“If anybody is thinking about implementing a DAM, they really need to have an ongoing plan for maintenance, metadata control, asset control, user engagement, or else it will just be a failed piece of technology.” – Jodi Levin, Autodesk
The Widen Collective® is the third digital asset management (DAM) system to be installed at Autodesk. Jodi Levin, their digital asset manager, said that the first two systems didn’t live up to expectations and were difficult to use. And so understandably, her team had some concerns going into their third implementation. “Our fears were really around...whether the vendor could grow with us, whether the vendor could be responsive to us; and on our end whether we could set up the system in such a way and roll it out in such a way that our users would have an easier time in their jobs.”
Two years later, Jodi talks about how their Widen implementation unfolded. Hear the full story in this episode of the Widen Podcast. Episode topics include:
- Implementation takes teamwork
- Best practices for permissions
- Time to launch
- Ongoing initiatives
- Some DAM great advice
The DAM system at Autodesk is an essential part of their martech stack. Roughly 75% of their 8,000 to 10,000 employees use the system, in addition to external users! So as the lead administrator of Autodesk’s DAM system, Jodi has a busy job. “I manage the platform, I manage the way it’s setup, the metadata, the users, the permissions, and I also manage most of the volume coming in, the posting of the assets to the DAM, the processes, and the training.”
Fortunately, the implementation of their DAM system was a team effort. “At the time of implementation we had three people on our team…we would kind of tackle the metadata together, we would tackle some of the overarching issues, and we came up with a communications plan.”
They also involved key content producers by conducting usability testing and gathering feedback on possible metadata schemas. This helped ensure that they were on the right track.
Jodi’s approach to setting up the system governance has evolved with time. “We originally started with just two primary user groups, which is Autodesk employees and Autodesk agencies. And then about six to seven months into the migration process we opened up the DAM to channel partners. And when we did that we decided to implement some very — I would say — tricky permissions based on the countries that they are in.”
Essentially, her team set up a variety of roles that allowed users in specific countries to only see the subset of assets they are supposed to see — in their language. And as part of ongoing efforts to improve their user experience, they will further refine these permissions so that users see, “smaller platters of assets.”
And any lessons learned through this process? You bet. She said, “we did not start this way – and going back I wish we had – I would really start with personas...we are just in development of them now. As we move forward they are going to be very, very valuable for us as we create our entire DAM program. Not only the backend and permissions and roles, but also our communications and training efforts.”
How did Jodi and her team know that it was time to launch? It was quite simple, actually. “We had a deadline that we had to meet!” But she’s proud to say that they worked very hard to meet this deadline, and did. They had all of their 40,000 assets loaded and tagged in the system, they completed some usability testing, “and then we just crossed our fingers and pressed the button!”
She shared that when their previous DAM system launched, it crashed on the first day. So with the launch of the Collective, Jodi said, “we were really gun-shy. We didn’t want to make a big stink about it.” So they didn’t plan any elaborate parties or contests to celebrate their system launch.
But to help ensure that everything went smoothly, Jodi said they made sure they had all hands on deck. This strategy included:
- Clearly communicating the implementation schedule to key stakeholders
- Launching on a Tuesday instead of a Monday or Friday, when people might be out of the office
- Ensuring that Widen staff were available
- Providing 24/7 support for at least the first two weeks, to accommodate the needs of their international offices
And their plan worked! Their Collective launch was on all accounts, a success.
With the system up and running, Jodi and her team slowly grew the user base and expanded training opportunities. She said, “We record all of our trainings and put them on a help portal so people can access then 24/7.”
They also developed processes for continual, strategic maintenance of the site. “If anybody is thinking about implementing a DAM, they really need to have an ongoing plan for maintenance, metadata control, asset control, user engagement, or else it will just be a failed piece of technology.”
And looking to the future, they would like to implement a program that rewards DAM users who are model adopters and advocates — similar to Jane Leuchter’s Widen Whales, that Jodi learned about at a Widen Summit.
Jodi offers two pieces of advice to other DAM professionals who are approaching a DAM system implementation. First, take advantage of professional networking opportunities and Widen events. “I love seeing how other customers implement their system and DAM program activities, and how they get adoption and governance going at their companies. It’s all been very fascinating and worthwhile.”
And second, find ways to make your users are aware of improvements to the DAM system and how it brings value to their work. She said, “if you do DAM right, it’s almost invisible. People come to the system, they get what they need, and they get out. I think it’s also really important to keep DAM top of mind…to somehow make it known the service you are providing. Whether that is a newsletter or a slack channel, or an article on your intranet. Here’s some fresh content, here’s some tips and tricks, keep DAM top of mind in people’s heads.”
About the Widen Implementation Podcast
The Widen Implementation podcast is about helping customers prepare for and execute their DAM roll out. Each episode will involve conversations with 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.
About our guest
Jodi Levin has been the digital asset manager at Autodesk since 2010. Over 100 million people use Autodesk software like AutoCAD, Revit, Maya, 3ds Max, Fusion 360, SketchBook, and more to unlock their creativity and solve important design, business and environmental challenges.
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.