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For enterprise brand users, the value of a digital asset management (DAM) platform is pretty clear: it’s a productivity tool that streamlines content creation by making it fast and easy to find brand-approved digital assets, approve that content, and distribute it to internal teams and external partners to achieve revenue goals.

But if it’s such a powerful tool, why do DAM managers find it so hard to get users to stay in the system? User adoption remains one of the top barriers to DAM ROI for enterprise brands today.

There’s little question of the value of a DAM at the enterprise level. It’s a necessity, not a nice-to-have, for teams to keep up with the growing demand for digital content. So then, why do users hate your DAM?

Here are four questions you can ask to identify and address digital asset management challenges.

1. Is the DAM intuitive and easy to use?

As with all things, not all DAMs are created equal. Some legacy vendors still sell technology designed more than 20 years ago. These platforms are functional, yes, but they are clunky and hard to use. Menus don’t make sense. Features don’t work the way you expect them to. Visually it’s a mess and finding what you want is an exercise in futility.

A big price tag doesn’t mean a good system. Modern DAMs are developed with the user’s experience in mind. They deliver a streamlined user interface, with workflows that make sense. Any barrier to productivity is removed, and you’re left with an enjoyable platform that encourages users to come back for more.

If that’s not your DAM, then immediately this is a problem. Your users have too much work on their hands already to spend time fighting a system they hate using. Instead, they’ll quickly turn back to old systems and processes that – in their mind at least – work better.

You’ll never achieve a good DAM ROI that way.

The solution: While looking for a new vendor may be the obvious answer here, we all know it’s more complicated than that. Vendor selection processes are lengthy, and migrating to a new DAM is a monumental task if you aren’t well prepared. 

Instead, start with evaluating how your DAM is configured. Many systems have different configurations you can adjust to make them a bit easier to use. In some cases the options are limited, but DAMs like Tenovos, for example, allow you to configure all sorts of areas of the DAM to give users a more streamlined experience.

It’s also a good idea to investigate with your users what exactly is keeping them from wanting to use the DAM. Is it too slow? Do the files not load properly? Maybe it’s just too hard to navigate… whatever the issues are, put some kind of plan in place to address these.

If, despite your investigations and efforts, you’ve been unsuccessful at fixing the problem, then it’s time to start looking at new digital asset management vendors. Poor user adoption is not something you can leave alone, and it might be better to start anew than try to salvage a poorly implemented, or a poorly selected, digital asset management platform.

2. Does the tool provide value and boost efficiency for all teams?

So the DAM’s UI/UX aren’t the problem. Why else could users be choosing not to use the system? Well, the next most likely reason is because it doesn’t actually help them do their job better.

We hear this one a lot, where stakeholders haven’t been included in the selection or implementation processes. This can lead to a brand choosing a DAM that isn’t right for the job – lacking key features or functionalities – or establishing processes and workflows that don’t make sense.

Remember, the DAM is meant to improve productivity and efficiency. If it doesn’t make your users’ lives easier, they won’t use it. Period.

The solution: Talk to your stakeholders. You need to understand if the system is meeting their requirements, or if it’s more of an issue with processes (how the DAM is set up).

Many times simply by communicating with stakeholders, you can get an idea for how DAM processes can be adjusted to make a little more sense for users. It’s not necessarily an easy fix – sometimes involving several teams and even IT if your DAM configurations are hard to change – but it’s a start in the right direction.

Some things to look for are:

  • Do workflows make sense?
  • Do users have the necessary permissions to do what needs to be done in the DAM?
  • Can users complete their tasks in the DAM or are they bouncing between too many systems?
  • If users can’t find content, do you have the proper processes in place to ensure content is being tagged properly when it’s ingested into the DAM?
  • If yes, then is your metadata structure the problem?

Also, make sure before you start changing processes that you evaluate them against the needs of all your stakeholders. You’d hate to fix one problem only to create another one somewhere else.

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3. Do stakeholders have the necessary training?

Digital asset management platforms can be complex tools. That’s why training (at the time of implementation and ongoing thereafter) should be a key part of any DAM program.

If users don’t understand how to use the system, they’ll default to what they do know – legacy technologies and processes. It goes further than just the technology side. Have you trained users on your metadata structure? Do they know how to search for content (both in terms of how search works in the DAM and how to choose the right queries to find what they need)? 

And lastly, do they know how you expect them to use the system? It’s not enough to know how it works, they need clear direction on what they’re supposed to be doing with the tool. 

The solution: This one is simple: set up ongoing user and admin training in the DAM.

Whether you make this a resource users are expected to refer to or consume on their own, or a guided training program, it’s essential to any successful DAM.

Don’t forget you have different users from different parts of the company – and each group has its own purpose for being in the DAM. Tailor your training accordingly. For example, what the creative team needs to understand in the DAM is different from the social media team. Make those distinctions clear and put each user on the correct path.

Ensure your training covers the technology, the metadata, and the processes they need to know, and you’ll find a boost in user adoption once they understand how it all comes together to make their lives better.

4. Does the tool interact with my other technologies?

While this one could have been included with #2 above, integrations are worth their own section of this blog.

Previously we mentioned users having to jump around between too many systems. This is a productivity killer and sometimes, the DAM is just one more system they can’t afford the time to log into.

Some integrations are nice to have, while others are just essential. And while it depends on your use case for DAM, recognize that user adoption will suffer if you’re not connecting the right technologies.

The solution: As we’ve said a few times now, talk to your stakeholders and discover what integrated technologies are missing.

Common answers will be:

Reach out to your DAM vendor and find out if they offer these integrations. There will be a cost associated with it, so weigh that against the value it’s going to bring to the business. But if you’re boosting user adoption while facilitating the flow of data and assets across the organization, it could be a worthwhile investment.

If they don’t offer these integrations, that should trigger an evaluation of your company’s priorities when it comes to its enterprise tech stack. Best practices call for integrated technology ecosystems that pass data across platforms to improve transparency and drive better decision-making. If this digital transformation and integration is one of your company’s strategic directives, this may be the time to bring DAM into the project.

User Adoption of the DAM Platform

It doesn’t matter how much time and money you invest in your DAM – if users aren’t in the tool, it’s not helping you. The ROI will be non-existent, and your leaders will start to ask why they’re spending so much on a tool that no one is using.

Ask yourself the questions above and go through the process of identifying why user adoption is so poor. Recognize this isn’t a problem unique to you, but with the right approach you can resolve your digital asset management challenges, boost user adoption, and get back to that positive ROI all of us are after.

To learn more about user adoption, watch this webinar with change management and DAM expert Kristina Huddart.