Another DAM Blog

Blog about Digital Asset Management


What does a Digital Asset Manager need to know?

After reading one of my most popular blog posts, a few readers have asked “What does a Digital Asset Manager need to know?”
This is assuming an organization realizes why a Digital Asset Manager is needed who is skilled and experienced in the field.
That said, they will need to know how to work with the following:


  • Be helpful. You should there to help the people, the process, the technology and the information work together. No small feat in many cases nor a temporary effort.
  • Be resourceful.
  • Be honest. Brutally honest if needed. Do not hold back much. The truth may require revealing news people do not want to hear, but rather need to hear (if you have read my blog or know me well enough, you will know what I mean).
  • Be patient. Not everyone will be technical nor understand what is involved.
  • Listen. To your users. All of them. Not just to yourself talking and repeating yourself.
  • Be specific. Do not assume people know, even the obvious. Remember, not everyone is technical.
  • Explain issues and their solutions to the people who need to know about it in their perspective. Keep in mind who your audience isUse visuals to explain as needed. Document how to resolve issues often, then share this documentation openly and often. Repeat.
  • Simplify. Do not overcomplicate unless you like confusion, fixing errors and having delays.
  • Be an agent of change. Change, not because it is shiny/new/cool, but needed for increased effectiveness and efficiency across the organization.
  • Know who is responsible for what. If you are not in charge of something, who is? If no one is in charge, take charge. “Initiative isn’t given, you take it”…along with responsibility.
  • Speak up. Interject as needed. Do not ‘wait your turn’ or your points will be overlooked. Leave your emotions elsewhere. This is business.
  • Be accountable and hold others accountable for their actions (or lack thereof) when it comes to the DAM and everything else in your purview. It is a ‘two-way street’ whether we realize it or not. Top to bottom and back.
  • Be proactive as well as reactive as needed. You should not be ‘fire fighting’ issues all day, every day (otherwise, there is a prioritization and process issue).
  • How and when to say “No.” Contrary to some people’s belief, ‘yes men‘ can hurt the organization as well as themselves especially if a constant “yes” is believed to always be the right answer. It is not. Reality checks are necessary for all.
  • Do not kill yourself, physically nor mentally. Nor anyone else for that matter. Even if it starts to sound really tempting. Really.


  • There is at least one process, right? And it is followed?
  • How do DAM users interact with the Digital Asset Management process and system?
  • Help establish a process, test the process in the real world, document the process in writing and train users on the process/workflow as needed (especially when lacking). Work one-on-one or with small groups. Why? Large groups and committees are like large ships…they are harder to steer in any direction and slower to start, stop or react in general. Don’t believe me? Try it. Find out yourself.
  • How does metadata entry occur from sources (owned internally and/or externally) to normalization of the data to entry into the DAM. Then, track the process all the way through to use within system to yield the requested search results.
  • Manage by assigning, measuring and prioritizing daily. Of what you ask?
    • Assets
    • Accuracy of metadata entries and usage
    • Error rates
    • Performance of systems and users
    • Tasks
    • Users
    • There is plenty more to assign, measure and prioritize…
  • Establish a process of user adoption from the beginning of the selection process of a DAM system to the integration of other systems to the regular operations of the solution. What are you doing to encourage your users?
  • How to make coffee (or tea) without spilling it nor burning yourself. (Like most things, carefully.)


  • Digital Asset Management solution within your organization
  • Metadata validation and when applicable, metadata automation
  • How to use and apply the LAMP solution stack (in case you thought there was nothing else to learn to improve your skills)


  • Love information and data. Really. It may not love you back, but it is a give and take relationship. You get what you put into it, along with compounding value over time. Of course, I am talking about metadata. You should be one of the information experts within your organization.
  • Know what is available (and what is not), where it lives, how to get to it, how report on it, how to filter it and analyze it.Explain it. Train people on how to take ownership of it in their role, how to complete their part (metadata), the value of this information and why.
  • Know the difference between data, information and knowledge.
  • If you want a baseline to know how mature your DAM solution is now within your organization, start studying the DAM Maturity Model (DAM3), which was based on ECM3 as it continues to mature. Using DAM3, you can plot how mature your DAM solution is within organization today as well as where it could improve.

