We frequently hear the business buzzwords “synergy” and “silos,” but what do they actually mean? These terms, as well as others, speak to the importance of internal unity to organizations. When different departments, teams, and divisions have synergy and work together well, brands are best positioned to grow and achieve their goals. When they are not unified and have poor interaction with each other, the organization suffers. Executives and project managers constantly search for ways to unify their organizations, but the problem of siloing is hard to overcome.
Siloed organizations often have teams working towards conflicting goals and objectives. They fail to communicate effectively struggle to make the most of their talent and resources. For example, a brand may have multiple departments consistently creating fantastic creative content. If these teams store, manage, search for, and share those assets differently, it affects brand consistency, assets get lost, and teams cannot access assets from other departments that may fit their needs perfectly.
How DAM Helps Unify
The need for collaboration between departments across organizations often causes them to search for programs that bring teams together by working within the same systems. Among their choices are digital asset management (DAM) systems. In a highly-effective DAM system, departments create, search for, access, communicate about, and share creative assets in a single place. This allows creative teams to collaborate with client-facing teams to create more dynamic content to drive growth. It also permits account managers to work directly with designers to create assets for clients that meet their needs. Likewise, marketing and sales teams can maintain brand consistency by drawing from the same content.
With a DAM program in place, organizations work more efficiently. Your team uses assets more often and in more strategic ways. Time searching for assets is greatly reduced and less money is spent recreating lost ones. Clearly, DAM systems can play an important role in achieving organizational unity. Given that, what are the best practices for making that unity a reality in your organization?
Best Practices for Using DAM to Unify your Organization
Plan your DAM system together. Behind every effective DAM system lies great standards, SMAART goals, and thoughtful planning. When implementing your DAM, bring representatives from all relevant teams together to discuss vision, goals, and best practices for using it. These standards can include elements like folder structure, master keyword lists, file names, and organizational vocabulary. If only one team adopts the DAM program for now, include representatives from other teams that could potentially adopt it in the future. This way, teams feel heard and don't receive standards out of line with their goals and workflows.
Don’t reinvent every team’s workflow. The creation and implementation of a DAM program is a great opportunity to review workflows and change them. It's important, however, not to totally disrupt the workflow of every team. Create standards and processes for the DAM platform and its use, but let each department maintain its own methods for handling assets before they are uploaded to it. Change often makes people uncomfortable, so allow some processes to continue as you implement the DAM system and its workflows.
Identify bottlenecks and disconnects. While some continuity is important, use the planning phase as an opportunity to identify bottlenecks across the organization. This must be done tactfully, but without a common understanding of what needs to change, your DAM system will fall short of its intended purpose. Conflict is a sign of growth, so leave room for your team’s representatives to communicate places where siloing is occurring.
Create clear communication channels across departments. Your organization and the teams within it are like a relationship. As we all know, good communication is the key to a healthy relationship. Given this, create communication channels for different departments to discuss assets, make requests, and assist each other. Some DAM software includes features for these types of communication, but simple solutions like Microsoft Teams and Slack can also be used. Along with tools and software, develop standards for how and when teams should communicate and what kinds of responses they should expect.
Expand your DAM system in a smart way. For some organizations, it’s easiest to roll out a DAM system one department at a time. This is especially true for large brands with multiple divisions operating as separate organizations. When this is the case, it may not be appropriate to include every division in the creation of the DAM system. However, you should still invite representatives from other divisions to attend planning sessions to observe and learn. When the time comes for the DAM program to expand, they will already understand it and it will be much easier and faster for them to implement it.
Avoid one-size-fits-all solutions. When planning and creating standards for your DAM system, it can be tempting to try to find one to rule them all. When this can be achieved, it's awesome! In many organizations, however, departments have complex needs. When it comes to file names, for example, some may need different information included than others. In this case, standardize as much of the file name as possible. Then, document the distinct rules for each department. The last thing you want is to compromise the effectiveness of your program to save time when documenting the standards.
If you’re having trouble knowing where to start planning and implementing your DAM program, or need help in your efforts to unify your teams, contact Stacks! We’ve helped brands both big and small create great standards for DAM, get the most out of their valuable creative assets, and foster unity between teams.