DAM Workflow: Plan for success
“Plans are of little importance, but planning is essential.” ~ Winston Churchill
No truer words spoken of any initiative … and definitely true when implementing a digital asset management system.
When starting a DAM project, there are several options to consider when choosing your workflow technology. Most DAMs come with some type of embedded workflow engine. In addition, many marketing related systems (content management, marketing resource management, marketing automation, etc.) have built-in workflow functionality that may have been leveraged ahead of implementing a DAM with its own workflow capabilities. Also, there are dedicated, stand-alone workflow tools that are specialized for Project Management and Tasks. Deciding which to use when is part of the planning and structuring of the workflow process. Ultimately there are three options for DAM workflow when other workflow tools exist:
- Use only the DAM workflow to drive all DAM related processes.
- Integrate and use the existing workflows and DAM workflow systems together.
- Keep the existing workflows and DAM workflow systems independent of each other.
You may be asking: Why bother going through the trouble of planning for and setting up workflow at all? Doesn’t email work just as well?
If it is just you and one other person, email might work fine to collaborate, share, and manage tasks and assets. But even with just two people, let alone a team, there are benefits to applying a more formal, structured process to digital asset management. Think about the time wasted trying to figure out which is the most recent version of a file. Or who has the final say on when something is considered approved. Not having a process flow to systematically manage digital assets can be costly in terms of resource and asset management, not to mention accountability.
So while there are many elements to be considered, and even more actions to be taken, when setting up a DAM workflow, more that can be covered in one blog post (but you can check out DCG’s Guide to DAM Workflow for more of the nitty-gritty), here are a few best practices to get you started:
1. Keep it simple
Start by implementing workflows for basic processes (content ingestion, approval, archiving), before moving on to full or automated process flows. Reviewing and revising workflows as you augment their capability and automation will help establish workflow processes as a standard part of your DAM system’s use. Efficient workflows will make employees’ jobs easier, and that in turn, will increase their use of the tool. Instituting standards and creating measurable performance indicators will help track gains in efficiency and enable continuous improvements and evolution of the workflow processes’ effectiveness.
2. Making the most of the out-of-the-box workflow functionality
Using the out-of-the-box (OOB) workflow tools – that is, the functionality that comes with the DAM solution and that business users can easily configure (read: drag and drop) without IT help – will help ensure that the workflow processes are tailored to meet the business need, not the other way around. If every minor change requires technical support such that business users cannot test and refine the process themselves as needed, the DAM workflow processes will likely be discarded for other tools or, even more likely, users will revert to their manual processes and local storage. Both scenarios would drastically deplete the value of the DAM solution and negatively impact the efficiency with which digital assets are managed.
3. Automate where possible and where it makes sense
Many DAM systems allow users to update and automatically track changes to specific custom fields and keywords, so users can efficiently locate files that are routed to them via specific status settings. Limiting each field’s nomenclature to a predefined list allows consistency in workflow tracking and ensures that files aren’t misplaced.
Where to start your planning
Even setting a plan takes a plan. So where should you start? Start with your stakeholders. Take the time to gather workflow-related requirements – from users, IT, how other systems’ workflows are set up. Ideally, this is done during selection process of the DAM solution to ensure that the chosen technology has the required workflow capabilities. Thinking about your DAM workflow needs from the very beginning will help make your digital asset management more user friendly and making for a more successful launch and adoption.