AEC firms from around the world come to OpenAsset with a wide range of different goals and challenges, but they all have one thing in common: they’re tapping into the power of new technology to transform their business.
Standing in the way of that transformation is a litany of vague language that employees use to describe the challenges they face. This guide will help you decipher some of that language and get to the root cause of your team’s dysfunction.
We’ll start with the five most common issues related to AEC firms and the technology they use to write proposals, collaborate on projects, and improve their project win rate.
5 Signs Your Team Needs A Digital Asset Management (DAM) Solution
According to Deltek’s 2021 Clarity Architecture and Engineering Report, 54% of AEC firms said they struggle to prioritize which new technologies will yield the greatest results for their business.
Though digital transformation is important, our survey found that AEC firms in 2022 most value technologies that facilitate process improvement AND make it easier to perform day-to-day tasks, like collaborating with team members.
Analysis of this sentiment reveals an AEC industry inundated with time-consuming processes, and burdened by old technology that does not deliver the speed they need to do their jobs effectively.
Many of these issues may seem obvious to teams in the field, but the bird’s-eye-view from the executive office is often obscured by the challenges of running the firm. That’s why it’s up to you to listen to your team and transform their complaints into actionable solutions.
“Nobody Can Find Anything” – Assets Are Difficult to Find and Hard to Access
Complaints related to “nobody can find anything” are easy to understand but deceptively complex, as many firms store their assets in multiple places, including:
- hard drives,
- cloud storage, and
- email attachments.
Your Team Doesn’t Know Where to Find Digital Assets
A piecemeal system of file storage makes it difficult for your team to find the files they’re looking for, especially on large teams with rapidly growing media libraries. In these cases, one person often becomes the go-to contact for everyone else in the firm to get the files they need.
This is obviously inefficient, and time-consuming and leads to a number of bottlenecks in the creative process, especially as it relates to marketing, branding, business development, and proposal management.
Your Team Doesn’t Have the File Access They Need
Bottlenecks related to file access are extremely frustrating for the person fielding requests and dealing with constant interruptions. It’s also a poor process for the people requesting assets since they’re stuck waiting for someone else to find and retrieve the files they need.
Solution: A Single-Source-of-Truth for File Storage and Access
The solution to disparate file storage is a central storage location, also known as a single source of truth, where files are made easily accessible to those who need them. There are a number of single-source solutions on the market, such as Google Drive or Dropbox, but adding yet another storage solution to your tech stack will only exacerbate the current issue.
The idea is to consolidate, if not, eliminate the numerous systems that scatter files throughout your network with no way to retrieve them. The true solution to disparate file storage and access bottlenecks is a digital asset management (DAM) system that eliminates the need for multiple systems by enabling your team with:
- Advanced Search Capabilities
- AI Suggested Keywords
- Project-Based Usability
- Metadata and Image Tagging
- Licensing and Copyright Management
Together, these capabilities eliminate the need to dig through messy file structures — or worse, pay a designer to recreate digital assets that already exist. Most importantly, a DAM enables your team with the quick and frictionless access they need to perform their roles most effectively.
Digital Asset Management (DAM) Use Case: JHL Constructors
Similar bottlenecks related to disparate file storage are what prompted JHL Constructors to implement a digital asset management system (DAM) to consolidate the scattered storage systems that were slowing them down.
“OpenAsset has made photo compiling for our weekly update more efficient. With just a few clicks, we can locate the photos and tag them for use in the update as well as archive them for future use in proposals, brochures and articles.”Communications Manager, JHL Constructors
“It Takes Forever to Send Files” – Asset Sharing Leads to Bottlenecks
Issues related to file sharing also frequently arise with files that exceed a certain size, making it slow and difficult to share much-needed digital assets, like:
- Request for Proposals (RFPs),
- Project Proposals,
- Video Files,
- 3D Renderings,
- Building Plans,
- Reports, and
This workflow interruption creates a bottleneck for all involved and can bring creativity to a standstill. Designers are often tasked with “small one-off requests” like converting a logo to a different format or resizing an image.
Many times designers have to recreate digital assets from scratch because the original editable file is nowhere to be found. Such urgent tasks cut into the designer’s valuable time and hamper productivity.
Secure File Sharing Is A Pain To Manage
File sharing only becomes more complicated when you consider security, and the sophisticated process of user authentication, file permissions, and the transfer of sensitive company information. Too often, only select individuals have access to specific files, which means they spend a significant portion of their time authenticating users and manually sharing sensitive files with those who need them.
