Digital Asset Management TO THE RESCUE
We’ve all been there. It’s 8:15 in the morning and you just got settled in to start working at your job – the marketing manager at a mid-size non-profit community healthcare provider.
You sip your coffee, open up your email – and there it is. The director of fundraising just let you know that they need to change out images used for the new landing page of your site – the one for the big fundraiser that launches in just two days.
Not a big deal, except that the changes have to be made in time for a company-wide presentation – at 9 am.
The director wants images with children instead of adults. Plus they need to be young, but not infants. There needs to be a blue background. And you need to come up with at least a dozen to be selected from.
You take a deep breath, but it doesn’t lessen the panic. Which of our freelance photographers has images like that?
When’s the last time somebody uploaded them? How did they come in to us?
Dropbox? Maybe. Lightroom?
Again, maybe. Perhaps there’s something out on Google Drive.
Possibly one of your teammates knows, but it’s now 8:30 and they’re in a meeting. You start to dig around and can see that you are quickly getting nowhere. And then the doom sets in…
For marketing and design professionals, whether working on projects from scratch or modifying existing work, getting their hands on the right media quickly, accurately, and efficiently is often a challenge.
If the team is not working with a DAM, this can be very problematic.
Files come in from sources both internal and external to the business in various formats and can end up scattered across the group instead of being found in a centralized location.
Files may be modified and not uploaded where everyone can get to it. File names can differ making them hard to identify. Other files may be hard to preview causing a slowdown of work.
Does all this sound familiar? If so, it means that maybe it’s time for your company to get organized with DAM software.
So – what is DAM software?DAM, or Digital Asset Management software is, simply put, a PROBLEM SOLVER.
Think of it as a tool that functions as a centralized repository or digital asset library, readily accessible but secure, and designed to enhance efficiency that every company involved in the creative process could benefit from.
But to best understand why, let’s take a look on a higher level at some of the problems that hinder the productivity of creative teams.
When working with digital files, there are three BIG stumbling blocks:
Distribution, Access, and the Production Bottleneck
Without using digital asset management software, media is often located wherever the last person who touched it left it. When working with external clients, creatives may be instructed to retrieve images from the client’s source.
Often these get downloaded to their PC and stay there.
Sometimes the reverse happens – clients are given access to their agency’s server and dump files in the right place. But many times they get confused and put them wherever they can just to get the task over with.
Other times, media assets may come in directly from a client or freelancer via email attachments, on a thumb drive, or on a CD (yes, that still happens) and those devices go to somebody working on the project who again puts them on just their PC.
Too many variables including where images are coming from and where they go creates a big problem. The time spent looking around for digital asset files before realizing they’re not readily accessible is a big waste, as is the time then used on email, texting, or phone calls trying to find the whereabouts of what’s needed.
File Management, Multiple File Types, Multi-click Previewing, and Version Questions
In order to keep moving along in the production workflow, the creative needs to find the right files among what could be many to work with. Without the help of a DAM, this usually involves clicking open each file, sometimes over varying file types.
The problem here is twofold. Depending on what software is being used to preview files, not all of them are easy to open or even show up for previewing. Plus, in cases where somebody is using regular folders on a computer for storing and collating image files (like Google Drive), thumbnails may be available or not, and they may be very small or of poor quality.
This means that each of these files likely needs to be opened up to review. Sometimes, as media files are being reviewed, staff find very similar versions of the work – but there is no readily apparent indication of which is the one that needs to be used for the project they are working on, and this kicks off an exchange of messages trying to sort that out.
Data Inclusion & Keyword Assignment, Copyright, and Security
Without a digital asset management system in place, there is little to no way to provide extra data like keywords about files. If keywords can’t be assigned to say, images of products, trying to find that one image amidst the thousands on hand is just like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack.
Also without keyword assignments, there can be confusion over what kind of image is really being sought out. For example, say a marketing agency is working with a company that resells scientific products.
The art director may ask to see a bunch images that show balances. A person on the design teams collects up what they think are the right images and sends them along. The director picks two different one to use in mockups for the client’s new ad campaign and sends the proof to the client.
The client sends back a reply saying the images aren’t right – they are scales, not balances. The team pulls another set and sends them back to the art director who then sends them to the client for review before replacing them in the design. But after submitting those, an email is received back from the client saying that the new set sent was a mix of the two.
The art director thinks Hmm? There’s a difference? After a couple of emails exchanged with the client the art director finally gets the difference and then proceeds to explain what that is to the design team in a 10-minute long meeting with visuals, all so this kind of embarrassment doesn’t happen again.
So how does this stop happening? There are several things that can make a difference. Keyword assignment helps. A simple, intuitive list of words assigned to each image, (in this case, done by the client who best knows what the images represent) would have saved lots of time and confusion.
Probably one of the most frustrating things to anyone in the creative field is when they that they’ve already done the work but the file can’t be found. Hours and hours spent creating a design from scratch, retouching a photo, editing audio on a video – wasted. To avoid issues with versioning, digital assets can be marked as “Approved,” “Rejected,” “For Review,” or “Changes Are Required” Additionally, with a DAM system, color labels can be used to further group similar items together for easy access.
