Internal creative teams face diverse challenges for project, product and asset management. The same app often needs to serve as a project tracker, as well as a database for thousands of proprietary products and their associated rich media files. Because creative teams are well aware of how that app should function, the shortcomings of off-the-shelf databases and cloud solutions are all too apparent.
This is why larger companies (and agencies) often turn to their IT teams to build a custom app for them, as most teams are at least aware of the solutions landscape, and many have their own developers to support teams internally.
However, working on (and supporting) the evolution of a custom app (as opposed to an off-the-shelf software product) is a very different animal. IT managers need to stay more focused on implementation and management than on internal custom app development. IT specialists may not have the time or the flexibility, let alone the skill, to satisfy the complex and tailored needs of a marketing and digital creative team.
Developing an app requires flexibility, agility, and customization. Claris FileMaker remains one of the most well-known custom app building platforms on the market. It addresses the needs of creative groups that require a secure, robust, and most importantly, responsive database.
What Do Creative Teams Need from an Asset Management Database?
Digital marketing and communication teams work with a wide range of partners and audiences both outside and within the company. Internally, that same team often serves crucial income-generating sales, product, and e-commerce teams…all of which are demanding quality assets on an ongoing basis.
During any given day, internal communications and marketing teams interact with:
- Multiple audiences (B2B and B2C)
- E-commerce/product databases
- Creative agencies
- Production companies
- Printing companies/fulfillment houses
- Internal product and sales teams
Keep in mind (though we hardly need to remind internal marcom folks) that internal departments do not necessarily share the same location. Designers and creative directors also interface frequently with outside agencies, with those agencies both receiving and generating massive image and video files. Retail partners often have final approval over floor displays and graphics.
The cloud isn’t always the best solution for transferring and sharing resource-demanding files like high-res images and videos. You have no way of controlling the bandwidth speeds of offsite third parties, and those large files can be time-consuming to download.
As the team delivers different revisions of images and video, keeping them in one location undercuts the headaches of verifying which versions have been approved. A unified, searchable repository custom-built specifically for your workflow refines the entire resource management process.
Designers and creative directors will often tell us that they need something more robust than a searchable database. They also need a project management tool to ensure that everyone involved in the process turns in deliverables on time.
Creative teams often try to solve the problem of product definition and asset management with spreadsheets. Shared sheets do pose as a temporary solution. In the long term, however, reliance on spreadsheets leads to lost data, confusion, time-consuming manual updates, and reduced productivity.
FileMaker is a custom app building platform with endless integration opportunities for your individual data environment. We recommend FileMaker for creative teams for a few key reasons:
- Ties into different project management tools
- Easy to use
- Keeps records easily identifiable and organized
- Fast and easy to customize for your internal processes
- Manages thousands of individual pieces of creative (images, photos, etc.)
- Creates a paper trail of the workflow of your internal creative team
- Tracks the process that gets creative to deliverable status
- Offers features like project request forms
Because it easily syncs and follows project management flows, it enables everyone to follow the same schedule. As a tool, it can be used within individual groups or company-wide, giving you an inherently future-proof data solution.
Why Localized FileMaker Hardware Instead of a Cloud Solution?
Storing items locally may sound counterintuitive in the age of the cloud. Even as memory gets increasingly cheaper, the cost of cloud storage can be unpredictable when you’re storing resource hogs like full-res graphics and photos.
There’s also an IP issue to consider with local storage: You own both the app and the data. You manage every single creative asset in a database that sits on hardware to which you control access.
With your own app, you’ve got utterly proprietary, private, and localized assets. As a department, you also control the fate of those assets. If, in the future, your IT management changes your cloud infrastructure, this saves you the headache of migrating those massive files from several different cloud-based directories to yet another cloud structure.
There’s also the issue of security. Creative images often feature products that haven’t yet been released, or are managed by strict NDAs. A local server gives project managers decisive control over embargoed materials. The cloud offers plenty of security, but a localized resource may provide even more oversight for pieces of creative that have a restricted “for your eyes only” audience.
Why Work with a Third Party Instead of Going it On Your Own?
Expertise is always going to cut down on development time and cost. A professional FileMaker developer like Skeleton Key evolves into an available partner utterly familiar with your business environment and your departmental needs.
A creative team can also have additional control when working directly with a development firm. As the primary user group for the app, your team knows what it needs, and it might be inefficient to try to communicate those needs through an internal IT manager. In other words: When you communicate your needs directly to a firm whose main mission is to deliver a custom app, nothing gets lost in translation.
Lastly, your needs will change. Tools—all tools—will depreciate over time. Maybe a UX will need a refresh. In the tech world, a year or two could represent a decade of evolution. Having a partner in place who already understands your departmental needs and culture makes those refreshes more cost-effective, faster, and well-informed. A reputable developer will help you take expedient advantage of new tools that come into the market over time.
Working with an expert provides:
Creative Teams Drive Technical Innovation
Designers and digital marketing professionals need IT solutions that are sophisticated but simple to use. As a highly customizable solution, FileMaker is a well-resourced platform that functions as data repository, searchable library, and project management tool for your team, no matter your audience or your campaign.
We have extensive experience in customizing FileMaker apps for a wide range of creative leaders in companies that share a wholesale and retail audience. Use the contact form below if you want to find out more!