Top 5 Things IT Needs to Know for a Successful Digital Asset Management Implementation

October 20, 2015
5 min read

I’ve made some hay before about how important it is to get buy-in from various stakeholders in your organization before implementing a digital asset management solution. Seriously, folks, it is important.

And one group you might not think you need that much input from is IT. But, their insight and technological prowess is definitely valuable when considering a digital asset management solution for your organization.

What are the top 5 things IT needs to know to help ensure success? Let’s take a look.

1. HOW MANY FILES?

You might be tempted pull a Maria and shout from the mountaintop, “4 million terabytes of pictures – a never ending avalanche of assets!!”

Top 5 Things IT Needs to Know for a Successful Digital Asset Management ImplementationAnd, yes, it’s good to know you have 4 “million” terabytes (going to assume you’re not the NSA and round that down to 4TB), but what’s also important to know, in addition to the physical space required, is the number of assets you have. Do you have 4 huge movie files that are a terabyte each, or do you have 400,000 files, or varying sizes?

Knowing how many files you have now, and how many you typically add or acquire per year, helps IT (and your DAM provider) plan for near-term and long-term capacity. Digital asset management for 20,000 assets requires less processing and database power than a DAM solution that catalogs 1,000,000 assets each year.

Finding out the number of assets in your system is generally pretty easy. Go to the “root” top-level folder that holds all of your assets and get properties/info on the folder. It may take awhile to figure out the magic number, but after some serious churning and processing, you should now how many assets are within your system. Since this process can take some time, it’s better to do this directly on the file server (if applicable) instead of remotely.

2. WHAT TYPES OF FILES?

IT also needs to know what types of file formats will be managed with DAM. Yes, let’s start with the obvious – photos. But what else? Are you going to catalog video? Most digital asset management solutions include support for plenty of file types. Maybe the accounting department wants to catalog their PDFs – and possibly coordinate budget documents with marketing (bonus points with upper-management if you facilitate that tie-in).

Since digital asset management systems vary in the file formats they support, knowing which formats you need to support is essential for selecting a system.

Another important point to consider is whether the system can show thumbnails, read and write metadata, and convert from or to the file formats in your workflow. If you’re cataloging or converting video formats, you may need more powerful server hardware since video processing can take a long time on slower hardware.

Which, as an aside, is definitely one way to make an IT professional’s day. “We need more powerful hardware,” usually elicits a celebratory whoop out of the server closet.

3. WHERE ARE THE FILES STORED?

Please don’t tell me file folders. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that, as Yale University can attest!)

More typically, your files are electronic, and stored either on local machines, on a shared server, or both. When aiming for a successful digital asset implementation, it’s important to think about where your files are now, and how they will get into the system. Points to consider:

  • Will they stay in the same place and just be monitored by the DAM, or will they be uploaded into a database managed by the DAM or copied to a new file server?
  • Are they already stored in one location, or will the DAM need to take in files from multiple locations?
  • Will users or other systems need to access the files directly outside of the DAM using a network share like Windows (CIFS/SMB) or Apple (AFP) file sharing services?

Upfront planning around file storage can help you select a digital asset management that integrates well with your workflow and IT environment. Meaning a much better chance at success!

4. WHO NEEDS ACCESS?

On the surface, this might seem like an easy question – marketing and design, of course. We’ve already mentioned possible access for accounting, but what other departments might benefit from access? And what types of access? Read-only? Upload/Download? Many companies extend the digital asset management circle of trust to partners and vendors.

Many organizations prefer using existing Active Directory accounts for logging into the DAM so users simply use their corporate email address and password to login.

Active Directory can also be useful for account management in DAM since department groups in the directory can be mapped to levels of access.

Back to our accounting friends (because they are your friends, right? Good). Let’s say the Accounting department in Active Directory can automatically allow access to the Invoices catalog for everyone in the accounting department.

If you do extend the circle of trust to people outside your organization, DAM administrators can create accounts that only allow limited access to the DAM (many organizations don’t create Active Directory accounts for non-employees/contractors).

Another option for external access are self-service web portals that act as your own stock media website where people can search, view, and download approved assets. Self-service web portals can be public and not require a password, or require a password for access.

Thinking through the various access scenarios helps your digital asset management vendor and IT department create the right conditions for a successful digital asset implementation.

5. WHAT OTHER SYSTEMS NEED ACCESS?

By “systems,” I mean the machines! (cue spooky Terminator music…)

Top 5 Things IT Needs to Know for a Successful Digital Asset Management Implementation2

Just kidding, people are still in charge.

But plenty of those people in charge might need to access the DAM system from within another application. Maybe you use WordPress for your blog or website and need to copy images from your DAM into the WordPress “Media Library” for inclusion in a post.

Another example includes organizations that need to capture information about a photo entered in another application, then automatically display that information when the file appears in the DAM’s search results. This is common in museums where information about objects is stored in a Collection Management System, but digital representations of those objects (like a photos of a painting) are stored in a DAM. You can read more on museums and DAM here.

Thinking about where people will access files (in addition to who needs access) will help you determine if integrating digital asset management with other IT systems in your organization is a requirement.

To accomplish integrations, DAM systems often provide an application programming interface (API) that allows access to assets and metadata in the DAM from other applications. And, not to get too technical, but…API integration requires good documentation and support from the vendor, and a consultant or programmer on staff to code the connection between the systems. Most vendors offer consultants. For many organizations, using a consultant helps save them time and money.

THE ROAD TO DIGITAL ASSET MANAGEMENT SUCCESS

So….let’s recap. Everyone wants a successful digital asset management implementation, right? There are lots of ways to do that, including hiring a DAM expert to consult with your team, but key stakeholder involvement – particularly IT involvement – can be critical to success. Do you want your implementation to be a smooth sailing trip to DAM nirvana, or a rocky road to a promised land that still seems miles away?

Going to assume the smooth sailing is the route most of us prefer. These 5 questions are great conversation starters with IT to set you on that path.

So, have at it – start the conversation today!