissions
- Understanding and evaluating integrations between DAM and third-party systems
- Building a marketing technology map leading to success
- Who should be the keeper of your DAM system?
Listen to the full episode of this Widen implementation interview to get an insider’s perspective!
Want to hear more? Listen to the bonus soundbites:
- Expectations to Set for the DAM Implementation
- What Success Means When Implementing a DAM Solution
- Reflecting on the Widen Implementation Stage
About our guest
Michael Shattuck is the former Global Brand Imaging Manager at New Balance, Athletics. While at NB for almost 10 years, Michael was involved in the management of global photography, as well as related marketing systems. Responsible for the company’s digital asset management strategy and system, Michael worked with cross-functional teams to successfully and rapidly deploy Widen Collective in January 2017. The deployment was met with tremendous global support and praise. In late 2017, Michael joined Widen Enterprises as a Software Implementation Consultant and is working with other businesses to strategize and deploy Widen Collective in support of their goals and objectives.
About our host
Bill Banham is a Marketing and Publishing professional based in Toronto. Bill is Founder of The HR Gazette and Iceni Marketing and 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.
Full episode transcript
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 to 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.
My guest today is Michael Shattuck. Michael is a Widen Software Implementation Consultant and formerly the Global Brand Imaging Manager for New Balance. He successfully implemented the Widen Collective with around 60,000 assets to approximately 1,000 global users in under four months. He also had previous implementation experience with other DAM technologies. Michael was the keynote at the Widen Summit before joining the Widen team in late 2017. His speaking engagement was incredibly well-received, and many other customers wanted to learn from him. Michael Shattuck, welcome to the Widen Implementation Podcast Show.
Michael Shattuck: Thanks for having me, really appreciate it.
Bill Banham: As I mentioned just a moment ago, you've had different roles inside and outside of Widen, so you're going to offer some pretty unique perspectives today as an end-user and as somebody who's seen it from the inside. Firstly, tell us a bit about your role when you were at New Balance before you joined Widen, when you were tasked with implementing the Widen solution.
Michael Shattuck: Yes, sure. I had been at New Balance almost a decade and had been working around a lot of different roles within their global marketing organization. Part of that was photography, and part of that was system tools that we used around the team. We had been using a DAM system for about three years and knew that it was having some issues and knew that we needed to do something about it. We were tasked with assembling a team and taking on a new implementation. That's where it all started, maybe about two years ago.
Bill Banham: Now, if you don't mind, can you tell me a little bit about what were some of the fears you had regarding the implementation of a DAM system?
Michael Shattuck: Yes, sure. I think that the biggest fear was probably that we would end up in the same place that we had been at that current time. That was a place that no one wanted to be in. We knew that our users did not enjoy using the system. Everyone was experiencing something that we referred to affectionately as asset chaos. We wanted to make sure that we did not arrive at that same place again, and so as we were thinking about bringing on a new tool, not only did we have the pressures of using money wisely and things like that, that our leadership wanted us to be catching interest of, but we also wanted to make sure we were providing an ideal experience for our users, so that we would spur adoption and that we would have the environment that we really dreamed of at the time.
Bill Banham: Instead, what were the outcomes and the realities there? You had all these fears, but were they actually realized, or was the experience not that bad after all?
Michael Shattuck: After all and at risk of over-romanticizing the outcome, everything was really incredibly ... Everything went incredibly well. It definitely felt like all of our goals had been met. It felt like our team was incredibly encouraged by seeing users adopt the system, seeing usage start to move in the direction that we had planned or dreamed, and really overall very pleased, as was our leadership.
Bill Banham: Okay. Let's get into more of the specifics now then. Can you give us a sense of the volume you had to migrate? How many digital assets were there? What were those types? How many users were involved?
Michael Shattuck: Yes, at the time, we decided that we were going to have a phased approach of our launch. In our first phase, we knew that we wanted to migrate all of our ... What we refer to as evergreen assets, which were logos and things like that, but also all of our product photography. That went back, I believe at the time, it was about three years. Overall, we were somewhere in the 60,000, 70,000 asset range and knew that we were going to be affecting a lot of global users. We didn't have great analytics at the time, and so it was hard for us to answer questions about how many active users, where those users were located and all of that. One of the main assets that people would come to the DAM for was product photography. We knew that there was a lot at risk if we didn't get it right. That was about the number of assets that we had to move over from our old system and just didn't quite know how many users would be looking for that in the new system.
