Efficient file management helps designers in getting things done

File management for designers is not sexy, it might be a dull topic, but it's damn important! Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Plus Premiere, Lightroom, After Effects, and more – for decades, creatives around the world have used the full range of Adobe applications to create engaging content. But now a new era of creativity is dawning.

Adobe MAX, which just ended, has impressively displayed brand-new and upcoming opportunities in content creation. If you want to read about how our time at Adobe MAX went, check out our blog.

Adobe showed that artificial intelligence can now take creativity to a whole new level. With a few clicks, Adobe Firefly and Adobe Express can create amazing designs of stunning quality in a matter of seconds. Perhaps it will take a bit of time for users to get the hang of writing prompts to get the visuals they want. But if you've already had a chance to work with Firefly and Express, you'll have a least a first impression of the potential that is waiting to be unlocked.

Question: How are you going to use AI to support you?

AI innovation is stunning us all with the speed of its development.

But one thing already seems clear to us – the amount of creative files will continue to rise sharply. This makes it increasingly crucial to ensure that nothing gets lost and that everything is quickly and easily accessible – for everyone, from within all applications, regardless of file formats.

Wouldn´t it be a shame if a good deal of this new creativity were to disappear into the digital ether, never to be seen again? More than ever, it's important to build internal channels where files can efficiently be integrated into natural workflows.

Creatives just want to be creative, but…

All creative professionals are familiar with this situation: You have a brilliant idea – and then, out of a sudden, a message pops up. Someone in the team needs an image, a layout, a graphic, whatever. In a certain format, of course, for a certain purpose – but above all, immediately. There it goes, the brilliant idea.

Completing these kinds of requests is just plain work, or more accurately, unproductive work. In an annual study, Asana, investigates the "anatomy of work".

In its 2021 edition, the study identified the biggest time drainers, which included:

  • coordinating with colleagues on work processes
  • the search for information such as job data or status
  • frequent switching between programs, often involving manual data transfer.

The study found that, on balance, employees in companies spend up to 60 percent of their working time on non-productive work – on "work for work". That's not fun and not creative – and it also costs real money.

We knew these requests for files posed a challenge, but to be honest, even we could hardly believe that this was actually such a huge problem. So we did a small survey among our customers, prospects and in our bubble. OK, our little study is not representative, but it confirms the big picture.

Here are just some results:

  • requests for files cause jumping between topics and clients, resulting in “creative blocks”
  • delivering outdated or irrelevant files due to a lack of communication and inefficient workflow
  • saving files in data silos not everybody has access to
  • saving different versions and naming them
  • sending files by e-mail leads to an enormous number of file copies lying around in the shadows, but which can be accessed by accident in an uncontrolled manner
  • reviews and approvals slowing down the whole workflow

Read the full report here


Create a self-service environment

In the modern workplace, ensuring smooth access to creative files is pivotal for maintaining steady workflows across departments. However, the traditional method of requesting and distributing files is a bottleneck, hindering productivity.

But how can you put an end to that and focus on your job and what you really enjoy doing? You should create a self-service environment where users of your creative files can get what they need in a do-it-yourself manner. Here are some tips on how you can achieve this.

Define a file naming convention

We guess you know this – you download a file somewhere and the file name is absolutely useless in the style of 12345.jpg or corporate_v3_final.pdf. If you don't rename the file right away, you can assume that it will disappear into the abyss of your archives.

What this means for your own work: Think about a convention for the naming of your files. Yes, it sounds boring and definitely not creative, but in the end, it's a huge time saver.

Here are some tips to get there:

  • Simplicity: Keep file names simple, short, and to the point. Avoid overly complex or verbose names.
  • Descriptiveness: Ensure file names provide a clear indication of the content. Incorporate key information like the project name, task, date, or version number.
  • Use of Dates: Incorporate dates in a consistent format such as YYYYMMDD to help with version control and timeline tracking.
  • Version control: Include version numbers in file names to easily differentiate between various stages of a document’s life.
  • Avoid special characters (e.g., &, %, $, @) and spaces: They might cause issues with software or online platforms. Stick to alphanumeric characters and underscores or hyphens.
  • Consistency: Stick to a consistent naming convention across all files and projects. It helps in maintaining uniformity and making the system predictable.
  • File Extension: Always include the file extension to ensure the file type is immediately recognizable.
  • Documenting your convention: Create a document outlining your naming convention and ensure it is easily accessible to all team members. Educate them on the importance of adhering to the convention for effective digital asset management.

