Building a Digital Workflow Brick by Brick
When computer-to-plate (CTP) printing came on the scene a few years back and catalog content went digital, digital asset management (DAM) became the commonly used system it is today. CTP spawned new dilemmas: how to manage digital content (namely product data and images used for print and electronic catalogs); how to find the assets when needed; how to manage revisions; and how best to draw assets into the creative process. These emerging challenges created a ripe opportunity for DAM developers.
Today, fewer service bureaus offer DAM, and all but the largest printers have returned their prepress departments to their original intent: getting files ready for the press. What remains of the DAM space, however, is an array of mature software solutions catalogers can bring in house. That's good news for catalogers.
The not-so-good news, at least for small to mid-size mailers, is that many enterprise-wide DAM systems are so capable and feature-rich they're often beyond the means of the small to mid-sized cataloger. But they're a luxury for organizations with deep pockets.
Bruce Detweiler Breckbill, vice president, direct sales for Kidron, Ohio-based general merchandise cataloger Lehman's, says venturing into the realm of DAM is a daunting proposition. "I attended a conference last year and checked out some [DAM] systems. I tried to pin one developer down to a price," Breckbill recalls. "I had to know if he was talking about $10,000 or $100,000. He told me that the solution would cost us about $250,000 initially, plus a $30,000 a year licensing fee. We can't even begin to think about that kind of investment."
So Breckbill suspended his search for a large-scale solution and adopted a new strategy — setting more modest workflow goals.
Managing images was a top priority, so Lehman's licensed DiskCatalog, which helps track digital files stored in a DVD library. It's an inexpensive tool that has shaved hours off the creative process, Breckbill says.