I'm often surprised by the many well-established Creative Services organizations that do not utilize a DAM system for managing digital assets. And often, they explain that they don't need a DAM system because they have a well-organized shared server where they keep all their assets, work-in-progress and archived files. But, this approach actually works better for outside agencies that it does for internal groups. The reason I say that is two-fold:

  • Agencies are generally more interested in creating new assets for each new job rather than re-using existing assets
  • Agencies don't have multiple stakeholders that may also be interested in those existing assets for other uses. These internal stakeholders may include everyone from the web and print teams to marketing and even the CEO's office.

I've seen many companies, particularly retail manufacturing companies that use product and marketing images in many ways ranging from print and online catalogs, to marketing brochures and internal presentations and even providing approved product images to distributors. With all those different uses, you want to be very sure you're not sending an out-of-date product image to your distributors. Without a DAM system, designers can spend a significant amount of time just finding images that people request. (Usually these requests are not well defined and it may take a couple of tries to come up with the right image.)

A good way to think about a DAM system, and to determine if one would help your operation, is to divide its usage into two distinct parts.

First, think about the content creators. That includes designers, photographers, video staff and illustrators. They need to be able to store their work in a way that makes it easy to find and easy to collaborate with other team members; in addition, they need to have complete control over the file types, versions and the relationship of files for particular projects.

Second, think about the content consumers. This group includes design staff as well, but also includes marketing, sales, distribution, public relations and potentially, the public. For this group, it's very important that it's easy to find the assets they are looking for, but they need to be very limited in what they can do with the assets. You have to assume this group does not understand little details like file types and image resolution, so you need to tightly control what they can access. Often this can be handled with a simple search capability and the ability for users to specify the use for the images, such as a PowerPoint presentation or a web page, and the DAM system will deliver the appropriate file type and resolution.

There are a wide variety of DAM systems available today and you do tend to get what you pay for. So, it's important to make sure that you understand your requirements before you start looking at systems. It may help to bring in some outside resources that can help you get very specific with your requirements and with the selection of an appropriate DAM system.

And when you get an appropriate DAM system installed and configured, you may just find that you're no longer recreating images that you can't find and that your design staff isn't getting distracted by all those image requests, and just maybe, you'll find the volume and quality of projects improving and that you have a happier set of customers and stakeholders.

For information about how Cella can support your technology selection and implementation needs, please contact us.