I have read a number of articles and watched videos by incredibly bright people who have been thinking about and developing workflows in Digital Asset Management. I am blown away by the sheer depth and breadth of information people try to absorb at the beginning of the process.
Two years ago, I started working toward DAM development with a department-level solution to solve one small problem: How could I get video to YouTube and Hulu at the same time our editors were laying the content to tape? It seemed like a simple enough problem to tackle, or so I thought. If I had known at that point I would have to understand everything from video format choices to XML to scratch disc volume issues and fiber technology, I would have been completely intimidated.
And then there are the potentially overwhelming concepts of metadata and taxonomy. Not only did I have to think about making content searchable by obvious things like fighter name, nationality or weight class, but we discovered all kinds of other things we needed to note to comply with various worldwide broadcast policies and rules like whether a fighter had a cut on his face, or where exactly a punch or kick landed on their opponent’s body, or what kinds of images or logos were sewn onto each fighters’ shorts.
As anyone who has already been down a department-level DAM development will attest, as soon as you start to solve one problem, you discover a whole array of fantastic tools that will tempt you into tackling a massive array of issues. Have you noticed how your iPhone or Droid store has thousands of applications for you to download and spend time on? Well, the number of little rabbit holes you can lose your time on in the DAM world is equally numerous. Without a clear goal set, you can easily spend oodles of time and money futzing around on one little branch of company needs.
Here are some ideas to in mind as you make initial decisions:
- Be incredibly clear about the ultimate goal of the DAM, and keep it in front of you. If you can’t explain what your current DAM development project is there to do in two sentences, you need to narrow things further and attack in separate projects. Then when you find yourself getting distracted, ask yourself “Does this get me closer to the original goal?” If not, don’t get upset about it or distracted by it. (I stole that from a Tina Fey book, but she is right!) Take note and put that new idea into later development stages.
- Have one clear project leader instead of “design by committee,” so that at the end of what could be endless debates about options, someone is accountable for making a choice by a set time.
- Keep your eyes and ears open for “champions” to help you in every department. There will always be resistance to change, but there will also always be people who have faith in the possibilities presented to make their work lives easier. Give those champions your time and “first responder” chances to test against their workflow. They will help you make sure your DAM gets a fighting chance at adoption.
- Make sure your vendors will openly share and work with other vendors. The point of Asset Management is to make it easier for everyone to SHARE resources, and that means the old way of working with each technology vendor in isolation are over. If you have vendors who balk, or even push back at the idea of opening up how their code works in order to share data between systems, find another vendor immediately because in this brave new world you never want technology to isolate your data sets again.
- Do NOT avoid your executive team during development. Make them – and yourself – take the time to get together once or twice per quarter and give them a summary of what goals have been reached, where you are in your budgeting process, and give them a chance to respond by asking the question, “Has anything changed in the direction of the company that might affect how we proceed with the rest of the DAM implementation?” Much better and less expensive for everyone to see the same 50,000 foot view and adjust the trajectory early when things change.
Do you have questions or observations you would like to share about your (current or potential) DAM development? Use the comments section below or email your question to ckingDAM(at)hotmail.com and I will address those questions here in coming blog articles.