Bill Banham: Okay, so that's a pretty big project to manage. Tell me a bit about the data migration. How did you navigate that?
Michael Shattuck: Well, interestingly, and especially being now in the implementation side at Widen, looking at this in our position, we had a couple of choices. We could ask the vendor we were using at the time for a drive and go through all of the process to engage Widen or find somebody else that would be able to help us with the migration, or we could try to do it ourselves. We were on a very aggressive timeline. We were actually trying to launch by January 1 of the next year, and we had just contacted Widen in August of the year previous and determined that we were going to be moving forward with them, so we knew we didn't have a lot of time. We knew we also needed to have user acceptance testing somewhere in that timeline. We determined that we were going to try to do the migration process manually, which seems crazy, and it definitely felt crazy. At the time, we also lost one of our team members who left New Balance for another opportunity. We had a project team that was incredible. We're probably talk more about that, but really, the migration fell to me.
I worked very closely with our IT group to make sure that we were handling our files and transfers in a way that wasn't going to be the detriment of our network performance for internal associates and teams. Little by little, what we began doing is downloading assets, uploading them to Widen manually. The great thing about the way that we had situated our old system is that we had embedded metadata. We were able to map that embedded metadata that was in a custom XMP name space. I know it's pretty technical, but a lot of listeners will probably follow that. We were able to map that XMP data into Widen, into our new metadata schema. The metadata mapping side wasn't too bad. The hard lifting was really the downloading of those assets to make sure we had it all, and then uploading into Widen.
Bill Banham: Okay, thank you very much. Now, as you eluded to a moment ago, Michael, let's talk about the people. Certainly, the digital asset migration part is important, but the people you involved during that implementation were likely as important. How did you prepare your team internally to get ready for the DAM kick-off?
Michael Shattuck: We had been working a while together, so while we didn't engage Widen until August of that year, we had actually been together for about a year in planning. Part of that was the RFP process that we'd walked through, working with a couple of vendors a little more closely to see if they were the right fit. Throughout that time, we had been asking ourselves questions about what did not work in our previous DAM? Actually, there was a DAM even before that one that New Balance had been using, and so we were able to look backward and learn a lot about all of our practices, about taxonomy, about metadata, user workflows and all of that so that we were in a good place to engage vendors with a great vision for what we wanted. That's not possible without the right team.
We had leadership from across global marketing. We had representation from IT. We had a fantastic project manager, and so we had a really great team that was all moving in the right direction while at the same time bringing the expertise of each of their related fields to the table.
Bill Banham: Is there anyone you regretted not including earlier on or wished could be there but wasn't able to attend? In retrospect, why didn't you need those people to be part of the DAM implementation?
Michael Shattuck: I will say that I regret that we did not bring greater representation from our sales team in earlier. They are massive users of the system. They are incredibly power users and doing some things that we never expected, even others that we had more quickly identified as potential power users doing things that not even they had been doing, incredible training team embedded within the sales team. Frankly, it was just an oversight. We thought we had everyone in place that needed to be there, and while we had an incredibly strong team that I wouldn't change, I think the addition of someone from that team would have been valuable.
Bill Banham: Okay, good insights indeed. Thank you very much. Now, let's switch focus a wee bit, so away from those folk involved in the implementation, and maybe let's talk a bit about the larger audience in mind, the people who need to use the content that they're known as the users, of course. Did you focus on testifying a certain group of users while going through the implementation process, or were they groups you intentionally ignored to stay very focused on the mission?
Michael Shattuck: We really did not intentionally ignore any group. We identified all of our users from domestic to international, regional users. We thought about who would be the primary consumers, but also who would be out there trying to figure out how to use this system, potentially not on a team, potentially not very connected. We really tried our best from the onset of the project to think about everyone that would be accessing this tool. In an overarching way, we thought of DAM as more than a system. We're thinking about a tool we're bringing in that's going to be part of a greater strategy called digital asset management. Within that, we knew that we needed to make sure that everyone that was going to be accessing the tool understood why we were bringing it on, and then would be able to understand how to use it. We really tried to approach it as holistically with our user base as possible.
