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DAM 101

5 Tips for Successfully Implementing DAM

Ben Owen

By Ben Owen | Sep 16, 2021

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Many organizations, especially large, consumer-facing ones, have mountains of creative content in desperate need of management. NFL teams generate thousands of photos every game. E-commerce companies have massive catalogs of product images and website design files. Marketing groups create hours of brilliant videos for commercials and promotional campaigns. Effectively managing and utilizing their valuable digital assets is vital to the growth of every kind of business. The best way to do this is to implement a digital asset management (DAM) system.

DAM systems provide organizations with clear, standardized workflows, processes, and tools for creating, finding, and using their digital assets. Going from decentralized, unorganized piles of assets to a clean, easy-to-use single location can be an overwhelming project. In this article, our goal is to break the process of implementing DAM into small, obtainable wins for you and your organization.

Creating Great Standards

The first step in any DAM journey is the creation of effective, understandable standards. These guidelines include organizational goals, corporate language, and best practices like intuitive file names and folder structures. They build the foundation on which the DAM system stands, ensuring buy-in, ongoing success, and scalability.

Before building your DAM system be sure to bring key stakeholders together and develop your standards. Then document your workflows in an easy-to-understand way, get feedback from future end-users of the system, and lock the standards in. At Stacks, we strongly believe that clearly defined standards are the keys to an effective and efficient DAM program. Without them, implementation is more difficult and the system can fall apart quickly.

5 Tips for Implementing DAM

Now, it's time to begin implementing your DAM system. This task may seem daunting to your team. Although they are excited about the project, the task of collecting, tagging, moving, and managing all your assets appears impossible. Our advice: Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Break your project down into small, manageable wins. We’ve outlined five ways to do this below.

1. Prioritize Your Assets

For many organizations, just assessing the number of creative assets in their library is a problem. While all assets serve a purpose, not all provide value after a certain amount of time. Rather than trying to tackle your entire library all at once, work with your stakeholders to determine which assets are the most valuable to the organization right now. For example, which assets do you need access to immediately? For many brands, their “priority” assets are the most recent ones. Others choose to segment their assets by file type or version. Whatever the filter, tiering your assets makes getting the system operational far easier.

2. Establish a Single Source of Truth

Along with identifying your priority assets, you’ll need to decide where they'll live going forward. For many organizations, creative assets are decentralized and reside on employee hard drives, company servers, and cloud-based platforms like Google Drive or Dropbox. This makes finding, sharing, and using them difficult. Determine what your brand’s “Single Source of Truth” will be. Where is the one location employees can go to quickly find a specific asset? This can be a DAM platform, an on-premise server, or a cloud-based solution such as SharePoint.

3. Collect your Priority Assets

The process of moving all your priority assets into a Single Source of Truth allows your team to better understand where assets are currently located. It also allows them to easily find duplicates. These duplicate assets do not provide value and only serve to clutter your platform. Collecting all your priority assets in one place allows your team to analyze them, identify duplicates, and remove them.

4. Apply Your Standards

Remember those standards you and your team created before? Now that your assets are gathered together, you understand more about them, and duplicates are gone, you can begin applying your standards. Start by renaming files, applying metadata tags, building folder structures, and editing assets that don’t meet your visual criteria. This will give the end-users of your DAM system practice putting your standards to use, making it second nature after the implementation is finished.

5. Move Your Priority Assets Into Their New Home

Finally! You have a large set of valuable assets with standard file names and metadata tags to make them searchable. Your team has standards to help them search for and quickly find creative assets, saving your organization time and money that was previously spent looking for assets or recreating lost ones. Now you can begin uploading your assets into their new home. Before doing so, be sure your folder structure has been created so that your assets will be organized in an intuitive way.

Bonus Tip: Rinse and Repeat

You’ve done it! Your DAM system is fully implemented, up and running, producing ROI and helping your business scale well. However, just because your priority assets hold the most value, doesn’t mean your other assets are worthless. Be sure to build out a historical archive for users to access by collecting, deduplicating, and uploading the rest of your library.

Looking Ahead: Effective Management

Once the implementation of your DAM system is complete, the project is not over. Standards need to be enforced, data analyzed, and special projects managed. This process is called governance and includes the important task of DAM management.

Be sure to maintain a long-term view during the implementation process. It is vital to determine who will manage the DAM system and serve on its governing board. It’s also important to establish how new employees will be trained to use the system correctly and who is responsible for tagging, renaming, and uploading newly-created assets weekly.


If you break up your DAM implementation project into smaller phases, it’s far easier to tackle. Throughout the process, if you become overwhelmed or feel undermanned, be sure to contact a DAM consultant like Stacks for help!

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