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DAM 101

10 Things to do Before Searching for a DAM Platform

Ben Owen

By Ben Owen | May 12, 2022

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All organizations produce content. Photos, videos, design files, historical materials, and other intellectual property hold immense value and are the tools used to grow and maintain a brand’s market presence and achieve its goals. In today’s market, dominated by digital interfaces and highly visual content, these assets are increasingly important, and properly managing them is essential.

Today, many organizations struggle to manage their digital assets effectively. New content is made daily, older files become obsolete, and there’s a complex web of copyright and licensing rules to track. As a result, old and new branding materials are mixed together, permissions are messy, metadata and file naming protocols fall by the wayside, and chaos reigns in their digital asset libraries.

To solve these problems, many organizations look to incorporate a digital asset management (DAM) solution. Ideally, a DAM is a single source of truth that could speed up workflows and provide automation and much needed efficiency to the entire content lifecycle. However, technology won’t solve process issues, and many organizations are unprepared for the investment needed to properly set up and govern their DAM platform. While DAM can solve a myriad of things, many of the roadblocks brands face are a direct result of their lack of standards and processes around managing their digital content.

With this in mind, we’ve outlined ten vital steps to take before searching for a DAM platform below. Following these steps will save you and your organization time and money and will lay the foundation for your entire DAM program.

10 Things to do Before Searching for a DAM Platform

1. Identify Core Stakeholders

The first step on the journey toward successfully managing your brand’s content is to identify the core individuals in your organization who will spearhead your DAM program. This stakeholder group is your primary source of first-hand information about workflows, needs, challenges, and goals. They should have decision-making power as well as the capacity to take on various DAM-related tasks. Creating this group distributes the burden of implementing your organization’s DAM system and ensures ongoing management and long term governance.

2. Identify Users and Groups

The next step is to identify the core end-users who will need access to the DAM, and in what capacity. Consider who creates, shares, distributes, requests, and approves content as it makes its way across the organization. Based on their role and responsibilities, consider what kinds of permissions they will need and how these permissions can be grouped. Ideally, permissions and abilities should be grouped and each user should belong to a group. Avoid granting permissions on a per-user basis, as this is time-consuming, and more often than not users can be grouped together with others based on how they interact with assets, or based on their department.

Ensuring your stakeholders are on the same page is crucial for DAM success

3. Understand User Needs

Once you’ve assembled your stakeholder group and identified your core users, leverage this to gain insight into what current systems and processes work well and which don’t. Your users will have first-hand insight and can help to identify current bottlenecks as well as opportunities for improvement. There are various ways to get this information, such as surveys, forums, and regular check-in meetings. Ensure that you are casting a wide net and understanding the needs of users across different departments and roles, and pay special attention to users who will interact the most with the DAM. Once you’ve collected this feedback in a controlled way, analyze the data, identify common themes, and dive deeper where needed.

4. Map Current Processes

Once you have valuable insight into your users’ needs, pain points, and core processes, create a workflow map. This map will give you a holistic view of your asset lifecycle and the technologies and tools that support it. It will also identify key DAM-related tasks and help to assess what could be automated, outsourced, or streamlined. Identifying these key tasks at this stage will help you to consider each user’s bandwidth to properly manage your digital assets. Creatives often have little time to worry about metadata, and burdening them with it could be overwhelming and lead to them overlooking it entirely. Consider the investment involved for every step of the process and continually assess your current users’ ability to complete it.

5. Identify and Discuss Bottlenecks

Mapping your current processes, personnel, and platforms allows your team to easily identify bottlenecks, issues, and challenges for your stakeholder group to discuss and resolve. For each bottleneck, consider if the cause is a personnel, process, or platform issue. Identifying the cause of these bottlenecks will not only help to permanently solve them, but it will also help to decide what of these issues a DAM system can solve.

6. Develop SMAART Goals

Having a list of deeply understood roadblocks lends itself to quickly developing short and long-term goals for your DAM program, users, and your organization as a whole. These goals should solve the problems forever and be specific, attainable, aggressive, relevant, and time-sensitive.

7. Create a “Sandbox”

No matter what systems you currently use to manage your digital assets, take the time to create a “sandbox.” As the name suggests, it’s a place for your team to play. It can be as simple as a folder in your Dropbox account. Here, you can build a “beta” of a potential DAM system to suit your organization’s needs. Having a sandbox to play around in will give users the necessary time to consider the most important features and functionality they want and need in a DAM platform.

8. Gather Assets

To properly test and experiment in your sandbox, it needs to be populated with relevant assets. If you have the space, use your most important, high-priority assets. Consider how you would like to ideally interact with them, as well as the key information needed in the metadata to be able to search for them. Collecting your most relevant assets in one place also makes your initial migration from your current system to another platform far easier.

9. Create a Short-list

Using the feedback from users, and any data collected up to this point, create a shortlist of issues and roadblocks your organization needs the DAM to solve for. Clearly identifying the biggest pain points and then assessing a DAMs potential solution for each one will help you to better understand how a DAM best fits into your organization and where other tools and technologies are needed. DAM platforms won’t solve for everything, and creating a list of must-haves will narrow your search and also help you to better understand its overall value proposition. Once created, have your users validate it and make adjustments as needed.

10. Document Core Standards and New Workflows

Once your sandbox is populated and users have experimented with the assets, document all the work you’ve done. At this point, you should have feedback from users, workflows and processes clearly outlined, bottlenecks, new standards, and more. Documenting your content lifecycle and how your organization interacts and manages your assets on a regular basis will give you the information and insight you need to search for the right platform and ensure you’re prepared to ask the right questions. It will also help you to assess your DAM program success in the future. In six months, you might not even remember how long it used to take to locate a single asset. Being able to measure your DAM program’s success will ensure it’s working as intended and helping to achieve your organizational goals.


Once you’ve completed these steps, you’ll have a clearer picture of your organization’s digital asset needs and will be better situated to achieve your organization’s immediate and long term goals. In addition, you’ll have a fully functioning sandbox full of high-priority assets ready for migration to a new system. Now, all you need to do is find and implement the right DAM platform. Need help doing any of the above? Have employee bandwidth problems that outsourcing could solve? Not sure where to start looking for a DAM platform? Contact Stacks today!

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