Also of note at this stage of the production are copyright and usage issues. Again, if a file has no added data markers to indicate that a copyright exists and under what terms it may be used, any company using that image is subjecting themselves to potential copyright infringement lawsuits.
Finally, the security of media files comes into play. If a company cannot guarantee that their methods for storing files is secure, and that the transferring of the same files is also secure, clients often have a problem sending files through internet-based systems.
This leads them to sending versions through the previously mentioned methods – email, thumb drives, etc. and this perpetuates the problems encountered when not using digital asset management software.
Here’s Why You Should Be Using a Digital Asset Management SystemRelying on archival storage, like Lightroom, Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, or just regular folders, is very rigid. There’s no centralized location for placing files. The files are not easily accessible. There is little to no file naming convention.
There are too many file types. Both internal and external users inevitably get frustrated and further break down workflows. Previewing files can be highly burdensome.
Without looking at a preview at least, you have no idea what it is. Some companies, maybe even yours, try to come up with and adhere to naming conventions. But as time moves along, and with all the different people using the “archive” this standard way of naming things gets lost, leaving things really disorganized.
As we’ve seen, for the creatives, finding media becomes very time consuming, and work slows down dramatically.
A good digital asset management system solves big issues in three very simple ways:
DAM software provides a means of better control of digital assets. Better control provides better usability of those assets and this brings a cost savings. Think about the list of issues above. If you were to analyze the time lost and calculate how that impacts the bottom line of your business, you likely wouldn’t be happy.
In 2012, GISTICS presented an industry paper showing that, when including searching for images, quality checks, verification of copyright and permissions, doing backups, and the like, creative professionals spent on average one out of every ten hours they work doing media file management.
That doesn’t sound like much but, based on average salaries at the time, the calculation came out to nearly $7,000 per employee per year. This figure is likely even higher now as the past ten years has seen an explosion of growth in demand for online content which typically raises costs across all sectors involved with content creation.
The Financial Plus of Getting Onboard With DAM Software and Proper Digital Asset Management
Here’s an added bonus. Freeing up just that one hour out of ten means that for every creative, there is now an average of at least 200 hours per year that can be used on work that is truly creative.
This directly translates to more billable hours that can be sold to other clients, resulting in more projects and this, of course, this can further enhance profits for the company.
How do you manage and search your digital assets now? By endless folder browsing or instant filtering?
Over the last year, Daminion helped 750+ organizations save more than 1,400,000 working hours and finish over 11500 projects.
As a building manager, you know that when elevators, escalators, or any other vertical systems go down, you are suddenly faced with turmoil for the people who rely on them. Those affected, whether building managers, tenants, or even visitors, often don’t realize the degree of mechanical complexity and the high level of specialization required to fix the equipment.
At Vertical Systems Analysis, we want to help you be proactive about your systems’ maintenance and also eliminate the frustration that can come in the event of a possible failure of your elevators and escalators. We’ve developed the VSA Elevator checklist – a guide for vertical systems managers to assist with keeping everything moving reliably and efficiently.
Based on years of hands-on experience with specialized vertical transportation systems, our Elevator checklist contains information that is crucial to help manage your systems. As a building manager, owner or other stakeholders in charge of elevator maintenance, certification and overall safety of your elevator, here are the key things to keep in mind:
· Keep great records of all your maintenance. This will help us get to know all aspects of your system and its equipment.
· We’ll provide counsel so you completely understand service contracts and the associated key terms and conditions. This will ensure you are protecting, tenants as well as the building.
· We’ll help you make sure you are measuring your elevator’s performance against industry standards as well as methodologies including entrapment, usage, downtimes and other issues.
· Learning about your local code requirements. Properly understanding these is critical and can prevent you from incurring excessive costs from non-compliance fees.
· Understanding key terminology of service contracts, and conditions set forth in them that help you to protect your building, its owners, and its tenants.
The VSA Elevator Playbook is designed to give building owners and property managers a leg up with their system’s maintenance demands. By providing information based on our working industry knowledge, research of emerging technology trends, and more, our VSA Elevator check list provides building personnel a better ability to make decisions and alleviate concerns about day-to-day and even emergency-based vertical transportation operations.
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When it comes to testing for elevator code adherence in New York City, impartiality is a key part of ensuring equipment is functioning properly and works safely for all users.
According to the Department of Buildings (DOB) and NYC Maintenance of Buildings Codes, any elevator or escalator located within the city’s five boroughs must be inspected and tested twice a year. Contracted inspection agencies conduct these inspections on behalf of the DOB. Inspections are usually unannounced.
Category Testing is a further means to ensure safer and more reliable performance of equipment. Vertical Systems Analysis is an approved by DOB Elevator Consulting Company that can provide Witness Testing.
The NYC Department of Buildings Guide to Elevators describes the different category tests as follows:
Category 1 (CAT1)
No load safety test performed between January 1st and December 31st each year.
