Best Practices

Digital asset management best practices from DAM Survival Guide and other sources.

Watching a DAM Car Crash

By David Diamond

Digital asset management policy's red light

Digital asset management software is only one piece of a properly planned DAM initiative, and it’s nowhere near the most important piece. Sure, DAM software is what most people new to DAM ask about first, but that’s only because the aspect of DAM that’s really most important doesn’t have a marketing department.

I’m talking here about digital asset management policy.

It’s all well and good to configure your DAM software to do what it’s told, but if your DAM software could talk (and point), it would point to those DAM users of yours and it would ask, “What about them? Aren’t you going to tell them what to do too?”

Telling DAM software how to do things is called configuration; telling DAM users how to do things is called policy.

To better understand the purpose and value of DAM policy, imagine you’re approaching a busy intersection at rush hour. The traffic light has just turned from green to yellow. Knowing that red comes next, you slow down and prepare to stop. (I know what you’re thinking, but you’re actually supposed to slow down when the light turns yellow.)

Conversely, if the light is green as you approach the intersection, you think nothing of driving on through, confident that drivers in the crossing lanes will sit tight until they get their own green light.

Wow, that’s a pretty powerful light. You have no idea how it works, yet you trust it with your life. And I’m willing to bet that if you approached that same intersection in the middle of the night when there were no other cars around, you’d still slow and stop if the light turned red.

In truth, nothing forces us to stop at red lights. So why do we bother?

I think about this when I’m watching some movie in which a killer has just left the scene of his crime in what’s usually a brown Chevy Impala. Rage in his eyes and blood still fresh on his hands, he approaches a red light and—what?—he stops the car! I find this odd. On the one hand, the man just took a life. On the other hand, he’s honoring a red light at an intersection. What’s even odder is that we find this to be totally natural.

We honor red lights only because we fully understand and appreciate the policy behind them and, of course, the consequences of not abiding by that policy. Ignore the light and you could end up in traffic court or a casket. It’s a policy that limits us, but it seems reasonable to us, so we tolerate it.

Your DAM software actually has a lot in common with a traffic light: Neither can serve its purpose of reducing chaos without policy to back it up.

But do your users approach your DAM as they would a traffic light? Do they know what “red” means? Do they know what comes after yellow, or what to do if the lights start flashing red, or go off entirely?

If they don’t, then you have a policy problem.

And if you think lack of DAM policy won’t cause problems down the road, so to speak, ask your town to remove that traffic light for a day and watch what happens.

Learn more about DAM best practices in the digital asset management book DAM Survival Guide (http://DAMSurvivalGuide.com)

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