Define a metadata strategy

Have you now discovered a new passion and want more dusty things? Here we go – what about metadata?

Metadata is far more than mere information about the content of a specific file, it builds also the basis for the automation of processes – for data-driven workflows. The Adobe applications offer extensive metadata capabilities, so this information will also travel with the files.

Creating a robust metadata strategy is crucial for effective digital asset management.

Here are some hints on how to develop a sound metadata strategy:

  • Understand Business Needs: Begin by understanding the specific needs of your business and how metadata can serve those needs. This includes identifying the types of digital assets you have and how they are used within your organization.
  • Engage Stakeholders: Involve stakeholders from different departments to gather diverse perspectives and requirements. This will help in creating a metadata schema that serves a broader range of needs.
  • Standardization: Adopt standard metadata schemas where possible. Standardization facilitates interoperability and data exchange among different systems.
  • Controlled Vocabularies: Use controlled vocabularies to ensure consistency in metadata entries. This helps in reducing errors and improving search accuracy.
  • Customization: Where standard metadata schemas fall short, customize metadata fields to better suit your organizational needs. But keep customization to a necessary minimum to maintain simplicity.

With a file name convention and a metadata strategy, you've already accomplished a great deal when it comes to your file request relief. But now you have to ensure that all employees have access to the files they need. The biggest obstacle in this context are the infamous data silos – isolated data repositories that are not easily accessible or integrated with other data sources.

By addressing the issue of data silos and working towards a more integrated file management approach, you can foster better collaboration between your creative team and the marketing department in your company, leading to more effective and safe campaigns. Sounds easier said than done?

Implement a centralized digital asset management system

A (virtually) centralized digital asset management system allows for the consolidation of data from various sources into a unified platform. This makes it easier to access and share information across different departments.

There is a whole range of powerful systems available on the market, all of which enable the management of files in a broad range of formats. They can manage a wide variety of metadata, offer version control features, and much, much more.

Achieve full freedom with transparent integration

But even a digital asset management system can struggle to make files available transparently across all departments and applications. Most of these systems require a well-defined workflow and usually need to be integrated with the applications in which the files will be used.

This means some effort on the technical side and requires training of users in various departments. It is important to remember that digital assets are no longer used only in the marketing department, for example – think also about sales, product development, HR – basically all departments of the company.

But if a DAM system can't help the situation properly, then what could solve the issue?

You need a solution that provides the easiest way to access your files – across departments and applications. And this is where our CI HUB Connector comes into play. With just some clicks It creates a digital content ecosystem that even non-IT-savvy users can utilize quickly.

No matter the source, the format, or the intended usage

CI HUB Connector bridges Adobe creative programs, Adobe Asset Manager, digital asset management systems, Google Drive, Dropbox, and image agencies to Microsoft Office, WordPress, Product Information Management, Brand Management, and Customer Experience Management solutions – just to name a few.

And the range of supported applications will continue to rise. The latest addition is new Adobe Express (you can see this as an indication of how closely we work with Adobe).

Just one of the advantages of CI HUB Connector is that it can be easily embedded into your existing IT landscape – no need to customize anything. After installation, a palette is available in the applications, which can also be used to integrate with other systems with just a few clicks. CI HUB Connector also takes care of metadata handling, versioning, and much more. It also converts the original file on the fly into the formats and resolutions needed by your requesting colleagues.

Interested to learn more? You can find more information in this blog post about how to manage your digital content seamlessly with media asset management. But why not immediately start to enjoy seamless and efficient asset management, that everyone can access and control? Take your productivity and file management to the next level – try CI HUB Connector for free.

Article by
Stefan Horst

As an external communications consultant and content expert for tech companies, Stefan Horst has been active in the world of marketing, publishing and print for several decades. He has worked for Adobe, Agfa, Philips, Extensis and WoodWing, among others. Currently, in addition to CI HUB, he works for Zaikio, Impressed and others.