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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.


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?

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Inside DAM

My blog posts will also be available on Digital Asset Management blog where I am a guest Blogger.  As a Digital Asset Manager, I blog on my free time to share information about the DAM  user’s perspective…Inside DAM

I welcome your comments and feedback.

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How do I audit my assets for a DAM?

In my last blog post, we talked about rights management, DAM and good record keeping. This blog has nothing to do with tax audits.

I wanted to continue discussing rights management and good record keeping.

Before you add an asset to your DAM, do you know what rights you have to that asset?

You know whether you are permitted to use, reuse and re-purpose it, right?

That should be included in your metadata.

Not sure what assets are licensed? In the interest of being transparent and legally abiding in today’s business environment, you could do a self audit of all your assets.

Yes, that may mean everything you have on hand. You are organized, right? No? Well, here you chance.


  • Start with a clean slate.
  • Pick what is worth keeping.
  • Add proper metadata.
  • Know what you have.
  • Know how and where to find it all (in your DAM).
  • Instant archive/historical record of organization’s IP.


  • It will be time consuming.
  • The longer the organization has been in existence, the more assets you may have on hand to sort through.
  • Where are all the assets hiding in your organization?
  • Who knows about these assets? Is your institutional knowledge leaving the organization?
  • How many assets are not digitized?
  • Who will add metadata to these assets?
  • Easier said than done.

Questions to answer before you start

  • How many assets do you have?
  • Where are they?
  • Can you find them quickly?
  • Do you have the proper licenses to use what you have?
  • When do the licenses for Rights Managed assets expire?

If you can’t answer those five questions, particularly the last one, you may need to perform an internal self audit of your assets. Someone is tracking all licenses for your organization, right? If you don’t know, you may have a liability on your hands.

Here is how you could do a self audit  of your assets:

  1. Check with your legal counsel before starting the self audit.
  2. Find and list all the assets you have on hand.
  3. Compare this with any documentation you have to see if they match.
  4. Contact all of the vendors you have licensed assets from.
  5. Let vendors know you would like a confirmation of all licenses with the understanding you are doing this in good faith to redeem any issues. Unless you are blatantly stealing assets regularly, you have little to fear aside from an invoice. You should get a clear idea of what needs to be done and what may need a license.
  6. Vendors will usually reciprocate with the information you need to know and note anything you need to address. You could even ask the vendor to supply the metadata in bulk at the same time.

This will help you get your licensing straightened out, give you a clean slate to continue proper rights management and give your legal counsel less headaches in the future.