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Working Through COVID-19: Supporting a Virtual Workforce With DAM

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COVID-19 precautions are requiring teams to work in new ways. Across the globe employees are working remotely for the first time, and many are without access to servers or tools they typically rely upon. 

While in the past the responsibilities of a digital asset management (DAM) admin might have been considered “nice-to-have,” in today’s world they are critical. You have the opportunity to help your team overcome the challenges of the present to create a better way forward for your company using DAM. 

And because this might sound a little overwhelming, we're here to give you a DAM pep talk:

Why is DAM even more important now than before?

On any given day, there are many reasons why DAM is absolutely essential. A DAM system:

  • Organizes your chaos
  • Acts as your central source of truth
  • Offers on-the-fly file conversions
  • Promotes brand consistency
  • Informs data-driven decisions

But under the circumstances of a global pandemic where teams who once sat next to each other are now operating from their individual homes, DAM has become even more crucial to keeping the content workflow running smoothly. 

So how can you step up to the challenge to help your organization through this transition and into the future? By developing your game plan: 

Organize a rapid response
Prepare for the long haul
Tool and retool your DAM system

Organize a rapid response

Things are changing fast and you’re likely to see more of almost everything: more users, more assets, and more projects. But you’re unlikely to have more staff to manage these shifts, so how do you deal with it? 

Leveraging the flexibility of the Widen Collective® to respond quickly to change will help you support your existing teams, new users, and external partners. 

Here are some things that you can start doing today to build a self-sufficient user base. 

Create portals
Portals have become the go-to place for teams and partners to get what they need. You may have teammates who typically get assets from a server, intranet, or an assistant with access to the Collective. Now that they’re working remotely, they might not know where to go for assets. Or, you may have an urgent need to share assets with partners or customers.

Consider using a portal for your:

  • 25 most downloaded assets (this data can be found in Insights)
  • Branding and template files (check out ours!)
  • Most commonly used sales collateral
  • Corporate communications and PR materials
  • Product launch plans
  • Next best virtual event
  • COVID-19 response and communication updates

Portals are a great way to share assets internally and externally because they can be accessed by non-Collective users. They can also be embedded into a website, allowing you to quickly update content on that site through the portal editing features, instead of through your content management system (CMS). 

Get more portals tips and ideas from our recent webinar, Master Remote Communication With Widen Portals

Add more teams
Suddenly, your entire company is working remotely and needs the ability to share and store files securely. To provide them with access, you can add new users to your Collective site in the Admin application, under User administration. Additional fees may apply, depending on the terms of your contract, but you do not need to work with Widen to exceed the number of users you originally licensed. You can add them at any time. 

Things to consider if you add a large number of users:

  • If new users do not fit in an existing role, you might need to create a new role for them. This may be temporary and you can delete the users and role later.
  • Leverage Insights data to see how many users you have now to determine if additions will exceed your licensed number.
  • Consider using a registration code to automate access for new users, so they do not need to be manually approved.

Use single sign-on
If your organization has single sign-on (SSO) implemented, internal users will need to be logged into your network in order to use the Collective. If there is no infrastructure in place for remote network access, you can temporarily create new logins with personal accounts (like Gmail) — just make sure you note this and delete users’ access if they leave the company, or once teams are back in the office. If IT controls all user creation in your system, you will need to provide them with a list of users to be added and the appropriate role for each user.

Move work-in-progress online
Work-in-progress (WIP) files are often stored on a server or local area while only final files are uploaded into the Collective. To empower creative teams during unexpected remote work periods, you can quickly create a workflow to put WIP assets in your Collective site.

Some things to consider for your new virtual WIP workflow: 

  • If assets need to be hidden, create a new asset group and possibly a new role.
  • A WIP upload profile can be used to automate the asset group and metadata for these files. You may want to have them tagged as work in progress or with a project name.
  • Set up a remote training session or record this new workflow for impacted users.
  • Adding WIP files to your DAM site can minimize the need for a VPN, keeping files secure but reducing IT support needs.

Learn more about WIP files and Widen Workflow in the webinar, Remote Proofing and Approval With Widen Workflow.

Deliver training
With increased reliance upon cloud-based tools, this is an ideal time to offer a training refresher for users. This may also inspire your teammates to use the Collective to solve some new challenges within their workflows.

