AVP Select

Aligning Our Purpose, Messaging, and Branding

22 August 2022

Over the past 9 months or so AVP has been working with the superstar team over at Parisleaf on an effort to refine our messaging and branding. If you had asked me prior to beginning this process what I thought it would be like I might have thought it would be building from the ground up. Or perhaps just figuring out how to communicate more clearly. However, as a 15 year old company I think the process may be more akin to chiseling at a large stone to reveal the underlying figure. It was a painstaking process that consisted of shedding some things, finely shaping others, rounding off rough edges, making tough decisions, and making commitments. It was a difficult, albeit rewarding process.

We went through this process rather than just building a new website because at 15 years old we knew we needed more than just a new coat of paint. We needed to do some more serious reflection, renovation, and updating. In order to do our most impactful work and deliver the most value to our clients, we needed to understand, articulate, and deliver on what we do best – and do more of it.

Our aim is to take the outcomes of this introspective process and create the flywheel:

  • Be clear within ourselves about what we do best and where our passion lies
  • Clearly articulate verbally and visually what we do best and where our passion lies
  • Attract an audience to whom we can deliver greater value and impact than anyone else out there 
  • Build and innovate on what we do best and where our passion lies, maintaining our advantage and competitive edge

And so, with this intent, you will see that we have refined/new messaging, logo, website, and of course, some really good swag.

So, what did we come up with? You can see the visual changes throughout the site, and we will explain more about the logo below. Our new colors have been selected to represent our organization’s attributes. These are:

  • Professional & Accomplished
  • Future-Forward & Imaginative
  • Dynamic & Energetic

We can also now better articulate why we exist:

We help clients to maximize the value of their digital assets.

If you don’t know what they are, 

if they can’t be found, 

if they can’t be used effectively, 

if they’re damaged or lost, 

if they’re disconnected from other systems, 

then they aren’t creating value. 

And, if they’re badly managed, 

they’re an expensive overhead and a liability. 

Because data isn’t valuable until you can do something with it.

And share our purpose:

Your digital assets have extraordinary potential. 

Our purpose is to maximize their value through the innovation of information ecosystems.

And describe how we fulfill our purpose:

We connect humans and data. In collaboration with our clients, we create complete ecosystems for managing data that are designed around how their teams actually work and think.

Our value comes from our diverse perspectives. To see value and opportunities in data, you have to see things from different angles. We’re a forward-thinking team of cross-disciplinary experts working across a wide range of industries, so we know how to work with data in unique ways for different clients. 

Since 2006, we’ve been helping clients pinpoint their true vision and reach their goals. Instead of generic solutions, we actively listen to your needs and focus on opportunities that bring about beneficial change. We’re experts at challenging organizations to see the bigger picture, to understand where they are on their digital journey, and to navigate their next steps.

Our new logo represents this.

There are multiple meaningful elements within this logo:

We meet our customers where they are.

We look at the big picture.

We bring a clarifying spark.

We guide.

We know that there will be a lot of questions about our updates and we look forward to talking with our peeps about them. Meanwhile, we have anticipated some specific questions about what our rebranding means, and have created the FAQ below.

FAQ

Your new website seems to focus on digital asset management. Does this mean that you don’t offer services focused on digital preservation or collection management anymore?

No. We believe that digital asset management is a concept that encapsulates everything we do.  Sometimes when we use the term we are literally referring to digital asset management systems (i.e., DAMS), but as a concept, it also encompasses digital preservation, collection management, data management, metadata management, and more. These data are digital assets to your organization—we help you realize their value.

Do you still offer software development? I no longer see it under the services offered.

Through our reflection we had a couple of insights into how we talk about the services we offer.

First, we are not a consulting and software company. We are an information innovation firm. What does that mean? It means that we have a cross-disciplinary team of experts that maximize the value of digital assets through the innovation of information ecosystems. This team of subject matter experts consult, advise, develop, engineer, and more. The titles many of our peeps have consist of some version of Consultant and Software Engineer. We all focus on, are experienced within, and are experts in the domain of digital asset management.

Second, our continued software engineering contributions will be in support of digital asset management projects and prototypes. For instance, we will use software engineering when performing data migration, system integration, metadata cleanup, workflow automation, AI evaluation, and more. We will also use software engineering to build prototypes and proof of concept applications focused on digital asset management practice that will either be handed off to another entity to turn into a production system or will have otherwise served its purpose and be shut down.

What we won’t do moving forward is build production systems that require ongoing maintenance, support, and an entirely different infrastructure and operations to sustain. They are very different animals and operations. This approach and focus maximizes the value and impact that AVP can deliver and leaves the rest to others who can deliver maximum value and impact in those areas.

Does your focus on digital asset management mean that you are a DAM provider now?

When most people use the term DAM they are thinking of a software product/platform. We intentionally use the phrase digital asset management instead of DAM because we are 1) not a product/platform, and 2) we are referring to the broader practice of digital asset management, encompassing purpose, people, governance, process, technology, and measurement. We offer services focused on this holistic perspective of digital asset management practice.

Why did you remove products from your website? What has happened to your products?

We strongly believe in our products and know that they have been significant contributions to the communities we serve. We found that having both services and products on the website created confusion. People weren’t sure if we offered services or products and wondered what the relationship between our services and products were. Therefore we decided that wearavp.com will be focused on the services we offer. Paid AVP products like Aviary and Fixity Pro would best be represented by having their own independent websites. Products that have been developed by AVP for customers like embARC and ADCTest are best represented by those customers and the associated GitHub accounts. And finally, some products like MDQC, Catalyst, and Exactly will either remain available without support on GitHub or will be sunsetted.

Why did you keep the same name?

We actually set out to create a new name for AVP as part of this endeavor and we went through a process that required a great deal of time, energy, and thought. We arrived at a decision that, despite the cons of our name (not memorable, bad for SEO, etc.), redefining the name rather than changing it offered more pros and just felt right.

So, what does it stand for? Well, it stands for multiple things in different contexts. To name a few: Ambitious Vibrant People, Abundant Vantage Points, and Ample Value Proposition. You will see these sprinkled throughout our new website.

Finding the Right AI Tools for DAM (webinar recording)

23 March 2022

Finding the Right AI Tools for DAM: AVP’s Human-Centered Evaluation Framework

Henry Stewart DAM Webinars 2022

Watch the webinar with a searchable transcript and embedded closed captions here.

[Read more]

AVP DAM Professional Services

21 January 2022

AVP helps ensure your DAM adds value to your organization, your assets are secure, and your users are delighted. We offer:

[Read more]

Scenario Planning For A Successful DAM Journey

10 January 2020

Getting to Success: A Scenario-driven Approach for Selecting, Implementing, and Deploying Digital Asset Management Systems

Usage scenarios are simple narrative descriptions of current or future state use of a system. For DAMS initiatives, scenarios are an important tool that can be used throughout all stages: selection, implementation, launch, and beyond. Scenarios are a lightweight, simple, clear, and effective method for defining the goals and intended use of a system. They help facilitate communication between stakeholders and vendors, providing a starting point for ongoing conversation that ensures all parties have equal footing in the discussion. This paper provides a definition of scenarios, describes their key features and structure, identifies their benefits, and offers recommended practice for using scenarios throughout the lifecycle of a DAM deployment process. 

This paper was originally published in the Journal of Digital Media Management, Volume 7 (2018-19). 

INTRODUCTION

Organizations embark on digital asset management selection and implementation efforts for a number of reasons: to create a centralized library of assets, to enable efficient collaboration between departments, to improve review and approval processes, to streamline multi- or omni-channel distribution, and more. In all cases, the end goal is undoubtedly the same: to successfully transform some aspect of how the organization works, and to affect meaningful and productive change that will ultimately allow the organization to better serve its mission and stakeholders.

When the need for change and the opportunity for improvement is first identified, agreed upon by the relevant stakeholders, and given the green light by senior leadership, the possibilities are exciting. But it is well known that organizational change efforts can be long and difficult. Statistics and stories abound on the high failure rate of technology projects.1 Categorically speaking, digital asset management is no exception. Selecting the right technology is a daunting task. Implementation is yet a further hurdle. Things can get even more difficult at the launch and roll-out stages. Reaching the end goal can take years of sustained effort. This is not to say that embarking on technological change is not a good idea, or that it shouldn’t be undertaken. Rather, acknowledging the inevitable challenges, and identifying ways of mitigating them, should be an important aspect of planning.

