Monitoring Your DAM To Prevent It Becoming A ‘Zombie’

Kevin Groome, Founder of CampaignDrive by Pica9, has recently posted an in-depth article that presents a number of tell-tale signs that should assist you in gauging whether or not your DAM system is becoming a zombie, along with a number of steps to reverse the process and breathe new life into it.  The word ‘zombie’ brings to mind a number of attributes: sluggishness, decrepitude, and a distinct lack of dynamism – not to mention the fact that nobody wants to go near it lest they too glaze over and become infected with a lack of enthusiasm.

First up on Kevin’s list of symptoms is a drop-off in user adoption, which he rightly states should be closely monitored and analysed on a rolling basis as part of the system’s continuing feedback cycle:

Although obsessive tracking of User Adoption should be a given among DAM administrators, it’s surprising how often folks lose sight of this crucial statistic. We recommend monitoring the ratio of active users to registered users on rolling one-month, three-month, and 12-month windows.”  [Read More]

To tackle low user adoption, Kevin recommends a number of measures, including broadcasting system updates to users, promoting new assets and providing guidance on their usage.  If DAM rigor mortis has truly set in and there’s a continued drop in user adoption spanning more than 3 months, a more forensic approach is required.  Of course, you will need to have access to in-depth metrics for this to be a viable approach – and it needs to be more than just a generic report of logins and asset usage, as detailed in a previous article by DAM News editor Ralph Windsor (free subscription required):

Any serious DAM system these days should have an audit trail which administrators can review at the transaction level if they want to.  This shouldn’t be a system/database report but it needs to reveal (as far as is humanly possible) every interaction users have with the DAM.  In theory, you should be able to play the audit trail back like a video recording of everything that happened on the DAM system.” [Read More]

The second piece of advice on Kevin’s checklist is to check whether your DAM system really is the single source of truth, or whether users have resorted to using Dropbox or Google Drive to store and distribute files.  Unless integrated with your DAM, these applications can effectively become parasites, siphoning off both the relevance and potency of your DAM and its assets.

In pre-COVID days, my coping technique for this problem would be to recommend to our client-side administrators that they take regular walks around creative, marketing and sales departments, in the hunt for those competing DAM elements.”  [Read More]

As physically walking around various departments in an attempt to detect these digital elopers is not possible due to social distancing measures, the importance of having thorough user metrics and reporting systems in place becomes even more apparent.

The next checkpoint involves taking a look at your DAM’s integration with other systems and whether communications to downstream channels are in place and functioning properly – these days a great deal of activity is taking place via APIs, and if assets can’t be consumed by third-party applications such as marketing software, online shops and social media channels, the likelihood of falling usage will invariably increase.  Kevin’s tips in this department include:

  • Ensuring API documentation is readily available
  • Making sure the process of securing API credentials is clear
  • Understanding the capabilities and extensibility of your DAM’s API
  • Rolling out new features to increase DAM usage and value

The final, and perhaps most crucial step in ensuring your DAM is kept alive and healthy is the appointment of a so-called DAM Champion – an individual that is responsible for driving the DAM forward, raising its profile and generally proving the system’s worth to stakeholders and users alike.

DAMs that lack a strong, senior-level champion run a much higher risk of falling into disuse, or being ripped out and replaced because of a mismatch between capabilities and organizational needs. If your DAM is lacking that representation, here are a few steps you can take to help raise visibility and secure support.”  [Read More]

The article continues by presenting a number of practical tips for your champion, including the importance of presenting roadmaps and proposals to your leadership, and backing them up with user stories that exemplify the value and positive impact of your DAM system.

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  • DAM entails managing data throughout its lifecycle. Managing it throughout the lifecycle ensures that the business has the most up to date data and can ensure that data which is no longer required, can be disposed off. This aids in saving storage costs and of course, it goes without saying that the DAM lifecycle should be managed through the use of policy and procedural documents. This would dictate how to go about making relevant updates to keep the DAM reliable considering the fast paced changes in the world today. As the DAM is utilized, employees should be trained so they can see see the benefits of a DAM implementation. Stale data does not help anybody and badly managed data doesn’t either. In this sense, it helps to have someone in charge of DAM and drive the policies that will help lead it to ultimate success with the users.

  • Good article, I can see how a “zombified” DAM system can lead to problems down the road. It it important that an enterprise’s DAM remain the single source of truth throughout the organization. Teams breaking off and using less robust, enforced or governed solutions such as Dropbox or Google Drive could lead to lost assets or unnecessary duplication of work. While the pandemic has lessened the ability for administrators to walk around the building and check up on usage, regular audits of usage can help paint a picture of where actual usage stands with the DAM. Perhaps there are some pain points with the current solution that is driving users to more informal means of asset management. User testing or surveying could snuff out some of the inefficiencies that are driving users away. In addition, documentation may be inaccessible to some users or painfully outdated. I know I’ve fallen into the trap of neglecting to update documentation after a certain period of time.

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