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The DAM Guru Program (DGP) which is sponsored by DAM vendor, Picturepark, announced on Tuesday that they are now matching requests for freelance assistance with registered gurus, in addition to full-time jobs:

DAM Guru Program is now two years old and more than 650 signups strong. To enable the DAM community to better benefit from the growing range of expertise available within DAM Guru Program, we now connect participating members to organizations seeking freelance, temporary or permanent help.Based on matching a needs profile to an expertise profile, DAM Guru Program managers will do their best to find the right Guru for every request, no matter what the area of expertise, global region or language.” [Read More]

There has been an noticeable increase in demand for freelance and temporary assistance with DAM-related projects, it seems to be one of the growth areas in DAM that has been largely unreported.  Two frequently mentioned requirements are metadata/taxonomy design and asset cataloguing.  The former is easy enough to understand and is the result of project analysis that reveal more sophisticated information management needs than was first imagined so that a taxonomist or other metadata expert has to work out how to put it all together.  Asset cataloguing accounts for a significant proportion of the time spent actively using DAM solutions – a point not always grasped as early into a DAM initiative as it should be.

The dawning of most manager’s DAM consciousness follows three stages that you can summarise as follows: “we need something to organise all this stuff”, “it’s more complicated than we first thought” and finally: “someone or something will have to enter all the metadata to allow anyone to actually find it”.  The last part, especially, is where most of the cost of DAM in terms of staff time can be accounted for and over a system’s lifecycle it will probably be far greater than software expenditure, even allowing for on-going support agreements, hosting fees etc.

It is important to understand also that the ‘something’ referred to in the hypothetical quote above is by no means a sure-bet and the most consistent way to get decent metadata is for it to be critically reviewed by human beings.  The ROI risk/reward pay-off for cataloguing has the same dynamic as it does for any other investment: the more time saved using some automated techniques, the higher the risks that the metadata cataloguing will be ineffective and result in assets never being found.

Clearly, it is not a tenable proposition to spend masses of your budget to hire some consulting firm or freelance picture researchers to go an do the whole job for you.  From my experience, there are a number of people who certainly are willing to pay to make the whole thing ‘go away’, but that is not a method I can recommend (especially if they wish to avoid incurring the cost again on an indefinite number of subsequent occasions).  I advise our clients to follow some basic principles which I will share below:

  • Divide your collections of assets into key materials that need to be found and less critical items that are not so important (graded according to importance).  Direct the external assistance to the most important asset collections first.
  • Ask your consultant to draw up (with your help) some rules and conventions about cataloguing assets into documents, preferably delivered as training materials that use your chosen DAM solution (so with screengrabs showing how to apply the principles).  Most DAM consultants offer good value for consulting-related tasks but are poor value from a data entry perspective.
  • Make the exercise as much about training and knowledge transfer so they pass on their expertise to your colleagues.  Don’t give them a hard disk full of files, then ask them to get on with it and only come back when they’re done.
  • Quality control the work delivered and test it with real searches, ideally carried out by normal users whose DAM usage patterns are average ones as well as heavy users.
  • Describe your large-scale cataloguing issues with your system vendor and ask them what options are available to help with it, preferably with sufficient time allowed for them to be able to come up with some answers.  Their application (or one they know of) might be able to shave off a percentage of the effort required for each asset, but you need to monitor quality also and be wary of them over-promising or trying to convert your cataloguing problem into a sales lead for their professional services divisions.
  • Test everything as often is practical and make decisions based on real results, not guesswork (note that it is reasonable to hypothesise about cataloguing requirements, but validate them before proceeding).

The clients my firm works with that get best results from both our services (and those of freelance assistance they might employ as well) carry out some active supplier management.  There is a classic 80/20 Pareto Optimality rule in-play here and not a lot of work is necessary to increase the ROI obtained from hiring in external help with any DAM-related task and that goes for taxonomy/metadata and system selection exercises also.

The DAM Guru Program freelance/temporary matching service looks like a good addition to the range of assistance now available to DAM users, however, it is as much down to them to ensure they make optimum use of the help on offer as it is the service providers themselves to do a good job.