Undoubtedly, one of the key challenges throughout digital asset management system (DAMS) selection and implementation process is clearly defining the system goals, getting agreement on these goals from all internal stakeholders, and ensuring that those goals are well understood by the system developer or vendor. This challenge persists throughout all phases of the project, as goals evolve through different stages. Author Mike Cohn describes software development (or, as is being discussed in this paper, procurement and implementation) as a communication challenge between the technologists who build the software, and the business or customers that will use it. Cohn notes that communication between these groups is fraught with potential for error, stating: “If either side dominates these conversations, the project loses.”2 Because these groups approach the work from such different backgrounds and perceptions, it can seem as if they are speaking different languages. 

However, there are tools and methods that can be used to help manage the change process, level set the conversation to a shared understanding and common set of terminology, and ensure strong communication between all involved parties. For technology efforts like digital asset management implementations, usage scenarios (hereafter, scenarios”) are one of those tools. Usage scenarios put the user front and center, a reminder that the technology is being implemented to serve people and help them achieve specific goals. Scenarios are created by the business, and used as a starting point for conversation around stakeholder needs and goals with technologists. Scenarios describe a situation in which one or more users would execute a task or set of tasks using a system. They ground the conversation in a consistent and easily understood format, providing a starting point for ongoing communication and action, helping ensure that no one side will dominate. And, importantly, scenarios keep the why of the project at the front and center, a question which will be continually revisited throughout.

This paper explores a few ways that scenarios can be used throughout the DAMS selection, implementation, and deployment process. It argues that a set of scenarios that are agreed upon by all key stakeholders provide a meaningful testbed of information that can serve as a tool for ensuring consistency, transparency, and measurability, connecting all phases of the technology implementation lifecycle. While this paper is written with the perspective of the DAMS manager/owner in mind, system vendors may also find these recommendations useful to incorporate into the client onboarding process.

DEFINING SCENARIOS

Usage scenarios are narrative descriptions of interactions between one or more users and the system. Most importantly, scenarios are stories. Advocates Mary Beth Rosson and John M. Carroll note that scenarios, “consist of a setting, or situation state, one or more actors with personal motivations, knowledge, and capabilities, and various tools and objects that the actors encounter and manipulate. The scenario describes a sequence of actions and events that lead to an outcome.”3

The idea of using scenarios in system design gained strong support in the early 1990s. Finding that using requirements alone defined a limited view of the system, and most importantly, lacked the human component, engineers began to explore the use of scenarios as a technique to compliment the requirements development effort. As human-computer interaction emerged as a critical area of research and development, numerous papers, books, and tutorials were contributed to the growing volume of literature on this topic. Scenario-based design and development is also closely aligned to the human-centered design process, or design thinking, which is an approach to creative problem solving that focuses on understanding human needs first.

Scenarios are attractive and widely used in technology development and deployment projects for a number of reasons, perhaps most importantly because of their simplicity. Requirements engineering author and thought leader Ian Alexander notes that, “Scenarios are a powerful antidote to the complexity of systems and analysis. Telling stories about systems helps ensure that people—stakeholders—share a sufficiently wide view to avoid missing vital aspects of problems.” He adds, “Scenarios are applicable to systems of all types, and may be used at any stage of the development life cycle for different purposes.”4

Scenarios describe expected every day use of the system, and can be created from different viewpoints to serve different functions. Two of these views that will be explored in this paper are defined by researcher Alistair Sutcliffe:

  • “a story or example of events as a grounded narrative taken from real world experience,” and,
  • “a future vision of a designed system with sequences of behaviour and possible contextual description.”5

The future-facing scenario perspective will be most useful during selection, implementation, and launch phases of a DAMS initiative, with a shift to current state scenarios during and following launch.

CREATING SCENARIOS

Scenarios are fairly simple and quick to create. They don’t require specialized knowledge or expertise to develop, although following a few best practices will result in more effective scenarios. Their greatest strength is that they are easy to understand and thus it is easy for the stakeholders they represent to provide feedback on them.

When drafting scenarios for DAMS projects, authors should considering including, at minimum: 

  • Unique Identifier for each scenario
  • Title/simple description
  • List of participating actors (archetypal personas based on the organization’s users and roles)
  • Narrative description (1-4 paragraphs)
  • Expected outcome or success criteria (the things that must be true for the scenario to be accepted by stakeholders once implemented)

Below is a simple example:

01 Asset Reuse for Marketing Campaign
Actors
Marketing Associate; Intellectual Property Associate
Scenario
A Marketing Associate (MA) needs photos for an upcoming campaign. The MA searches in the DAMS, first by keyword, then using facets to narrow results to images only. She identifies a selection of potential images, and puts 20 images into a lightbox for review. MA shares the lightbox with an Intellectual Property Associate (IPA) directly via the DAMS. The IPA receives an email with a link to the lightbox, asking her to review and approve. The IPA approves 12 of the images and denies use of 8. The IPA indicates in the comments that the branding needs to be updated on 2 of the approved images. The system alerts the MA which of the images have been approved. She downloads the images as a batch in the format and size she needs. The system tracks, at an asset level, all interactions and approvals.
Success Criteria
Users can search by keyword and refine using facetsUsers receive email notifications when assets are shared via lightboxes (or similar)Assets can be routed to system users for approvalUsers can clearly approve or deny assets for useSystem allows for users to leave comments visible to other users with appropriate permissionUsers can specify asset download format and resolutionAssets can be downloaded as a batchThe system tracks approval and usage for later reporting

Effective scenarios should:

  • Follow the 80/20 rule: At minimum, be sure to capture cases that represent 80% of the institution’s anticipated use of the system. However, don’t entirely neglect the edge cases—some of these may prove critical later on. 
  • Be constrained to a specific situational goal and outcome: If a scenario is becoming to long and includes multiple end state goals, consider breaking it into multiple scenarios. However, if you need to describe alternatives, these can be added as an additional component to the original scenario. For example if a scenario describes a checksum validation process, include the successful outcome in the main narrative description (e.g., all files pass), and create an alternative path for the case when there is a failure (e.g., one file does not validate).
  • Not be prescriptive: In their book, The Right Way to Select Technology, authors Tony Byrne and Jarrod Gingras note that when writing scenarios for the purpose of technology selection, “You want to leave it open-ended enough so that the vendor can do the prescribing of how their solution best meets your needs. So, in your stories, talk about what employees and customers do, but don’t go into too much detail about how they do it.”6
  • Not include subjective or personal preferences: Statements such as, “the user finds the interface intuitive” are not easily measurable as each user will have a different interpretation of “intuitive.”
  • Be demonstrable and testable: A vendor should be able to show you how their tool solves the scenario and/or the users should be able to complete the described tasks themselves during testing (see Implementation, below).
  • Strive to remove assumption and internal biases: It may help to enlist an objective third-party to help create scenarios, or provide feedback on existing drafts. Internal stakeholders are more likely make assumptions—such as using terminology that holds an agreed upon meaning within the institution, but may be interpreted differently by others—that an external party would not.

SELECTION

In his paper “Scenario-based Requirements Engineering,” Sutcliffe states: “Scenarios are arguably the starting point for all modelling and design, and contribute to several parts of the design process.”7 System selection and/or development is a typical starting point for scenario creation. At this stage, scenarios serve several primary functions. 

First, scenarios create agreement and buy-in amongst stakeholders about how the future system should work. Before a DAMS RFX is issued, a team should spend considerable effort defining and documenting what they would like the system to enable at their organization, and goals for how they would like the system to work. This documentation will take several forms, including business requirements (why the system is desired), functional requirements (what the system should do, at a granular level), and non-functional requirements or constraints (including technical and hosting requirements, performance requirements, format and other data requirements, etc.). Scenarios accompany these to round out a set of requirements.

At this stage, it is especially important that this process is inclusive of all key stakeholders—in the experience of this author, some DAM failures can be traced to the requirements process not involving the right people, and important needs not being considered during selection. By participating in the scenario development process, stakeholders are given the unique opportunity to think creatively about how they want to be able to work in the future, and what those improvements will look like compared with their current situation. This also helps people feel invested in the system selection process, and will help them see themselves as users of candidate systems that are demonstrated, which will result in more meaningful input during the final decision process.

For an RFX, typically around 6-12 scenarios will be created. Each scenario should describe a typical use of the system. When sketching out ideas for scenarios, it is not uncommon to find multiple ideas that ultimately illustrate the same set of functionality, with a few slightly different parameters (e.g., organizing assets from an event, organizing assets for a project). In these cases, only one scenario that captures this set of goals needs to be created. For the benefit of stakeholders who may become disappointed or frustrated if their needs are not explicitly reflected, the scenario may include a section listing “also applicable to” workflows.

Scenarios created for the purpose of DAMS selection should reflect future state, and paint a picture of what the organization expects the system will enable once it is launched. This author has helped numerous organizations draft scenarios for DAMS, and finds that often stakeholders struggle with two aspects of this process: 1) shifting their thinking to the future, rather than current, state, and 2) committing to scenarios when the workflows haven’t been finalized yet. Stakeholders will often need coaching and multiple rounds of feedback to help them overcome the first hurdle. For the second, it is important to remember that at this stage, scenarios don’t need to align perfectly to future workflows. These will not have been defined yet, and if they have, they will undoubtedly be tweaked following the implementation of new technology.

