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The DAM Team

This feature article was written by DAM consultant and librarian Annella Mendoza.

DAM Success Story

End users of a Digital Asset Management system or DAM find that it’s simple to work with; but the DAM itself is complex with many components within the People, Process, and Technology framework. Some organizations report a failure of DAM use; others a resounding success and ready to move on to their second or third generation DAM.

Deploying the DAM and maintaining its full operation is not the work of one or two people.  This article focuses on the work of the DAM Team: several individuals engaged in governance, user adoption and experience, asset and rights management, systems administration,  vendor coordination, and over-all advocacy of the DAM to its stakeholders.

DAM 1.0  –  DAM System Deployment

Yes!  This will be the first DAM that the project team has established was needed.  The buy-in from senior management was secured.  RFP’s, needs assessments, use scenarios, and costs were determined.  The DAM system and vendor were selected; and the project team is ready for its deployment.

The DAM Team

The project team now evolves as the DAM Team, to ensure that the project goals and  objectives will be realized in-house.  The team members may or may not be exactly the same persons as the original project team.  Some members will carry on for continuity.  Others may leave depending on their roles; and new members may be brought on board.

The Team is crucial to DAM deployment and drives it to its successful implementation.  Its members can be expected to:

  • establish the DAM infrastructure: people, process, technology
  • design efficient workflows,
  • define how change will be managed, and
  • determine what user adoption will look like.

The DAM Team includes the following functional roles.  These are not necessarily job titles.  Depending on the dynamics of the organization, some roles may be undertaken by more than one member of the DAM.  A specific role may be more pronounced in a recognizable team member, and the others in a supporting capacity.  The functional roles and their focus are as follows:[i]

Sponsor.  This is a senior level person who is the approving authority for the DAM project, and provides continuing support.  The sponsor can influence other senior levels of management.

DAM Champion.  The DAM champion advocates the DAM and knows its features inside out.  The champion is the point person for user engagement.

Stakeholder.  The stakeholder pays attention to the DAM’s progress in the organization and is  likely to be in a leadership role.

User representative.  The user representative(s) are designated hands-on users who articulate user needs and provide  immediate feedback on user experience.

DAM Librarian.  The DAM librarian is the enforcer of DAM internal rules or governance.  The librarian serves as the metadata guardian and digital asset gatekeeper.

Systems administrator.  The systems administrator overseers the DAM’s IT systems architecture and its controls, data security and data flow.  The administrator facilitates some integration with other applications and liaises with the vendor technical support

The DAM Team is a microcosm of the community for whom the DAM is to be deployed.  The Team works collaboratively and strategically.  Teamwork is characterized by interdependence.  The Team is  expected to initiate governance and direct change management.

What happens in DAM deployment?

DAM deployment is setting up the DAM system within the internal operations of its new owner.  It requires intensified efforts in testing:

  • Its technical or IT architecture, in that it works as guaranteed by the vendors;
  • User scenarios, in that the user needs are addressed within the context of the DAM community’s working environment.

Further activities to be undertaken are:

  • Mass migration of existing assets to the DAM, in order of priority as defined by the DAM Team

Depending on the specific objectives defined by the DAM Team, it is possible that not all existing assets will be ingested into the DAM.

  • Recognizing the need for governance – standards and best practices – in critical areas like:
  • Technical standards
  • Metadata standards
  • Access to DAM assets
  • Rights Management
  • Collaboration and sharing
  • Process and workflow
  • A level of integration with existing applications

If this is the first time that a DAM is deployed and is in its early stages, the Team may consider keeping its objectives and expectations simple.  More importantly, the Team should secure the support of managers whose teams will need to make changes in how they work.

DAM Launch

The Team will decide at what point of deployment will the DAM be rolled out to its users.  Prior to a specific date, some teams will test the DAM with a bigger group of users, sometimes called a pilot or trial run.  It is important to solicit this group’s feedback to know what features need to be tweaked further, or to fix any potential issues, or to be presented with a more nuanced user experience.

It will be advantageous that the launch date be marked as a high profile event.  It would present the DAM’s salient features, and more importantly, the changes to the way they, the users, will be doing their work, going forward.  The Team, in turn, would be ready to provide training or coaching as part of the change management measures.

