DAM for Creative Professionals: How to Mitigate 5 Common Frustrations Using Digital Asset Management Systems

by Bri Gust

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What’s the best thing about being a creative professional?

The work, of course.

Writing, designing, recording, creating—it’s what you love and why you chose this career.

But, how much time do you lose every day to non-creative work? An hour a day? Two hours? Four?

If you’re like many creatives we’ve talked to, you’re constantly being pulled away by a variety of non-creative tasks.

Meetings, phone calls, answering emails, status reports, searching through folders at the request of someone in your organization—all these things steal time from your day—time you can never get back.

In conversation after conversation with creative professionals, we hear about five common frustrations when dealing with digital asset management and daily workflows:

  1. Email requests for files
  2. Interruptions
  3. Resizing requests
  4. Approvals and revisions
  5. Wasted work

The good news is this: You’re not alone. Creative professionals everywhere struggle with the same problems as you do.

Here are a few of the ways other creative professionals have addressed these frustrations to make their work better.

1. Email requests for files

Email requests

What creatives tell us: “I get two or three emails a day from people looking for files or photos.”

The average worker spends over three hours a day checking their work email (209 minutes, to be exact).

Is it any wonder that so many feel they never have time to get their work done?

An overwhelming amount of email is especially bad for creative professionals. When did it become a graphic designer’s job to respond to emails from people looking for photos, logos, web copy, or similar requests?

We’re not sure, but it seems to be a common practice.

One creative director we interviewed told us that he has his team forward all file requests to him. “I take care of it so they can stay focused,” he told us. “Unfortunately, that means I have days when I spend most of my time looking for files and images and responding to these emails.”

It doesn’t have to be this way.

You, as a creative professional, do not have to personally find and email files to anyone who asks, and neither does your manager or your creative director.

Instead, empower your organization to find what they need on their own. A digital asset management system is the perfect solution to prevent the constant pinging of email requests.

A DAM organizes photos and files using easily searchable tags. That way, anyone in your organization can go look for what they need—without having to email you.

If your organization is using a DAM, set a new standard, or ask your boss to set it on your behalf. If people in your organization need something, they must search for it first on their own. If it’s not available in the DAM, then they can email you. But not before they look on their own.

2. Interruptions

Interruptions

What creatives tell us: “I can’t remember the last time I got two straight hours of uninterrupted work.”

Interruptions are costly.

University of California, Irvine, researcher Gloria Mark found it takes people an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to a task after being interrupted.

And yet, in many organizations, creative professionals get interrupted all the time. At one office we visited, the creative team was located in a corner of the building—away from noisy business and customer service areas. Their location was intentional; it was meant to reduce interruptions for the team.

But it wasn’t working.

Instead of leaving the creative team to do their work, stakeholders were in the habit of simply walking over to the creative team’s work area whenever they needed something or wanted to check on a project.

“A dozen people a day would ‘drop in’ for one reason or another,” a team member told us. “They’d ask for a status update on their project, or they’d stop by to see if the latest proofs had come in. It costs me 30 minutes of work every time someone stopped by.”

After adopting a digital asset management system, however, the company put new rules in place to go with it. Instead of an ad hoc process where anyone could contact the creative team for anything, they implemented a standard intake process that better protected the creative team’s time.

As part of the new process, no one was to visit the creative team’s workspace unless they’d been invited or had something urgent to discuss. Instead, they were instructed to use an internal chat tool for small requests or check-ins. If they needed a file, they were to check the DAM first, before sending a request to someone on the creative team.

From that point on, interruptions dropped from a dozen a day to one or two a week.

“We’re way more productive than we used to be,” the team’s lead graphic designer told us. “The DAM and the new guidelines have been a great help.” This is how implementing a DAM goes well beyond a new way to store files. For this company, it was one piece of a larger effort to enable their creative professionals to focus—without distraction.

3. Resizing Requests

Resizing

What creatives tell us: “The most common request I get is to resize images or put them in a different format.”

Most people don’t have PhotoShop on their computer.

You can tell by the number of requests graphic designers get to simply resize images or put them in a different format.

A DAM can be a very simple way to fix that for people across your organization; many DAM systems include the ability for anyone to resize an image or save it in different formats.

Within Brandfolder, for example, this tool is built directly into the web interface, empowering anyone with access to convert the size or format of an image. Brandfolder also allows for unlimited guest users, so anyone who access to your shared assets are able to convert to their heart’s desire.

DAM screenshot

And, if you’re not yet a DAM admin, collaborator, or end-user, we invite you to try Workbench. Workbench is designed to give you some of the functionality we’ve built into our DAM. It includes a file converter and image resizing tools, along with a variety of others.

4. Approvals and Revisions

Approvals

What creatives tell us: “Dealing with approvals is the worst part of my job. I often spend longer on revisions than I do on my original design.”

What’s the most frustrating part of being a creative professional? For many, the answer is: approvals and revisions.

In many organizations, the entire approval process itself is tedious, confusing, and time consuming. And if you’re like most creatives, receiving contradicting revisions from multiple people in the approval chain is common.

We’ll be honest: A digital asset management system won’t stop your project manager from asking you to “put it all in Comic Sans.” But one of the best ways to relieve some of this pain and frustration is to implement a better workflow for sending assets throughout the revision process.

Instead of trying to send files as attachments in your email, a DAM gives you one location to share with anyone who needs to sign off on your work. No more trying to figure out what version is the latest version. And no more digging for files in your inbox.

Instead, the DAM is the single source of truth.

The only version your stakeholders will find is the one you want them to see—during both the review process and after approval.

5. Wasted Work

Wasted work

What creatives tell us: “I’ve had countless designs shot down during approval meetings. I’ve done years of work that no one will ever see.”

Early in her career, one designer we know was asked to create a new logo treatment for a non-profit, which provided food for needy families in the local community.

She spent several days working on the logo, then took the new concept to a review meeting with a PR manager from her company and the non-profit director.

She was proud of the design. “I thought it was one of the better designs I’d made at that point in my career,” she said.

But the PR manager and the non-profit director had other ideas. The non-profit director liked her old logo and just wanted to “freshen it up.”

Why had our designer friend been asked to create a new logo treatment? “Just to give everyone another option,” she was told. And that’s how she wasted three days of work on a logo the world will never see.

As a creative professional, situations like these are probably a regular part of your life.

“It happens to me a few times a month,” our designer friend told us. “I’ve had projects I spent months on that will never see the light of day.”

A digital asset management system won’t change the fickle opinions of the people reviewing your work. But, along with a process change, it can give you a straightforward way to avoid situations like the one our friend experienced.

You’ll need to ensure that you’ve collected a full project brief—or at least a full set of expectations—from anyone you’re working with. As you do your work, share your progress with stakeholders to let them see how things are going. Use the DAM to share files so everything is up to date.

This will help you avoid those nagging emails asking for status updates. It will also reduce the number of times your work gets rejected in review meetings at the end of a project.

Conclusion

Your work can be fulfilling, but it can also be frustrating if the right tools and processes aren’t in place.

Getting your team organized with a digital asset management system is one great way to mitigate many of the common frustrations you face as a creative.

We invite you to try Brandfolder, which is designed to help everyone in your organization be more effective.