The second function of scenarios at this stage is that they illustrate for software vendors/developers how the system will be used. Scenarios allow vendors to better understand the institution and the goals of the RFX, and to craft more tailored responses. Scenarios give a sense of the different actors, and their roles and motivations. They bring to life specific individual requirements and tie them to real-world usage. When reviewing an RFP with a list of business, functional, and non-functional requirements, vendors can only gain a certain degree of understanding of how an organization will use the system. By adding a set of scenarios, those requirements come to life.

Scenarios can also become an important part of the vendor’s proposal. By including a scenario worksheet, and asking vendors to describe how their system would fulfill each scenario, an organization can not only learn more detail about how each system works, but can also get a sense of how well the vendor understands their needs and goals through their response. Vendors can be asked to include additional information including preconditions (configuration, customization, or other set up that must be in place before the scenario can be fulfilled) and an estimated timeline for implementation so that this scenario can be tested by users. This information helps reveal which systems are more readily able to support the organization’s needs out of the box, and which will require (potentially costly) customization. These responses can become an important criteria amongst others (budget, requirements alignment) that are used to narrow down a field of candidates to 2-3 that can be invited for demonstration.

The previous scenario example can be transformed into a vendor response table as follows (blue shaded cells to be completed by respondents):

01 Asset Reuse for Marketing Campaign
Actors
Marketing AssociateIntellectual Property Associate
Scenario
A Marketing Associate (MA) needs photos for an upcoming campaign. The MA searches in the DAMS, first by keyword, then using facets to narrow results to images only. She identifies a selection of potential images, and puts 20 images into a lightbox for review. MA shares the lightbox with an Intellectual Property Associate (IPA) directly via the DAMS. The IPA receives an email with a link to the lightbox, asking her to review and approve. The IPA approves 12 of the images and denies use of 8. The IPA indicates in the comments that the branding needs to be updated on 2 of the approved images. The system alerts the MA which of the images have been approved. She downloads the images as a batch in the format and size she needs. The system tracks, at an asset level, all interactions and approvals.
Success Criteria
Users can search by keyword and refine using facetsUsers receive email notifications when assets are shared via lightboxes (or similar)Assets can be routed to system users for approvalUsers can clearly approve or deny assets for useSystem allows for users to leave comments visible to other users with appropriate permissionUsers can specify asset download format and resolutionAssets can be downloaded as a batchThe system tracks approval and usage for later reporting
Solution Description
Response:
System Preconditions
Response:
Estimated Implementation Timeline
Response:
Additional Documentation
 

Finally, scenarios provide a testbed of material for system demonstrations, enabling an apples-to-apples comparison of how different systems would fulfill each situation. Once the candidate pool is reduced to a handful of top systems, asking all of these vendors to demonstrate the same subset of scenarios (typically 3-5) and using assets and metadata provided by the organization enables stakeholders to get a real sense of how the system will work. In contrast to a standard demo, which the vendors have rehearsed time and again and are designed to show the best of the system, scenario demonstrations can reveal flaws and aspects of the site that are less streamlined. In other words, they help demonstrate how it really works for the specific users.

IMPLEMENTATION

Scenarios can play a vital role during the implementation process by providing a foundation for further refinement of requirements and definition of completeness for launch phases. One way to approach DAMS implementation is to use an Agile framework. As noted by the Agile Alliance, Agile is simply, “the ability to create and respond to change.”8 Agile emerged as an approach to building software so that inevitable changes in focus and priority could be easily managed. Frameworks such as Scrum, which emphasizes cross-functional project teams and consistent development cycles known as “sprints”, have been applied to other contexts outside of software development. Agile is an ideal fit for DAMS implementation, given the number of stakeholders and unknowns, and the need for clear structure and communication. 

Scenarios provide an excellent starting point for the development of user stories, a human-centered communication tool from the Agile community, which describes individual system features from the perspective of a user. Once a DAMS has been selected, the original scenarios should be revisited. During the time between system selection and the engagement with a DAMS vendor or developer, additional needs may arise. Scenarios provided in the original RFX likely need to be updated, refined, or expanded. Additional scenarios may need to be added. 

Following the revision process, a set of agreed upon implementation scenarios will be available. These can also be deconstructed into discrete individual user stories, which take the format:

As a _[actor]_ I want _[goal/desire]_ so that _[benefit]_. 

User stories can be written for each functional aspect of the system that is described in a given scenario, ensuring that all success criteria are met. User stories can be accompanied by acceptance criteria, which are conditions that must be satisfied in order for the product to work as intended by stakeholders.

For example, given the previous scenario example, a number of user stories and acceptance criteria can be derived. Two examples might be:

StoryAcceptance Criteria
As a Marketing Associate, I want to be able to share a collection or lightbox of selected assets with another user so that I can request approval for use in a campaignUser 1 can create a lightbox and share with another userBoth users can access the same collection/lightbox
As a Marketing Associate, I want to be notified once assets I have selected are approved, so that I know when they are ready to download.User 1 routes a selection of images to User 2 for approvalUser 2 indicates approval of selection within the systemSystem sends email notification to User 1

These can be categorized according to type (e.g., search, metadata, integration), and can be prioritized according to their importance for the relevant stakeholders. The user stories can then be delivered to the system vendor, along with the scenarios, for initial setup and configuration of the system, and/or to internal stakeholders responsible for additional configuration. 

Once a set of initial user stories are created, two testbeds of material will now be available:

  1. User stories, which can be tested and validated individually, according to provided acceptance criteria
  2. Usage scenarios, which can be tested and validated by the identified actors to ensure that the entire workflow can be completed, according to the provided success criteria

The user stories derived from implementation scenarios will not reflect all the requirements that users have for the system, but it will provide an initial set of stories that are rooted in the original scenario, which will become useful as the launch phase approaches. As implementation proceeds, and new needs arise, new requirements can continue to be created in user story form. 

GETTING TO LAUNCH

A scenario-driven approach to DAMS selection and implementation enables what can be termed test driven deployment. This concept is borrowed from test driven development, an approach to iterative software development that relies on writing tests first, then writing code to reach a minimum level of functionality required to pass those tests. In test driven deployment, scenarios and user stories are tests in and of themselves, and thus become an ongoing component of implementation and launch phases of DAMS deployment. Throughout implementation (and beyond), the scenarios and user stories will become important tools for testing, providing feedback, and measuring progress toward launch goals. Again, this process will naturally fit into an Agile framework. 

It is important to establish a clear scope for an initial launch candidate. This scope should include definition of the user stories that must be completed and validated. Bear in mind that users needs will continue to evolve and grow, so keeping a backlog of stories to be prioritized and addressed over time is critical. However, communicating the goal of incremental deployment, and maintaining a transparent user story backlog will help manage user expectations and avoid scope creep.

Acceptance of the initial launch candidate will require completion and validation of all user stories prioritized for this milestone. Prior to engagement of end user groups, all user stories should be tested and validated by the DAMS owner/manager, then by key stakeholders. This exercise will likely result in discovery of bugs, incomplete stories, as well as some additional user stories that need to be implemented prior to full acceptance, and should be communicated back to the vendor. Maintaining use of the user story format will ensure consistency in communication throughout this back and forth process.

As launch approaches, teams will begin testing and training within the system. One useful test is to ask these groups to walk through the relevant narrative scenarios and success criteria, working through the outlined steps within the system, and determine if they are sufficient for launch. While additional user acceptance testing may be performed as well, scenario tests are important for tying deployment back to original requirements that stakeholders are already familiar with.

This entire cycle can continue as additional teams are brought on to the system. New teams who weren’t engaged in the initial selection and implementation stages should go through the same process, starting with the development of scenarios, followed by the create of prioritized user stories. Scenarios can also be used to craft meaningful and easy-to-digest training materials, and used as part of training sessions. Providing new users with example situations help make the system more relatable.

ONGOING IMPROVEMENT

Scenarios can also play an important role over time to create system improvements. For system enhancements, scenarios can be used to communicate the future state goal, and the changes that might be required to reach that state. For bugs or other issues, scenarios can be used to describe the user’s experience when they perform a given task, or what happens when things are not working as expected. In this case, the framing of the scenario should shift from future state (as has been suggested throughout this paper) to current state, which is the other type of scenario defined by Sutcliffe: “A story or example of events as a grounded narrative taken from real world experience.”9 The scenarios created at this stage could be termed what Sutcliffe refers to as “problem statement scenarios.”

