DAM Best Practices: From Setup to Adoption

3 Oct


Written by

Marvellous Aham-adi




DAM Best Practices: From Setup to Adoption
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Digital Asset Management (DAM) is a crucial tool in the management and preservation of digital assets. And with the overwhelming amount of digital data that organizations create and distribute, it is important that there is a system in place to ensure that these assets are well-managed and accessible. This is where DAM comes in. By implementing a DAM system, businesses can streamline their workflows, improve productivity, enhance collaboration, and reduce costs. 

However, setting up a DAM system requires proper planning, execution, and adoption. So in this article, we will be discussing DAM best practices – from setup to adoption. We will cover key topics such as metadata management, storage and organization of digital files, collaboration and sharing of digital files, and more. With this comprehensive guide, you will be equipped to set up a DAM system, implement best practices, and ensure successful adoption and maintenance for your business.

It’s worth noting that, whilst this may seem like a substantial list of tasks to complete, setting up  your DAM system with a provider like Wedia will mean having a dedicated support team to help you through all of these steps, so you won’t be going it alone. 

Let’s get started.

1. Define your goals for the DAM project

The first step in setting up a Digital Asset Management system is defining your goals for the project. Identify what issues you want to address and the opportunities you hope to realize by having a DAM system in place. Here are some goals you can set:

  • Streamlining Workflows: One of the primary goals of a DAM system is to streamline content workflows by making file search, sharing, and collaboration easier.  
  • Improving Productivity: DAM systems are designed to improve productivity and efficiency. Companies can use a DAM system to accelerate the use of digital assets via user-friendly input capabilities, management features, and output options. Streamlining the content workflow within the DAM system will also result in better productivity across teams. With a DAM system, you will also improve the creative process of your team members.
  • Cost Reduction: If managed and executed correctly, DAM systems can help reduce costs in several ways. First, the DAM system will serve as a Single Source of Truth that consolidates all your brand’s digital assets which will lead to reduced file loss. Organizations can also reduce storage costs associated with maintaining multiple copies of an asset across various channels or departments. Lastly, digital assets can be reused without investing in new content creation. 
  • Consistency of Branding: DAM systems help establish brand consistency by providing users with access to approved digital assets in one central repository. You can also ensure users are including the latest versions of assets, removing the possibility of using outdated branding material.

You can also read on to find out other benefits of using a DAM solution

2. Audit your digital assets

When setting up a Digital Asset Management (DAM) system, it's essential to conduct a thorough digital asset audit. Conducting an audit helps you identify your digital assets, their location, and their quality. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to go about it:

Step 1: Identify Your Digital Assets

The first step is identifying your digital assets. A digital asset can be anything from a video, photo, audio clip, document, graphic, or any other type of media. You need to compile a comprehensive list of all digital assets, including their location, format, quality, and metadata.

Step 2: Determine the Value of Your Digital Assets

After identifying your digital assets, you need to determine their value. The value of a digital asset depends on various factors like its format, quality, and originality. You need to ensure that high-value digital assets are adequately secured and backed up. 

Step 3: Assess Asset Quality

Now that you've identified your digital assets and their value, you need to assess their quality. Quality refers to the characteristics that make a digital asset suitable for its intended purpose. For example, a photo's quality may be assessed based on its resolution, exposure, and color. Review quality issues that may impact reuse and discoverability, like small file sizes or poor file format.

Step 4: Check for Duplicate Digital Assets

When you conduct a digital asset audit, you may find duplicate files. Duplicate files are extra copies of a digital asset. Digital assets that are duplicated can be a waste of storage space and make it difficult to keep track of assets. Identify the master asset(s) for at least one representative of each identical file and delete the rest. It’s worth noting that a DAM system can help you identify duplicate files during the initial setup process and continue to do so as long as you use the platform. This means that you are consistently ensuring that you are not storing the same file multiple times (possibly under different names) and as such free up essential space and data capacity. 

Step 5: Document Your Findings

Finally, you need to document your findings after conducting the digital asset audit. A documented audit report helps you keep track of your assets' condition and location, making it easier to identify potential weak spots in your DAM system. Consider creating a digital asset inventory spreadsheet and include metadata, file size, quality checks, and review status.

