One giant leap for DAM

After raising its head during the Henry Stewart DAM conference earlier this year, the question of where the DAM team and system should sit within a business was also discussed at the London DAM meetup recently, (admittedly I did raise the subject), and once again I was amazed at the variety of places a business believes DAM should reside.

More often than not the starting place for the DAM team will be within the department who initiated the requirements to get a DAM in the first place, most commonly this is IT, marketing, or editorial. However there were tales of DAM sitting within finance, or syndication teams, and even more tales of teams being moved about the business as their remit changed or the company grew, or having their DAM initiative labelled as ‘project’ status for years after the initial project stage.

This can prove both demoralising for the team members, and disruptive for a business, leading to not only a greater turn over of staff, but also a disrupted technical and business roadmap for the DAM system, and a reduction of business value.

So why does this happen, and why do businesses miss what long term DAM experts will see as being an obvious failing? I think there are a number of reasons.

Where is the ROI? – A business investing in a DAM system and a team to manage it will be looking at this cost point and wonder how it is paying for itself. Sometimes its hard to quantify savings, especially if its in time and manpower rather than cold hard cash. However if measurements can be put into place to show the non tangible business benefits then this also works as an incentive and driver to centralise a DAM system and team. After all time and effort savings are not restrictive, and even half an hour of one persons day adds up to costly man hours over a week or a month. By assessing workflows up pre and post DAM the case for both the DAM and a steady hand is made much stronger.

Lack of the holistic view – Most departments will solely focus on their own requirements and needs, often leading to multiple DAM systems being purchased and used with a single company. However by having a central team and system assessing all business areas then it will allow both purchase of a system suitable for the majority as well as allowing the creation of a long term roadmap that adds the greatest value to the most people. Priorities can then be set to this roadmap for the wider company roadmap, and areas that require a specialist system for their assets can still be free to procure those systems.

What is DAM? – Those of us who work in DAM don’t do ourselves any favours by quietly working in stealth mode, just getting on with improving the working lives of our users as part of our business as usual work. Its not often I see a DAM team shout about getting another department using a system, or celebrating achieving a milestone in terms of numbers of assets. All around us may be departments launching new products, or publishing new titles, and celebrating each event with a cocktail party. I believe we in DAM need to get better at that, shouting our achievements from the rooftops and involving senior stakeholders in each milestone. By doing this we spread the message and the good deeds about DAM, the word of mouth positive output from this can be hugely beneficial, and we will end up with less people asking the question, ‘so what is DAM?’

By nature many companies will not have a central knowledge/information management department, which is where I believe a DAM team and system should sit. However there is no reason why the DAM team cannot be the starting point for that central department. If we staff our teams with skilled librarians, co-ordinators, and if need be developers, then we create a breeding ground for like minded people to work together and to generate and permeate that holistic view that a business may lack. From that point its just a short leap of faith by a senior stakeholder to buy into the dream that is a truly centralised system managing the organisations key assets.

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