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Other Articles By Murray Oles

01 November 2022

Two components within the enterprise IT architecture are in direct conflict. Digital Asset Management (DAM) and Business Process Management (BPM) systems are two complex systems, both targeting...

08 September 2022

Planning a global marketing experience for the mobile enabled consumer is a complex challenge.

The Conflict with DAM & BPM

Digital Asset ManagementTwo components within the enterprise IT architecture are in direct conflict. Digital Asset Management (DAM) and Business Process Management (BPM) systems are two complex systems, both targeting process management. From the DAM industry perspective workflow has become the primary requirement for advancing the relative value of digital asset management. While the BPM industry has paid little attention to DAM, and focused largely on process management and automation. Who is driving the bus when these communities of interest overlap? Should it be DAM enabled BPM, or BPM enabled DAM?

The first DAM-enabled BPM system, SmartFlo, was introduced by CHALEX in 2014. A DAM enabled BPM system automatically manages the assets that are associated with each runtime instance of a workflow. The reason there exist many different optimizations of DAM systems today is to accommodate unique workflows. These include brand asset management, library asset management, production asset management, media asset management, and enterprise content management systems. The distinction between these DAM systems relates to the workflow employed to populate, search for, and retrieve assets from the system.

According to Capterra, there are over a hundred DAM systems currently marketed. Some are freely available as open source software while others are rather pricey. The total cost of any system includes the cost to deploy and maintain it. This is where DAM system implementations fail most often. The configuration and maintenance costs are too high, and the juice isn’t worth the squeeze.

The DAM industry set out to solve a file management problem, and user authentication and access is file-based. Many of the first generation systems failed due to a lack of user engagement. Second-generation DAM systems added workflow wizards; hard coded processes for metadata tagging and approvals. The latest DAM systems have added cloud-based services. The focus of the architecture remains on file management, but the DAM community has shifted their focus to workflow.

DAM professionals meet at conferences all over the world to hear about new developments and share success stories. The BPM industry has also evolved in much the same way. Both interest groups rally around the formation of standards. Process improvement creates competitive advantage and greater profitability. BPM makes process improvement more measurable. The growth rate of BPM systems is similar to DAM, but there is a huge difference. ROI!! DAM systems savings are based largely on the re-purposing of digital assets. BPM systems reduce cycle time, and cost while improving quality. The latter is far easier to measure.

Most BPM systems also manage assets, but they fall short of providing the check-in, checkout, and version control services of a DAM. Few provide thumbnails and previews for managing graphical assets, and even less offer robust DAM services. DAM enabled BPM system will emerge as the next generation solution for managing most business processes that involve human interaction and the collaborative sharing of digital files. The DAM enabled BPM system authenticates users based on their business process role. Role-based permissions are assigned to groups of users. Permissions provide users with access to tools as well as process information and assets. Task performers may have less permission than project managers and administrators. Some user groups can manage projects while others can collaborate in secret, manage form-based assets, create projects, and re-assign tasks.

In a DAM enabled BPM system a unique DAM service is generated at runtime for every project, job, and collaboration that is started through a selected process. The DAM is automatically configured to serve that job as it transitions through the workflow. When a user interacts with the job, all their asset comments, changes to asset status, upload to the DAM and versioning of DAM assets is recorded in the database along with the project metadata and process log. When loaded to the job, assets automatically inherit all the metadata about the project, the job, the task, its’ time stamps, and user interaction with assets.

If the system is deployed to manage brand projects, job data will include the job ticket attributes of the product being produced. For example: A system configured to manage the business processes associated with promoting a global brand may include unique workflows for packaging, promotions and event planning. The job ticket for each element will include the element ID, Description, Client, Category, Brand, Channel, Product, Part, Milestones, and a dozen or more fielded job ticket entries that define what, when where, and how requirements of the job.

Instead of having a cyber librarian enter all this data manually, the BPM system does it all automatically. The DAM service provides access to the assets as needed during the workflow. Project assets are loaded once and will appear in the virtual job bag or case file based on the user’s role in the workflow. Access to assets will vary based on the job status and a users roles and permissions. For example, while the job is running related assets are easily accessed through the assigned task.

A virtual job bag / case file folder displays graphical assets as thumbnails and previews while application files may display a mime type icon and file name. The shared access to assets through the job bag or case file does not necessarily grant the user access to the asset once their task is completed. The process and the actions taken by the user determine asset accessibility. User may be restricted to the accessible “Approved” assets of completed jobs.

In the DAM enabled BPM system every project, job, collaboration, and private user archive is a uniquely configured DAM service. The library of accessible digital assets grows automatically. Users may search for assets based on their group affiliations, roles, and permissions. Search tools can include project and job search, or matching search based on the fielded data and any tags and properties that may have been added to assets. The DAM-enablement of the BPM service indexes the full text of documents upon import. From a process management perspective this feature simplifies the task of finding digital assets based on their content. While this is a standard function on many Dam systems, most BPM systems do not provide asset version control with properties, tags, and taxonomy indexing.

DAM enabled BPM systems are the logical evolution of DAM and BPM systems. By automating the way metadata is associated with assets during the business process, search becomes intuitive and accurate. The DAM becomes an integral service to the workflow, and the resulting logs are a discoverable secure record of events. The consolidation of these two services is inevitable. The competitive advantage is simply too great.


Murray OlesMurray Oles

Murray Oles is the president of Chalex Corporation. Digital transformation advocate for DAM-enabled BPM. This concept makes SmartFlo uniquely able to provide its HOST with all the tools needed to create and manage the digital transformation of any supply chain commercialization process. This includes the lifecycle of consumer product packaging and promotion management.