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Brandworkz Update To Version 6.3

February 17, 2015 Vendors

DAM vendor, Brandworkz, have recently released an updated edition of their flagship Brand Asset Management software.  As per the current theme of early 2015, the release is mostly oriented towards tweaks and general maintenance updates rather than brimming with new innovations: Asset alerting – emails with details of new or expired assets etc Download reason reporting […]

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What’s Holding DAM Back? – Three Part Special Feature

February 10, 2015 Opinion

Today, we have published a multi-contributor, three-part feature article series on the theme: What’s Holding DAM Back?  The subject is tackled from three perspectives: customers, vendors and the media, with each author addressing one of the aspects.  The writers are: Jeff Lawrence of consulting group, Celerity (and a regular CMSWire contributor), David Diamond, Marketing Director of […]

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Feature Article: Who Needs A DAM Librarian? Part Three – An Open Cover Letter

February 4, 2015 DAM For Librarians

Deborah Fanslow, has written the third part of her DAM News feature article: Who Needs a DAM Librarian?  In Part III: Information Professionals: An Open Cover Letter she offers some advice for librarians who want to gain employment in the DAM field.  The article is a comprehensive source of advice and covers a lot of in-depth advice, including: A DAM skills map. The […]

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PhotoShelter Now Offering ‘Libris’ SaaS DAM Solution – Further DAM & Stock Media Industry Integration

January 30, 2015 Vendors

As reported on CMSWire earlier this week, stock media library, PhotoShelter have recently launched Libris, a SaaS DAM solution.  This follows similar moves from other larger stock media libraries such as Shutterstock and then Adobe moving into stock media (going in the other direction).  PhotoShelter appear to have gone with the ‘build’ rather than’buy’ route and developed […]

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DAM Foundation Digital Asset Management Training Courses

January 28, 2015 DAM Education

Over on DAM Guru this month, there is an interview with Elizabeth Keathley and Mark Davey from DAM Foundation about the training courses they offer.  In particular, they discuss the trials they faced when attempting to partner with an established ‘bricks and mortar’ educational institution: “Recognizing the need for a program that could educate and […]

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Widen Release Media Collective Version 8.0

January 22, 2015 Vendors

The timing of this update from Widen regarding their Media Collective SaaS DAM might not be entirely ideal (from their perspective) as a segue to our recent item about DAM innovation (or lack thereof).  I would imagine they might prefer to take an alternative view.  Here are the highlights: Targeted ‘visual announcements’ with notifications to specific user groups […]

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DAM Innovation – Who Hit The Pause Button? (Part 2)

January 16, 2015 Opinion

In part one of this two part series, I discussed how the level of innovation in the Digital Asset Management industry has reached a plateau recently which the evidence suggests it cannot now advance beyond. I made reference to Jeff Lawrence’s CMSWire article as it contained an aggregated selection of quotes from vendors who were […]

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DAM Foundation Ten Core Characteristics Update – Vendor Compliance Reviews

January 15, 2015 Industry News

DAM Foundation have recently announced that they are now testing DAM vendors for their ten core characteristics, based on an article Elizabeth Keathley wrote last year.  The ten attributes are formalised in this article by Mark Davey.  They have checked and approved about 16 different vendor products so far (although I would expect that list to […]

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DAM Innovation: Who Hit The Pause Button?

January 9, 2015 Opinion

This is part 1 of a series of articles about DAM Innovation. On CMSWire this week, Jeff Lawrence has given an overview of various DAM vendor roadmaps for 2015 via two articles.  There are some interesting aspects to this, but for those interested in critically analysing our sector with a view to enhancing it, the prognosis […]

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Digital Photographs And Trustworthiness Of Social Media Platforms: Survey Results

December 22, 2014 Social Media and DAM

Back in April of this year, we highlighted some research that was being carried out by Jessica Bushey of the University of British Columbia into Digital Photographs And Trustworthiness Of Social Media Platforms.  Last week, Jessica emailed participants a copy of the survey summary report.  The results are broadly in-line with what many DAM professionals would probably expect (certainly from my […]

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