Furthermore, ongoing user testing should also be an important part of a DAM program, so that the product owners can understand how users are working in the system, and what improvements could make their experience better. Scenarios provide an excellent starting point for the creation of task-oriented user tests, which can be delivered to participants in moderated or unmoderated sessions.

CONCLUSION

Scenarios are not a panacea and certainly not the only tool in your toolbox. However, consistent use of this format can facilitate clear communication between all parties involved in the DAMS selection, implementation, and management process. All technology projects run the risk of failure at worst, and transforming how the organization works at best. Communication is one of several critical factors that will contribute to the outcome.

Scenarios help communicate the project vision. They can support stakeholder engagement and buy-in. They enable traceability of system features to original requirements. They support testing. The simplicity and clarity of scenarios and user stories make them excellent documentation and training resources.

One important advantage of scenarios is that they are extremely lightweight. DAMS initiatives inevitably result in a great deal of documentation, and readers may feel a reluctance to add more. However, the experience of this author is that a set of key scenarios—just a few short paragraphs each—has the potential to make the selection, implementation, and launch processes streamlined and understandable to all stakeholders. As Byrne and Gingras emphasize in The Right Way to Select Technology, “After defining the business case, [scenario creation] is the most important foundational work you will do, so spend time to get it right.”10

References

1. Marr, Bernard, ‘Are these the 7 reasons why tech projects fail? Forbes; September 13, 2016.

2. Cohn, Mike. User Stories Applied. Addison-Wesley Professional; 2004. Page 3.

3. Carroll, John M., Rosson, Mary Beth. Scenario-Based Design. In Jacko, J., Sears A., editors. The Human-Computer Interaction Handbook: Fundamentals, Evolving Technologies and Emerging Applications. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates; 2002.

4. Alexander, Ian, Maiden, Neil. Scenarios, Stories, Use Cases: Through the Systems Development Life-Cycle. 1st Edition. Wiley; 2004. Page 3

5. Sutcliffe, A. (2004) ‘Scenario-based requirements engineering’, in Proceedings of the 11th IEEE International Requirements Engineering Conference, Monterey Bay, CA, 12th September, pp. 320–329.

6. Byrne, Tony and Gingras, Jarrod. The Right Way to Select Technology. New York: Rosenfeld Media; 2017. Page 43.

7 Sutcliffe, ref 5 above

8. Agile Alliance. (n.d.) ‘Agile 101’,(accessed 9th April, 2019).

9. Sutcliffe, ref 5 above

10. Byrne and Gingras, ref 5 above.

AVP DAM SERVICES FOR MUSEUMS & CULTURAL HERITAGE

21 January 2022

AVP Museum Services Map HS 2022
AVP Museum Services Map HS 20222

Free DAM Workshop with AVP Optimizing DAM for User Success” April 12

19 January 2022

Join AVP for a free, interactive workshop designed to help you improve your users’ digital asset management experience at 1 PM EST on April 12, 2022. During the workshop, AVP Director of Consulting Kara Van Malssen will lead participants through user-centered exercises that DAM program leaders can utilize to create a more useful search, browse, discovery, and usability experience. In this workshop, you will learn how to:

  1. Understand users’ mental model of assets so that they can be organized and presented in meaningful ways
  2. Identify common search and browse terminology so that assets can be made findable in ways that match users’ search behavior
  3. Identify what users want to know about assets so that they can be effectively used

The workshop activities will take one hour, and represent an abbreviated version of similar AVP DAM workshops. Following the workshop, there will be 30 minutes for Q&A with the AVP team and for networking with your DAM peers from different industries. This workshop will be (virtually) hands-on and interactive, so come prepared to participate. Space is limited to 20 participants and registration is not guaranteed but we will do our best to accommodate interest. Limit 2 people per organization, please register separately. 

Click here to apply for the April 12, 2022 “”Optimizing DAM for User Success”” workshop! 

Here are some takeaways shared by past participants of this workshop:

“”A simple but impactful phrase stood out: “”Everyone searches alone.””

“I thought the exercises were really smart in terms of gathering useful input in a way that’s actually fun for the user.”

“”Always keep the user perspective in mind when applying keywords.”

“There needs to be a balance between tags and metadata. They need to be useful for searching (descriptive) but also provide necessary information related to usage (technical, rights).””

“Search and access are separate kinds of DAM functions and have different metadata.”

“A good understanding of how to facilitate the exercises for our team.”

“That we need work with our users to understand tagging possibilities for our event images. At the moment the metadata is more focused on classification.”

Check out these other helpful digital asset management resources from AVP:

We know what it takes to implement and launch a successful DAM. Our experts are always two steps ahead to ensure that surprises and oversights are eliminated, your DAM implementation meets your needs, your launch is smooth, and your users are delighted. We offer implementation packages or can create a tailored service based on your needs. Ready to talk about your project? Get in touch!

AVP Is Hiring An Analytical And Creative Data Specialist Consultant

19 January 2022

AVP is looking for talented, diverse, energetic, and creative folks to join our fantastic team of consultants, and right now we are hoping to find a data specialist.

At AVP, we partner with amazing organizations to help maximize the value of their data and information assets. We untangle complex data management challenges and enable organizations to protect, manage, and leverage their assets through our consulting services, software products, and custom software development services. We holistically straddle human, business, and technology aspects of each challenge, apply proven and rigorous approaches, and collaboratively partner with customers to innovate and overcome. We love solving big, complex, difficult problems that have a huge positive impact on people and organizations. Take a look at our portfolio and you’ll see what we mean. Recent and upcoming projects include building experimental machine learning and crowdsourcing workflows for Library of Congress Labs Humans in the Loop, aggregating public datasets and creating a data access portal for Save the Black Press with Black Voice News, History Pin with Shift Collective, and researching researching open A/V streaming media and annotation protocols AudiAnnotate Audiovisual Extensible Workflow (AWE) project with University of Texas.

We are deeply committed to creating a more equitable and inclusive world. We pursue our values through our work, ensuring that accurate and authentic data is available and used to create breakthrough solutions and solve knotty problems. We also stand firmly committed against systemic racism and all other forms of oppression; and hold ourselves accountable for taking actions that reflect our values. With these values firmly in place, we invite potential team members who share our commitments and reflect a diverse array of lived perspectives and experiences.

We are seeking a data management consultant who can help bridge our consulting and software development services and products. This role will work on a diverse set of projects and challenges, including data migrations, system integrations, web and desktop application development, and data warehousing development. The one thing that is common to all of them: a lot of data.

Read more below and apply!

P.S. If you’re not interested in or available for this position, but know someone who is, we would really appreciate it if you passed this along!

What you’ll do

As a consultant with AVP, each day will be different, but rewarding.

  • You will work with incredibly diverse organizations, from media and entertainment companies to financial organizations, hospitals to university libraries, tech companies to governments
  • You will work closely with our software development team as a subject matter expert (SME), data analyst, or project manager
  • You will work closely closely with clients to identify needs and scope projects that meet the organization’s most pressing data management challenges
  • You will formulate, test, and refine solution hypotheses
  • You will gather a ton of information. You will interview stakeholders and users. You’ll craft and facilitate workshops. You will listen, observe, read, and probably spend a lot of time digging into datasets.
  • You will spend a lot of time working with data — understanding and analyzing data sources, modeling data, mapping data, transforming data, normalizing data, and more
  • You will help oversee software development projects by acting as a scrum master and project manager
  • You will translate user and stakeholder requirements into easily understood and manageable documentation for developers
  • You will always be looking for ways that we can improve, sharing your suggestions with the team, training and mentoring others, and creating internal documentation

A little about you

  • You are a strong collaborator and an independent thinker
  • You bring diverse identities and experiences. You are culturally competent.
  • You are curious, always eager to dig a little deeper to figure out the why and how
  • You are analytical and creative. You see connections between seemingly unconnected things
  • You have experience working with structured and unstructured datasets
  • You have experience writing SQL queries
  • You are not necessarily a software developer, but can do some scripting in Python (or other languages)
  • You can translate between users and technologists and create documentation that is useful to both
  • You are always learning and improving
  • You really care about the details
  • You have real world Agile/Scrum and/or project management experience
  • You have some knowledge of (or are interested in learning about) the domains of library/information science, product management, UX design and research, and/or business analysis

Bonus points

Optionally, you may have expertise in one or more of these areas:

  • You may have experience building relational databases
  • You may have some data science, statistics, and/or data visualization experience
  • You may have some experience with NoSQL technologies
  • You may have experience with (or are interested in learning more about) machine learning and artificial intelligence

If you don’t have one of those four more specific skills, but feel you would be a good fit based on the description above, we still want to hear from you!

