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University of Washington

University of Washington Athletics Department Leverages WebDAM to Fulfill Media Requests

“We are thrilled with our experience with WebDAM and would recommend it to anyone who is looking to become more efficient and expand their digital archives.”

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Background

One of the most well-known names in college sports, the University of Washington Huskies can be found in many places, from high-profile events like the Rose Bowl and the annual NCAA basketball tournament to lesser-known titles, such as the school’s performance at the NCAA Track & Field Championships.

The Huskies have developed a reputation for producing excellence on the field, with notable alum including 2008 Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum of the San Francisco Giants and NFL Hall of Famer Warren Moon.

With such a strong presence on the college sports landscape, the Huskies’ Athletics Department remains a busy place.

From team marketing to media requests, the department handles all things sports for University of Washington, and its place in the public spotlight means that media requests come fast and furious, especially during college football and basketball seasons.

The Problem

The Huskies’ reach is far and wide, from mainstream media to alumni scattered around the world. That global presence creates a demand for high quality images from just about anywhere: college sports websites, local media, even internal departments needing images for marketing and communications.

In the past, all image requests funneled down to the Athletics Department’s staff. That meant postponing whatever task was at hand to dig up an image, send it to the requester and verify that it was appropriate for the situation. If it didn’t work, the staff member would have to begin the search process again.

Because each person in the organization had his or her method of archiving, locating the best image sometimes became the proverbial “needle in a haystack” situation. With constant demand coming from both within and outside the university, other projects could quickly experience day-to-day schedule slips. This system didn’t allow any external access to photo archives; all searching, cataloging and updating had to be done by hand.

Because of this manual-intensive effort, updating required extra time, as images had to be properly processed by the department before being made available. Even then, requests could only go by verbal or written descriptions of they needed, not specific examples.

The athletics department recognized the potential to streamline — or even eliminate — this issue with the advent of new image database technology.

 

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The Solution

After receiving a recommendation from a peer at another university, Huskies Athletic Director Richard Kilwein elected to go with WebDAM — a completely hosted digital asset management solution. The reasoning was simple: the Huskies needed a combination of structure, search capability, and accessibility. WebDAM provided all of that and more:

  • STRUCTURE: WebDAM’s easy-to-use design fulfilled the need for a stable, structured interface for both external requests and backend administration. For users, retrieving images became a simple process of logging in and using the search engine to find images with appropriate meta tags. On the back end, WebDAM’s powerful tools made account creation and photo management quick and simple.
  • SEARCH CAPABILITY: One of the biggest issues facing the athletic department was the level of disorganization within the photo archives. WebDAM provided a single source archive that could be easily sorted, tagged, and updated for more effective searches.
  • ACCESSIBILITY: Under the old system, each request — whether it came from a department on campus or outside media — had to be handled by a staff member. WebDAM gives each user their own account so they could search the archives themselves. This allowed requesters to find exactly what they needed without having to go through a middleman. For one-off requests, WebDAM provides an easy solution for sending limited download access. In terms of adding to the archive, WebDAM’s upload functionality (including FTP access) gave photographers the power to directly provide additions on their own.

Analysis & Results

WebDAM instantly made a world of difference for the Athletic Department. Its requester/photographer accessibility essentially removed the burden of retrieving/adding images from the staff, allowing them to work in a much more focused and efficient manner. “In other words, project manager, graphic designers, and others don’t have to call our office to request a photo, and our staff doesn’t have to spend time looking for something that suits their needs,” says Kilwein. He also stated that the platform’s intuitive interface was essentially “dummy-proof” and simplified the process for everyone involved. For the actual archives, the addition of meta tags made the search process more user-friendly and efficient.

One of the unique benefits of WebDAM came with its upload/FTP process, which essentially gave photographers the ability to upload at any time. Kilwein noted that this added much more flexibility in terms of coverage — photos could actually be added to the archive while games were still being played, giving media what they needed far earlier than previously available.

From a human resources perspective, Kilwein calls WebDAM “a blessing.” The Huskies’ staff members didn’t plan on spending the bulk of their time sifting through photo archives, yet that process often ate up more time than they had anticipated. Not only was it time consuming, it heightened the intensity of deadlines and other project goals, adding an unnecessary level of stress to the department. With WebDAM removing that burden, Kilwein observed a more efficient office that delivered a better, more focused effort. “The simple fact that we can now provide photography to our users in a much more timely manner and become more efficient in our core duties is critical,” Kilwein says. “It has also eliminated much of the disconnect that occurs in project management situations.”

Kilwein cited the specific example of an eight-page, full-color brochure for the Huskies’ men’s basketball team. Before WebDAM, the marketing department would send a designer to Athletics to work with a staff member on poring through countless photo archives for an appropriate image. With WebDAM, Kilwein simply set up an account for the designer so he could independently research images. This enabled him to work within his deadlines and is no longer dependent on the limited staff within Athletics. From conception to completion, the photo process — something that used to potentially take hours, if not an entire work day — ate up only a few minutes of account management time for Kilwein while not affecting the rest of his staff.

Conclusion

With WebDAM, the University of Washington Huskies’ Athletics Department essentially removed a time-consuming and laborious activity from its to-do list. While it streamlined things internally, WebDAM’s easy access and deep search capabilities also fulfilled external needs faster and easier than ever before. “Centralizing our photography will provide huge long-term benefits for our organization as we continue to try to deal with the issues that arise from changes in technology,” says Kilwein. “We are thrilled with our experience with WebDAM and would recommend it to anyone who is looking to become more efficient and expand their digital archives.”

Highlights

  • Provides structure
  • Increases search capability
  • Improves accessibility

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