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Templafy Blog

Digital Asset Management Systems: How To Make It Work

By Christian Lund

Published Apr 19, 2016

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User adoption is a challenge for any enterprise software, but one that Digital Asset Management systems (DAM) have had to particularly grapple with. ‘Build it and they will come’ is not an adage that applies to enterprise products. Most people are inherently resistant to change and have developed their own solutions for managing digital content, or have become used to manual processes. These workflows need to be understood before they can be improved.

But first things first – what is Digital Asset Management?

Digital Asset Management systems for the digital enterprise

‘Content is king’ has become a familiar statement and content creation is no longer solely the domain of marketers as a result. For the enterprise, all this additional work needs additional processes to support and manage it, especially for those outside of marketing who may not fully understand compliance issues.

Digital Asset Management system help users store, catalogue, search for and collaborate on a company’s digital assets – images, videos, text snips, logos, etc. – making content creation quicker and easier. A good Digital Asset Management system moves beyond simple storage. Or that’s the objective at least. Most DAM systems are optimized for storage, not usage, and without getting staff on board with DAM, productivity goals can’t be fully realised.


Why won’t the users actually use the system?

Don’t put yourself in a position where you’re asking this question. If you’ve invested in a Digital Asset Management system and have all the company’s digital assets in one place, or are planning to, do all you can to increase user adoption. Following these five tips will get you in good shape for success.


1. Plan – any big change needs change management

Asking and understanding how staff are currently working with digital assets before suggesting or implementing any improvements will go a long way to ensuring users adopt new systems. Not only will the gaps in the current system become obvious, but so will the elements that employees really love and should be retained – it’s much easier to get someone to adopt something that solves a problem than it is to ask them to let go of something they think works.

Importantly, asking staff about their processes will get them engaged in the DAM project early on and help create a sense of involvement and ownership. Support from all corners will be important for successful adoption. Once the solution is ready for implementation, these same input providers can become testers and superusers, helping to identify and fix bugs or encourage and provide feedback from other organisation members.


2. Set clear guidelines for product use

Communicating to and training staff is crucial to ensure buy-in. Explain why a DAM system will improve processes and make things easier for employees and then teach them how to use it. Acknowledge that people learn in different ways and provide support that meets individual demands. Establishing protocols for how to tag, search for and update assets is especially important for successful system adoption.  

Assets will need to be tagged with the right metadata so that the search function is intuitive and meaningful. It’s best to seek expert help for developing metadata governance if no one in the company has these skills. Poor taxonomy will guarantee deficient search functions and frustrated users.


3. Work where the users work

This one’s pretty straightforward – if a DAM system is meant to streamline processes and make things easier, then it shouldn’t require a great change of habits or additional work for the user. Of course some behavioural change and initial education will need to happen, but once the learning phase is over, processes should be better and additional work should not be necessary.

A DAM system that requires users to constantly log into an external portal to retrieve assets will not be as successful as one that allows people to continue working in the platforms already familiar to them. Plenty of DAM systems integrate with the Adobe Creative Suite, however, that’s mostly only relevant for marketing teams who know how to work with that software. Most enterprise staff work from office applications like Microsoft Office or Google Drive to build new documents and presentations, so making assets available in those environments is key to making sure they’re actually used and key to DAM user buy-in (full disclosure, Templafy integrates with all office platforms).

When choosing a DAM system or complementary software, look for solutions that aggregate content and collect various assets where the users work, for automatic engagement.


4. Measure (and learn from) the outcomes

Implementing and successfully introducing a DAM system is only the first step – genuine user adoption needs to be measured over the long-term. In the early stages, monitor how many times users have logged into the system, how many uploads and downloads have taken place, at what times and by how many users, and how long users are spending searching for assets.

Pair that data with some qualitative feedback from superusers to understand what is and isn’t working. Once you have this information, additional training or simply email updates can be used to target gaps and help users, rather than have them give up from uncertainty or frustration.


5. Promote the system and remind users why it’s great

Some employees will become regular users of the DAM system and need to access assets often. Others may not have as much of a need and only use company assets sporadically. Reminding those users of the system will help ensure the implementation and initial training is not forgotten and that user numbers don’t eventually drop off over time. Even for regular users, however, communicating any updates or occasional tips to improve their processes will help with buy-in and retention.

Truly successful user adoption must be planned properly, well-managed and consistently monitored and encouraged. Unfortunately a lot of enterprise products and processes are not of the ‘set and forget’ variety and do require some work, but following these five steps will go a long way to ensuring your DAM investment is worthwhile.



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