December 22, 2015 | Written by: Paul Squires
Categorized: Business Design
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Producing, shipping and managing assets is common to many disciplines. In marketing and communications, it is, of course, an intrinsic part of the customer’s brand experience. Assets have to be on-time, on-brand, and right first time.
Electronically, assets are just files in a filesystem. Developers have used many ways to control and manage their assets in the past, and one of the most popular software versioning and management services at the moment is Git.
IBM also provides a Git platform as part of Bluemix. Called Bluemix DevOps Services, it provides a private repository for code management, whether you use the Bluemix cloud services or not. The thing about Git is that its principles of version control and iterative development can be applied to almost anything. If we combine the principles of managing marketing assets with the practice of good versioning and contro, then Git is simply a good way to manage assets irrespective of how you intend to use them.
What does this mean for marketing?
I run the marketing function for a large programme here at IBM UK. The role includes the production and delivery of creative assets to the client, such as Microsoft Office templates and branded documents. It would be easy to manage this in a Windows filesystem, version-control the file names, and hope that it all works. But, creative asset management is also a perfect application for Git and using the Bluemix DevOps Services platform.
Here’s how we’re doing it.
Firstly, I create an account on Bluemix DevOps and set up a new project. I then create a new Git repository within the project.
On my laptop, I create a directory for assets, and create subfolders under it for each asset as appropriate.
The above screenshot is from Atlassian SourceTree which in my view, is the best Git management software for Windows out there (for Linux, I’m a fan of GitEye). SourceTree shows my projects at the top of the list of repositories on my laptop towards the top left under the button bar (pixellated in this image). This is the location of the files, and where those files live in the Git repository on Bluemix DevOps.
On the right is a list of files which have changed on my laptop since I last updated the Bluemix DevOps repository online. This action, essentially synchronising the assets between my laptop and Bluemix DevOps, is called a commit. It is done manually; I choose when and what to publish from my laptop straight to Bluemix DevOps.
This is what the assets look like in Bluemix DevOps. I can browse them as if they are web pages. I click My Projects at the top, and browse to my repository.
You can see that all of the folders are numbered. This numbering was done manually and relates to the other side of Bluemix DevOps – Agile project management. You won’t need any Agile training here; it’s a doddle to use.
Clicking Track and plan brings up a bunch of work items which are automatically tracked in Bluemix. I can relate them to each other, give them a hierarchy, allocate due dates, and so on. I am using Track and plan to also provide rolling updates to each item, so a client can log in and see progress at any time without needing to call or request a meeting.
I can also wrap a set of items together, focus on doing those first, and get them out of the way. This focus is called a Sprint in Agile, and the wider list of items to do is called the Backlog. As you can see in the screenshot below, the Sprint is a specific focus is to complete a set of assets.
I can also number everything according to priority.
An open solution
The further advantage to Bluemix is that it’s available on the public Internet.
- For clients, it means that a member of the client team can obtain a public ibm.com website account, and I can give them access to both the project management area and the Git repository. They then benefit from transparency both in terms of how their work is being planned and tracked, and the current state of assets.
- For fellow IBMers, it means that they always have the most up-to-date versions of assets. All that I need to do here is to add them as a member, and with their Git client such as SourceTree, they can pull all any changed files back to their computer, make appropriate changes, then push the changes back up. Easy.
Overall, I can highly recommend Bluemix DevOps both for project management and asset planning. The project management tools are easy to use, and Git is an easy-to-understand and configure way to publish and control assets.