If you’re a creative in an authority position, there’s a challenge you (and your whole team) face countless times every day – so often that you see it as a fact of life. That is, if you notice it at all anymore. And it has a huge impact on ROI. It involves the building blocks of your work: the visual assets you use; the rights and restrictions that govern them; where they reside; who can access them.
Research has shown that marketing creatives waste huge amounts of time searching for the right digital assets, accidentally misusing assets or using the wrong ones. Two independent studies by major consulting firms estimated search time alone solidly consumes one-fifth of the workday.1 And marketing teams waste hours collaborating inefficiently as artwork is reviewed, revised and approved.
Does this sound familiar?
There is also a broader challenge: the workflow itself – setting deadlines, tracking progress, preventing bottlenecks. It’s difficult to begin with, but when a team loses time in digital asset management, as described above, the workflow challenge gets even tougher.
A marketing brief doesn’t make clear which visual assets are definitive for a project and where they reside; designers ask around, possibly grabbing the wrong ones from a colleague’s computer or a poorly organized server. Or they fail to note restrictions on certain assets that can’t be used at certain times of year or in campaigns with certain marketing partners. Once this is straightened out – hopefully sooner rather than later, but who knows – sick days intrude, forcing other creatives to take over the project. But where on the lead designer’s computer is the working file?
And how are these snafus affecting your schedule at every stage?
These challenges are so familiar to marketing creatives that there is now software to solve them – and it’s fully mature. Digital asset management (DAM; also known as digital content management or marketing asset management) software is available from many vendors, with features that align with the needs of many types and sizes of creative groups, from boutique agencies to global consumer brands. It empowers entire organizations to index assets definitively, store them securely and find quickly any digital asset, including the precise assets that are approved for use in a project.
Alongside DAM technology is syncing-and-sharing technology that helps deliver the right assets to the right team members at the right time – not by clumsy and buggy methods like email but straight from the DAM server through the secure network it resides on.
Clearly these technologies speak to the challenges creative teams face every day. And clearly, solving these challenges improves the speed, efficiency, accuracy and quality of creative work. And this translates directly to ROI, by increasing revenues (through better work) and decreasing costs (through better/faster creation, revision, review and production).
So why aren’t fully articulated DAM and sync-and-share systems in place everywhere? Several reasons.
Busy creative managers may not feel they have the time to research the technology, or the authority to sell it up the ladder, or the luxury of an onboarding period.
Upper management may fail to see the full longterm benefit or may balk at another enterprise technology project, even one that is quick, easy and inexpensive by most standards.
Operations may balk at the new manpower requirements, as these systems require certain employees across departments to be trained in creating and curating the metadata that makes the DAM component so powerful. (But again, research has shown that the time these employees spend on the front end more than pays for itself – and does so indefinitely – once the assets are in the DAM.)
And of course there is inertia: the inclination to convince yourself that things are good enough as they are, or to want to give the current, less-robust system, “time to work.”
If you and your management team decide to dig into the particulars of these technologies, you likely will find that they integrate quickly and easily, are inexpensive by enterprise standards, are easy to learn and use, and amortize themselves quickly.
At this point – as the right assets reach the right people right on time, and projects get done with less wasted time and more time for creation, and there are fewer rounds of changes and less re-work – every hour you save has a real bottom-line impact.