Bill Banham: With all that content and all those people who need to consume and interact with all that content, you likely needed to adapt to a strict governance model. How did you start thinking about who needed access to what?
Michael Shattuck: That was very much driven through conversations with our marketing. Not only was that represented by the project team, but we did a lot of interviews, both formal and informal with people around the team that were supporting regional marketing activations. They are very much in touch with who, throughout the globe, not only again in the US and in North America but also throughout each of the countries represented by some sales or marketing team from New Balance. They would know who it is that they're potentially e-mailing assets to on a regular basis, who's coming to them looking for assets to tell one of our marketing stories. A lot of it started there.
Then, we also were able to just know anecdotally from different people who had been connected to that team, to sales and other teams, who it was that was going to need access. Pretty quickly on in the project's lifecycle, we were able to identify what the key groups were, where they were located, the access they were going to need so that we could start building at that framework within the collective to address their needs.
Bill Banham: Okay. Let's just develop that thought a little bit further if we may. From what you just said there, how would you advise others to think about setting up and sharing the distribution and permissions?
Michael Shattuck: I think it's really important to brainstorm a lot. I think it's important to think through the entire asset lifecycle of our organizations and think about all of the different types of assets that we know are being managed, and then bring in people that maybe we don't work closely with to understand what their workflows are like. It's amazing what happens when you start to map out work streams. You put people side-by-side that typically don't work together. There are a lot of light bulbs that go on, and you start to find places that you didn't even know someone else traveled. You start to find different file types and different asset types. All of these different things start to get uncovered throughout the organization that are then needing to be represented by asset groups or by different roles and permissions. I would always suggest starting with a whiteboard or something like that. I love a good whiteboard and trying to bring a diverse group of people together at the table and start brainstorming, trying to figure out what is actually alive across the organization,
Bill Banham: Let's maybe move away a bit from the governance and structure because that's certainly important, but it also seems how the DAM system connects to other technologies is a core structure that needs attention upfront. How did you get your arms around the possible integrations between DAM and other systems?
Michael Shattuck: One of the ways then that was fairly easy or accessible to proceed no matter where was i think made possible because of the position that I was in, having been at the company for such a long time and in the process and system roles that I've been in allowed me already to pull on, on the relationships I had to understand where those points were going to be. For instance, I worked very closely with a lot of people on our site teams, our eCommerce teams. I knew the systems that they had in place already and potentially, points of interaction. I've been managing photography for a while as well, and so similarly, I was able to pull on, on the historic information that I had there, after being in the company for so long. Ultimately, I think it's, again, about just trying to find the right group of diverse people from the organization, from different teams that are going to be knowledgeable and technical when we're thinking about integration points so that you can start to explore what does our landscape look like? What is our reality in terms of all the systems that currently exist?
At that point, that's step one. Step two really becomes identifying where the pain points are throughout those systems so that we can then think about how does Widen potentially sit on top of those as a system that can bring greater efficiency, as a system that can unite some of those other systems? Another example of how we approached that was with our system that sourced images for our global websites. Well, I won't talk about what that vendor is. I think that a lot of people will already have in mind the system that they're using and how they're currently trying to figure out how to avoid duplicate imaging processes. For us, we would always complete our photography and .. drop into the server folder. Then, an IT process would kick that out into multiple places, multiple file sizes, et cetera. We wanted to move to a place where we could upload to one location where we'd be able to do QA visually in that location that, that would be the DAM, but also that the DAM would source these other systems.
Through an API, we were able to do just that. It brought greater efficiency to the process, but it also eased some other processes that were a little bit more painful like QA for us. It's not easily done on a server, but it's really wonderfully done inside collective.
Bill Banham: To highlight future integration potential, did you create a marketing technology map for your organization, or did you have Widen do that?
Michael Shattuck: No. Actually, any of our teams that were leveraging Widen along with any of the technologies on their teams, they were responsible for maintaining mapping like that. We worked very closely with IT though, and any of the integration points that we were pursuing with them, they would work out on that technology mapping with us, so that it's a joint effort.
Bill Banham: Okay. Now, we're getting to the real juicy stuff here, Michael. You've gone through all of these steps. Now comes the fantastic and scary wonderful launch phase, okay? How did you know you were ready to go live and to launch?