Image by ijeab on Freepix

3. Choose your DAM technology stack

DAM technology stack refers to the collection of tools, software, and applications used in a Digital Asset Management system. The DAM technology stack is responsible for the efficient and effective management of digital assets – starting from creation to distribution. It comprises various components that work together to facilitate the storage, organization, and retrieval of digital content.

The components of a DAM technology stack may include:

The core DAM system: This is the main software platform that manages and stores digital assets, allowing users to store, manage, and distribute digital assets. Read on to find out how to choose the best Digital Asset Management system for your organization

Integrations: Integrating a DAM system provides numerous benefits to organizations that rely on managing and distributing digital assets. With a DAM system in place, organizations are able to store, manage and share digital assets with a better level of control and security. However, the real value of a DAM system comes when it can be integrated with other systems to allow for seamless sharing and improved efficiencies.

By integrating a DAM system with other tools, such as project management or creative software, teams can access information and digital assets in real-time to help manage workflows more efficiently. Such integration allows for quick access to digital assets, enabling the team to deliver high-quality work faster.

Integrating DAM with other tools also helps streamline the workflow and reduces time spent on manual processes. Furthermore, it ensures that the team is working with the most accurate and up-to-date assets, reducing errors, and minimizing duplicates.

Overall, integrating a DAM system with other tools improves the operational efficiency of a team and ultimately leads to a better collaboration experience.

Analytics tools: Tools that allow users to analyze how assets are used and provide insights that can help improve the effectiveness of the DAM system.

A robust DAM technology stack ensures that digital assets are managed efficiently and effectively, allowing businesses to optimize their operations and ensure a consistent brand experience across all channels.

4. Define your metadata framework

Metadata is a critical component of a Digital Asset Management (DAM) system, and an efficient metadata framework helps organizations effectively manage their digital assets. Metadata helps users quickly find the assets they need and facilitates the discovery of previously unknown assets. Here are some best practices for creating an efficient metadata framework:

  • Identify relevant metadata: Develop guidelines to identify and select the most relevant metadata for your organization. Just note that the metadata should provide a detailed description of the assets and help identify them easily.
  • Specify mandatory and optional metadata: Create a list of mandatory metadata elements that users of your organization’s DAM system should use. For example, you can make elements like format, length, or type of asset mandatory metadata elements. This will help users fill out the metadata elements consistently.
  • Streamline metadata entry: Develop dropdown menus to select from pre-determined values for metadata fields wherever possible. This creates faster data entry and ensures the data is consistent.
  • Establish an approval process: You can also develop a metadata approval process that ensures metadata values align with the objectives of your organization. This process will improve data governance and reduce the risk of errors in metadata entered into the system.
  • Use machine-aided metadata: Companies can use machine-aided metadata techniques to reduce the time required to tag assets. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies can also suggest or auto-populate values, thereby improving the consistency of data and saving time. For instance, Wedia’s DAM allows businesses to scale their content creation with Generative-AI.

5. Properly store and organize digital files

Properly storing and organizing digital files in a DAM system is crucial for ensuring the efficiency and effectiveness of your organization's workflow. Here are some best practices for organizing digital files in a DAM system:

  • Adopt a consistent naming convention: Develop a standard naming convention that makes it easy for users to search and retrieve files. The naming convention should be descriptive and include important information such as the name of the project, date, creator, or asset type.
  • Establish folder structure: Organize the files into a folder structure that is intuitive and follows a logical hierarchy. You can create top-level folders that correspond to the different projects, departments, or products. Then, create subfolders within each top-level folder that contain the specific digital assets.
  • Use metadata to categorize and tag files: Assign metadata fields to digital assets to make them easier to find. Use relevant keywords, usage rights, and other metadata to categorize and classify files.
  • Implement efficient search functionality: Ensure that the DAM system you choose has efficient search functionality. Use metadata fields, filenames, and content search capabilities to provide advanced search options.

