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Start DAM Simple – Richard Carlson Podcast

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“Some of the verbiage and nomenclature that I take for granted in my department doesn't make any sense for someone working in research and development, for example. So, really get a broad consensus and keep it simple. You can introduce complexity along the line if you need to, but it's only going to be harder to manage it first.” — Richard Carlson, Behr

Richard Carlson
Like many companies, Behr used a folder structure within a file server to access files. This made communicating across teams about the locations of files a challenge. The creative teams use Macs and had to translate how to find files to people in the rest of the company who were working on Windows machines. In addition, they needed something that was faster to access out of the office than VPN and that presented thumbnail previews for files. Overall, they just needed something that was more user-friendly.

In episode five of the Widen Implementation podcast, host Bill Banham and guest Richard Carlson talk about moving Behr’s content from a file server into a digital asset management system. Richard highlights the benefits of the switch and the lesson of keeping it simple.

Richard is the marketing applications administrator for Behr Process Corp (Behr Paint), part of Masco Corporation. Richard was originally hired by Behr in 2015 to administer the Widen Collective® before becoming the administrator for other marketing software apps.

Episode topics include:

  • Getting internal teams educated and ready for the DAM kickoff
  • Leading groups and managing access during the implementation stage
  • The role of marketing within the Collective
  • Understanding and evaluating integrations between DAM and third-party systems
  • Who should be the keeper of your DAM system

Listen to the full episode of this Widen Implementation interview for ideas on how to keep the structure of your DAM system simple.

Listen to the episode

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

Richard’s career has primarily been focused on print media. Before coming to Behr, he worked for five years as a graphic designer for Kinkos. He then went on to work for six years in prepress for a full-color offset printer and four years in a premedia position for a large national magazine publishing company.

Headquartered in Livonia, Mich., Masco Corporation is a global leader in the design, manufacturing, and distribution of branded home improvement and building products. Masco has four product categories and a portfolio of well-known, leading brands. One of the brands is Behr, a dynamic company that actively embraces quality and innovation to bring their customers the best in paints, primers, stains, and other specialty products and services. Behr's entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to integrity and to doing the right thing has been the cornerstone of their success since 1947.

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.

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 podcast series, we hear from guest Richard Carlson about experiences of selecting and implementing Widen's DAM solution. Richard is the marketing applications administrative for Behr Process Corp, also known as Behr Paint. Richard was originally hired by Behr in 2015 to administer the Widen Media Collective system before becoming the administrator for other marketing applications, such as the Workfront project management system.

Richard Carlson, marketing applications administrator at Behr, welcome to the Widen Implementation show.

Richard Carlson: Thanks. Good to be here. Thank you for having me.

Bill Banham: Now listen, before we continue into the interview for today, just a little side notes. Richard actually joined Behr about a year into their use of Widen. Some of the answers that he'll be giving today will kind of be retrospective from a more holistic company-wide perspective as opposed to his personal experiences. But certainly, as we get into some of the nitty gritty about the use of the system, that's where Richard will certainly come into his own from his day-to-day experiences.

Firstly Richard, can you give us a bit of a sense of the volume that had to be migrated for the use of Widen? How many digital assets were there? What were the types? How many users?

Richard Carlson: Well, Behr brought on the Widen DAM to support a creative services department of graphic designers and production artists. At the time that the implementation was going on, I believe there was about 70,000 individual assets. I think it was around two terabytes of data that had to be transferred. It was a lot of PDF file...I mean mostly...the Adobe creative suite.

The large majority of it was related to label production, paint can labels. There's the PDF files that would be the output of that that we send to the printers. There's also the supporting logos, a lot of photography — tons and tons of photography. That was probably the bulk of the assets. I would say out of all of the assets in the DAM right now, I would say at least two thirds of them are photography-related. The next majority of it would be PDFs for label stuff, and then sort of random filling in the rest.

