All organizations produce content. The photos, videos, design files, historical materials, and other intellectual property every brand creates hold immense value. They are the tools that many different departments, from sales to creative, use to grow and maintain a  brand’s market presence and achieve its goals. In today’s market, dominated by digital interfaces and highly visual content, these assets are increasingly important, and properly managing them is essential.

Many organizations struggle to manage their digital assets effectively. New content is made every day, older files become obsolete, and there’s a complex web of copyright and licensing rules to track. As a result, old and new branding materials are mixed together, permissions are messy, metadata and file naming protocols fall by the wayside, and chaos reigns in their digital asset libraries.

To overcome these problems, many creative department leaders begin searching for a digital asset management (DAM) solution to meet their organization’s needs. “If we can just buy the right DAM platform,” they think, “we can start fresh and have all our files in one place.” While finding a suitable DAM platform can help organizations overcome several challenges, it won’t resolve many of their costliest ones. Many of the roadblocks brands face are a direct result of their lack of processes or of processes being misunderstood. Technology won’t solve process issues. It only provides a more expensive environment in which to watch them play out.

With this in mind, we’ve outlined ten vital steps to take before searching for a DAM platform below. Following these steps will save you and your organization time, money, and high amounts of stress during the process of implementing an effective and efficient digital asset management system.

10 Things to do Before Searching for a DAM Platform

1. Identify User Groups

The first step on the journey toward successfully managing the valuable content your brand buys or makes is to identify the groups involved in handling it. Take the time to determine the potential end-users of whatever DAM system you implement. Who creates, shares, distributes, requests, and approves content as it makes its way across the organization?

2. Gather Core Stakeholders

Once you’ve identified your end-user groups, gather representatives from each group. This stakeholder group, typically composed of managers and directors, is your primary source of first-hand information about workflows, needs, challenges, and goals. Creating this group also distributes the burden of creating the DAM program.

Ensuring your stakeholders are on the same page is crucial for DAM success

3. Survey Users and Observe Workflows

Once you’ve assembled your stakeholder group, leverage it to gain insight into what current systems and processes work well and which don’t. Survey end-users across multiple teams to discover what needs improvement. As a group, analyze that data, study workflows, and dive deeper where needed.

4. Map Current Processes

To make analysis easier, use the data collected by your surveys to create a workflow map. This map will help you better understand your current processes, end-users, and platforms. For example, do your employees have the bandwidth to manage your digital assets even if they have the right tech? What could be automated, outsourced, or streamlined to ensure they do?

5. Identify and Discuss Bottlenecks

Another positive outcome from mapping your current processes, personnel, and platforms is that it allows your team to easily identify bottlenecks, issues, and challenges for your stakeholder group to discuss and resolve. For example, what’s the root cause of a  roadblock? Is it a personnel, process, or platform issue?

6. Develop SMAART Goals

Having a list of deeply understood roadblocks lends itself to quickly developing short and long-term goals for your overall organization, as well as individual teams. These goals should solve the problems forever and be specific, attainable, aggressive, relevant, and time-sensitive.

7. Create a “Sandbox”

No matter what systems you currently use to manage your digital assets, take time to create a “sandbox.” As the name suggests, it’s a place for your team to play. It can be as simple as a folder in your Dropbox account. Here, you can build a “beta” of a potential DAM system to suit your organization’s needs and achieve its goals.

8. Gather Assets

To properly test and experiment in your sandbox, it needs to be populated with relevant assets. If you have the space, use your most important, high-priority assets. This sets your team up for success in several ways, first and foremost by making the inevitable migration from your current system to another platform far easier.

9. Test and Collect Data

Once your sandbox is populated, test your ideas and new processes. Bring in end-users with no knowledge of your stakeholder group’s ideas to assess them. Perform a second round of surveys to determine whether or not your new and improved systems and processes are viable and meet everyone’s needs.

10. Document Core Standards and New Workflows

Following feedback from your end-users, make necessary adjustments and changes, perform a few more experiments, and give your new DAM  system a rest. We recommend enabling the beta area for use by your stakeholders for a few weeks. This way, your team can truly get a feel for using the new processes. Once everyone is satisfied, document your core standards and new workflows and share them with all end-users.

Now, You’re Ready to Search for a DAM Platform

Once you’ve completed these steps, you’ll have a fantastic picture of your organization’s technology needs. You’ll also have determined what needs to be done to resolve any outstanding process and personnel issues. In addition, you’ll have a fully functioning sandbox full of high-priority assets ready for migration to a new system. Now, all you need to do is find and implement the right DAM platform. Need help doing any of the above? Have employee bandwidth problems that outsourcing could solve? Not sure where to start looking for a DAM platform? Contact Stacks today!

August 29, 2021
DAM 101

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