Your Assets Have Restricted Use Cases and Special Instructions
The file-sharing process should be instant, but assets with restricted use cases or special instructions can bring the process to a standstill. It can even get you fined for violating usage rights on licensed photos.
Solution: Automate File Conversions, Keywording, and Metadata
The best way to increase the speed of your file-sharing process is to automate file conversions, keywording, and metadata based on common use cases, thus, enabling your team to automatically download files in the size and format they need.
Unfortunately, that solution does nothing to solve the issues with use restrictions and special instructions. For that, you need a DAM system. Enabled with sophisticated metadata fields, a DAM system can help support your firm’s digital rights management (DRM) strategy and control the use of copyrighted digital material. These fields can be used to capture:
- usage rights,
- expiration dates, and/or
- project details for each asset.
Users can also attach files, such as a release form or contract, so teams have the important documents they need in one place. This can be especially valuable when managing project photography, which often has very specific use parameters.
Digital Asset Management (DAM) Use Case: Power Engineers
Engineering projects are often highly sensitive to protect clients and ensure project photos are properly vetted before they are utilized for marketing purposes. Power Engineers control the use of their project photos with OpenAsset, which gives them the tools they need to:
- Improve the image vetting process,
- Enable employees with controlled access to approved photos, and
- Encourage photo library growth with a scalable process and tools.
“We didn’t have any permission-based controls on images, so that meant that people were the gatekeepers, which created huge bottlenecks… Now, we have a robust system that allows us to tell the story, not only about that individual photo, but who owns it, who uploaded it, and whether the image is approved. This has improved our process immensely.”Corporate Communications Coordinator, Power Engineers
“There is No More Space on Our Drive” – Your Firm is Growing
If you find it difficult to keep up with your content library or feel like you’re drawing in “final versions”, your firm is likely growing or implementing initiatives to trigger that growth. That means your media library is about to get an infusion of:
With luck, your firm will be able to sustain that growth for the foreseeable future, but that means you now need to formulate a way to future-proof your media library, so your creatives, marketers, and designers can keep up with the success of your firm.
There is No Way to Process New Assets
Failure to future-proof your media library leaves your team with nowhere to process new assets. Limited space for file storage leads to an infuriating system of one in one out, where users are forced to delete an old asset to upload a new one.
Your Designers Are Wasting Time on Repeat Work
As users struggle to upload new assets, they are bound to delete or lose important files, forcing designers to recreate the asset, thus wasting time on repeat work. Needless to say, this issue has significant consequences when you consider the amount of lost revenue associated with repeat or meaningless work.
Solution: Centralized, Cloud-Based File Storage
The solution to dwindling file space is to add more file storage, but that often comes with a significant cost. Server space is expensive and requires complicated contracts with third-party vendors, and the implementation of a sophisticated security system to ensure secure file access and distribution.
Cloud-based file storage systems like SharePoint and Google Drive are readily available, even free to access, but they do not offer the security and additional functionality of a digital asset management system.
Enabled with cloud-based storage and sophisticated version control, DAMs make creative asset management easier for everyone. More importantly, they eliminate the time-wasting, destructive process of deleting assets just so you can upload another.
Digital Asset Management (DAM) Use Case: Nitsch Engineering
AEC marketing teams are often small and overworked. With two marketers supporting an 85-person engineering firm, Nitsch Engineering was no different. Inundated with thousands of digital assets, they found themselves in the frustrating position of wasting valuable time searching for photos and managing additions to their ever-growing digital library.
“We started keeping track of how much time it was taking to find photos… We knew it was a lot of time, but even we were surprised by how much time we were wasting…Projecting that out with our hourly rates, we calculated that OpenAsset would pay for itself in the first year.”Director of Marketing, Nitsch Engineering
“The System Can’t Do What We Need” – Your Team Needs Help Implementing New Initiatives
We call project images, marketing materials, and sales collateral digital assets because they carry value. If, for whatever reason, your digital assets are missing, misused or unavailable, they lose that value. The average team wastes weeks – even months – each year looking for files, which equates to a resounding waste of time, effort, and revenue.
If you’re currently using a file-sharing tool that only integrates with a small portion of your marketing technology (Martech) stack, or it takes hours to organize, release, and communicate content requirements for an upcoming campaign, you’re wasting time and energy.
