[Update March 2020: many of our colleagues, clients, and readers are now working remotely or from a new office environment. This post is not a series of tips or tricks for navigating that scenario but rather an indication of the work day of a digital librarian in the digital asset management field generally. At Image Relay I already worked remotely, and currently juggle home activities for 2 high-school aged children following school closings related to COVID-19.]
The career track of the digital asset management (DAM) librarian is relatively new, simply because the digital workplace is relatively new. And like every digital work practice, the role of the DAM librarian is constantly, and quickly, evolving. Traditional cataloging and metadata practices librarians use can take you far, but as DAM applications and their features develop so too must the ways in which DAM librarians manage content and work with clients.
In my role as a DAM librarian at a digital asset management software company, I am involved with much more than cataloging content. I’m part of the sales process, work as project manager during customer onboarding, provide technical and strategic support, and help to make sure our customers reach their goals.
Much of my work is about “success.” We want to help our customers reach their goals and have a high-quality, successful experience across their entire journey starting at the beginning of setup. Helping a customer meet their goals is the most important thing when it comes to the value that they receive from digital asset management and the return they see on their investment.
This post describes what I do each day to help get customers there.
It Starts! - Information Gathering
I typically get involved with customers during the sales process with new clients to understand what their use cases will be. Why do we do this? Because the librarians are involved in the implementation work with clients we are well-positioned to flag any potential challenges from the client’s intended use of our system and uncover opportunities for ways they might complete their tasks more easily, sometimes through automation.
DAM librarians assist our sales team by investigating a potential customer’s use cases and workflows and providing insights about challenges and opportunities learned from working with customers in more than 80 industries over more than a decade. Is the client a retailer or a media agency, a university, a manufacturer, or a health care service provider? I have not seen it all, but I have seen a lot and we often find challenges surfacing again and again in different industries.
By looking at a client’s Facebook company page, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social feeds it gives a feel for the client’s business manner, as well as quick indication of the scope of their branding requirements (if the social channels have consistent branding, and they have changed consistently over the years we might presume they have definitive brand guidelines and that is important to the entity for example). Press releases, industry publications, and other public assets are browsed for similar reasons. Are the clients going through a rebrand due to some activity? What departments are engaging us first? How else can we assist the client overall so they can gain more value from digital asset management? These are all questions we look into early.
The type and scale of materials, and distinct workflow of companies will inevitably affect the strategy for implementation and later use of the DAM. What file types do they use, what are their sizes, how do different departments interact with the DAM? All of this should be understood by the client and DAM librarians early on so launch dates can be accurately forecast and expectations set for all stakeholders.
To be a successful working partner for a customer we must know the distinct use the client has for Image Relay but also educate ourselves about their industry and internal vocabulary. The intent here is to become informed about a client’s practices so we may anticipate their future asset management needs. Over time the Image Relay librarians become trusted assistants and we aim to be ‘pluggable’ members of the customer’s team when needed. There is inevitably some cross-over in use cases as utilizing a DAM has common themes across many markets - like asset centralization, brand consistency, user self-service, integrations, and asset distribution.
Bespoke Is Not Just for Suits…
When clients come to us to get completely reorganized and they have little or no digital asset management experience, we typically speak with the marketing departments or IT departments first. The ones who have their hands on the assets in question. We then begin the process of discovery and review to recommend a file/folder/metadata structure that works for that customer’s specific needs. It’s a custom, or bespoke, treatment every time.
I help clients with coaching and providing ideas on how to solve strategic problems like designing a library for sales rep and dealer access, internal self-service, internal-only brand centers, URL sharing to e-commerce sites, or for public/press access? Or all of the above. Some have complicated needs and getting up and running takes months, while others have simpler structures and can be operating in days or weeks.
Every Day Is Different…
As new customers engage us for their DAM needs there is general onboarding, data migration, employee training, quarterly or yearly reviews planned according to their goals, and more. These planned meetings with many new clients and existing clients each month means a tapestry of launch meetings at various stages. For example here’s what my schedule in February looked like, each dot is a planned client meeting (in addition to the many ad hoc or unplanned meetings). Green slots are internal meetings and company supported monthly Volunteer Time Off.
The pace of the works depends on the size of the engagement, and the readiness of the client, but typically we will educate around our distinct features and the application itself as a variety of “steps to launch” in each stage, such as:
• Branding Tools
• Folder Organization
• Metadata Practices
• Permissions and User Options
• Library Training
We manage multiple implementations in different stages and customers often leapfrog each other. In addition to the implementation work, I spend hours each day responding to support questions via live chat and email, and also work to keep our help library full of relevant support articles. The remainder of my time is spent coordinating with our product and design team on new features, updates, and any system bugs.
At Image Relay we are fortunate to engage in Volunteer Time Off that for me involves administration of our local friends of the public library for several hours each month. Our remote work environment segues very well with volunteerism, and time ‘lost’ or away from our desk is minimized as commute times reach zero.
There’s certainly more, but that is a snapshot of the kinds of things I do each day at Image Relay. If you would like to hear more you please reach out to via LinkedIn or through the chat bubble over there on the right.