Within a short time after the launch, the Team should be measuring user adoption.  This can be done by utilizing information from the DAM analytics as well as informal or anecdotal feedback from users.

DAM Maintenance and Maturity

It is expected that the DAM Team keeps tabs of the DAM’s progress.  It should meet with predictable frequency.  This phase of DAM Maintenance can be considered as developing it from operational level to optimal DAM use within its current capabilities.

DAM maintenance is more than the repetitive actions of asset intake and storage, metadata updates, and asset search and download.  The DAM Team members, in varying degrees, might ask questions about the DAM’s development, aligned with continuous improvement[ii] and user engagement.[iii]

These are some suggested questions to determine continuous improvement in DAM as a system:

Are there assets not yet in the DAM but should be?

Are the assets findable?  Is the metadata accurate and adequate? Is metadata practice evolving?

Is technical support adequate?

Are services delivered promptly? Or timely?

What do the DAM analytics tell?  What information does the DAM data provide?

Can the information be used to answer questions that senior management might have?

Is governance adhered to? To what extent?  Should there be a modification of internal rules,

or standards, or specific practices?

How secure is the DAM system?

These are some suggested questions to determine continuous improvement in user engagement:

Are all intended users logging into the DAM?  If not, why not?

Are users’ needs addressed in a timely way?

Are there incentives to encourage maximized use of the DAM?  Are the techniques or tips on using the DAM effectively shared with all users?

Are there other users or user groups that might benefit from using the DAM?  If so, can they be added to the DAM user base?

In time, complexities that sometimes result from the above situations are expected to present themselves.  By then, the DAM Team is more experienced and may introduce incremental measures to address situations resulting from those questions.  By then, digital maturity is moving from operational towards optimal levels of the DAM system’s capabilities.  Likewise, the DAM community  – the team, the users, the stakeholders – is reaching comfortable levels of DAM use, convinced that the DAM is indispensible for the business.

DAM Transition to DAM 2.0

Business needs evolve, and so should the DAM if it is to stay relevant.  These are some scenarios which can trigger DAM development from a workgroup model to enterprise.[iv]

User scenario 1:

An organization’s first DAM starts out as a library of images and other design elements that are easily searched and downloaded.  If the DAM’s primary users gain a positive experience, in time, another user group (i.e., clients) may see possibilities of using the same DAM for their own needs and request access or connectivity to some assets.  The second user group who may later contribute their own assets might be a positive development to enrich the DAM collection.

User scenario 2:

Current DAM users are experiencing increased manual work to upload or download when sharing assets, taking too much time from their main line of work.  One might consider an automated flow of assets from one application to the other, triggered by the workflow.

User scenario 3:

Another group of users will find it important to extend the value of assets.  They may wish to measure the effectiveness of specific designs to the success of marketing campaigns, to social media impact, or sales via e-commerce.  Marketing groups can derive inspiration from the creative assets and how they can be used more intelligently in more targeted ways.

These scenarios demonstrate cases for integrating the DAM with several applications and with other users internal or external to the organization owning it.  The integration facilitates an automated asset flow from the creative to sharing and distribution.  The DAM is central to these complex workflows.  It is transforming from library to content hub, serving more varied user groups and their requirements.

In this transformation, the DAM Team will be even more indispensible in orchestrating the changes.  The team’s composition may change; its dynamics will be more complex.  For as long as its fundamentals of governance, user adoption, and workflows remain stable and relevant akin to a building’s foundation, then the transition from DAM 1.0 to DAM 2.0 or higher will still ensure success.

[i] These functional roles were adapted from the former DAM Foundation’s  introductory course on DAM: DAM as a Strategy, 2015.

[ii] The questions or measures about DAM development as a system are attributed to the “Digital Asset Supply Chain Management for Marketers” Webinar Series (Sept. 24-Oct. 29), organized by DAM News, and presented by Ralph Windsor.

[iii] The questions or measures about continuous user engagement are attributed to  the webinar panel discussion “The State of DAM User Adoption Today”,  organized by the Insight Exchange Network and the DAM Guru Program,  presented 17 October 2019.

[iv] The following user scenarios were introduced by Theresa Regli in the webinar series “Connecting DAM with the Enterprise: An Online Educational Series with Theresa Regli”, organized by the Henry Stewart group, October-December 2019.


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