Category 3 (CAT3)
Performed on water hydraulic elevators only every three years from date of installation.
Category 5 (CAT5)
Performed with rated load and speed every five years from date of installation
Under New York law, building owners and managers have the responsibility of hiring competent and, more importantly, licensed and approved elevator inspectors to perform annual elevator and escalator tests.
In addition, they bear the responsibility to obtain the services of an impartial, unaffiliated third-party agency (typically an elevator consultant) to provide witnessing of the inspection. This part of the process is called Category Test Witnessing.
Category Test Witnessing (or sometimes just Test Witnessing), is an additional service in the testing process, employing the use of third-party agencies to witness the category testing performed by elevator inspectors.
Per the NYC Department of Buildings, only third-party agencies that are licensed by them are permitted to witness annual safety tests.
Aside from Elevator Test Witnessing Being Legally Mandated, What Are the Major Benefits to You?
Test witnessing helps you best comply with federal, state and local jurisdictions
New and more rigorous annual elevator inspections attended by independent witnesses are detecting about 50 percent more violations in New York City.
Test witnessing helps you satisfy requirements of insurance carriers and protects your assets
As a building owner or manager, you bear the responsibility under the law for hiring a competent and approved elevator inspection agency to perform elevator and escalator tests. By hiring an unaffiliated third-party agency to witness the inspection, you provide yourself with the extra assurance that you have met the requirements of the law, resulting in your insurance not becoming nullified by negligence.
Test witnessing can minimize your liability by ensuring the safety of elevator and escalator users
When performing an annual test, we subject Elevators and escalators to extreme conditions not typically encountered under normal operation. We do this to bring out any possible adverse situation that can cause the verticals to fail. Acting proactively in this manner helps us spot small issues before they become large ones, keeping all users safe.
Why Choose Vertical Systems Analysis (VSA)
VSA is a state licensed third party agency that can perform test witnessing of your vertical devices. As your third-party witness, it is our goal to ensure that your elevators and escalators are performing to code and that the testing work carried out meets the legal mandates required by New York.
With our extensive support staff, we can also complete your third-party code inspections, processing, and filing fees for you.
To find out more about the role Vertical Systems Analysis can play in CAT1, CAT3 & CAT5 test witnessing, please contact our licensed and fully qualified technicians and engineers.
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From 1883 when the Temple Court Building and Annex was built, a 9-story building that was the third ever skyscraper in New York City, to the 2014 completion of One World Trade Center at 104 floors, elevators have been bringing people to and from high-rise offices, restaurants, apartments, and observation decks. In fact, commercial goods have been moved up and down floors of factories, warehouses, and the like in NYC for well over a century.
Most early elevators were more simple in their engineering, operation, and maintenance than those created according to today’s standards. To remain current and to ensure safety for passengers, today’s elevators may need to be replaced or require elevator modernization.
Signs that Elevator Modernization May Be Needed
Various things can occur to indicate that it’s time to consider modernizing existing elevators. These can include:
Common Modernizations to Expect
Power units, controllers, braking and traction components, signal equipment, and door equipment are all items that may need to be addressed to modernize an existing elevator. Additionally, the cab enclosure may need to be addressed as it, plus the signaling on the inside and outside, should be ADA compliant.
Who Handles Elevator Modernization?
When upgrading and modernizing an elevator, this service should not be trusted to just anyone. Elevator Consulting companies, have the full suite of services needed to do any elevator modernization project properly. A good option for an elevator owner who needs to upgrade is to look for an elevator consulting firm that can cover everything from the machine room to the pit, including the hoistway, hoistway equipment, overhead, and the elevator cab.
Elevator consultants typically work with clients who own, or manage buildings that have elevators, lifts, moving walkways, and escalators. The consultants work with the client to provide evaluation and design of these forms of vertical transportation. When existing equipment is involved, these consultants can evaluate and provide solutions for existing systems that can help the building owner utilize the latest techniques and technologies to optimize their existing structure. Elevator Consultants remain independent of elevator mechanic companies allowing clients to have confidence that the work will be done properly and on budget.
Vertical Systems Analysis (VSA)
Vertical Systems Analysis (VSA) is a consulting and engineering firm whose services include surveying, design engineering, feasibility studies, test witnessing, traffic analysis, permit expediting. VSA completes elevator modernizations in New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Miami. Their elevator modernization services begin with a comprehensive visual examination. VSA then prepares specifications, meets with the client to discuss scope of work, and finalizes a list of bidders. They then manage drawing approvals, fixture/cab selections, and oversee construction through the completion of punchlists.
VSA is known as a firm that will lead and manage an elevator modernization project in-house from initial consultation through completion. This will help ensure that any elevator modernization project they are involved with is done properly to spec every time.
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I'm April Bailey, a freelance writer and editor for hire who has been writing about various topics for many years. Most of my early print work was destroyed in a major house fire. Luckily, I was able to pull some copies from an old PC and have posted them here. Other items on this blog reflect my current articles and blog posts written for online publications and copied here so I never lose my work again!