Imagine you have just bought yourself a new bike for Christmas. Great way to get around, shop for groceries, and enjoy a sunny Sunday afternoon. But wait, what will you do when you need to carry stuff. I guess you’ll need a bag. Oh and how will you keep that bike safe when you leave it outside? A lock is a good idea. And, alas, you must hire someone to customize, tune and fix it when necessary (or learn to do so yourself!). Worse yet, what if you chose the wrong type of bike – “the salesman told me it was the best of its kind” – because you hadn’t worked with a bike aficionado who was looking out for your interests. Sure, you could return it, but…
In some ways, a DAM system is similar to getting a bicycle for Christmas but you cannot easily “return” a system as easily as you may like.
Many DAM system buyers are under the impression that a DAM system will “magically” make their digital assets findable and usable shortly after implementation, but hiring full-time staff (archivists, librarians, and DAM administrators) and budgeting for regular maintenance and development prior to implementation is crucial to achieving or even attaining a return on investment (ROI). In a blog comment, Demian Hess (2014) sums it up best, “enterprises with complex information management needs should recruit from library science professionals because they have the expertise to identify metadata requirements, develop and manage taxonomies, identify search use cases, create asset acquisition and retention policies, and provide user support (to name just a few key areas)”. Hiring talent from within your company may seem like a good idea at first, but without professional training, many candidates will lack the essential skills to setup and run your DAM system. Over time, in spite of gaining those skills, in-house candidates will have to face the unruly mess of legacy records that need to be cleaned up. Over the course of my DAM career, I have worked with systems that had been set up without the help of experienced professionals. From inconsistently applied (un)controlled vocabularies to haphazardly cataloged master and derivative digital assets, I have had to sort out quite a few messes. Though I find this fun (like riding my bike), it is grossly inefficient to the companies that own the system.
So, before this Christmas or birthday, or whenever you decide on a DAM system, please hire a full-time DAM professional. They will save you time and money while ensuring your digital assets are safe and can be found. Sound simple? Not really, I assure you. Like riding a bike, it takes lots of practice.
Hess, D. (2014, October 13). Re: Who Needs a DAM Librarian? Part I: Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are [Blog comment]. https://digitalassetmanagementnews.org/features/who-needs-a-dam-librarian-part-i-come-out-come-out-wherever-you-are/#comment–65405