What we offer

We work really hard to make working at AVP an amazing experience. We have a team full of truly exceptional people—the kind you’ll be excited to work with. Here’s how we operate:

Live Where You Want

We’re a distributed team, so you can live and work wherever you want. In late 2020, most people are used to working remotely, but we’ve been doing it for years, and will continue to once the world opens back up. We do have offices in Brooklyn, and Madison, WI—if you live in one of those areas, our crews there would love to have you. The rest of us are scattered around.

Work/Life Balance

We work hard and smart, but we’re in this for the long haul, no need to go crazy on the hours. We strive to make your workload manageable.

Take Vacation

We want you to take vacation. It’s important to get out and do something. We’ll look forward to seeing pictures of your vacation on Slack and hearing about your adventures at the weekly standup after you return. Even if you just need a break to sit on the couch for a week (we all know this feeling these days).

AVP Retreats

We get the whole team together two times a year to catch up, hang out, and plan for the future. In normal times, we’ll go to places like the mountains of Wyoming, the coastline of Florida (in the winter), and the cheese curds of Madison (at all times of year). We take advantage of working together, have strategy and planning sessions, bring in guest speakers and coaches, and do really fun things. The highlight is always hanging out together and having a blast.

Up Your Game

We’re serious about helping you improve your craft. We’ll support your attendance at conferences, online courses, and workshops, buy books and subscriptions. We have a culture of continuous improvement and we love to see our people growing (and teaching us what they learn!).

Benefits

You’ll be a W2 employee with benefits including medical, dental, vision, HSA, FSA, 401k, profit sharing, and more. AVP pays 80% of medical and dental insurance, and 100% of vision insurance. We also contribute 3% to your 401k whether you choose to throw any money in there or not. It vests immediately.

Be Yourself

At AVP we are committed to growing a representative team offering diverse perspectives from different age groups, abilities, races, ethnicities, cultural backgrounds, genders, gender identities, religious beliefs, and other lived experiences. AVP continually strives to promote a culture in which all employees feel included and where all voices are heard and appreciated. Whoever you are, wherever you call home, we want you to feel free to be your authentic self at work; and we want you to know that you will be authentically valued at AVP.

How to Apply

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​If you have a prepared resume, attach it in PDF form. If you don’t have a resume because you aren’t even sure you’re looking to change jobs, that’s fine! An informal list of your work and education history are all we’re looking for. A LinkedIn profile would work too.

Attach a PDF of your cover letter. In your cover letter:

  • Introduce yourself and explain why this position is of interest to you, and you would be a great fit. Optionally, please include links to relevant past work and anything else that makes you look good, and describe your role in that work.
  • Include a response to the following question: What are two of the most challenging obstacles you have faced when working with large datasets? And how did you overcome them?

Interview Process
Exploratory Interview

This is a high level conversation seeking to find out more about you, your interests, goals and objectives, background. Also to tell you about AVP, our culture, goals and objectives, services and products, and answer any questions you have.

In-Depth Interview

If the exploratory call goes well, one or two AVPeeps will meet with you, focusing in on a chronological walk-through of each job you have held focusing in on five core questions: What were you hired to do? What accomplishments are you most proud of? What were some of the low points during that job? Who were the people you worked with? Why did you leave that job? At the end of the interview we will discuss your career goals and aspirations, and you will have a chance to ask us questions.

Reference Interviews

If the in-depth interview goes well, we will ask you to introduce us to 3 references, representing previous supervisors, people that you supervised, and peer colleagues that you have worked with (as applicable).

All-Team Interview

If the reference interviews go well, there will be an all-team meeting set up with you. This is a chance for the team to meet you and for you to meet the team. The agenda is as follows:

  • Round robin introductions of AVPeeps
  • Candidate introduction
  • AVP questions for you and discussion
  • Your questions for AVP

Apply here!

AVP Is Hiring A Curious, Creative, And Analytical Consultant

19 January 2022

AVP is looking for talented, diverse, energetic, and creative folks to join our fantastic team of consultants.

At AVP, we partner with amazing organizations to help maximize the value of their data and information assets. We untangle complex data management challenges and enable organizations to protect, manage, and leverage their assets through our consulting services, software products, and custom software development services. We holistically straddle human, business, and technology aspects of each challenge, apply proven and rigorous approaches, and collaboratively partner with customers to innovate and overcome. We love solving big, complex, difficult problems that have a huge positive impact on people and organizations.

We are deeply committed to creating a more equitable and inclusive world. We pursue our values through our work, ensuring that accurate and authentic data is available and used to create breakthrough solutions and solve knotty problems. We also stand firmly committed against systemic racism and all other forms of oppression; and hold ourselves accountable for taking actions that reflect our values. With these values firmly in place, we invite potential team members who share our commitments and reflect a diverse array of lived perspectives and experiences.

Our consultants guide organizations through strategic, tactical, and operational changes that will allow them to utilize data / information / digital assets to deliver impact. We work on all kinds of challenges, from strategic planning and roadmapping, to DAM system selection and implementation, and everything in between. Although each client and challenge is unique, we use consistent approaches that allow our clients to make immediate progress toward their vision.

Read more below and apply!

P.S. If you’re not interested in or available for this position, but know someone who is, we would really appreciate it if you passed this along!

What you’ll do

As a consultant with AVP, each day will be different, but rewarding.

  • You will work with incredibly diverse organizations, from media and entertainment companies to financial organizations, hospitals to university libraries, tech companies to governments
  • You’ll help organizations find and implement technology, people, and process solutions to their data management challenges
  • You will work hand in hand with one or more of our incredible consultants for each project
  • You may be invited to support one of our software projects as a subject matter expert
  • You will formulate, test, and refine solution hypotheses
  • You will gather a ton of information. You will interview stakeholders and users. You’ll craft and facilitate workshops. You will listen, observe, read, and probably spend a lot of time looking at datasets.
  • You will synthesize vast amounts of qualitative and quantitative data to identify insights
  • You will create and deliver recommendations, which could take the form of a report, a presentation, a training session, or another form appropriate to the situation.
  • You will help bring in new business by identifying ways we can continue to support our clients beyond initial engagements, by ensuring our proposals are well crafted to meet client and consulting team needs, and by promoting our work
  • You will share your knowledge with the world by creating blog posts, white papers, webinars, presentations, and online courses
  • You will always be looking for ways that we can improve, sharing your suggestions with the team, training and mentoring others, and creating internal documentation

A little about you

  • You are a strong collaborator and an independent thinker
  • You value diverse identities and experiences. You are culturally competent.
  • You are curious, always eager to dig a little deeper to figure out the why and how
  • You are a gifted interviewer, skilled at drawing out stories and details from stakeholders and users
  • You are analytical and creative
  • You see connections between seemingly unconnected things
  • You can synthesize findings to create meaningful insights, and share those in a succinct but clear way
  • You write well
  • You can make a compelling and clear slide deck, and present it well too
  • You apply perspectives from different disciplines to problem solving and solution building
  • You have a background in Library Science, Business Analysis, Organizational Design, Service Design, Product Management, Data Governance, UX Research, and/or Consulting
  • You are always learning and improving
  • You really care about the details
  • You are willing to travel routinely (once that becomes a thing again)

Bonus points

Optionally, you may have expertise in one or more of these areas:

  • Digital asset management. Maybe you worked for a DAM vendor or managed a DAM (or similar system) in a previous role
  • Data wrangling. You are a whiz at mapping, normalizing, and transforming data
  • System architectures. Maybe you were a systems integrator in a past life
  • Digital preservation. If you know about this, you know what we are talking about.

If you don’t have one of those four more specific skills, but feel you would be a good fit based on the description above, we still want to hear from you!

What we offer

We work really hard to make working at AVP an amazing experience. We have a team full of truly exceptional people—the kind you’ll be excited to work with. Here’s how we operate:

Live Where You Want

We’re a distributed team, so you can live and work wherever you want. In late 2020, most people are used to working remotely, but we’ve been doing it for years, and will continue to once the world opens back up. We do have offices in Brooklyn, and Madison, WI—if you live in one of those areas, our crews there would love to have you. The rest of us are scattered around.

Work/Life Balance

We work hard and smart, but we’re in this for the long haul, no need to go crazy on the hours. We strive to make your workload manageable.

Take Vacation

We want you to take vacation. It’s important to get out and do something. We’ll look forward to seeing pictures of your vacation on Slack and hearing about your adventures at the weekly standup after you return. Even if you just need a break to sit on the couch for a week (we all know this feeling these days).

AVP Retreats

We get the whole team together two times a year to catch up, hang out, and plan for the future. In normal times, we’ll go to places like the mountains of Wyoming, the coastline of Florida (in the winter), and the cheese curds of Madison (at all times of year). We take advantage of working together, have strategy and planning sessions, bring in guest speakers and coaches, and do really fun things. The highlight is always hanging out together and having a blast.

