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Planning and Strategy

Best Practices for Setting SMAART DAM Goals

Ben Owen

By Ben Owen | Sep 16, 2021

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Imagine setting off on a road trip across the country without a map, without planned stops, without hotel reservations, or without a final destination Sounds kind of terrifying, right? Not only would you spend money on gas, food, and accommodations while you decide where to go, you might also find yourself in scary situations. Without a clear objective and a well-thought-out plan, you’d have no way of avoiding pitfalls on your journey or any guarantee that you’d arrive safely where and when you expected to.

None of us would hop in a car for a trip without knowing where we wanted to go, why we wanted to go there, and the best way to get there safely. How many of us, however, jump into projects like implementing a digital asset management (DAM) system without that information? Before beginning your journey into DAM, be sure to set clear goals and objectives and develop a plan to achieve them, and measure your success.

The Importance of DAM Goals

We all know the importance of goals. We set them in our personal lives every year at the beginning of January. When we play any kind of game, someone usually asks, “So, what’s the goal?” When we start a new project, we always “begin with the end in mind.” Goals define success for any project, task, meeting, or season. They are the “why” of everything we do.

Setting a goal to have an effective and efficient DAM system isn’t as simple as deciding you want one. In order to be actionable, goals must be specific, measurable, attainable, aggressive, relevant, and time-sensitive (SMAART). For example, rather than just setting a goal to save money, it’s more meaningful to specify a goal of saving $1,500 by April 1st to spend on a vacation. In this example, the criteria for success are clearly defined and creates urgency as well as offering a reward (vacation!).

When it comes to successfully implementing a DAM system, setting SMAART goals is not optional. Just as in our example of a cross-country trip, you need to have a destination, a roadmap, and clear criteria for success before beginning your journey. Without these, you'll waste both time and money and run into problems that could’ve been avoided. Having DAM goals provides direction to you and your team as you search for the right software, create workflows and standards, and onboard and train employees in the system. Without knowing what you want the system to achieve, you can purchase the wrong technology, create workflows that don’t work for end-users, and lose buy-in, since your stakeholders won’t understand the consequences of the project failing.

Best Practices for Setting DAM Goals

Set goals with all stakeholders. Who has a vested interest in the success of your DAM system? These are the people who should be working alongside you to generate your goals. Without their involvement, you may not know the full extent of what you need to accomplish and may lose their buy-in for the project.

Align goals with overall business objectives. Is your organization focused on revenue, efficiency, eliminating waste, measuring ROI, or increasing market share? The high-level DAM goals you set should contribute to the success of your organization’s highest-level objectives. By doing this, the leadership team is more likely to understand and approve the project and give you the resources you need.

Keep end-users in mind. When creating SMAART goals, strike a balance between making them achievable and aggressive. You don’t want your goals to be too easy to achieve, but they also should not put undue pressure on the end-users of the system to get things done quickly. Bringing a full-scale DAM system up to speed is a marathon, not a sprint. Make sure your team understands that before you begin the project.

Break high-level goals into milestones. DAM goals vary in difficulty and importance. Begin with your high-level goals. These are the overall purposes of the DAM program. Some examples could be increasing the efficiency of the creative team, reducing the amount of money spent on photo shoots, or decreasing the turnaround time needed to get creative content to the market. Next, break your large goals into smaller goals and milestones. This gives you a complete roadmap and allows you to track your progress toward achieving the overall objectives.

Maintain a future focus. To get the most out of the project, your DAM goals should have a long-term focus. An effective DAM system will produce value for your organization for many years to come, so set goals for now, as well as for the future. What will you need from your DAM system in five years? Your answer should be different than your goals for the next six months.

Achieving and Measuring DAM Goals

Once you’ve established your goals, it’s time to begin your DAM journey. Unlike a road trip, it’s more difficult to determine the success or failure of your DAM goals. When traveling, you know you’ve reached your destination when your GPS indicates you’ve arrived.

However, you will need well-defined metrics to know when your DAM project is complete. For example, if your goal is reducing the amount of time your marketing team spends searching for assets, decide how you'll measure this once the system is in place. Also, determine how you'll share that data with your leadership team. In business, these metrics are known as Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). While you develop your goals and milestones for your DAM project, also develop KPIs to measure their success or failure.

Once metrics are tracked, don’t be afraid of failure. Goals are not only useful when everything goes well. Use your data, milestones, and relationships with stakeholders and end-users to determine where things went wrong and how they can be improved.


Need assistance identifying stakeholders and end-users or developing DAM goals and KPIs? Stacks can help! Contact us today to speak to our expert team. We’ll be happy to analyze your situation and offer our recommendations.

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