Katie Fiechter

Digital Asset Management (DAM) controls all aspects of the content lifecycle and enables organizations to get full value out of their digital assets. A DAM solution works to streamline inconsistent governance models for creating, managing, publishing, and reusing assets. Assets can be defined as any digital media that includes the right to use — documents, images, audio content, graphics, media files, presentations, etc. A DAM has the ability to store all assets in one place, eliminating the need for multiple programs to store various assets which can be inefficient to manage.

As organizations grow, their digital assets become disjointed and scattered making them hard to manage. A single repository built to manage all digital assets makes access simple for everyone. Within an organization, there are various teams that will need access to a wide range of assets, and having a DAM in place helps simplify that process and ensures brand consistency throughout the organization. Having a DAM is a core capability of any good experience platform and it assists with streamlining processes, centralizing collateral, and boosting overall efficiency.

Here are a few first steps you should follow to prepare your organization to migrate to a DAM system.

Determine all of the places all of your assets currently live. This could be a wide range of places like a PIM, DropBox, Google Drive, USB, hard drive, etc.

In order to simplify the search for assets, creating the taxonomy for your assets is critical. This would involve conducting a DAM audit in order to identify which users will be using, storing, and managing assets. This will assist with creating a more relevant taxonomy structure that makes sense to the users who will be accessing assets the most. Governance rules consist of a few different things:

– Metadata Tagging Structure
Metadata is the data that describes the related asset. This will provide consistent language for users to find digital assets and help with the organization and search of assets. So let’s say you have a picture of a yellow convertible, the metadata tags could be the format the image is in, the brand of the car, the visual content of the asset, usage rights, the platform it’s meant to be posted on, etc. It’s important not to get too granular when it comes to the tagging structure, the idea is to create a simple, organized, repeatable way to tag and retrieve assets.

– Folder and Subfolder Structure
Determine what kind of parent folders you will establish and create subfolders accordingly. For example, a parent folder could be ‘Photos’ and could have subfolders like ‘cars’ or ‘convertibles’, depending on how granular you need assets to be grouped.

– Naming Conventions
After determining the folder and subfolder structure, it’s important to identify naming conventions for assets. Keeping naming conventions simple and consistent will go a long way and save users countless hours trying to sift through what could be tens of thousands of assets. Naming conventions should be made based on abbreviations or terminology that people in your organization understand. Naming conventions will need to be properly communicated to everyone who will be in charge of storing and accessing assets to ensure consistency moving forward. A simple naming convention could be something like the project name, date, relevant keywords, and a unique identifier.

– Lifecycle of Assets
Once an asset has reached the end of its lifecycle, it can be removed from active storage and archived to make sure that users aren’t using dated assets.

This involves standardizing all of your existing assets to match the new governance rules that have been put in place.

When it comes to the actual DAM migration process, programmatic migration is recommended especially when there is a large number of assets that need to be migrated over. Start by identifying all source systems that contain relevant digital assets and begin to look for outliers. In global organizations, it is common for siloed systems to exist outside of the primary tech infrastructure. Once all sources are identified, begin extracting content and assets from the source. While doing this manually is possible, it’s almost never preferable. Utilize scripts in order to extract and migrate content and assets. After everything is extracted, it’s time to cleanse based on the rules and requirements that were established earlier. Update metadata tagging structure and naming conventions accordingly and load assets into the new system. QA review will be essential after this process. Leverage automated testing tools where possible. If automation is not an option, supplement with a manual review of a subset of assets.

Creating workflow processes and permissions enables the sharing and distribution of assets across teams. Not every employee in an organization will need access to its digital assets, and those that need access to digital assets may not need permissions to add, edit, or delete assets. A huge advantage of a DAM system is the ability to assign permissions so a certain set of users are able to access specific things within the DAM system. Determining which teams will need access and establishing an administrator for each group will help maintain the transparency of who can do what.

Once the DAM migration is complete you will need to prepare, support, and equip your teams with the information they need to successfully utilize the new system. With any major system changes, you want to stay ahead of the game and communicate to teams important dates and milestones throughout the process.

Here are a few key points to consider: 

  • Solicit feedback from key stakeholders early on to help them feel invested in the process.
  • Fully deprecate the legacy system after migration. The best practice is to allow a grace period to ensure the new system meets needs and expectations, as well as have a rollback plan as a contingency. 
  • Train individuals based on their usage of the system - different training will be required for administrators vs. general users.
  • Create informational guides or videos to train new members of the organization.