Unfortunately, the solution to this problem is often misattributed to the addition of a new system, but adding yet another system to your tech stack only serves to exacerbate the issue, especially if those systems are incapable of communicating or integrating with one another.
Your Martech Systems Do Not Communicate With Each Other
There are dozens of martech solutions on the market. Some of these solutions may already be in your tech stack but rarely do these systems communicate or integrate with one another. This lack of integration and communication makes it difficult to manage valuable digital assets, especially if users need to utilize multiple systems to create, share and edit those assets.
Your Firm Struggles With Brand Consistency
Bottlenecks related to system communication and integration not only slow down the normal process of work, they can also affect the consistency of your brand. With multiple users creating, editing, and sharing branded material, brand standards can easily slip, enabling off-brand content to weaken the overall value of your brand and hindering your digital branding efforts.
Solution: Consolidate and Integrate Your Martech Systems
The best way to help your team implement new marketing and branding initiatives is to consolidate and integrate your martech stack. Doing so eliminates the need to utilize multiple systems to create, edit and distribute content.
But how do you consolidate martech systems without limiting the capabilities of your marketing team? The solution is to build a martech stack that integrates with the tools you need most while eliminating redundancy. In other words, you need to find martech solutions that provide maximum functionality and integration with the systems that provide the most value to your organization.
Included in your martech stack should be a digital asset management system that consolidates the functionality your team needs to manage valuable digital assets and share them with the people that need them.
Digital Asset Management (DAM) Use Case: LMN Architects
Like many AEC firms, LMN Architects was using SharePoint and a number of other martech systems to manage their digital assets but lacked the development skills needed to fully integrate their Sharepoint with the rest of their martech stack.
“We’re not developers… To think that we could develop a DAM in SharePoint in a cost effective way was naive, and a custom built solution was never going to be as robust or feature rich as a purpose-built tool… OpenAsset interfaces with our other business systems and allows us to automate many of the more time consuming aspects of DAM and also provides a solution that enables us to quickly share assets both internally and externally.”Digital Asset Manager, LMN Architects
“We Have No Idea What’s Going On” – You Need to Track Valuable Metrics
“We have no idea what’s going on” is not the type of language you want to hear from your team in any situation, but especially in regard to your valuable digital assets. Sure, knowing where your digital assets are and how to share them is important, but so is monitoring them for performance.
Lacking any analytical process for judging performance, your marketing teams are essentially blind, laboring under the possibly false assumption that their efforts are well-placed and their strategy is working.
You Don’t Know How Your Marketing Assets Perform
What if you could quickly see how many people downloaded the latest white paper? Better yet, what if you could compare the performance of this white paper to other marketing materials? The significance of that type of insight is not lost on marketers, which is why there are dozens of marketing analytics tools available. Unfortunately, many of these tools are designed specifically for digital marketers, which is only a small facet of AEC marketing.
You Need a Project-Based Solution
Unlike many traditional marketers, AEC marketers produce account-based marketing campaigns, i.e. campaigns designed to highlight or promote the firm’s work on a specific building project and/or tailored to appeal to one specific client.
As such, many of the marketing solutions that provide analytic insight offer little value to AEC marketers who utilize a project-based approach to marketing. What you need is a martech solution designed to work for your industry, i.e. Architecture, Engineering, and Construction.
Solution: Project-Based Digital Asset Management
Project-based digital asset management is a solution designed specifically for AEC firms and the marketers that promote, as it enables easy and efficient use of the project images and project-related marketing collateral they use in their account-based marketing campaigns.
Digital Asset Management (DAM) Use Case: Derwent London
Derwent London was in need of a way to simplify their photo marketing efforts. Unfortunately, few of the DAM systems on the market offered the functionality they required. Enter OpenAsset, the only project-based DAM designed specifically for the Built World.
“High quality images are very much part of what we want to promote. We specialize in design excellence and need good quality photography, so having them well organized is absolutely key…OpenAsset automatically resizes images and inserts them into PowerPoint, Word, and Adobe Photoshop and InDesign, which makes the process much easier.”Marketing Manager, Derwent London
Make it Easy for Your Team to Perform at Their Best with OpenAsset
If you hear the language described in this guide circulating among staff at your firm, it’s long past time to ditch your old tech stack and replace it with a digital asset management system (DAM), like OpenAsset.
Designed specifically for firms in the built world, OpenAsset makes it easier to share and manage the multitude of digital assets needed to not only create winning proposals but manage and share the marketing collateral you need to close deals and win more business.
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