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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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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.