M&E Journal: Getting Users to Give a Damn About the DAM

Alan J. Porter, OpenText –

Wasn’t it a movie that famously coined the phrase “Build it and they will come?” It’s a sentiment that may work as wish fulfillment, but unfortunately it is all too often still the underlying philosophy in the implementation of large technology platforms. No matter how well researched, written and developed the business case for a new piece of technology is, it will fail if those who are intended to benefit the most don’t actually use it. Adoption is not something that just happens, you have to work at, and work at it from the earliest stages.

Not so long ago I headed the marketing content delivery group at a major equipment manufacturer and we faced just this challenge. How do you support thousands of users around the globe to use and deliver brand appropriate imagery and video across multiple delivery channels? The DAM solution we implemented was pitched and funded on the basis of the needs of the main corporate website, but over the course of the first eighteen months after installation my team grew it to become a true enterprise solution with over a million assets and eight-thousand users; and it is still growing at an almost exponential rate. The following outlines just a few of the lessons we learned in helping achieve that level of user adoption.

Early engagement: Involve your stakeholders and key users from the very beginning. Include them in the needs analysis. Get them to help you identify gaps, and define the business process around how, and why, they use images the way that they do. Ask what they like, and dislike, about any current systems. If you have new arrivals from other companies or industries, find out what they thought of other systems that they may have used elsewhere. Most importantly find out what your users need to make their day go easier. As a hint, find and include your most vocal critics, bring them into the team, develop a sense of ownership, and they can become your strongest advocates.

Solution selection: Involve a subset of the key users in the platform selection process. Make sure that the user voice is heard alongside that of the business and technology people.

User acceptance testing: Have the same set of key users be a part of the user acceptance testing. Give them the right of veto. Ensure that their feedback is taken seriously, and that they see the results of that feedback in visible fixes to process, or even the platform itself. This all continues to help build a sense of ownership around the DAM even before it is rolled out.

Phased roll-outs: Don’t try and solve every problem across the whole organization at once. Have a systematic phase roll-out plan. Start with a small self-contained business unit or group where you can fine tune and measure the results. Get user feedback and then fold those into the wider roll out. Start small and work towards planned growth.

Communication is key: From the earliest days of the project develop a regular communication cadence (email, wiki etc.) to all interested parties. Keep it going during implementation, testing and roll-out. Be transparent about problems and fixes. Include tips and tricks, and promote success stories.

Open forums: During the early stages of each phase of the roll-out hold open forums (usually a regular one-hour conference call) that follows an ‘ask me anything’ format with both systems admin, IT and selected power users available to answer user questions and concerns. You may end up answering the same questions over and over, but it pays dividends in the long run.

Boost the search results: The prime use of a DAM for the vast majority of users is to be able to search and find the correct digital assets they want, quickly and easily. If they can’t find it on your DAM, they will revert to using mainstream uncontrolled search engines. So you need to develop meta-data models that deliver results. Make sure that search works, and works well.

Prove the benefits: Take measurements and develop metrics that show that using the DAM increases productivity, saves money, makes it easier to find the right assets, removes the potential for rights violations, ensures consistent brand messaging etc. Find what resonates from a results point of view with your executives, and your users, and measure it, then report the successes.

Socialize the use of the DAM: Talk about the DAM whenever you get the opportunity. One of the most effective ways to spread adoption is by word of mouth. If people enjoy using the DAM, get better results, and it makes their life easier, then they will be happy to share the news. Reinforcing that word of mouth through other channels such as “lunch & learn” type sessions, newsletters, webinars, presentations etc., helps build a critical mass of awareness.

As you can see from the above, getting people to use a new platform like an enterprise wide Digital Asset Management system isn’t something that’s tacked on at the end of the process. If you “build it” and expect them “to come,” then you are already too late.

Driving user adoption begins at day one and is a continuous process through the DAM’s operational life. You need to show that what you are doing really matters. All it takes is the right planning and creativity as well as a healthy dose of change management by communicating the ease of finding, sharing and using digital assets to increase productivity, deliver memorable content and improve customer experiences across channels. Do all that and you will develop users who give a damn about your DAM.

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