How many users? At the time that they rolled it out, I believe there was right around 100 users. Right now, we have about 150. We don't have an unlimited license. We sort of, like, manage it pretty closely. That's just the way that Behr decided to do it. I know talking to other people at the Widen Summit, some companies have unlimited licenses with, like, thousands of users. It's kind of nice to talk to people.

I get other people's perspective and I'm like, wow, wonder what that's like to manage.

Bill Banham: Well, I'm very pleased to hear so early on in the interview that you've been to the Widen Summit. We're going to delve into that a bit more later on about the value and how you found it. Just for now, can you give us a bit of an overview of what systems and processes for managing digital context was Behr previously using?

Richard Carlson: Behr previously was basically using like a file server that some people in the company did have access to, or didn't have access to, permissions-related. There was a folder structure that was sort of confusing to people who weren't in and out of it every day. To tell someone in the marketing department, “Hey, we have the file here,” it was very confusing. Plus, we were working on Macs, and pretty much the entire rest of the company is working on PCs. To communicate a path, it's a little more difficult than at face value. AFP:// ... that doesn't really translate to someone on a Windows machine.

They were looking into a system that could do it a better way. Thumbnails...metrics...just a more user-friendly system, something that could be access worldwide. A file server, it's pretty much limited to you being in the office unless you use a VPN, but then VPN is like...any VPN I've ever used is really slow. To use large files off of a file server through VPN is not a great experience, so they were looking for something a little more modern, easy to access for anyone from, like, a graphic designer to an executive, with public sharing capabilities and stuff like that. I think Widen fit the bill pretty good.

Bill Banham: Can you give us a bit of an overview of how Behr navigated the data migration process?

Richard Carlson: This is an area where, in retrospect, I think they could have done it a little bit better. The way that the company was sort of, like, quote unquote backing up files was...some of the senior users would have an external hard drive connected to their computer through USB. There was just a mess of external drives. There was one for this, one for that, one for...who's got the drives of this, who's got that drive. Drives get lost, which is crazy to think about. Yeah, it does happen. Drives get lost.

Plus, I look at a spinny drive setting on my desktop is a disappointment waiting to happen. Ultimately, at some point, these drives are going to fail. If we don't have them...the data somewhere else, that's like a huge liability. You could potentially totally lose all your data on that drive.

When it came to time to send all the data to Widen, what they did is they consolidated on hard drives as much as they could. We shipped the hard drives to Widen with some spreadsheets to get to, to provide some metadata. Widen took the drives and adjusted it all and worked with us to get it all up and running initially. Since that point, we upload through the system itself.

Bill Banham: Okay, so certainly the digital asset migration path is important, but the people that were involved doing Behr's implementation were likely as important. How did Behr prepare the team internally to get ready for the DAM kickoff?

Richard Carlson: They would take one key stakeholder in each area of influence, one from paint marketing, one from stain marketing, one person that was sort of like a senior role from each of the departments that was...that we were supposing was going to use the system to get their feedback. Like, “Hey, we're going to roll this out. What would you like to see? How would you like it to be structured?” And so forth.

Initially, as it got rolled out, we made those people the administrators of those particular groups and those...the security of the assets, and the...Ultimately, that was sort of vain, the administrator part. Really, everyone likes the idea of, hey, I'm an administrator, but no one really wants to go in and administrate things. It's not really fun. It's like...It's not glamorous.

If I had to change things, I probably...if I was there, I probably wouldn't...the making all these different people as administrators is probably...It didn't matter. It wasn't useful.

Bill Banham: From your understanding, were there...was there anybody that Behr perhaps regretted not including early on or wished could be there but weren't able to attend?

Richard Carlson: No, I think they did a pretty good job of spreading it out and getting input from everyone. I've never heard any feedback that was like, “Oh, if we only included so-and-so,” or this group or that group. I think everyone definitely had the opportunity to use it; even groups that don't necessarily represent heavy usage of the DAM still got the opportunity to contribute their ideas.

