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DAM 101

Check the Temperature of Your DAM Program with a DAM Health Score

Ben Owen

By Ben Owen | Jul 06, 2022

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When you’re worried that you may be getting sick or have a contagious virus, what's the first thing you usually do? Often, it’s to ask someone you know to check and see whether or not you feel warm. If they say you do, you’ll immediately want to find a thermometer and take your temperature. Having your temperature taken is also done any time you go to the doctor’s office as they check your vital signs. Your body’s internal temperature is one of the best indicators of how healthy you are. It can immediately alert you that something is wrong and help narrow down what it is and how to treat it.

Now, imagine if there was a metric like that for gauging the health of your organization or specific parts of it. What if you had one number that immediately told you that things were headed in the right direction or the wrong one? There are some parts of your business where this approach may be impossible, but many for which it can be helpful. It takes several key performance indicators (KPIs) to properly evaluate most activities in any amount of detail. For instance, a doctor doesn’t stop running tests after taking your temperature and finding you have a fever but it’s the first thing they check to help them decide what other tests to run.

In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of developing an overall health score for your organization’s digital asset management (DAM) program. In today’s world, almost every part of your organization needs compelling and on-brand content, and they need it quickly. Because of this, a healthy DAM program is vital to a thriving business.

The Five Components of a DAM Health Score

As already stated, there are many important KPIs for your organization’s core activities, just like other numbers besides temperature such as blood pressure and blood oxygen level are important indicators of your overall health. Developing a health score is not as simple as finding a single be-all-end-all metric, however. Often, it's the result of quantifying and combining many metrics into one.

We’ve outlined a few criteria below to help you determine what kinds of numbers should be considered for your DAM Health Score:

1. Easy to Track

Taking your temperature isn’t hard. With a few dollars and a trip to a local drug store, you can purchase a thermometer and accurately take your temperature yourself. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve all seen just how easy it is to have our temperatures taken since many places require a quick and easy scan before we can enter them. Similarly, the metrics involved in compiling your organization’s DAM health score should also be easy to find. They shouldn’t require loads of computing power to discover but be surface-level metrics that indicate a problem.

2. Leading & Lagging Indicators

The metrics involved in your health score should be a mixture of leading and lagging indicators. The difference between these two types of numbers is simple. Leading indicators show that a problem is coming up; lagging indicators that one has already occurred. Without both these kinds of numbers, you won’t be able to see clearly when and where a problem is occurring. In DAM, these numbers should come from both the “upstream” and “downstream” processes—those happening before assets enter the DAM system and those occurring as they're leaving the DAM system.

3. Result of Many Activities and Voices

Because digital asset management impacts many different areas of your organization, your health score can’t be focused solely on one type of asset or the activities of one department. It should be high-level enough to include all end-users and processes, regardless of where in the organization they work. This may seem difficult and it can be tempting to enter the weeds, but staying high level at the beginning allows your team to save time investigating where the problem is.

4. Checked Regularly

The components of your DAM health score should be metrics involved in day-to-day activities. They should come from processes that happen and are reported on regularly and things that people are actively thinking about and know about. For example, if your organization rarely shares assets outside the business, then the number of file-sharing links created and sent is unlikely to be a core component of your health score.

5. Qualitative and Quantitative

Like lagging and leading indicators, you’ll need both qualitative and quantitative data to put together an effective health score. If your processes are creating positive results but all your employees hate using them, you still may have a problem to solve. Don’t shy away from more qualitative data that may be difficult to quantify. Buy-in and culture are significant to the health and stability of your DAM system.

Putting Together Your DAM Health Score

Now that we have a picture of what kinds of metrics go into the development of a health score, it’s time to go into detail about how it’s created. We’ll go step by step into the process using the following core metrics: Assets without Metadata (%), Searches without Results (%), Average (Avg.) Search Time, Avg. End-User Satisfaction, Assets Uploaded this Month.

1. Identify Metrics and Develop Strategy

The first step to developing the health score is to gather your stakeholders. Bring them together and discuss what kinds of metrics should go into your health score. As you can see from the metrics we selected, you have a qualitative metric (Avg. End-User Satisfaction), a leading indicator (Assets Uploaded this Month), and several lagging indicators that affect everyone using the DAM. You shouldn’t have more than five to seven metrics, and rarely more than five. Once you’ve settled on your metrics, decide who will collect and track them, how often they’ll be collected and reported, and where they’ll be collected from. Odds are that your DAM platform has some reporting capabilities you can utilize for these tasks. For qualitative metrics or subjective ones (Avg. Search Time), consider surveying your end-users (regardless of department).

2. Track Metrics in the Same Place

Once you’ve assigned someone or a group of people to collect and track your metrics, you’ll need to create a place to store them so they can be easily accessed when needed. If you don’t have a place, we recommend an Excel or Google Sheets spreadsheet. You may also want to investigate your DAM platform’s reporting capabilities and determine if you’re able to develop custom reports or add your own data to existing ones. An example of a spreadsheet like this is below.

3. Assign Values and Weigh Metrics

In this example, numbers are tracked monthly but you can select a different time period. After you’ve collected and saved your numbers, you’ll need to assign a binary (1 or 0) value to each metric so they can be easily compared and combined. To do this, you’ll need to decide on a “healthy” threshold for each metric. For example, a score below 20% is healthy for assets without metadata. For Avg. Search Time, it may be below 15 minutes. Decide on your thresholds, add a column next to each month, and use an IF function to turn your metrics into ones and zeros. An example is below.

4. Put Everything Together and Evaluate

To get your health score, add each time period’s numbers together. To properly evaluate the score, you’ll need to set a “healthy” threshold (we suggest using conditional formatting to illustrate this if you’re using a spreadsheet). We usually recommend shooting for 100% in your first year in order to establish a culture of sticking to the process and identifying problems. For instance, if in our example a month’s final score is less than five, the stakeholder group would need to examine the numbers and understand why. For example, March has a score of one. By looking deeper, we can see that nearly double the “healthy” threshold of assets was uploaded the month before, putting strain on the organization’s ability to properly enrich the assets with the metadata that would lead to good search results and a quicker average search time. Because Assets Uploaded is a leading indicator, the group should’ve known in February that they needed to adjust their workforce planning to handle the increase. Since their metrics were better in April, it’s clear the problem was resolved.


Now you have an easy-to-understand health score for your team to use. With so many other fires popping up around the organization, it’s important to use your time wisely. A health score allows your team to do just that. If the number is green, move on. If not, the key performance indicators (KPIs) you’re using allow you to drill down to find the root of the problem quickly and dispatch resources to solve it. If you and your team need help understanding where you’ve gone wrong in your DAM efforts and how to get back on track, contact Stacks! We’re happy to meet with you and help you restore your DAM program back to health.

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