6. Set up permission and roles

When setting up a DAM system, it is crucial to define permissions and roles. This will allow you to control access to digital assets, ensure proper usage of assets, and avoid any unauthorized usage or leakage. Here are some steps for setting up permissions and roles in a DAM system:

  • Identify your users: Start by identifying the different types of users who will access the DAM system, such as admins, editors, contributors, and viewers. This will help you define user roles and set permission levels accordingly.
  • Define user roles: Define user roles based on the users' responsibilities and their required access level to the digital assets. Then assign permissions to each user role based on the level of access they require. For example, an admin might have full system control and permission to delete, modify, and upload files. A contributor might only have permission to upload new assets, but not delete or modify existing ones.
  • Create user groups: Create user groups based on similar access needs. Assign user roles and permissions based on these groups. This helps simplify user management and makes it easier to grant or revoke access across a large user base.
  • Assign permissions: Once you have defined user roles, assign permissions to each role. Permissions may include the ability to view, edit, download, upload, or delete files. Be sure to set appropriate permissions to ensure that users only have access to the assets they need to do their job.
  • Secure access to the DAM system: Ensure proper security protocols are in place to limit access to the DAM system to only authorized users. Use secure login, two-factor authentication, or IP-based access control to ensure that only legitimate users can access the digital assets.

7. Follow file naming conventions and protocols

File naming conventions and protocols are essential for efficient Digital Asset Management. Here are some tips to follow when naming your files and setting up naming conventions in your DAM system:

  • Keep file names short and descriptive: Shorter file names are easier to read and remember. Also using descriptive words and clear acronyms in your file names can make it easier for people to quickly recognize what the file is.
  • Include important details in the file name: Your file name should include relevant details to make it easy to identify the file. This could include the project name, asset type, version number, or creation date.
  • Avoid special characters and spaces: Avoid using special characters or spaces in your file names. These can cause problems when uploading, downloading, or transferring files.
  • Use lowercase letters: Stick with lowercase letters in your file names, as this will make them easier to read and less likely to cause errors from confused team members.
  • Create a file-naming policy: Consider creating a file-naming policy that everyone in your organization can stick to. This can help to ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to naming files, and keeping things organized and easy to find.

8. Assign a DAM administrator

Assigning a dedicated DAM administrator is essential for the efficient management of digital assets. The administrator can oversee the ingestion, storage, and retrieval of your digital assets, ensuring that they are stored correctly and that metadata tags are accurate and optimized for search.

Effective management of your DAM system also requires regular maintenance, including software updates, backups, database optimization, and storage utilization checks. Assigning an administrator ensures that tasks such as these are monitored and performed regularly.

Not only that, the technology of a Digital Asset Management system can be complex, and user adoption is key to its success. An experienced DAM administrator can provide guidance on best practices for users and conduct training on the usage of the DAM system, ensuring that team members are comfortable and confident using it.

The DAM administrator will also monitor user usage, analyze assets, and collect feedback from users. This will help your organization identify opportunities for improvements on processes, reduce human errors, and enhance productivity.

Assigning an experienced and knowledgeable administrator ensures seamless operations, improves user adoption and engagement, reduces errors, and maximizes productivity.

9. Train employees and external stakeholders on DAM adoption

Training employees and other stakeholders such as distributors is essential to the success of your DAM project. Here are some tips on how to train employees and external stakeholders on using a DAM system effectively:

  • Create user-friendly training materials: The training materials should be well-designed, easy to understand, and engaging. Use real-life examples, screenshots, and step-by-step instructions to help the users understand how the system works and how to get the best out of it.
  • Provide practical hands-on training: To further enhance the learning experience and ensure that what is being learned is retained and applied, consider providing practical hands-on training. This allows users to learn actively in a safe environment, making it more fun, interactive, and engaging.
  • Provide continuous support and feedback: Learning does not stop with training. Encourage users to provide regular feedback, listen to their suggestions, and offer support, both immediately after the training and throughout their ongoing engagement with the system.
  • Encourage adoption and usage: Encourage the use of the DAM system through follow-up communications, incentives, and by highlighting the benefits it offers such as speed, efficiency, and collaboration.

10. Regularly maintain the DAM system

Regular maintenance of a DAM system is crucial in ensuring its smooth operation and optimizing its performance. Here are some tips for regularly maintaining your DAM system:

1. Back up your data: Regular backups of your entire DAM system will prevent the loss of your digital assets should a disaster occur. Your backup system should run depending on the level of activity in your DAM system. The best practice is to just back up your system at the end of a workday.

