Implementing a DAM system can feel like a big undertaking. For many organizations, this process is uncharted territory! But have no fear. Many others have been in your shoes, wrestling with the complexity of it all, and lived to tell their stories. In fact, they have some pretty sound advice. Check out what these nine implementation survivors have to say about the key to a successful DAM implementation.
1. “Take time to dive deep into the system, understand what it can do... understand what your company's objectives are as well, and try and build those links.”
- Joshua Hastings, YMCA England & Wales
Preparation is one of the most important steps in implementing a DAM system. It can mean the difference between a long, back-breaking launch and smooth sailing. As part of your planning, document the business goals that your DAM system must help you achieve. Ensure your goals are SMART — specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. In addition to this, document a vision statement, or big-picture, aspirational description of what your organization hopes to achieve with its DAM system. Lastly, make your goals and vision known. It helps to share them with the team so that everyone can return to them before, during, and after implementation.
2. “Keep it really simple to manage, simple to understand. Then, you could add on complexity after that.”
When you’re in the thick of planning for and implementing your DAM system, it’s easy to overthink how you should organize it. After all, there are numerous governance features to think about. From access levels to permissions, metadata, and copyright sensitivities, you likely have a lot on your mind. But, implementation doesn’t need to be complicated. Do your homework. Learn how different users search and interact with assets, and then simplify how you best meet those needs. In the end, you need a system that’s easy for both admins and users to manage and maneuver, so start with a simple approach and evolve from there.
3. “Think about metadata and be open-minded to change things. It’s not finished. It’s never finished.”
- Armin Gellweiller, Igus
The importance of metadata can’t be emphasized enough. After all, it organizes all of the content in your DAM site and powers your search tools. Planning for your system implementation includes creating a metadata schema that reflects your unique content and user needs. And while it’s very important to give this process the thoughtful attention it deserves, know that you will have time to make improvements after launch. In fact, you’ll learn the most this way. As time goes on, you will be able to use analytics tools to capture asset activity and user patterns so that you’re able to make continual refinements based on what’s working...and what isn’t.
4. “Having a good communication plan and a promotion plan that's ongoing...it's crucially important.
– Colleen Raccioppi, Exactech
Planning for a system rollout is different for every organization. While some employees are eager and excited for a better asset management solution, others are resistant to change. Regardless of your situation, you need a documented plan to support your system launch, as well as ongoing promotion and adoption initiatives. Some organizations make a big splash by aligning their launch with a major corporate event or meeting. While others plan for a softer launch with intimate involvement from each launch group. But where many organizations fall flat is in failing to build hype for the system after launch. Equally as important as your launch strategy is how you plan and execute ongoing training, games, webinars, and engagement initiatives to interact with your users and keep them excited post-launch.
5. “If you are starting fresh with a DAM [system], make sure you know each individual team that will be affected and engage them early in the process.”
The stakeholders of your system have different needs. A marketer requires different assets and file formats than a designer. Or, a regional salesperson may use the system much differently than their global counterpart. Identify the creators, contributors, and consumers that will use your system, and then bring them together to surface otherwise unapparent nuances. For example, you’ll get a better understanding of user workflows, the asset formats your users require, and the problems each user group faces. This collective approach goes a long way in helping you plan for the unique needs of your diverse user base.
6. “Do not rush! Slow is fast! If we had just started small and focused on certain assets or certain teams first and iterated it would have saved a lot of time.”
– Brendon Barnes, City Furniture
The desire to expedite a DAM software implementation process is not unusual. After all, executives are eager for their new technology investment to resolve specific issues or challenges...as soon as possible! But rushing can do more harm than good in the long run, if teams have to go back and make significant changes to their DAM system. Instead, focus on a small start and expand through a controlled, iterative approach that can ultimately save your team a lot of time. Or, if you do need to move faster, engage consulting and implementation experts who can guide you using vetted knowledge and experience to set up a successful system quickly.
7. “Maintenance is going to keep this thing [DAM system] clean and working for everyone.”
As your business evolves, so will the content you create, the assets you prioritize, and the way people use your DAM system. And while a DAM system is an incredibly powerful tool, you need a dedicated DAM admin to keep it clean, organized, and optimized. In fact, according to our Customer Satisfaction Survey, organizations with a dedicated admin who spends more than 50% of their time on the system saw a greater return on investment (ROI) from their efforts than those with a system admin that spends less than 20% of their time on DAM. The numbers don’t lie. Companies with a dedicated admin have larger asset libraries, more users, and more user downloads. So before moving forward with a DAM system, make sure your leadership team is on board with a DAM admin. They are crucial in making the whole DAM thing work — before, during, and after implementation.
8. “You can make the DAM what you want it to be with a little patience and vision.”
Return to the goals you laid out during your planning stages. What do you hope your DAM system will help you achieve? Keep these goals and your overarching vision in mind as you make your system work for the unique needs of your organization. It can be overwhelming, but take small bites that will move your content management forward, and meet the needs of your users. Most importantly, work with a hands-on, service-first DAM vendor that will guide and help you achieve your vision.
9. “Don’t be afraid of failure. No matter how hard you try, you are not going to get it right the first time. Don't see that as actual failure, but as learning.”
Every DAM journey should be seen as a process of continual learning. In each phase there are opportunities to find lessons from other customers, your users, and your own experiences. Try to see each adjustment to the site — including pivots and corrections — as ways to build on your existing knowledge. Embracing this scaffolding approach to learning will help you work towards new goals and deepen your understanding of how DAM can bring value to your organization. And as you make changes to the system, make sure to ask your users for feedback to create even more learning opportunities!
No two DAM implementations are the same. However, there are universal truths you can gain from the advice of others that have been through it. Here are some real-life DAM implementation success stories from Widen customers.
For more best practices and processes to help guide you before, during, and after DAM system implementation, download the today.
Note: This article was originally published in July 2018 and has been updated to include new quotes and implementation stories.