Bill Banham: The people involved in implementation is one group, and while those people are key super important stakeholders for the DAM project, there was a larger audience in mind. Those people who need to use the content, commonly called the users, of course. Did Behr focus on satisfying a certain group of users while going through the implementation process, or were there groups that were intentionally ignored to stay ultra-focused on the mission?

Richard Carlson: Well, the concept of having the digital asset management system was to support the creative services department. That department serves a greater need within the company. They are a service within the company. I really think they did it very fairly. They tried to get everyone's input, as much as possible, on the steering committees and stuff like that.

My impression is that they handled it all very fairly. Some of the technical needs might have been focused towards the creative services department, but it didn't exclude anyone. I don't feel like anyone was ignored or it was ultra-focused on only satisfying one small group. I think they did it very evenly and very fairly.

Bill Banham: With all that content and all those people who need to consume and interact with that content, Behr likely needed to adopt a strict governance model. How did Behr start thinking about who needed access to what?

Richard Carlson: Well, there's the users and there's also the security, the permissions. Initially, I think maybe the tendency is to over-permission, over-security. They set up a bunch of, flags, you know? There's hide stuff from people. Ultimately, I don't know that that was all that effective. I think if I had to do it all over again knowing what I know now, I would set up just a handful basic security things, because then it can was tough to manage after a while. They can see it, they can't, who can...Add this role to this group, to this user. It's like we sort of over-thunk it, maybe a little bit.

Like I previously mentioned about having the different groups, having an administrator for each, I think we were overthinking it there, too. I mean no one's really going to go in and manage all this stuff, especially with me being here. It's my job to manage all this stuff.

I think we did overthink the security model a little bit too much, like “hide this from them, hide this from them.” Really, it just provided an administrative headache more than any sort of usefulness within the company.

Bill Banham: Okay, so your take on it then perhaps is to have one key stakeholder, one key DAM keeper. How would you advise others to think about setting up sharing and distribution permissions?

Richard Carlson: I would say as much as possible, keep it really simple. The tendency can be like...if you look down the road too far, what if this happens. It's, like, okay, that's sort of random. You have to think o ...I think of it as, like, let's pick the hanging fruit first. Let's address the greater need. Let's keep it really simple manage, simple to understand. Then, you could add on complexity after that. Yeah.

I don't know. That was for our particular environment; we have a thousand employees. Not all of them have access to the DAM, but...I could imagine the scenario would be different if it was for a smaller company of 20 people and there wasn't a dedicated DAM administrator. It was a couple people did it on the side. I could imagine their needs would be entirely different. I can't speak universally about it, but I would say in general, keep it simple.

Bill Banham: Okay, let's continue down that path for a moment in terms of the management process. How did Behr create the structure to properly manage the rights associated with the content that part of your DAM implementation?

Richard Carlson: We had the different security flags, the asset security. We took advantage of that, maybe a little bit too much. Then, we had...we set up the users to have access to those groups. But what ended up really happening is where there's just sort of like...I think probably at least 75% of users have access to sort of a general role. All these different groups aren't really utilized all that much. If 75% of the people have access to this real general role and kind of see the same thing, there's just a small...Yeah, it's sort of like 25% of it is really structured to one group can't see the other group's stuff. That's just sort of like a brand separation between Behr and Kilz. Each group wants their own individual world where the...they don't want someone from Kilz to accidentally take something from Behr, or from something of Behr to accidentally take something from Kilz. So, there is a bit of a separation there. That's the main thing.

Bill Banham: Right. We're going to move away from the governance model now, Richard, and focus a bit more on the integration. Governance and structure is certainly important, but it also seems how the DAM system connects with other technologies is a core structural that needs attention up front. How did you and the Behr team get your arms around all the possible integrations between DAM and other systems?

