Workflow And Engaging Your Users
In digital asset management, the phrase "peer sourcing" is particularly relevant. When a new file or collection of files is uploaded, you will want to capture the specialist information and awareness of the content. This is most probably known to the person doing the uploading.
When a user copies a file from their workstation to a simple network store, only the file - and perhaps some technical data or local metadata from the user’s own graphics package – will be uploaded.
This is not a good strategy for digital asset management, since it means that files are accumulating in folders as they always have in the past.
If only the files are stored, there must be a digital librarian who separately opens each new file at a later date and reviews what it is, how to categorise it and tag it with metadata. Otherwise, the file cannot be searched and is probably better deleted or returned to the user to keep on their workstation.
Stepping up to workflow
For more sophisticated setups, the upload workflow tools in your digital asset management tool can provide an automatic intervention to capture metadata from the user performing the upload.
Workflow means that steps exist that lead to other steps; conditions triggering processes, just like a manufacturing process but applied to digital files. The nature of these processes will depend on the features that are configured to suit your organisation. In a generic sense, in digital asset management the upload workflow is about tagging activities and peer review.
Metadata tagging can be completed with the aid of controlled vocabularies, or by assigning defaults at the point of upload in templates. This can alleviate the pressure of providing a lot of metadata and encourage occasional users to use the software effectively.
Peer review (approval and rejection) usually means that the finished, tagged content is passed to an administrator or another group of users for their review. Until the requisite steps are completed the uploaded files stay in an unapproved state, rather than appearing in the digital asset management system to other users.
Tips for improving participation in digital workflow
One thing that must be achieved is adoption. Users should not be left behind by accident or by designing metadata requirements that are too onerous to be practical.
Participation in metadata is the right way to activate the highly attractive power of the search engine and does need some extra commitment. So, if you can, it is a good idea to require only the minimum of metadata, especially at the earliest stages.