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Blog about Digital Asset Management


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Why should I pay for the DAM when the entire organization uses it?


Someone asked me about this question and remembered I wrote about this briefly in an earlier blog post, but wanted me to ellaborate. So here is blog post to explain it.

Let us say one group or department is the original requester of a DAM solution within an organization. Likely this same department becomes the business owner, stakeholder and/or sponsor of the DAM solution. This same department or group pays to administer and maintain the DAM. They might pay for any monthly/quarterly/annual licensing fees and/or service level agreements (SLA) for the DAM solution as well. Now let us say other departments see the value in using the DAM to keep the organization’s branding, graphics, photographs, publications, presentations, reports, video or other intellectual property (IP). The DAM gets more user adoption by more departments. Now who pays for the DAM within this organization?

Often, what occurs is the original requester, sponsor or stakeholder continues paying for the DAM solution. Because of this, they might say “Wait, I am paying out of my department’s budget for other departments to benefit from this solution as well? What’s in for me? Why should I pay for the DAM when the entire organization uses it?”

Consider this idea “Why am I the only one paying for it? If we share the DAM, share the cost.”

Enter the idea of chargeback or simply charging the department who requests to acquire/create/use something with the actual expense in resources used by refunding it. This idea is likely a change for many companies in how they deal with budgets and how departments are accountable for the resources they use. This also keeps a department which may overtax another department’s resources in check. So, with this idea every department or group has their own budget as usual, but since every DAM user should have a unique login (right?) and possible different collections of assets they can access or share, why not split the total cost of these expenses based on actual usage of the DAM solution per department? Charge each department based on usage of the DAM solution.

If one department uses the DAM more than another department by a measurable amount or percentage, should they pay a larger share of the cost each month/quarter/year? Should each department be able to share this cost evenly or should each department pay for what they use based on a percentage? Or have one department pay for it all?

How do you measure usage of the DAM? With usage reports from the DAM which could list:

  • Who are the DAM users (by individual login) accessed the DAM? (keeping individual user accountability)
  • Who has the most active DAM users within a given period of time?
  • Who wants/needs/asks for the most time in administration, maintenance, support and/or training?
  • When did they access the DAM? (keeping time accountability)
  • How often did those users or group of users access the DAM? (time based usage)
  • How long did they access the DAM over a period of time? (number of minutes or hours)
  • How much was downloaded/exported from the DAM? (by the number of assets and/or file size if bandwidth is measured)
  • How much was uploaded/imported to the DAM? (by the number of assets and/or if bandwidth is measured)

I would recommend looking what you are paying for internally and externally to gauge what are the costs of doing business.

Some DAM vendors charge for bandwidth (how many GB is uploaded/downloaded to/from DAM within a given period). Some don’t.

Server space costs money regardless of whether it under your own IT department’s domain, a vendor’s domain or in the cloud. Who is using the storage space?

Is the data deduplicated? Do you want to dedupe the DAM data to minimize duplicate assets?

Some DAM vendors charge per DAM login or per concurrent user. Some DAM systems limit how many users you can have or the total users at one time. Can your organization add/remove DAM users without the vendor’s help?

How much does it cost to administer, support, maintain a DAM and train the DAM users? How much does it cost in errors and problems when you don’t?

Why should I pay for the DAM when the entire organization uses it?

Are these costs of doing business worth sharing as you share business tools such as a DAM solution?


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How do people talk about DAM within an organization?

When discussing Digital Asset Management (DAM) within an organization, there are (at the very least) three different points of view. These perspectives often include the following:

  • Business
  • Creative
  • Technical

The business aspect is often the sponsor of the DAM. This perspective looks at:

  • Money (what is coming in and going out, even if the organization is non-profit)
  • Time (hopefully used wisely)
  • Delivering the product(s) and/or service(s) to clients

The technical group is often one of the facilitators of business, supporting the communication, creation and delivery of those products/services (more and more every day). The more technology is involved in acquiring/creating/delivering/selling those products/services, the more significant this technology point of view plays a role within the business. DAM has many technical facets (similar to an onion). The technical people need requirements, specifications, use cases, a realistic budget, schedule and the tools to make things happen.

The creative aspect is often another major facilitator of any business.  Creatives may be the creators of the end of products/services. Beyond simply making business “look good,” creatives can often bring clarity to the business vision and can make the message more user-friendly. Creatives are often one of the major users of DAM. A DAM helps an organization not only archive, but also search, find, use, reuse and re-purpose ideas. Many creatives often want to create anything they want, at any time, using any resources they can get their hands on and spend as long as they want on it.

Sounds simple, right? So, why is it so hard to talk about DAM, to be heard and understood within an organization?