Richard Carlson: Well, talking with our...the customer service reps and our account reps, they made us aware of all the opportunities there are. Plus, in the administrative interface, there's...I forgot what the actual part was called, but there's one part of the administrative interface that has all the little different plugins that are available. Some you can click on and off right away, and some are like, “Contact your account rep for more details.”

Right now, we are in the trial of the Creative Cloud Connector, so that's pretty neat. We like that. The ability to drag assets directly from the...a web browser in the DAM to an InDesign layout is pretty huge for us.

On the file server side of our environment, we have...If you have, like, thousands of jobs that are in design layouts, you're going to have duplications of assets. Every time you collect the asset, collect the layout for sending to a printer, you're going to have all these extra logos. You're going to have so many duplicated assets. Our thought was now that we're definitely up and running with the DAM, there's no longer implementation and rollout. We're like...the train is at full speed.

Now, it makes sense for us to kind of consider some of these other things, like the Creative Cloud. We're looking at portals right now, also. We have...One thing that's been tough for me to manage is there's...We want to send assets to different PR groups. The permission...Who do we give an account to? Who do we not give an account to? If the group doesn't have an account, someone has to go collect all the assets and share it with them. That's very time consuming. The portals is going to be our way of addressing that. I'm going to build all these portals which are basically microsites to deal with all that.

Ever since we sort of teased that idea before Christmas 2017, the result has been overwhelming. People are like, “Oh, when are we getting this?” People are sending me lists of stuff like, “I want this portal, this portal, this portal.” I'm pretty sure we're going with portals, because it would be hard to backtrack on that now...We use Workfront project management system, and I was looking for a way to better...take the completed assets from Workfront and put them in the DAM. Right now, we have to download them to the desktop and then upload them to the DAM. I'm looking for a better way to do that.

Bill Banham: To highlight feature integration, potential then, Richard, did you or the team create a marketing technology map for the organization? Or, did you have Widen create one for you?

Richard Carlson: The answer would be neither. I mean, I try to stay abreast of all the emerging technologies relating to my field. Going to the difference conferences definitely helps with that, seeing what's out there. There's a host of...There's a ton of third-party companies that are...that have these really nuanced solutions to business needs. We didn't actually have a formal analysis like what you're describing.

Bill Banham: Okay, now comes the part of the interview that we focus on the launch phase. Now listeners, as we mentioned at the top of the interview here, Richard came on one year into Behr's use of Widen. So, again, some of these answers may be a little bit retrospective and talking from the company perspective as a whole. Nevertheless, let's do this. Behr went through all of these steps and now comes this launch phase. How, from what you understand, how did they know they were ready to launch?

Richard Carlson: The way it went was they're preparing, preparing, preparing, preparing. Then, I think they kind of looked back, it was like, “Hey, we've been preparing for too long. We've got to launch this thing.” I don't know that it went super smooth. I think the way we had the data structured was a little confusing, too.

My advice to anyone going through this right now or in the future would be to really think through how you want the data structured. Does copying the folder structure from a file server, is that going to do it? Or, do you need to do something else? Also, think through how you want files named, how you want them...the metadata. There's a tendency to over-tag things.

When I came here, we had...they had one set of metadata for every asset. It's just you fill out whatever session was applicable. We have a 25 metadata field thing for everything. I went to the Widen conference and they were like, “Hey, we recommend ten metadata fields for each asset and then you can create different ones.” I was like, “Oh, yeah.” I had only been at Behr for a couple of months at that point. I came back with all these ideas. I totally revamped the metadata.

I think really, really think through...the data structure, how are people going to use it? How...People want to gravitate towards keywords, like, “I just want to type in this keyword.” But that's not really the best way to search for things. With 80,000 assets, if you type “blue wall”, you're going to get a thousand different instances of blue wall. Really, like, mapping the categories that make sense, having a metadata structure that makes sense for people to search. That's really the key to...because otherwise, once you launch and you get a year into it, you realize that it's very hard to go back and fix those types of things.