Michael Shattuck: Throughout the process, that was a question that was always in the back of our minds. We, of course, had regular project meetings. We had meetings with steering committees. Then, we ultimately had a go, no-go on launch meeting prior to our January 1st launch. Ultimately, we kept the scope of the project very tight. We knew again we wanted evergreen assets and product photography in the system. We of course also knew that we needed to get all of our structure correct with asset groups and roles and all of that foundational work. We of course attacked it, at the same time, hitting that, that foundational work and the data migration. At the point, we felt like we were ready to go. We had left enough time for UAT so that all of our project team was able to get in and verify that we were ready.
Then, the other thing we did that, I think, was critical for us is that we added what was called targeted demos. We didn't want to roll out UAT to a ton of different people outside of the project team because we knew that we had technical representation there. We had systems people there from the IT group, RPMs, very technical and was about to handle UAT very well. We approached it with these targeted demos. We knew exactly the way these user groups would be using the system, and so we set up demos with teams from all around the world. We demoed for over 100 users, and we collected feedback in each one of those targeted demo sessions. With that feedback, we would either go and make configuration changes in the system, or we'd wait and see if any of that feedback was supported by other groups before we made those changes.
By the time we got to the middle of November, I believe, we had handled a lot of these sessions, felt very strongly that we were in the right place. Then, we made our final preps so that we could get the system live by the end of December.
Bill Banham: Awesome, so you've gone through all these stages. You've got feedback. You've done the demos. Did you then organize or plan any special launch activities on the big day? If so, what were those?
Michael Shattuck: Actually, it was fairly low key. As you can imagine, there's not many people in the office on Jan. 1. Some people would say, "Why in the world would you launch on January 1st? No one's there." That's exactly the reason. We knew that we could make a big deal out of the launch. It's a brand new year. It's a brand new system. We could generate a lot of excitement and enthusiasm because all of those people that were in the targeted demo sessions essentially had become cheerleaders for us. We had shown them what was coming. They were super excited about it. They had been going out and telling their teams that something great is coming, while at the same time, we're rolling out some more training opportunities, some publicity through documents that get sent out to our teams, both internally and externally because this is getting rolled out outside of New Balance as well.
When Jan. 1 comes and the system gets turned on, the great thing is we've got a scaled down audience that's going to get in there and start using, so if there's any major glitches, we're able to control those without the entire organization plus external people getting in and using it. We didn't really have parties and things of that nature, but people heard a lot about upcoming Widen, and there was a buzz, truly, about it coming. Now, part of that was supported because the experience in the former system wasn't great. We had done a really good job of messaging and helping them know that we were listening to their frustrations. We understood their pain, and that we were making steps to rectify those things.
Bill Banham: You guys launched in a pretty awesome fashion by the sounds of it. It was pretty, what's the word, straightforward, but you guys did it in a pretty impressive manner. You've also got this unique perspective, of course, as now being a member of the Widen team. You've seen other experiences with other clients and all of that. What would you recommend to people going through the implementation process, perhaps certain materials, the messages or campaigns preplanned to help them make their launch more successful?
Michael Shattuck: Yes, communication is very important. Every case is going to be different. Every company is different. All of our challenges, while there's some shared, there are often many unique to each organization, but there's no doubt that, that kind of internal marketing is really important to help people understand why we're even taking this on. That's a really big question in a lot of people's minds, because oftentimes, they feel like we're already over-systematized. To help them understand that they've been heard is really big. We're not just making this change because leadership felt like we needed it. We're making it because we're trying to address the issues that you are having. Then, helping them see how that's going to help in connecting those dots. We've heard you, and this is how we're responding for you. That's a big deal.
I've seen some companies take that on with some teaser videos. I think any multimedia approach is really going to be incredible for the organization to get excited about what's coming, not just e-mails, not just meetings but taking a true, true multimedia approach, I think, is key.
Bill Banham: Okay. Let's continue this wonderful implementation journey together here, Michael. As you navigate in all of these steps, it seems you might have had some post-launch activities in mind, certainly from what you've said so far. Did you already know who was going to be the keeper of them after the implementation was all over.
Michael Shattuck: Yes, in the middle of the process of implementing the Widen Collective, we were also looking for the person who would become the daily admin. That was a hire that we brought on, started in January. We knew that she was set up for success because of how well the implementation went, how well we had been receiving feedback from our users, and so she started at the beginning of the year, right after implementation, right after launch.