This seems to happen often when people work…

  • within their own different silos
  • on a remote island, office or cubicle
  • in their own world
  • locked within their own comfort zone

Most of the time, all these points of view and people work for the same organization and have the same ultimate goal (often involving the realization, creation and/or delivery of the end products and/or services). Sometime this goal is not clear to everyone due to the lack of communication, specifically dialogue (not just monologue) between groups. This dialogue should be with other people who you do not often do not communicate with, but this will help share these perspectives across groups/departments. Break down the silos, egos and misconceptions. Stop throwing work over a real/virtual wall. Stop ignoring what happens before, during and after someone works on something. Stop hiding in your office, behind your email and/or IM. Most of your co-workers don’t bite. Neither should you. Leave your comfort zone and get a fresh look at what the other groups do to make things happen. Speak up.

Build a community with your organization. Everyone should be aware what happens before, during and after each role has done their part. Decision makers should talk to people who are in the trenches to get a real sense of what is going on within the organizations and what can be improved. Don’t take any group for granted. Document workflows based on real world use cases. Share these use cases and workflows openly within your organization. Bring up topics for improvement (or don’t expect things to change for the better). Be open to communication and candor. No one has all the answers. Listen.

How does your organization talk about DAM?


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Is Digital Asset Management a temporary task?

Some people believe Digital Asset Management (DAM) is a temporary task. However, I would caution them with the following questions to truly answer this for themselves.

  • Are you only accumulating digital assets on a temporary basis? (did you stop accumulating, creating, using, reusing and/or re-purposing digital assets?)
  • Are you seeing any less digital assets over the past few years? (regardless of whether you outsource some of these tasks or not)
  • Are you finding it easier to locate all the digital assets created or acquired by your organization over the past few years? (Research shows that is not the case)
  • Have you seen a complete stop in the production or acquisition of digital assets for any purpose?  (while you still have a job and your organization is not bankrupt yet)
  • Is the rest of the work on your organization’s Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solution a temporary task as well?

The answers to these questions are likely the same. What is the word I am looking for? No.

There are exceptions, of course:

  1. You could live in cave with no internet connectivity (and happen to read this blog on printed paper)
  2. More likely, you really did not stop to think about it that way.(And that’s okay because this blog was written to help inform you.)

Read on and I will explain further.

One of my poll questions asks, “How do you use a DAM?”

The results are quite clear. DAM is mostly used for both archive and production purposes.

Another of my poll questions asks, How often do you add assets to the DAM?

Those results are quite clear as well. Since most people answered daily or weekly, it seems DAM is an ongoing task. Sometimes, it is even a constant business need.

If we have multiple projects with several production cycles creating or acquiring more digital assets and this is ongoing on fairly regular basis, where does the temporary task of digital asset management fall in the equation?

If you answered ‘at the end,’ please explain:

  • The end of what?
  • End of production?
  • End of a whole project?
  • And this was budgeted (with time and money) as a temporary task, right?
  • Oh, forgot to do that again so the next project will pick up the slack?
  • Wait, we need some of those assets NOW (in the middle of this project or another project), but they are nowhere to be found because we have not uploaded/ingested them to the DAM yet. That’s okay, we’ll get to it as soon as we get through the other temporary tasks. Meanwhile we’ll burn more time and money recreating/reacquiring the same assets repeatedly.
  • We have over-inflated budgets for a reason. We will always have over-inflated budgets for every projects, but we don’t get to those temporary tasks. This is a cyclical pattern, even for temporary tasks. And that is why we have temporary positions for temporary tasks because we don’t want consistency or accountability (these are very long words rarely followed).
  • Wait a second, how would other project teams know these digital assets already exist?
  • How would project teams search and find what digital assets were created or completed or cleared for use if that temporary task is not accomplished.
  • How will we volunteer someone to do this temporary task. Repeatedly. And they will know what to do based on all that documentation available, right?

If you answered ‘DAM is not a temporary task,’ you are ahead of the class. Congratulations. You likely understand that DAM involves a regular set of tasks which are part of the production/archival process today. DAM is often an ongoing task.Why would you hire temporary help to do these regular, ongoing tasks?
Is it because you can’t find anyone experienced enough, skilled enough and/or willing enough to do this type work? Where are you looking?

Is it budget issue? (Are you really expecting your budgets to get better “soon” and then make it a priority “someday”?)

Is it a time issue? (Keep waiting so it will only get worse and cost more to fix.)

That will change as soon as the mindset and training of your organization does. It should start with the top of the organization mandating this going forward.

Don’t believe me? Want to continue ignoring the issues? Be forewarned. There will have a rude awakening in the coming future if you do. Here is a refresher in case you forgot why you may need a DAM. It helps to use a DAM properly too.

Let us know when you are ready for some vendor neutral consulting on Digital Asset Management.