Bill Banham: Good advice indeed. Now, would you recommend people going through the implementation process to have certain materials and messages, or campaigns pre-planned to help them make the launch more successful?

Richard Carlson: Definitely. I think a lot of that helps with buy-in. I know that Widen has a very extensive online library, which I use a lot. I've made user manuals just sort of copying and pasting some of the information from the Widen online libraries to help with people's...I worded this poorly. Widen's online library is great. It's a great resource for on its own, or to supplement my own user guides and material. I would definitely recommend a launch party or something to get people excited about it. And like, “All right, hoorah, good job, guys. We're rolling it out.” It helps with buy-in. If you give people free food, that helps, too. That never hurts.

Bill Banham: Now some people talk about soft launches, which is launching team by team in a coordinated, well-designed manner instead of a massive turn-it-on-and-go style. Which did Behr do? What would you recommend to others and why?

Richard Carlson: What they did and what we did when we launched Workfront as well, they had like a beta team. Those initial key stakeholders, the one...the person that represented each group, they were in the beta group. As Widen was turned on but not necessarily made available to everyone, they were the ones that sort of initially tested it, provided feedback, and stuff like that. I don't know the exact period of time that that went on. I would guess a month or two. Then there was the launch. I guess it's sort of a combination of soft launch and hard launch.

Bill Banham: Okay, now we're in the part of the interview when we go past that initial launch and we look at the post-launch activities instead. Did Behr already know who was going to be the keeper? I think I can anticipate the answer to this question. Did they already know who was going to be the keeper of DAM after the implementation was all over?

Richard Carlson: Well, they did. There was two people that were sort of doing that as an aside to their normal job duties. I think as time went on, it was becoming overwhelming with all the upload, all the managerial-type stuff that had to go. They worked to hire someone. That did take some time. They realized the initial need for it, and then they had the lobby, the company, to hire someone. Just about a year later after they launched is when I came on.

It was my...probably the first year of working here, that was my job role was to administer the DAM. I made significant progress in tidying up a bunch of stuff, deleting a bunch of stuff. We don't necessarily...In a photo shoot, we don't necessarily need all 1,000 photos, because a lot of them are just slightly different than the next one. Sort of like culling assets, examining metadata, the structure permissions, accounts, and stuff like that. I really...Pretty much the first year was uploading and managing the DAM just exclusively.

Bill Banham: Now as part of your first year in that role, did you plan for any ongoing user engagement activities to make sure that the user community kept coming back to check out the new content that you were administrating?

Richard Carlson: We did trainings. I like to think of that as user engagement. We...hosted some initial training, like getting people oriented to the DAM: “This is a thing. We're keeping it. This is how we use it.” We did sort of like some overall training. I also did, as a part of our Workfront training, I did some...“Now that you know how to use the DAM, here's some pro tips.” I see a lot of people download assets individually.

I'll say, "Hey, you can select them all and download them as a group. It's so much faster." We did some general training and some quality of life training; that really helped. We do it periodically. We're not just forgetting about it. We're doing it probably...once a quarter or once every six months, depending on the need.

We also are encouraging people the need arises like, “Hey, we would like to see this in a collection in the DAM.” We're doing a lot of collections. To that end, I think portals is really going to make it take off with the user engagement. It's going to be super easy for everyone to find stuff. Each individual marketing team, it's like, “Hey, here's your portal. When your stuff gets uploaded, it's going to show up here.” Being all collection driven, it's going to make it super easy to manage. I really expect a lot of positive feedback after we start rolling out the portals.

Bill Banham: What about the sales focused professionals at Behr, Richard? What has been their reaction to using the DAM system? Has it, for example, helped them streamline their sales pipeline so they can just go straight in, grab the right materials, send that off to their prospects in a timely manner? Has that had an effect on the turnaround, the sale cycle, as a result?