Up Your Game

We’re serious about helping you improve your craft. We’ll support your attendance at conferences, online courses, and workshops, buy books and subscriptions. We have a culture of continuous improvement and we love to see our people growing (and teaching us what they learn!).

Benefits

You’ll be a W2 employee with benefits including medical, dental, vision, HSA, FSA, 401k, profit sharing, and more. AVP pays 80% of medical and dental insurance, and 100% of vision insurance. We also contribute 3% to your 401k whether you choose to throw any money in there or not. It vests immediately.

Be Yourself

At AVP we are committed to growing a representative team offering diverse perspectives from different age groups, abilities, races, ethnicities, cultural backgrounds, genders, gender identities, religious beliefs, and other lived experiences. AVP continually strives to promote a culture in which all employees feel included and where all voices are heard and appreciated. Whoever you are, wherever you call home, we want you to feel free to be your authentic self at work; and we want you to know that you will be authentically valued at AVP.

How to Apply

Apply by 11:59PM on December 22, 2020.

​​​​​​​If you have a prepared resume, attach it in PDF form. If you don’t have a resume because you aren’t even sure you’re looking to change jobs, that’s fine! An informal list of your work and education history are all we’re looking for. A LinkedIn profile would work too.

Attach a PDF of your cover letter. In your cover letter:

  • Introduce yourself and explain why this position is of interest to you, and you would be a great fit. Optionally, please include links to relevant past work and anything else that makes you look good, and describe your role in that work.
  • Include answers to the following questions: 1) ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​If you were interviewing a client for the first time, what are your first three questions? 2) If you were interviewing a prospective candidate for this position, what would be a good interview question to ask to find out if a candidate really knew their stuff?

Interview Process
Exploratory Interview

This is a high level conversation seeking to find out more about you, your interests, goals and objectives, background. Also to tell you about AVP, our culture, goals and objectives, services and products, and answer any questions you have.

In-Depth Interview

If the exploratory call goes well, one or two AVPeeps will meet with you, focusing in on a chronological walk-through of each job you have held focusing in on five core questions: What were you hired to do? What accomplishments are you most proud of? What were some of the low points during that job? Who were the people you worked with? Why did you leave that job? At the end of the interview we will discuss your career goals and aspirations, and you will have a chance to ask us questions.

Reference Interviews

If the in-depth interview goes well, we will ask you to introduce us to 3 references, representing previous supervisors, people that you supervised, and peer colleagues that you have worked with (as applicable).

All-Team Interview

If the reference interviews go well, there will be an all-team meeting set up with you. This is a chance for the team to meet you and for you to meet the team. The agenda is as follows:

  • Round robin introductions of AVPeeps
  • Candidate introduction
  • AVP questions for you and discussion
  • Your questions for AVP

Apply here!

AVP Is Hiring A Senior Software Engineer

19 January 2022

AVP is looking for talented, diverse, energetic, and creative folks to join our team of software engineers.

At AVP, we partner with amazing organizations to help maximize the value of their data and information assets. We untangle complex data management challenges and enable organizations to protect, manage, and leverage their assets through our consulting services, software products, and custom software development services. We holistically straddle human, business, and technological aspects of each challenge, apply proven and rigorous approaches, and collaborate with customers to innovate and overcome. We love solving difficult problems that have a positive impact on people and organizations. Take a look at our portfolio and you’ll see what we mean. Recent and upcoming software projects include Library of Congress Labs Humans in the LoopSave the Black Press with Black Voice News, History Pin with Shift Collective, and AudiAnnotate Audiovisual Extensible Workflow (AWE) project with University of Texas. 

We are deeply committed to creating a more equitable and inclusive world. We pursue our values through our work, ensuring that accurate and authentic data is used to create breakthrough solutions and solve knotty problems. We also stand firmly committed against systemic racism and all other forms of oppression and hold ourselves accountable for taking actions that reflect our values. With these values firmly in place, we welcome potential team members who share our commitments and reflect a diverse array of lived perspectives and experiences.

We are currently growing and developing our software engineering services. We build desktop applications, web applications, data warehousing services, and integration middleware. We transform data and migrate it from system to system. We write data acquisition services and public data APIs. We design digital forensic analysis tools. Although each client and challenge is unique, we use consistent approaches that allow our clients to make immediate progress toward their vision.

We are looking for a Senior Engineer with experience across the entire software development lifecycle to join our team and to lead and contribute to the wide array of development projects we support, as well as to assist in the continued improvement of our operations and infrastructure. Experience building scalable cloud services, distributed systems, and/or database systems would be a plus.

Read more below and apply!

P.S. If you’re not interested in or available for this position, but know someone who is, we would really appreciate it if you passed this along!

What you’ll do

As a Senior Software Engineer with AVP, each day will be different, but rewarding:

  • You will work with incredibly diverse organizations, from media and entertainment companies to financial organizations, hospitals to university libraries, tech companies to governments.
  • You will develop, design, and test software for SaaS products, desktop applications, web applications, middleware, and data services.
  • You will advise AVP and our clients on new technologies.
     
    • NWF Visipec (Data warehouse and public API)
    • Python scripts for acquiring data from the internet from publicly accessible APIs and writing the data to our Postgres warehouse.
    • Python and PL/pgSQL scripts for normalizing and correlating acquired data for Postgres table storage.
    • .Net and C# public API to provide data services for client partners.
    • AWS infrastructure for all server, network, and database services.You will work daily with AVP’s software team — currently a mix of external and internal developers — on an array of development projects for AVP clients. Below is an example of one of our client’s tech stacks:
  • You will work daily with AVP’s software team to support and continue to develop AVP’s suite of existing and emerging software products. Below are examples of two of AVP’s product technology stacks:
    • Aviary (SaaS product)
      • Integration of external services like IBM-Watson STT, Trint STT, Stripe, and Wasabi Storage.
      • Auto-scaling EC2 instances, Elastic Load Balancing, RDS, and S3 infrastructure in AWS.
      • A harmonious stack of HTML, CSS/SASS, Ruby on Rails, Solr, React.js, and Javascript.
    • Fixity Pro (Desktop application)
      • Java (OpenJDK)
      • Swing UI
      • Paddle subscription integration
  • You will collaborate with one or more of our subject matter experts for each project or product.
  • You will work closely with clients to identify needs and scope projects that meet their most pressing data management challenges.
  • You will design development project approaches, timelines, and outcomes in order to deliver on time and within budget.
  • You will formulate, test, and refine solution hypotheses.
  • You will help to improve AVP dev ops practices and policies.
  • You will look for ways that we can improve, sharing your suggestions with the team, training and mentoring others, and creating internal documentation.

A little about you

  • You value diverse identities and experiences. You are culturally competent.
  • You are a strong collaborator and an independent thinker.
  • You are curious, and eager to dig a little deeper to figure out the why and how.
  • You are comfortable working independently and in a team setting.
  • You are always learning and improving.
  • You really care about the details.
  • You are able to research innovative solutions for challenging business/technical problems.
  • You have 5+ years of full lifecycle software development/engineering experience in environments that use Agile and Scrum project management methodology.
  • You have expertise in at least two development languages; and competency in two others (AVP most commonly uses Ruby, Java, C#, .NET, Python, PHP, and Javascript).
  • You have backend data persistence expertise using databases and datastores, preferably SQL-based.
  • You have knowledge of network and application security practices.
  • You write consistent, efficient, and well-documented code, including the creation of technical documentation for deployment and maintenance.
  • You have a working knowledge of continuous integration/deployment processes and systems.
  • You bring an ability to debug and optimize code, and to automate routine tasks.
  • You are experienced administering web servers, Git repositories, databases, and network services.
  • You have experience creating, developing, delivering, deploying, and maintaining online services.
  • You have experience developing in the cloud (e.g., AWS, Azure, or Google).
  • You are comfortable designing architecture for the processing, storage, and analysis of large structured and unstructured data sets.
  • You have some knowledge of (or are interested in learning about) the domains of Library Science, Forensic Analysis, Data Acquisition, Machine Learning, Product Management, Data Modeling, UX Research, and/or Taxonomy.
  • You have knowledge of open source coding practices, licenses and technologies.

Bonus points

Optionally, you may have expertise in one or more of these areas:

  • Digital audiovisual content. You are familiar with digital audiovisual formats and the common challenges developers face when working with such formats in web applications, storage configurations, and desktop applications.
  • Digital asset management. Maybe you have developed for a DAM vendor or implemented a DAM (or similar system) in a previous role.
  • Data wrangling. You are a whiz at mapping, normalizing, and transforming structured data.
  • System architectures. Maybe you were a systems integrator in a past life.
  • Digital preservation. If you know about this, you know what we are talking about.

