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From your local coffee shop to huge international brands, every type and size of business has processes in place for getting its work done regularly, efficiently, and effectively. Not all processes are equal, however. Some tasks that should be straightforward or routine are overcomplicated and small details that can lead to significant efficiencies are frequently overlooked. Employees are often comfortable with the way things “have always been done” even when they suspect there are better ways to do them.

Good processes and workflows are key to a healthy business. In our ever-evolving world, regularly updating and iterating them is the secret to sustainability. For example, Toyota’s entire corporate strategy is based on the idea of kaizen, or “continuous improvement.” The Japanese car manufacturer and retailer has enjoyed tremendous success for decades due to this focus.

Toyota applies the kaizen mindset to every piece of its business. This means that even niche programs like digital asset management (DAM) and the workflows it involves are regularly managed, reviewed, and updated. In this article, we outline five core DAM workflows that your governance team should implement, manage, and continuously improve on.

Essential Digital Asset Management Workflows

1. Asset Approval Workflow

What makes a digital asset worthy of representing your brand in the marketplace? What are the standards that content must meet for it to be put before your potential customers? Finally, how does your organization ensure that every piece of content available to your end-users meets these standards? Answering these questions will help you develop an asset approval workflow that keeps your content on-brand, relevant, and up-to-date. Content creators should know what to create and why. DAM managers should know how to evaluate the content and give feedback, as well as how to appropriately move approved assets into the DAM system.

2. Asset Ingestion Workflow

Assets must be approved not only in terms of their content and design but also in terms of what information is attached to them and how they're protected within the DAM system. During the asset ingestion process, someone from your organization or a third party, such as a DAM consultant, collects, enriches with metadata, renames, publishes, organizes, and permissions your content according to documented DAM standards. These processes ensure a standardized and smooth end-user experience.

3. Asset Distribution Workflow

This is the process by which your organization’s end-users, whether they be salespeople, marketers, creatives, partners, or IT people, can search for, find, use, and share digital assets as needed. This is often the most custom DAM workflow since it’s based on the kinds of digital assets your organization uses, what channels they're used within, and what kind of DAM system or DAM platform you have. There should be clear guidelines for all core user groups on how to search, download, edit, and share assets within the DAM system.

4. Quality Control Workflow

Even when asset ingestion processes are well-defined and there are clear paths for end-users to follow with boundaries that minimize risk, mistakes still happen. Sometimes, assets end up in the wrong place, keywords and other metadata is applied incorrectly, or an asset that shouldn’t have been approved makes its way into the system. With this in mind, make sure your organization has a way of regularly auditing the DAM system in order to catch these mistakes and mitigate risk. Be sure to assign clear roles and responsibilities to your DAM management team and give them the tools they need to solve the problems they'll inevitably find.

5. Archival Workflow

Considering how quickly content comes and goes, and how short consumers’ attention spans have become, assets will likely become obsolete and out of date more quickly than might be expected. These irrelevant assets should have a place to go that's as organized and easy to use as your “current” library. DAM managers should archive these assets so they remain available if needed, don’t clutter your current library, and reduce the risk of sharing assets with expired usage and copyright permissions.


After setting up these workflows, your focus should be on continuously improving them. This means having an individual or team regularly involved in these processes to identify opportunities and bottlenecks, collect feedback from end-users, and outline projects to expand and tune the DAM program to ensure it works as well as possible. If you need help setting up these workflows or fine-tuning the ones you already have in place, contact Stacks! Our team of DAM experts is happy to help.

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