Richard Carlson: Well, a sales aspect that we are taking advantage of is retailer tool kits. Without the portals, I sort of had to cobble together when using collections. It's very messy, but that did work. The way we were trying to take advantage of it is...Well, Behr paint is sold exclusively through Home Depot. We have other Kilz brant paints is sold all throughout the United States in different retailers. They wanted to create a retailer toolkit, which could be easily like, “Hey, here's our email templates; there you go. Here's our flyer templates, here you go.”

I did that to the DAM, and I wish I had portals at that time. That's been very successful, and I've gotten good feedback. The Kilz group is really happy to hear about portals, because they really send out a lot of retailer toolkit type of stuff. As far as individual sales people, I think sales administrators mostly handle that. Yeah...we're right now incorporating a pro segment into the DAM where we're getting a bunch of their photography and their assets up there. It serves pretty much everyone in the company in one way or the other. It's been very successful.

Bill Banham: Now, you spoken a while ago in very nice terms about the Widen Summit, the annual summit that's hosted, which allows users, customers to come together and exchange ideas...and for you guys to get some new tips. Can you share a little bit about your experiences at the annual summit? Also, have you been to any of the regional workshops? If so, any feedback from those, too?

Richard Carlson: Yeah, so I went to the...I got hired in, say, July of 2015, and then I went to the Widen Summit in 2015. It was great. It was like...I didn't really know what to expect, and it's not just like a conference. It's like...There's classes and all that, but there's entertainment. There's all the food is provided. It was great. I was pretty blown away. It was...They bus you to...Their first night was at the children's museum, so we were doing a scavenger hunt stuff at the children's museum. I didn't know it was going to be fun. I was like...I was pretty happy then. All the people that they had representing Widen were super friendly.

After we had dinner and did the children's museum, we did a little bit of a pub crawl through Madison, which I wasn't expecting, but that was also very nice to spend some time with the Widen reps. They're all really great. I have nothing bad to say about the customer service with Widen. Honestly, they're awesome. I've dealt with a bunch of different...third-party vendors, and working for different companies. The Widen customer service is honestly up there with the best that I've experienced. I have no complaints there.

The ver ...They respond very timely, whether it's...whether you're chatting with the online through the website, or you're emailing them, or you're calling them. I've never had a complaint. They're all very knowledgeable. If they don't know, they'll work hard to get the answer. If you have an issue with them, you don't have to...“Hey guys, what's going on with this?” It's not going to sit there and rot on the vine. I'm very happy with Widen's customer service.

Bill Banham: Fantastic. If we weren't already recording a podcast, I'd probably at this point say, “Can I quote you on that?”

Richard Carlson: You can.

Bill Banham: Yeah, thank you. Richard, we're coming to the end of this interview. Before we wrap things up, I'd love to ask you to share two or three key top line bits of advice that you would give to our audience, other people who are going through the implementation process and are using Widen on a day-to-day basis.

Richard Carlson: Sure. As much as possible, keep it simple. Don't unnecessarily...bring a bunch of complexity into it that either may or may not have a need for it in the future. Keep it simple. Really think through what you want to do, what you want the result to look like. Is it going to make sense for everyone? From top to bottom, how it's organized, how it's named, how it's tagged. Really think it through and get different opinions as to what people want to see.

Some of the verbiage and nomenclature that I take for granted in my department doesn't make any sense for someone working in research and development, for example. So, really get a broad consensus and keep it simple. You can introduce complexity along the line if you need to, but it's only going to be harder to manage it first.

Don't be afraid to reach out to the customer service, because honestly, they're pretty good.

Bill Banham: You heard it here first and it came straight from the customer's mouth, ladies and gentlemen. Richard Carlson, marketing applications administrator at Behr, it just leads me to say thank you very much for being our guest on the Widen Implementation series today.

Richard Carlson: Thank you for having me.

Topics: Widen Podcast, DAM Implementation

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