This post is part of a series introducing some key concepts about digital asset management. In part one of Up and Running with DAM, we shared 5 Expert Tips for Getting Started with Your Visual Media Library. In part two, we outlined Everything You Need to Know About Metadata for Your Visual Media Library. In this post, we’ll show you how to build a metadata policy. Plus, download our free Metadata Policy Sample Document and unlock another video walking you through the process of building a policy for your organization.
Understanding Metadata Policy
If metadata has the power to turn your visual media library into an arsenal of photos and videos you can access whenever you need them, then a metadata policy is your secret weapon. A metadata policy is a written document that serves as a guide for everyone interacting with your photo and video library. It informs how your team will tag images when they add them to the archive, and how internal and external stakeholders will search for visual assets when they need to use them. A metadata policy makes everyone on your team more efficient, and as digital asset management expert Peter Krogh explains, even the process of building one can be useful to your organization.
5 Reasons Your Organization Needs a Metadata Policy Right Now
1. Gets everyone on the same page.
If your team can agree on a system for tagging your images, then you won’t have to argue about what information is important every time you upload a new batch of photos. You’ve already decided what’s important (like customer or building name) and therefore how to tag the images. Having a system makes the uploading process faster and easier for everyone.
2. Reduces confusion.
A metadata policy gives everyone on your team a guide for how to write tags for your images. If your team members know you’re always going to write a tag using the structure, ‘First name_Last name,’ rather than ‘Last name, First name,’ they won’t have to wonder how to tag images during the upload process (and, they won’t have to worry about tagging things incorrectly, and having to go back and fix them later).
3. Lets you identify important information.
Creating a metadata policy helps you sort out your organization’s priorities. What is the most valuable media in your collection, and why is it valuable? The most valuable information should inform your policy – you may need to tag photos according to the event name, the name of the person photographed or the name of a product.
4. Speeds up the search process.
When your stakeholders need to use images, a metadata policy can serve as a guide for their searching, and ensure better search results. If you have a standardized way for writing tags (for example, you always write the name of your sports team’s arch rival the same way), and a stakeholder searches your library with that exact term, all of the pictures with that tag are sure to appear in their search results.
5. Helps new team members understand what the tags mean.
If you’re the collection manager, you probably know where to find the images you need, because you know all the nooks and crannies of your library. But what about that new team member? Or the staff member down the hall who needs a photo for the annual report? Or the person who takes over your job 10 years from now? A metadata policy creates a long-lasting shared understanding for how to navigate your media collection. You want your collection to have value over decades. Putting in the work now to make sure your assets are well-organized and easily accessible can ensure your visual media library will continue to have an impact in the future.
How to Create a Metadata Policy
Step 1: Build a Team.
The first step to building a metadata policy that works for everyone in your organization is to assemble a small team of people to work with you. Your team should collaborate and define what’s important to the organization. Which images are highly valuable to your organization? What information needs to be documented to give the images context? What search terms are your stakeholders going to use when they’re looking for images? All of these are questions to ask your team.
Step 2: Put It on Paper.
Build a document that your whole team can work on (we recommend using Google Docs so everyone can comment and collaborate). List out what’s important to your organization, whether it’s products, famous alumni, or events with historical significance. Whatever is important to your team should inform how you tag images in your collection. For example, if events are important to your organization, you might decide that the event name is a crucial piece of information.
Work together to come to a decision. Make sure you strike a balance between what’s valuable, and what’s achievable (something that isn’t too much work for the collection manager).
Step 3: Reality check.
Once you think you have your document together, it’s time to reality check. Put the document in front of some other people on your team and make sure they agree with what you’ve created. Then, run a test. Apply tags to a set of images based on your new policy. Give the document and access to the images to some testers on your team, and see if they can find the assets they need on a regular basis. This test is where the process of creating a metadata policy really starts to show value. Plus, it helps you gauge whether you’ve done it correctly.
The Return on Investment with Metadata Policy
Taking the time to build a metadata policy can have a huge return on investment for your organization. Your stakeholders will be able to find the images they need quickly and easily (and they won’t have to bombard the collection manager with image requests). The structure of your library will be easy to understand for everyone on the team (and not just one person). And as people across teams use the system to their advantage, your organization’s internal and external communications will improve.
Now, are you ready to get started? Download our free Metadata Policy Document Template now.