If you don’t have one of those four more specific skills, but feel you would be a good fit based on the description above, we still want to hear from you!

What we offer

We work really hard to make working at AVP an amazing experience. We have a team full of truly exceptional people—the kind you’ll be excited to work with. Here’s how we operate:

Live Where You Want

We’re a distributed team, so you can live and work wherever you want. As of 2020, most people are used to working remotely, but we’ve been doing it for years, and will continue to once the world opens back up. We do have offices in Brooklyn, and Madison, WI—if you live in one of those areas, our crews there would love to have you. The rest of us are scattered around.

Work/Life Balance

We work hard and smart, but we’re in this for the long haul, no need to go crazy on the hours. We strive to make your workload manageable.

Take Vacation

We want you to take vacation. It’s important to get out and do something. We’ll look forward to seeing pictures of your vacation on Slack and hearing about your adventures at the weekly standup after you return. Even if you just need a break to sit on the couch for a week (we all know this feeling these days).

AVP Retreats

We get the whole team together two times a year to catch up, hang out, and plan for the future. In normal times, we’ll go to places like the mountains of Wyoming, the coastline of Florida (in the winter), and the cheese curds of Madison (at all times of year). We take advantage of working together, have strategy and planning sessions, bring in guest speakers and coaches, and do really fun things. The highlight is always hanging out together and having a blast.

Up Your Game

We’re serious about helping you improve your craft. We’ll support your attendance at conferences, online courses, and workshops, buy books and subscriptions. We have a culture of continuous improvement and we love to see our people growing (and teaching us what they learn!).

Benefits

You’ll be a W2 employee with benefits including medical, dental, vision, HSA, FSA, 401k, profit sharing, and more. AVP pays 80% of medical and dental insurance, and 100% of vision insurance. We also contribute 3% to your 401k whether you choose to throw any money in there or not. It vests immediately.

Be Yourself

At AVP we are committed to growing a representative team offering diverse perspectives from different age groups, abilities, races, ethnicities, cultural backgrounds, genders, gender identities, religious beliefs, and other lived experiences. AVP continually strives to promote a culture in which all employees feel included and where all voices are heard and appreciated. Whoever you are, wherever you call home, we want you to feel free to be your authentic self at work; and we want you to know that you will be authentically valued at AVP.

How to Apply

​​​​​​​If you have a prepared resume, attach it in PDF form. If you don’t have a resume because you aren’t even sure you’re looking to change jobs, that’s fine! An informal list of your work and education history are all we’re looking for. A LinkedIn profile would work too.

Attach a PDF of your cover letter. In your cover letter:

  • Introduce yourself and explain why this position is of interest to you, and why you would be a great fit. Optionally, please include links to relevant past work and anything else that makes you look good, and describe your role in that work.
  • Include answers to the following questions:
    • 1. What are the three most challenging obstacles you have faced when migrating structured data from one database environment to another? And how did you overcome them?
    • 2. Unit tests are inefficient and cost too much in project overhead. In a few paragraphs, argue for and/or against this point.
    • 3. I do my best work when … ? Please complete the sentence in whatever way you prefer. Please write at least a paragraph to add context to the sentence.

Interview Process
Skill Test and Exploratory Interview

We will provide a skills test for you to complete. Upon successful completion, we will contact you for a high level conversation to find out more about you, your interests, goals and objectives, background. Also to tell you about AVP, our culture, goals and objectives, services and products, and answer any questions you have.

In-Depth Interview

If the exploratory call goes well, one or two AVPeeps will meet with you, focusing in on a chronological walk-through of each job you have held focusing in on five core questions: What were you hired to do? What accomplishments are you most proud of? What were some of the low points during that job? Who were the people you worked with? Why did you leave that job? At the end of the interview we will discuss your career goals and aspirations, and you will have a chance to ask us questions.

Reference Interviews

If the in-depth interview goes well, we will ask you to introduce us to 3 references, representing previous supervisors, people that you supervised, and peer colleagues that you have worked with (as applicable).

All-Team Interview

If the reference interviews go well, there will be an all-team meeting set up with you. This is a chance for the team to meet you and for you to meet the team. The agenda is as follows:

  • Round robin introductions of AVPeeps
  • Candidate introduction
  • AVP questions for you and discussion
  • Your questions for AVP

Apply here!

AVP Is Hiring A Humbly Talented Full Stack Software Engineer

19 January 2022

Disclaimer: Thanks to Jesse Mecham (an awesome person and CEO!) at YNAB (an awesome company!) for sharing his time, thoughts, and resources on building and representing the culture at AVP. That includes helping us write better job posts. Like this one.

At AVP, we partner with the best clients in the world and build applications that radically improve the way people work and use information. As a Software Engineer at AVP you may be working on our groundbreaking Aviary product, consolidating public data sets to analyze supply chains for bad actors, creating media forensic analysis tools (we can’t tell you for who until you learn the secret handshake), working on building a first-of-its-kind platform for mass-generation of metadata for audiovisual content, and so much more. Your days will be filled with exciting and fulfilling work.

When we say Full Stack, we mean that you like being in the trenches with code, are comfortable at various levels of the stack, and are familiar with the following (not exhaustive):

  • Server-side languages like Ruby and Java
  • Front-end development with CSS and JavaScript
  • DevOps tooling and services like Rubocop and Github
  • Cloud storage and compute environments like AWS and Wasabi
  • Database/SQL/noSQL development and optimization (MySQL, PostgreSQL, SQLite, MongoDB)
  • Agile methodologies and tools including Jira

That’s some of what you’ll be working on. But let us tell you about us and what it means to be an AVPeep.

Apply Now

A Bit About Us

We maximize the usability of data by resolving large-scale, multifunctional, and enterprise-wide, digital and physical audio, video, image, metadata, text, numeric, and other data challenges with consulting services, software products, and software development. We holistically straddle business and technology aspects of each challenge, apply proven and rigorous approaches, and collaboratively partner with customers to innovate and overcome. We love solving big, complex, difficult problems that have a huge positive impact on people (and little, simple problems that are just annoying and should be squashed because they can be). Take a look at our portfolio and you’ll see what we mean.

We’re profitable, bootstrapped, and growing. AVP started in 2006 and we’re in it for the long haul.

We have one overarching requirement when it comes to joining our team: our Vision, Values, and Operating Principles have to really click with you. If you’re nodding emphatically while reading it, you’ll probably fit right in!

At AVP we know that as we grow, we need to increasingly reflect the world we live in and the clients we serve. We are committed to growing a representative team from multiple age groups, abilities, cultural backgrounds and genders. AVP continually strives to promote a culture in which all employees feel included and where all voices are heard and appreciated. Whoever you are, wherever you call home, we want you to feel free to be your authentic self at work.

First, let’s talk about life at AVP and then we’ll go into detail about what we’re looking for.

Who You’ll Be Working With

Our team of Software Engineers is 7 people strong and spread across the globe, but we all work pretty closely. For that matter, we also work in cross-functional teams frequently so you’ll get to work with people in all different roles in the company and on both products and projects. As a small sampling, here are a few teammates that you’ll definitely rub digital shoulders with:

Kara, AVP Partner and Senior Consultant, is our chief evangelist of continuous improvement. Kara loves systems – creating them, adopting them, putting them to practice, refining them, eating them for breakfast, you name it. As a natural born leader, Kara was the one in her neighborhood that inspired and organized all the other kids and made things happen. As an adult she continues this, convincing her husband and friend James to do awesome things like eating the food of every country in alphabetical order without leaving New York City or driving a small car on the Silk Road from Europe to Mongolia. Kara brings this same rigorous approach and fun spirit to AVP, keeping us excited and never complacent.

Bert is an AVP Partner, Senior Consultant, and Aviary Co-Product Owner. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin, and somehow manages to be a jack of all trades AND a master of all trades. Bert wouldn’t say that because he’s humble (so much so that whenever we rent a house for a team retreat Bert claims the worst bed in the worst room immediately). We would all say it, because aside from constantly impressing us in a professional setting, he manages to beat us at all competitive endeavors. Ever. Of any type. Yes, including curling. Treasure the skills that get you this job because they may be the only thing you can hold over Bert. Fortunately, Bert is also a hell of a nice guy, so don’t worry. He won’t make you feel bad when he beats you at everything else.

Kerri joined the team in March of this year as Aviary Product Manager and AVP Senior Consultant. Kerri adds to our Brooklyn crew where we now roll 5 deep (going to have to get a car with more seats if we add any more). Although Kerri specializes in self deprecating humor, she’s an all around funny person and a delight to work with. But don’t let the laughs and smile fool you into thinking that Kerri is anything less than a powerhouse. She has a deep passion for the work we do and brings her best to everything she does. In other words, there ain’t no half steppin’.

