Most people setting up a DAM system are confronted with a backlog of archive material needing serious attention. Metadata may be lacking or inaccurate, and images may be scattered in different locations and of variable quality. It can seem overwhelming. But most archives start this way, and you can map a route through the chaos without holding up your project.
What not to do
Whatever you do don’t try to sort out the backlog before taking new material into the DAM. We all like perfection, but think of your data structure and image management system as a container into which you can pour material when it’s ready. Then find the low hanging fruit and get the show on the road!
Only those working in archives fully understand the extent of the work needed to prepare material for the online archive. Finding ways to help budget holders understand the scope of your project, will help enormously. Project funders like to see results.
Get new material flowing in
Once your system is set up the way you want it, make sure your new incoming image workflow is working well. That reassures all parties, and means you can treat your backlog material as a separate project to be managed over time.
What does DAM ready mean?
Make a list of processes needed to organise your legacy material. Images may need selection, reformatting and optimising. Your data will need scrutiny. You may have to review filenames, date formats and ways of standardising the content.
Do a pilot
Take a representative sample and run it through. Log the time needed and incorporate that into your plan for the archive. Set up a realistic plan for handling the backlog in chunks over a period of time. Most importantly, communicate the plan to budget holders!
By Sarah Saunders