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Crawl, Walk, Run: The Leading Approach to a Digital Asset Management Implementation Plan

Carlie Hill avatar

Carlie Hill

Director of Growth Marketing

5 min read

man running ahead of a woman

A digital asset management project can often get over-complicated. With all the available integrations and add-ons, it’s common to get caught up in the potential scope of your DAM and forget about its primary purpose: to help you better manage your digital assets.

From industry analysts to a multitude of customer use cases, it’s been proven that adopting a “Crawl, Walk, Run” approach to a DAM project ensures the success of an implementation in the short and long term. This gradual approach provides a critical foundation for organizing existing assets, drives quick wins with the initial implementation and creates a long-term vision for DAM through integrations and expansions.

In this post, we share expert opinions on the “Crawl, Walk, Run” approach and explain how we use it to ensure the success of our customers.

The Crawl, Walk, Run Approach: Insights from Industry Experts

Bryan Yeager, Senior Analyst at Gartner

At the Gartner 2018 Digital Marketing Conference, Bryan Yeager emphasized the growing complexity of the digital asset management landscape and the sprawl of features and capabilities expected from DAM platforms. In addition to common capabilities, such as library services, data management and search capabilities, DAM is often marketed as a “catch-all solution” under many different names: marketing asset management, brand asset management, content productivity platform, sales enablement, just to name a few. This has created confusion for buyers and often pushed DAM projects to expand to a large-scale transformation solution, driving multiple purposes and involving an ever-increasing number of stakeholders. That’s also why a lot of DAM projects stall or fail, with the fear of implementation complexity overtaking the promise of tangible results and quick wins.

One of the key take-aways from Bryan’s session is to first focus on the use cases for the team with the largest pain points. From there, you can build a roadmap following the “Crawl, Walk, Run” approach, defining short-term goals, a vision for the DAM and a roadmap to get there.

Theresa Regli, DAM Expert and Past Analyst at Real Story Group

Theresa Regli, a DAM strategist and a recognized industry thought-leader shared a similar idea in her webinar on “How to Select a DAM System”.

The way she puts it: “Everyone wants a Millennium Falcon” or, in other words, organizations want the best and the most powerful tools. Most enterprise companies are looking for full-scale, complex solutions before they even have the abilities or tools needed to use them or successfully implement them.

In Theresa’s example, she emphasizes that organizations need to start with “riding a bike” and only then start upgrading to the Millennium Falcon. In DAM terms, this means auditing and organizing assets, implementing a strong taxonomy and spearheading initial adoption, which can take up to 18 months for a large company. Organizations need to implement the core components of a DAM platform first to build a strong foundation, before connecting to workflows or introducing integrations.

Theresa also brings up the issue of a “scope creep” as one of the challenges in a DAM buying process. On one side, there’s confusion between different types of systems, such as MAMs and file storage systems, who claim to have elements of DAM. On another side, there are organizations that want DAM to be an all-in-one solution, with DAM that does too much at the same time. This has diluted the existing use-case for DAM and created an endless list of requirements and customization complexities that prevent a DAM project from ever succeeding or staying on time and on budget.

MediaValet’s Approach to “Crawl Walk Run”

At MediaValet, we know that everybody’s “Crawl, Walk, Run” path is different. It depends on many factors – your company’s size, digital maturity, existing technologies, partner ecosystems, just to name a few. We take all of these elements into consideration to help you define the final vision for your DAM project.

After you’ve defined a vision, we help you develop a roadmap that will get you to that goal, keeping an achievable scope for each phase. Our Customer Success team will help determine the teams that will benefit most from an immediate roll-out of DAM and help facilitate the change management process to ensure early success within these teams. During this stage, the team can also recognize any concerns, issues or gaps that can be improved for the rollout of future groups and identify potential internal advocates.

The Customer Success team will then help define the teams to include in the next wave of implementation, ensuring that the value of the system is maximized. This is one of the reasons we provide unlimited onboarding and training - to allow for a gradual rollout and ensure that any personnel change or new teams do not negatively impact DAM adoption.

Once adoption is high, we’ll focus on your growth and help you make the most of your investment.

Here’s a rough outline of the Crawl Walk Run approach:

  1. Outline business requirements and overall implementation scope
  2. Create a mission statement for the DAM project
  3. Define the roadmap and key milestones to achieve overall mission
  4. Define the core team and key technology integrations involved in the initial roll out
  5. Define next teams, technology platforms or development requirements involved in the later phases and outline desired timelines
  6. Complete initial onboarding, defining taxonomy and best practices
  7. Deliver training to teams and roll out adoption strategies
  8. Evaluate first phase success and define expansion plan and next steps

Crawl, Walk, Run Use-Case: An Alberta-Based University

One of our customers, a Canadian higher education institution in Alberta, leveraged the “Crawl, Walk, Run” approach for their DAM approach. They broke down the DAM implementation into three phases:

  • Phase one – enable the marketing team to complete a re-branding project and distribute newly created brand material.
  • Phase two – expand the DAM to additional departments, auditing and organizing all assets actively used by the teams.
  • Phase three – complete digitization of the school’s historical media and photo archive, auditing and organizing all remaining marketing assets.

The success of their re-branding initiative was accelerated by the DAM platform and paved the way for the following phases and increasing overall DAM adoption. The re-branding project also helped to prove a business case for the DAM and improve organization-wide support.

Ready to get started with the “Crawl, Walk, Run” approach? Get inspiration for teams to include in your roll-out plan with these 3 Categories of Users to Consider.

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