I write this as I leave my position where I was Digital Asset Manager for over 5 years. I have accepted another position as a Digital Asset Management professional in a different capacity to assist other organizations with DAM.

If you need vendor neutral assistance or advice on Digital Asset Management, let me know.


Who should be on a DAM project team?

Let us say you are a stakeholder within an organization trying to implement a DAM. You have heard about the value of a DAM and about possible cost savings it may yield. You go to discussions and meetings where people keep saying they need a DAM, but you get lost in the technical blah blah blah and you can’t wrap your head around what they are talking about. Aside from hearing “we need this” and “we need that,” all you hear is dollar figures racking up which worries you. Believe it or not, there are plenty of you out there. Stop denying it. Here is what you can do:

  • Find/hire people who understand the issues and the objectives for your DAM
  • Have them document everything in writing:
    • What did they thoroughly research?
    • What did they observe?
    • What are the issues?
    • How do people work now?
    • What are their current workflows?
    • What may need to be done?
    • Why does this need to happen?
    • What will be done?
    • How will it be done?
    • How does this affect who?
    • Who will do what?
    • When will it be done?
    • Where will it happen?
    • Where are the assets?
    • Where is the metadata coming from?
  • Keep the DAM project team small. You should be able to count heads directly involved with the project on one or two hands, if possible. Make sure they mutually respect each other, play well together and have open candor between them. Allow them to challenge each others points of view as long as they do it professionally and it yields better decisions.
  • Include people who will/may be users and/or administrators. They must know the organization’s current workflows and know the  individuals in the first user group(s) who will utilize the DAM.
  • Make sure you have at least one technical people on your side of the table (who is not tied to any vendor, past nor present) so you don’t get taken for a ride and so that they can focus on what your organization’s needs are, even if you don’t quite see all the advantages that can be gained along the way at this time. (I know it’s hard, but have faith in them)
  • At least one person on the team must have DAM experience, understand the terms, be a problem solver, a  forward thinker and fully understand the objectives of the project. Have experience as an DAM administrator or a DAM power user.
  • Get a Project Manager (PM or PMP) with technical experience in software deployment, but they do not necessarily need DAM experience. A PM with DAM experience can be a plus though. The PM should keep the project on time, on budget and on task. (These are very good things which are supposed to happen).

Once you have these people (your team on your side), give them written objectives, a fair budget to start with and then let them do their jobs. Yes, I know this may be difficult for some people to trust what they don’t understand, but it is more important that you nor anyone else do not hinder the progress if the team believes in what they are doing and know how to accomplish the objectives with what they have, particularly if they are on budget, on time and on task.  After all, this is why you asked these smart people to work together and take care of the project for you. The process may take weeks or months (as scheduled by the PM), but you should see measurable progress even if you don’t understand how they do it (they should  still be able to explain how this progress gets accomplished as long as you don’t ask every day). Anyone who truly does not understand the process, can not wrap their head around the issues, need every detail explained in extreme detail multiple times and does not contribute to project may need to be removed from the project team in order to stop hindering the progress. Open candor and debates between project team members which brings pause to the group before major decisions is one of the few exceptions. The PM should moderate these friendly debates based on how on track the debates are to the decisions which need to be made.

If the vendor and your project team speak the same language (literally and technically), they will communicate what is going on regularly, how the process will occur and progress will usually continue.

Require a weekly report emailed to you in order to keep you up to date on the status of the DAM project in terms you understand.

  • Is the project on time, on budget and on task as planned? Why or why not?
  • What is the project plan and next steps?
  • How much is this going to cost the organization? How is the cost justified?
  • Who is responsible for what?

A DAM can simplify, centralize and unify certain workflows and assets needed for your business. A good DAM project team will help make your organization’s DAM a reality and a success.

After all, it still about people, process, information, then technology.

Who should be on your DAM project team?