People, Help the People

Continuing my theme of infrequent blog posts and loosely relating those posts to song titles, I’m back in the land of DAM blogs again. This week many of us will be attending the Henry Stewart DAM conference in New York, where there will be much talk about the three pillars of DAM, people, processes, and technology.

Actually, I take that back. There will be much talk about processes and technology, but often not a huge amount about the people. Now this is not a strange or unusual thing. After all we are attending a conference about something that is specifically driven by technology, and what happens on the periphery of that technology, which includes people and processes, so the focus will always be elsewhere.

In my experience implementing a DAM is hard enough without then adding in the extra challenge of doing it without the right people in place to then help drive a change in processes and attitude that needs to happen even prior to purchasing a DAM. People, processes, technology in that order. But alas this is rarely the case. So often a decision is made to buy a DAM prior to hiring or training the right people, or breaking down the processes into the sum of their parts, into good and poor, and coming up with a new process or operating model to map your lovely new technology to. Oh no. Sure, lets stumble blindly into the DAM vendor world and buy something recommended by our IT department, because of course the theory of “buy it and they will use it” works so darn well. And then don’t think about your poor people who are left to manage and sell this solution to a set of users who have had no education about DAM, no help with business change, and no workshops or presentations on how to do things differently. Talk about setting yourself up to fail. Even if your DAM vendor provided you with a few cases of wine, boxes of chocolates and a never-ending box of oh so cute kittens you will be struggling.

So how do you address your people problem? Better still how do you ensure it isn’t a problem in the first place?

How about evangelising and education? I’m not saying you need to have in place people who are degree level DAM folk, but what you do need is a good foundation of knowledge and enthusiasm. After all much of DAM is common sense, so having people who are smart, good communicators, and agents of change is probably more important than what degree level education they have. Your foundation is a set of people who know DAM, who have a passion for it, who read about it and write about and live the dream of DAM in the way they manage their personal lives whether they know it or not. They may be librarians, technologists, project managers or business change people, researchers or communication people, photographers or editors, they can come from any background, but the key thing is that every business needs at least one of them. These are your evangelists. Your people who can sell DAM to their colleagues and exec level stakeholders. Who can look ahead to your DAM in two years time and say “I can see the future and how we can use this as an agent of change to make our working lives better”.

The second way businesses can help themselves is by having consistent job titles and descriptions for people who will be managing a DAM system or who are responsible for championing it within their area. What they are called is entirely up to you, but by having this consistency it means you can ensure that everyone knows who is responsible for DAM, who to go to when there are issues or questions. And you also can then build a community for your DAM champions. They can compare notes on issues they may have encountered, share knowledge about use cases or processes, learn from each other and the DAM evangelist. Your aim should be to educate and train these people to become evangelists, to give them the rounded holistic view of not only DAM but how it fits into the bigger picture of the company, to then build from the inside out the enthusiasm, the touch points, and the point of it all. Because one of the biggest questions they will get asked from users initially is, “well whats the point of this and whats in it for me” and they need to be confident in answering that.

Last but by no means least, getting everyone using DAM. You have a lovely system but only a few people using it. So why don’t you put the use of DAM as a line in everyones job descriptions. Just a line. About the use of DAM. In their daily work. Because thats the expectation right? But if that is the expectation and you are not backing it up with anything then its much harder to retrospectively go back to users later on and say, “oh, you aren’t using DAM. You have to use DAM’, if you have not educated them up front. We are back to the case of wine and box of kittens incentive.

Then on top of the job description make sure that DAM training and use is part of your on-boarding process for new starters. After all you spend time telling them how to get onto email and servers, so why not also do the same with DAM? Make it part of coming into the company introduction, get them into a habit of opening it every day or even better launch it at the same time as they sign in. If you want to put DAM at the heart of your business and your content lifecycle then you need to put it at the front and centre of peoples working day as well.

There are many other areas around people and DAM we could dive deeper into, but as a starting point I hope this gives you some food for thought. Also coming up there are the Henry Stewart DAM conferences in New York this week and then London in June, and if you are attending either of those, or the ones in Chicago or LA, I ask you to do one thing for me. When you start to talk to one of your peers about DAM at the breakout sessions or the evening drinks, rather than asking them about their strategy about DAM or how they chose the technology they did, ask them instead about how they are managing the people and the change side of things. I would be interested to see how many out there have a strategy around the people in DAM, how many thought of it before purchasing a system, how many of them are now struggling as people were not at the top of their list of things to manage. See how you get on, and if you spot me at the conferences feel free to pop over and tell me your story of how you would help the people.

Registration for any of the DAM conferences and details are available here. And as a reader of this post, you can register for the DAM NY 2017 conference at a discounted rate, simply use discount code SPEAKER100 when

2 Replies to “People, Help the People”

  1. Don’t forget the fourth pillar of DAM: information (metadata, per asset), if we want to find those assets again in a timely manner. It is all an investment.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s