Let’s talk about growth. Remember when you were young and outgrew your shoes? On one hand, it was an exciting time. It meant a trip to the store to pick out a new pair of slick sneakers. On the other hand, your parents may not have bought the expensive pair you really wanted in case you kept growing and another pair had to be paid for soon. In the end, you got a new pair of shoes, but it wasn’t until you finished growing that you got the pair you truly wanted.
The Problem of Growth
A similar dynamic plays out in the business world, specifically in digital asset management (DAM). You and your team set ambitious goals and work hard to achieve them. When you achieve those goals, the scope of your business will grow, as will the scale of your processes and workflows. For example, if your organization expands to new markets, you will need to produce new content for those markets.
If your processes and workflows aren’t well-organized, this growth can make you feel like a kid who just outgrew their shoes. On one hand, you’re excited. Your brand is successful and bringing in cash. On the other hand, this rapid growth is putting immense strain on the resources you have. The new creative assets you’re producing are piling up on top of your existing ones and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find a specific asset.
Now you’ve got a real problem. Do you buy more servers, more storage space, more employees to sort through content? Do you wait for growth to slow down to invest in real solutions? That route is reminiscent of the ten-year-old rocking a new pair of sneakers they didn’t really want. So, what’s the alternative?
The Solution of Scale
The answer is simple: Begin with the end in mind. Take the time now to invest in solutions that will allow you and your team to scale your workflows effectively. Solutions do not just mean software or tools. Investing in something like a DAM platform can be beneficial, but without creating comprehensive standards and processes, it will be of limited benefit. There are several “upstream” solutions that you and your team can implement to ensure that when you purchase a platform, you can make the most of it. Below, we have outlined ten DAM solutions that allow your team to scale effectively.
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10 Best Practices to Increase Scalability and Growth
- Map your workflow
Significant growth may reveal problems you did not know existed before. Diagram your workflow and the movement of assets within it. Doing this will help you identify the largest sources of friction in your organization and which processes need to be implemented first. You don’t want to repeat these steps, so ensure your solutions are scalable as your organization grows.
- Gather All your Assets in One Place
Once you’ve mapped how your assets move and where they’re currently stored, gather them together. This allows you to analyze them and see what you’re working with. You can then identify duplicates, cull your library, and determine what file names and metadata are currently on your assets. This will help you create or adjust your standards going forward.
- Determine Which Assets are Most Important
One of the most overlooked, but important questions to address when creating a scalable workflow is which assets or kinds of assets are the most valuable to your organization. This is critical if you plan on migrating your assets from one system or platform to another. Are there specific kinds of assets or file types that should be stored separately? Which assets should be curated and integrated into the new workflow first?
- Map Your Organizational Structure
Now that you’ve gathered, analyzed, and identified your high priority assets, it is time to determine how and where they should be organized. Are you at maximum storage capacity on your servers? Would a DAM platform be beneficial? If so, what features are the most important? In this phase, you should also determine what kind of folder structure your assets live within, regardless of platform.
- Develop File-Naming Standards
If you haven’t already, it is vital to develop a standardized file naming convention for your assets. This is the simplest way to create effective search capabilities and a baseline of understanding across your organization. Any employee, regardless of experience or knowledge of the library, will be able to efficiently locate the assets they need.
- Invest in Metadata (Maybe)
Metadata is data about data. It often comes in the form of keyword tags or image descriptions that are searchable within certain platforms. Applying standardized metadata tags to your library is transformative and effective. However, metadata is not supported on every storage platform and requires a lot of time and effort to apply. Thinking forward to growth, however, could make the investment worthwhile. If you’re expecting to produce significant amounts of content in the future and grow your library, having metadata standards and procedures already in place will revolutionize your ability to scale quickly.
- Put Your New Workflow on Paper
Just as you did earlier, take the time to visualize your new workflow. Does it make more sense than the old one? Is there room to grow and achieve your goals for the next three, five, or ten years? Do the standards you’ve created ease your worries about needing to produce, store, and find more content?
- Document, Document, Document
If your answer to those questions is yes, you’re ready to lock in your new, scalable, growth-friendly workflow. Document everything you’ve done, all the standards you’ve implemented, and your reasoning in a way someone new to the organization can understand. The goal is to make a guide that can be handed to a new hire. You want this document to outlive your tenure at the company, all the goals you’ve set, and any organizational pivots that may come down the road.
- Put It Into Practice
Now that you’ve documented your standards and workflow, it’s time to implement them. Apply new file names, tag priority images with metadata, reorganize your folder structure, cull assets, and move them to the new platform. At this point, you can also distribute your freshly documented procedures and educate your team.
- Begin with the End in Mind
When the time comes to set new goals and reflect on the previous year, quarter, or project, ask yourself if your workflows fit your growth plans. If you were to meet or even double your objectives for growth, are you ready to scale? As you adjust and tune your workflows to reflect your goals, remember to begin with the end in mind.
All these steps are projects of their own, requiring time and energy. Don’t try to tackle them all at once, but don’t hesitate to get started. Your goals and growth are important enough for your team to focus on achieving them. Below is a list of resources about specific components outlined above.