While beneficial in the long run, the initial training set up can be time-consuming. Consider these tips to get training content out to your users quickly:

Update your dashboard
Dashboard messages are the first thing your users see when they log in to the Collective. Consider updating the graphics or messaging here to support changes in your organization. You may want to post notifications for:

  • COVID-19 related office updates
  • Links to Widen support sites or your internal training assets
  • Shortcuts to popular searches

Prepare for the long haul

Once you’ve implemented these rapid response tactics, you’ll need to create a plan to maintain them. To do so, you’ll want to consider a governance document and an admin schedule. 

The governance doc
The governance document guides, directs, and controls how your DAM system​ is managed and used. Let’s be honest: the governance doc is not the most glamorous part of administering a DAM system. But here’s why it matters. 

  1. It outlines the purpose of your system and who’s involved.
  2. It provides structure for security and permission protocols. 
  3. It details how assets are cataloged and tagged so that DAM metadata becomes a defined language at your organization. 
  4. It sets rules for ingesting, downloading, and sharing assets. 
  5. It plans for rights management and asset end-of-life. 
  6. It defines what other systems and processes need to be integrated with the DAM system.

Treat your governance document like a living document. If you already have one, great. But it could likely use a refresher now that people are using your system differently. Look to revisit your governance document every 6-12 months and if you don’t have one yet, this template can help you get started.

An admin schedule
An admin’s job is never done, truly! And chances are being a DAM admin is not a full-time job at your company. So you’ll need to put some guardrails in place in order to stay on top of things. 

An admin schedule provides a list of routine tasks to do weekly, monthly, and quarterly. These are the checkpoints that keep your DAM system optimized and running at maximum efficiency. Things to include in your regular maintenance are: 

  • User management
  • Content and metadata reviews/cleanup
  • Quality control
  • Reporting

Here is a sample schedule to help break out your admin tasks:

A sample DAM admin schedule with possible weekly, monthly, and quarterly tasks.

Pro tip: Block regular time on your calendar to complete these tasks. The days can easily get away from you and regular maintenance is much easier to manage than a full site cleanup

Tool and retool your DAM system

Similar to how companies like Ford, GM, and Dyson are retooling to manufacture life-saving equipment for hospitals, you can tool and retool your DAM system in order to better serve your remote workforce. 

While we talked about some of the rapid response options that you can implement immediately — like building portals and adopting a digital proofing-and-approval process —  here are some additional optimization actions you can take. 

Connect with Adobe Creative Cloud
Help your creative teams make the most of their time by linking assets from the cloud using an Adobe Creative Cloud integration. With an integration, teams don’t have to toggle between multiple systems or rely on a slow VPN to access content from a hard drive or internal server. 

Digitize brand guidelines and supply templated assets
Keep brand consistency in check by providing easy access to logos, fonts, colors, graphics, icons, and templates. This can be done using portals, through updates to your dashboard for easy access to collections, or by maintaining a brand guidelines webpage that leverages on-brand assets from the Collective.

Automate metadata entry
Use batch editing, filename scripting, AI-based auto-tagging, and default metadata during file ingestion to make new assets searchable, without working day and night to keep up with tagging.

Employ version control
With more users accessing your system, you’ll need to rely on rigorous version control, deduping, and conflict handling in order to maintain clean data in, and clean data out. Ensure that anyone uploading your assets is following your governance rules for asset ingestion, including your versioning protocol

Know your rights
Clearly labeling and identifying your rights management rules within your metadata and permissioning structure will avoid a lot of headaches — and possibly legal action — down the line. Incorporating an end-user license agreement (EULA) as you onboard more users will ensure that your assets are used responsibly and in accordance to your policies. 

You’ll also want to consider tracking intended use data, to glean insights on how your assets are being used by remote coworkers and external collaborators. This will ensure you always know how and where your assets are being used. 

Set up custom conversion formats
Create custom conversion formats for new downloads and embed links to accommodate different use cases. Some user groups might plan to put assets on social media, while others are going to load them into slide decks. Understanding your top asset use cases will provide a good starting point for customizing your conversion formats.

Integrate DAM across your martech stack
You’ll get more value out of your content and keep admin-overhead down if you integrate your DAM system with your platforms for customer relationship management (CRM), social media management, sales enablement, marketing automation, and your content management system (CMS). Understanding and mapping your marketing technology (martech) stack will help you identify integration opportunities to streamline your content workflow. 

Go get ‘em

Supporting your teams with DAM during this time can be exciting and exhausting. But we’re here to help. We're always adding new webinars full of tips and tricks and our support center covers a wide range of topics for quick answers on how to make changes to your system. And if more guidance is needed, help is only a phone call, chat, or email away. 

DAM, you’ve got this! 


Note: This article was originally published in March 2020 and has been updated to include new content.

Topics: Widen Collective, Change Management

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