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Who is using your DAM?


Once an organization recognizes the value of what a DAM could do for them and decide they will get a DAM, they should ask themselves “Who will use the DAM?“, then “Who should use the DAM?“. Once they had the DAM for a while, the question should evolve to “Who else should use the DAM?”” to maximize ROI.

Let us start with before you get a DAM and get a segment of potential users involved in the process.

Prior to having a DAM, you could interview potential users by asking them:

  • What is their workflow without a DAM?
  • How do they search for assets without a DAM? (Some methods you may hear described may seem archaic because they are)
  • Where do they search for assets without a DAM? (How many silos did hear about?)
  • What assets do they commonly search for? (You might realize the DAM could be used for a lot more than just photography and video)
  • What could they do with a DAM?
  • How would they like to search with a DAM? (What metadata might they need to find these assets?)
  • How would they like their workflow to be simplified with a DAM?

Give the users brief examples from case studies of how others have used a DAM, but do listen carefully to your users because they will give you a glimpse to what could be streamlined and simplified in their workflow. Some feedback will need to be taken with a grain (or a bag) of salt. By asking the potential users for feedback early on, it makes them part of the solution and makes them feel involved in the process of implementing the DAM which they will want/need to use.

Once you get a DAM, you need metadata for your assets:

Who will add metadata to assets for the DAM?

Depending on how quickly you need to add assets to your DAM, you will need to evaluate whether you should/can outsource the metatagging of assets based on turn around time compared to doing this in-house.

Once you have metadata and assets:

Who will add assets to the DAM? These people will be your power users.

Depending on how technically inclined your power users are and how complex your DAM is it use, you may be able to reassign people to import assets into the DAM.

Who will your regular DAM users be?

  • How many users will you have?
  • What assets will they want/need to access?
  • What will be their workflow?
  • Do they all work for your organization?
  • How are you mitigating the security concerns with outsiders accessing your DAM?
  • Who has limited access to the DAM?
  • Who has full access to the DAM?

In order for users to adopt the DAM, someone needs to demonstrate the value of the DAM to the users, support and train users regularly:

Who will implement and administer the DAM in your group, department and/or whole organization?

Of course, all these people are human too:

Who will be their backup in case something happens to them?

If you don’t make decisions about who will be doing these tasks, you risk making the DAM a ‘shelf baby’ and wasting an invaluable resource.

What is a ‘shelf baby’? Any product which the organization has spent money on, spoke about for countless hours, tried to rush the implementation early on and finally shelved it as something that was a nice idea with lots of potential, but it did not get adopted by users. So off it goes to a shelf just like a book where it sits there for years…collecting dust in its infancy stage (hence the name). Every organization has at least a few ‘shelf babies’, but the idea is to avoid collecting them unless you need deep holes to throw money in.

Ultimately, everyone will benefit from user involvement and feedback throughout the evolution of your organization’s DAM.


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How can I bring more ROI to our DAM?


A DAM is an investment. What is an organization gaining from the implementation and utilization of a DAM? Are you getting a continued return on your investment?  If you do not know, you are probably not getting much from your DAM right now or you may not be using it much either. This can be fixed.

A DAM is made to yield ROI if used properly. The benefits may be a combination of both hard costs and soft costs.

Realistically, if you have a DAM, you have invested time and money into it. You obviously want to get your money’s worth on a regular basis, right?  Originally, one group or one department may have needing a DAM when you first got it. If more people knew what DAM could do for them, they would want to use it too! That is a GOOD thing (We will talk about budgets and sharing the costs later). Sharing the use of the DAM across departments and groups can bring more ROI as long as you have some governance behind this ‘spreading the wealth’ with the DAM.

About that governance part, you do want some control over who does what with the DAM because the last thing you want to happen is a free for all nor dumping ground for everyone’s garbage with no order nor metadata. That is a very bad thing. It is worse than ‘garbage in, garbage out‘. In the case of a DAM, it is often ‘garbage in and garbage stays in‘. This is because people rarely revisit the metadata of assets once it has been imported to the DAM and the simple lack  of metadata makes finding assets much, much harder. Your DAM is only as good as its metadata.

Beyond content, file type and versioning in a DAM, an asset is an assets is an asset. You need to be able to find any asset quickly. If that is not happening, improve the DAM’s metadata and/or search functions to yield quicker and more accurate results.

All of the people able to upload to the DAM (aka power users) should be well trained, disciplined and methodical.  Your workflow with the DAM should require this. Training and ongoing support should encourage this. As discussed in an earlier blog post, documentation can enlighten when it is written properly, made readily available and updated as needed. Any user must understand that metadata is what is used to search for assets. Without this, users are not going to be happy when trying to find specific assets.

Your organization must determine who should access what assets in the DAM. Many DAM solutions can be set up to have multiple collections of assets. Each of these collections can have assigned users and roles (a set of users). Your organization can deem whether to give permission to specific users to access specific collections in the DAM. With the idea of controlling permissions, you can add more assets and share them accordingly.

If you really look at what assets are in the DAM and what assets could be added to the DAM for use throughout departments, it is rare to see only a select few individuals needing access to these assets. If only a few people need to see these assets, that is often called a silo unless there are legitimate security or confidentiality reaons. The more people know what assets are there and where to readily access them, the more likely these assets will be used, reused and/or repurposed. The more assets are used, reused and/or repurposed from the DAM, the more ROI you get. Build workflows to determine what should occur with these assets.

If you share assets throughout the organization, you could share the costs of the DAM throughout the different departments which use the system. How you divide the costs is up to you to decide, whether it is by:

  • Monitoring who uses the DAM the most
  • Who stores the most in the DAM
  • Dividing the costs per user
  • Dividing the costs equally among all groups

Carl Pritchard said “Knowledge is Power – Shared”(sm)

A DAM is all about sharing assets among users. These assets are often institutional knowledge and/or intellectual property which the organization has created and/or acquired. Share these assets more widely within your organization and you have brought more ROI to both the DAM and more importantly, your assets.

This is the case unless you like silos. Do you hide assets in the DAM and plan to keep them there for posterity? Do you want different groups creating the same asset over and over again? Do you like inconsistency or lack of continuity within your organization?

Do not start the process of finding ways to squeeze out more ROI from a DAM while wearing blinders. Explore all the options first. Then, you can narrow the options down to what brings out the most value. You may find that sharing assets via a DAM with most of the organization is a good idea.

Knowledge is Power - Shared (sm) is a registered
Service Mark of Carl Pritchard of Pritchard Management Associates.