Another DAM Blog

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?


Why does a DAM need an API?

Most reputable Digital Asset Management (DAM) vendors offer a solution with a GUI and API. Not all DAM clients use the API though. At least not yet.

With the growing need to converge DAM, WCM, CMS, wikis and other ECM solutions, the API is one way to tie all these solutions together on the back end so each solution can talk to each other instead of us jumping from one solution to another repeatedly and also playing the endless copy/paste game. Since many organizations are only accumulating more digital assets by exponential numbers each year, this convergence will be needed faster than most people realize. Or people could continue living as if it was still the 20th century because they wish to continue getting buried further underneath poorly managed digital assets on a daily basis. Some people may have not awakened to the possibilities of how the solutions listed above can assist their daily work rather than needlessly burning time at the office, shuffling paper in order to act busy even though they can’t find that file created a year ago, a month ago or even a week ago. Do you know anyone who meets this description?

People need to make the conscious decision to work smarter with digital assets. This involves:

  • Finding the right tools for the organization’s business needs regarding digital assets
  • Finding out how digital assets should be managed within an organization (that is managed and organized, not one or the other)
  • Having up to date documentation explaining the process and systems involved today
  • Having training and ongoing support for users of these systems and processes
  • Following through with a standard workflow or process (how do you spell consistency)
    • What do I do with a digital asset once I have created or acquired it?
    • What do I do if I need to use a digital asset again?
  • Having scaleable systems that can grow with your organization (rather than be limited to what seemed adequate or cool or shiny at one time)
  • Holding people accountable (If you don’t know, ASK lots of questions and push for decisions instead of making lots of mistakes. If you do know, document it so others will know as well.)
  • Having someone who can program systems to communicate with each other via the API
  • Having an API on the systems which will ‘speak and listen’ to the same (programming) language(s) both to and from each system

Does your organization’s DAM have an API? Does your organization use the API?