Bill Banham: She was brought on specifically to be that point person?
Michael Shattuck: Yes, that's correct. Yes, we had, had a person that was a DAM administrator for several years. That person had left New Balance for another opportunity, right, as we were about to move into the implementation process with Widen.
Bill Banham: Did you account for any ongoing user engagement activities to make sure your user community kept coming back to check out the new content that you were creating?
Michael Shattuck: Yes, absolutely. A big part of our strategy was ongoing training, ongoing touch with our users, and so we would do things like having a monthly touch base or monthly retraining meeting that we would have. We'd send that out to anyone that was a collective user so that they could see that through a system message that we were holding a meeting. We would book a room at our headquarters, but we'd also have that video conference, and so anyone around the world could tune in and check out any new features, be able to ask questions about what was going on, but we spent a lot of time one-on-one with people. Any new user that would sign up, we would of course offer an opportunity to onboard them. We would send out information on any new features that were exciting. Anytime something big would be rolled out, we would spend time with the affected user group, making sure that they were comfortable with the changes.
That included strategy, and so I had mentioned at some point in our conversation that we were approaching our implementation, knowing that this was going to be a phased launch approach. We knew that phase two was coming. Phase two was going to include all of our global marketing assets, which were being stored in file transfer softwares at the time, also multiple servers, multiple locations like a lot of people would definitely identify, and so we began working with people to get them ready for phase two. Even though that wasn't going to be until May of that year, five months of so after we'd launched, we were working with them to make sure that their processes were going to be in place, that we knew if any potential pitfalls that we were going to experience during both that data migration and that phase two launch across the globe, again, addressing multiple regions with multiple user types.
There was a lot to take in, and we knew that if we felt that way, then, our user base was definitely going to feel that way. The best way to approach that, which is spending as much time with them as possible, also being wise about that time, because for us, this could be our full-time job, but for them, it's not. Oftentimes, we would have to think about what other projects are they involved in? What does their day-to-day look like this week instead of just trying to get in as many meetings as possible to prepare them?
Bill Banham: Any other area of useful communication, I guess, could be at some of the events that Widen produces. Now, obviously, you've been a speaker at one of the events recently, but did you plan to attend the community in regional workshops, Widen user or the annual summit that the Widen company organizes to connect with other customers?
Michael Shattuck: I was very surprised about the effectiveness of the summit. I say that because I've been to many different training opportunities, many different workshops, and I came back from the summit telling the people there at New Balance, including my manager and other people in the team that it was really one of the most effective workshops that I've been to and was hoping that they'd ensure that they would come to the next one.
Bill Banham: We are coming towards the end, I'm afraid. Michael, before we wrap things up, I'd like to ask you to share a few last bits of advice for our audience, people who are going through the implementation process right now.
Michael Shattuck: I think one of the big ones is something that would drive us while we were at New Balance was something my DAM administrator and I would talk a lot about. This is also something that drives us at Widen. We need to keep our customer first. We need to keep that end-user first. We need to think about what it is that they're dealing with on a day-to-day basis. How is the system getting in their way?
Instead of just coming up with great solutions ourselves as whatever our role might be as a systems' manager, as a strategies, as a photography manager, as a marketer, we oftentimes come up with what we feel like are great ideas, but then, we step back a few steps with a diverse team. We realize that we've been thinking in a silo. If we approach a DAM implementation like that in a silo, then it's possible, it will identify a great tool. It's possible we'll come up with a great metadata schema and will launch a tool that seems to make a lot of sense to us. Then, we'll roll it out and find out that we really didn't meet the needs of our user base. Adoption will be put at pitiful. Ultimately, that doesn't mean that the system's a failure. It means that our planning really was a failure because we didn't address the needs of the people who were there to support. I think if we keep that order correct, that we're there for them, then, there are a lot of really great things possible. We can celebrate as we step back and see how we've addressed their needs and have ultimately made their lives better. I think that's really what we all want to be able to say.
Bill Banham: I agree, and I think that's a wonderful place to wrap up this particular interview. That just leaves me to say Michael Shattuck, thank you very much for being our guest on the Widen implementation series.
Michael Shattuck: My pleasure. It's been a great time.