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Blog about Digital Asset Management

How mature is our DAM and other ECM solutions?


Once we implement a Digital Asset Management (DAM) solution, we are far from done. Unless we want another shelf baby. Our organizations are likely just getting warmed up (some faster than others) when comes to managing their digital assets. This holds true regardless of where we stand with many Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solutions when an organization comes to the realization that they need to manage their content as they grow up, scale up and move forward into the 21st century. There is a way of measuring this level of maturity within any organization, seeing what needs work and follow a specific roadmap through a maturity model.

This was developed by and credited to several groups of subject matter experts including Wipro, The Real Story Group (formerly CMS Watch), Smigiel Consulting Group, and Hartman Communicatie over the past few years. And it is free to use.

The Enterprise Content Management Maturity Model  is exactly what it sounds like. No matter what level of maturity our organizations have today, is in fact “… a hidden gem.” It is ready-to-use and available to all as a PDF download. Once downloaded and reviewed, it is easy to find out what needs improving based on each of our organization’s level of ECM maturity.

According to ECM3, there are five levels of ECM maturity:

  • Level 1: Unmanaged
  • Level 2: Incipient
  • Level 3: Formative
  • Level 4: Operational
  • Level 5: Pro-Active

This model dives into “thirteen maturity dimensions across three categories”:

  • Human
    • Business Expertise – Employee and executive education and understanding of core ECM precepts
    • IT Expertise – Ability to properly take advantage of incumbent and new systems
    • Process – Extent to which enterprise has analyzed its content-oriented business processes
    • Alignment – Extent of effective Business – IT collaboration, understanding, and synchronization
  • Information
    • Content/Metadata – Extent to which enterprise has analyzed its content and metadata
    • Depth – Completeness of content lifecycle management
    • Governance – Extent of policies and procedures addressing information management
    • Re-use – Extent realization of content re-use opportunities
    • Findability – Ability to find the right content at the right time
  • Systems
    • Scope – Relevant range of ECM functional capabilities (DM, BPM, DAM, etc.) adopted
    • Breadth – Evolution from departmental to enterprise-wide management systems, where necessary
    • Security – Extent to which actual content access reflects enterprise entitlements
    • Usability – Application fitness to purpose

Every organization has room for improvement, especially if the organization is unaware of any of the parts listed above. An organization that is aware of its own ECM maturity has one big step ahead of the rest in knowing where it stands among its competitors and what it needs to focus on going forward.

In my opinion,  when trying measure their level of maturity across all these dimensions many organizations will find themselves in level 1 (unmanaged with no progress) or level 2 (the beginning of progress) of ECM maturity, with a long road ahead.

Why? The causes are:

  • A general lack of awareness.  This has been, is and still will be a growing issue regardless of when we face up to it. If all thirteen points listed above do not ring any alarm bells, look into them. Do not assume the organization is aware of this just because we happen to know about it.  Survey your own organization and find out why.
  • Mistaking age for maturity.
  • The rapid growth (kind of like an avalanche) of digital content including a vast number of digital assets (being created and/or getting acquired) by the organization. Do we know how many and how often?
  • Little or no focus on managing digital content and assets until that realization comes too late. Are we ready to pay more later on? Are we ready to start prioritizing?
  • Organization find themselves scrabbling to ‘do something.’ Repeat.
  • Organizations are often unsure exactly what to do nor how nor when. Are we comfortable with this? We should not be comfortable with the lack of a plan.
  • No staff  regularly working on any/most of these issues. Yes, that may often mean dedicated, knowledgeable individuals. Not simply adding tasks to someone’s endless list of things to do.

As time passes, some people ignore the facts hoping these issues will go away. Their days are numbered because those times are already over. ‘Pay me now or pay me later’, you will have to pay for this cost of doing business today. If we ignore the first estimates of what DAM and other ECM solutions may cost an organization today (including the possible ‘fixing’ costs for any legacy assets/content), wait until we see the next (likely higher) estimate.  Once these solutions are implemented and actually being used, that only marks the beginnings of the ECM maturity process.

DAM professionals and other ECM professionals have their work cut out for them. It may even require a few diaper changes as well tears wiped from a quite few faces within some organizations. Or the organization will simply fade into history.

While the roadmap to maturity may be long and winding, this road has been paved thanks in part to ECM3. To go further down into the rabbit hole, take a look at the Mike 2.0 Methodology

What is your organization’s level of maturity?

Author: Henrik de Gyor

Consultant. Mentor. Podcaster. Writer.

3 thoughts on “How mature is our DAM and other ECM solutions?

  1. Thank you Henrik, this is great. I am reviewing both the ECM MM and MIKE. While the authors stress assessing and planning improvements on ECM already in place, I would posit that since I am in the process kicking off a new DAM initiative, this may be even more important for us to use the model at this stage as we plan and build requirements. I would encourage other folks to think on the issues and questions highlighted by the model and build their DAM projects with that in mind from the very start. It is certainly much easier than trying to improve or ‘fix’ a system or platform once it is in place. A hidden gem indeed, there is a lot of food for thought in there.

  2. Based on ECM3, there is now a DAM Maturity Model available

  3. Based on feedback and additional work, DAM Maturity Model (DAM3) version 2 is now available

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