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DAM Management

Best Practices for Managing DAM Permissions

Ben Owen

By Ben Owen | Sep 16, 2021

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Digital asset management (DAM) serves many purposes. Among the most important is providing easy access to creative assets. For example, marketing team members can quickly find branding materials and beautiful photos to put in front of consumers. Designers can also maintain brand consistency and save time and money by reusing assets from the past. In short, everyone in an organization benefits when there is a standardized way of searching for assets, communicating about them, and putting them to use.

Another important purpose of DAM is security. Not every employee in an organization needs access to its digital assets. Some content may have copyright restrictions. Some may be client materials protected by Non-Disclosure Agreements. Other assets are only useful to a particular team and clutter search results if included in every search.

The process of managing these different levels of access to digital assets is called permissions management. Permissions control which assets specific users within a DAM system can search and how they can utilize them. When permissions are structured effectively, the system runs smoothly, users have the assets they need, and the organization is protected from legal trouble or loss of assets to mistakes.

Managing DAM Permissions Within your Organization

In order to effectively utilize permissions within your DAM system, you must make a few important distinctions between your employees. First, you must identify every team using the system. These are your stakeholders. Each group has different workflows and needs so permissions may be different for each of them. To start, gather representatives from every stakeholder group and determine the security needs they share, as well as those they don’t.

Next, assign DAM system administrators for each team. This may be an individual or a group depending on the size of the team. Administrators, in most cases, are the only team members with the ability to edit and delete folder structures and assets, manage software settings, and assign permissions to other users on their team. They are the “gatekeepers” who ensure that other users only have access to what they need. Limit the number of administrators in order to limit the chances of human error leading to the loss of assets, assets being shared where they shouldn’t be, and other mistakes.

Finally, the administrators for each stakeholder group should decide how to assign basic permissions to other team members. Who needs to be able to upload assets? Which folders need to be password protected? Should creators and users be able to view the entire library or only assets directly related to their work? The key to these decisions is establishing the line between efficiency and security.

At this point, your team should have a list of end-users and the basic permissions assigned to them. Take time now to think through your processes and workflows. Do download requests need to be approved? If so, by who? How are copyright restrictions managed? What is the process when employees are let go or leave the organization voluntarily? The answers to these questions, as well as others unique to your organization, hold the keys to effective and efficient DAM management.

Managing DAM Permissions Outside your Organization

In most organizations, employees, as well as outside users, need access to assets. In some, freelancers upload creative assets directly to the system. Clients or partners view assets in the library and give their feedback on the approval process in others. For example, if the organization often works with a particular external design team, that group needs quick access to their most recent branding materials. No matter the situation, the point remains the same. Organizations must have a method of providing secure access to users outside their inner circle of trust.

There are two core options for providing access for external users to your DAM system:

1. Most DAM platforms have external sharing tools you can provide to your external users. For example, you could give a freelancer who needs to quickly upload photos from a shoot, an upload link to a particular folder. Many systems also use lightrooms or workspaces where users place and share assets with your clients or partners. From there, they can leave comments and communicate with your team. These methods are ideal for external users who do not need access to a high quantity of assets or will not be involved in your workflows for an extended period of time.

2. For external users heavily involved in your day-to-day workflows, whether they belong to outside design or creative teams, or partners, you should consider creating an account for them with basic permissions. These permissions give them access only to the assets and folders relevant to them. This allows them to log in and out of your DAM system and access the assets they need without your team needing to provide them with links, move assets, or worry about sharing them outside your platform.


Managing permissions effectively is a core component of planning and governing a DAM system successfully. Without it, users accidentally deleting, moving, or using assets in harmful ways is far likelier. If you need help identifying your stakeholders or developing permissions workflows, contact Stacks today! We work across any technology to make sure you get the most out of your system and the assets it holds.

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