Dan is a data scientist and one of our full-stack developers. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin and he is currently having a great time simultaneously working on media forensic analysis tools that we can’t talk about for a client we can’t talk about, metadata embedding tools for the Library of Congress, and working on wildly complex data analyses and algorithms to gain insights into supply chain issues including deforestation of the rainforests. Dan actually works with us as a contractor (we won’t hold that against him), but we work so much together that he feels like fam. Dan comes by his ability to grapple with, and make sense of, mind-blowingly complex sets of data honestly. His father was in baseball doing statistical analysis and worked with Bill James, the creator of the Moneyball theory.

Nouman is one of our Senior Software Engineers working out of Lahore, Pakistan. Nouman has been part of the team since 2010 and has become one of the leading software engineers in the libraries and archives ecosystem. Nouman embodies the humble talent that we call out in the title of this job posting. It took us several years to get him to laugh (which almost certainly says more about us than him), but now he’s got us all LOL’ing at every standup. We think he may have a second career as a comedian, but for our sake we’re hoping that doesn’t come anytime too soon.

How You’ll Work at AVP

We work really hard to make working at AVP an amazing experience. We have a team full of truly exceptional people—the kind you’ll be excited to work with. Here’s how we operate:

Live Where You Want

We’re a distributed team, so you can live and work wherever you want. Proximity doesn’t influence productivity. Some of us are more nomadic than others, but between work trips, personal trips, and just wanting to work out of different places, where we work from isn’t all that important. Not all of us travel so extensively, but the fact that some of us do is totally okay because we’re all adults. As long as we have a reliable internet connection and communication is flowing we’re all set.

No Crazy Hours

It’s not uncommon that we work more than 40 hours per week, but we intentionally do not make a habit out of it and we discourage it when it’s unnecessary. We work hard and smart, but we’re in this for the long haul, no need to go crazy on the hours.

Take Vacation (Seriously)

We want you to take vacation. It’s important to get out and do something. We’ll look forward to seeing pictures of your vacation on Slack and hearing about your adventures at the weekly standup after you return.

AVP Retreats

We get the team together in one place three times a year to catch up on six sigma techniques in a windowless conference room with fluorescent lighting. Just kidding. So far, we’ve done retreats in the mountains of Wyoming (in the summer), the coastline of Florida (in the winter), and the cheese curds of Madison (at all times of year). We take advantage of working together, have a strategy and planning session that is usually led by the one and only Jim Canfield, and do really fun things. The highlight is always hanging out together and having a blast.

Up Your Game

We’re serious about professional development at the individual and team level. We budget the time and the money for it as part of our annual planning. Think conferences, Agile training, Lynda subscriptions, books, dedicated time away from work to learn something new… it’s really up to you and your supervisor. But we have a culture of continuous improvement and we love to see our people growing (and teaching us what they learned!).

Because We Give a Damn

You’ll be a W2 employee with fantastic benefits including 401k and profit sharing. AVP contributes three percent whether you choose to throw any money in there or not. It vests immediately.

Sound Good?

If this sounds like something you can get on board with, let’s get back to talking about you. You will play a big part in helping AVP maximize the usability of data in service of our amazing clients and the fulfillment of their vision and mission.

Now, Back to You, Our New Full Stack Software Engineer

You’re an experienced server-side developer that knows how to ship, monitor, and maintain large SaaS apps (not just websites). You’re an expert in at least one modern server-side framework (Rails, ASP.NET, etc). You aren’t intimidated or turned off by desktop apps either.

You’re not necessarily the “Ops” person where you work, but you certainly understand the infrastructure well enough to aid in architecting and maintaining scalable solutions. Experience with OVH, Heroku, AWS, Wasabi and/or other popular IAAS/PAAS is good.

We have four main areas that you will play a role in:

  1. Aviary
  2. AVP products
  3. Custom software development
  4. Client projects

For our main product, Aviary, you’ll help vet and improve our server-side layer, implement new features, develop our API, integrate with third party API’s, and shepherd the application. We might have conversations that start like this:

  • “How can we be certain that our application is going to scale as we grow (web scale)? How did the other apps you worked on handle similar load conditions?”
  • “We want to develop an API for internal and 3rd party purposes. What’s the best strategy for this?”
  • “We need to integrate with a new partner. How do we set it up so that we can reuse most of that work when we bring on another partner later?”
  • “How can we be sure that we are using the most current best practices with regard to security?”
  • “What monitoring tools can we use to help detect and troubleshoot issues?”

AVP has a variety of products that we have developed alone and with clients that we are responsible for managing, maintaining, and supporting. These range from desktop applications to SaaS applications, encompass closed and open source projects, and are written in a variety of languages. We might have conversations that start like this:

  • “How do we turn this into an app for sale in the app store?”
  • “How can we improve the quality and performance of this application?”
  • “Help us figure out a strategy for managing our suite of products with regard to development, maintenance, and support over the coming year.”

For custom software development projects you will work with AVPeeps and the client to elicit and document requirements and use-cases, scope projects, propose methods and strategies, and ultimately create an awesome application that meets the agreed upon requirements within the scope and budget of the project. We might have conversations that start like this:

  • “What are the top 2-3 options for tackling this set of requirements and what are the pros and cons of each?”
  • “What questions do you have to help clarify the requirements and use-cases for this prospective software application?”
  • “What information do you still need to be able to estimate the level of effort for this project?”
  • “What are the variables that may cause surprises and how can we mitigate and plan for those

It is also frequently the case that we work in cross-functional teams on projects for clients in which the outcome is not a product, but rather data that has been migrated or data that has been acquired and consolidated from multiple sources.

  • “What are our options for acquiring these identified data sets in the most efficient way possible?”
  • “What tests can we write and implement to prove that all data has been migrated without loss, corruption, or alteration?”
  • “How can we speed this process up by a factor of 10?”
  • “What algorithms can we use to answer the following questions with this data set?”

You’re Our Person if You

  • Are an excellent developer and can adapt to new languages quickly.
  • Aren’t intimidated by working with non-AV and AV projects alike.
  • Have plenty of war stories to tell about the last time you launched a big SaaS application, or weathered a massive spike in load, or recovered from an outage.
  • Have excellent debugging skills. You know how to find problems, and how to architect apps so that problems are discoverable in the first place.
  • Know your way around SQL and relational databases. If the database layer turns out to be the culprit behind an issue, it’s not a black box to you.
  • Understand basic algorithm design and data structures: You know that a binary search is faster than a linear search, and a Hashtable/Map lookup is faster still. You might not remember all your data structures off the top of your head, but you know you have options and know how to Google for them.

How to Apply

  • Apply here by 11:59PM on July 31st, 2019. Firm. It’s a real deadline.
  • Attach a pdf of your cover letter. In your cover letter:
    • What are your two strongest programming languages? Is there another language that you’re curious to learn next?
    • If you were interviewing a prospective candidate for this position, what would be a good interview question to ask to find out if a candidate really knew their stuff?
    • Introduce yourself and explain why this position is of interest to you, and why you would be a great fit.
    • Please include links to apps you’ve built or anything else that makes you look good, and describe your role in building those apps. (If they’re internal, you can skip the link part).
    • Include answers to the following questions:
  • If you have a prepared resume, attach it in PDF form. If you don’t have a resume because you aren’t even sure you’re looking to change jobs, that’s fine! An informal list of your work and education history are all we’re looking for.

The Interview Process

Exploratory Call
This is a high level conversation seeking to find out more about the candidate, their interests, goals and objectives, background, and to assess for cultural and skill fit at a high level. Also to tell them about AVP, our culture, goals and objectives, services and products, and answer any questions they have.

In-depth Interview
If the exploratory call goes well, one or two AVPeeps will meet with the candidate, focusing in on a chronological walk through of each job the candidate has held focusing in on five core questions: What were you hired to do? What accomplishments are you most proud of? What were some of the low points during that job? Who were the people you worked with? Why did you leave that job?

At the end of the interview we will discuss your career goals and aspirations, and you will have a chance to ask us questions.

Reference Interviews

If the in-depth interview goes well, we will ask you to introduce us to 5 references, representing previous supervisors, people that you supervised, and peer colleagues that you have worked with (as applicable).

All-Team Interview
If the reference interviews go well, there will be an all-team meeting setup with the candidate. This is a chance for the team to meet the candidate and for the candidate to meet the team. The agenda is as follows:

– Round robin introductions of AVPeeps [5 minutes]
– Candidate introduction [10 minutes]
– AVP questions for the candidate and discussion [60 minutes]
– Candidate questions for AVP [30 minutes]

P.S.  If you’re not interested in or available for this position, but know someone who is, we would really appreciate it if you passed this along!

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