2. Conduct regular system checks: Regular system checks will help you identify any potential errors or issues with your DAM system, such as file validation issues, storage capacity issues, or system error codes. This helps identify potential problems early on, so they can be fixed promptly.

3. Review your metadata and tagging: Your metadata and tagging system will require regular checks and updates. This involves auditing your metadata, reviewing the tagging system, and ensuring that the correct metadata and tags are being used for search queries.

4. Evaluate user feedback: Gather feedback from users regarding the DAM system's usage and effectiveness. And always incorporate suggestions and improvements when necessary. 

5. Reassess permissions and security: User permissions and security protocols should be reviewed regularly, especially when there is a change in team dynamics or where stakeholder roles change. This helps to avoid unwanted access to confidential files and provides a more secure and controlled environment.

6. Ensure software is up-to-date: Regular software updates will reduce software vulnerabilities and provide new features or bug fixes. Always stay up-to-date with the latest versions of your DAM solution to ensure optimal performance.

By following these regular maintenance practices, you'll ensure that your DAM system always operates smoothly and efficiently. 

Image by kroshka__nastya on Freepik

11. Leverage DAM analytics

Leveraging DAM analytics allows you to gain insights into the performance of your assets and help you optimize your asset library. Here are some tips on how to leverage DAM analytics to improve your digital asset management.

Track Operational Metrics

The first step in leveraging DAM analytics is to track operational metrics such as storage utilization, asset counts, and bandwidth usage. While operational metrics may seem basic, they can provide you with insights into how the DAM system is being used, how much it is costing, and which assets are being accessed frequently.

Knowing how often assets are being used and which ones are popular can help you make informed decisions about how to allocate your resources. It can also help you identify if you need to archive any outdated assets that are no longer in use, thereby freeing up valuable storage space.

Track Asset Performance

DAM analytics can help you track asset performance metrics, such as downloads, views, and shares. By looking at the usage patterns of your digital assets, you can make data-driven decisions about which assets to keep, which to retire, and which to prioritize.

For example, if an image or video is getting a lot of views, you may want to optimize it for search engines or create variations of it. If an asset is not performing well, you may want to remove it from your library or identify ways to improve it.

Track User Behavior

In addition to tracking operational and asset performance metrics, DAM analytics can help you track user behavior. By understanding how users interact with your assets, you can make informed decisions about how to improve the user experience and create more engaging content.

For example, say you have a video on your website that gets a lot of traffic but has a high bounce rate. By analyzing the data, you might discover that viewers are dropping off at a certain point in the video. Armed with this information, you could edit the video to make it more engaging or create a new video that addresses the specific needs of your audience.

Optimize Your Asset Library

Once you have gathered insights from your DAM analytics, it's time to optimize your asset library. By doing so, you can improve the asset discovery process, reduce search time, and help users find the most relevant assets quickly.

One way to optimize your asset library is to use metadata to tag your digital assets. Metadata adds context to your assets, making it easier for users to find what they're looking for. You can also use keywords, categories, and other metadata to organize your assets into collections, making it easier to browse through related assets.

Another way to optimize your asset library is to provide users with the ability to filter their search results. This can be done using metadata, such as asset type or date uploaded, as well as filtering by popular, most viewed, or recently added.

Ready to optimize your DAM project?

Implementing a Digital Asset Management (DAM) system is an essential step for any organization that utilizes a ton of digital assets. So when setting up a DAM, it's important to follow the best practices listed above to ensure that the system is properly adopted and used effectively by your employees and stakeholders.

Some of the best practices that organizations should consider include conducting thorough research before choosing a DAM system, ensuring a smooth implementation process, training all users on how to use the system, and optimizing the DAM system for search and discovery.

Ultimately, a well-implemented DAM system can bring benefits like improved productivity, enhanced collaboration, and cost savings by centralizing the management of digital assets. By following these tips, organizations can ensure that they get the most out of their DAM system.

What’s more, Wedia’s DAM platform benefits from a standard setup model which means the main needs of our clients are rapidly met by our system and the implementation process is smooth and effective. What’s stopping you?

Request for Proposal Template for Digital Asset Management Projects

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