I dropped my daughter off last weekend for her first overnight summer camp in the beautiful mountains of West Virginia. We stopped at her cabin during our tour of the camp, and she decided to stay behind with her counselor while we finished the tour. When we returned, her counselor informed us she was building a dam in the nearby stream. She was knee deep in the stream with a bunch of other little girls, lifting heavy rocks to stack across to make wading pools. As they built the foundation for the dam, the water continued to rise until they had a deep pool of water to cool off in.

Watching their progress made me think about how to approach building a DAM. What’s the process to deliver a successful DAM project? Much like the little girls in the stream attempting to stack rocks to create wading pools, a DAM project consists of many building blocks to create a successful project.

Here are 10 constructive ideas for building a successful DAM project:

1. Build a Team

Who should be on your team? Identify the key stakeholders for the project. Identify people who will benefit from a DAM project, such as artists, archivists, marketing team members and managers. I like to find that person who is the loudest in the crowd -- you know the one -- and ask him to partner on the project.

You need to get people excited about the project and include them in the process. That will make it easier to get everyone onboard. Don’t forget to include the IT teams from the start. You will need their support to successfully deliver the DAM project on-premises or in the cloud. Finally, find someone in accounting / procurement to help you negotiate the terms of your contract and secure the financing for the project. That person will be able to help you navigate the financial policies and procedures.

2. Define the DAM Vision: How big? What will it do?

Establishing the project vision and defining the business goals are fundamental building block to a successful DAM project. Look for ways to maximize your ROI. Are there ways to increase productivity, reduce costs and increase revenue?

This is where having a strong team comes in. Your team members will identify how the DAM will help them do their job better and identify their needs. Create user stories for the project and test your assumptions to make sure this is a justifiable project. Don’t be afraid to realign your project goals based on stakeholder feedback. Identifying a clear solution strategy will ensure project success.

Is this a simple archive project? Do you need to develop workflows for ingesting content, transforming assets, delivering content to one or many destinations? Do you need a way to automatically publish or syndicate the content? Will there be a need to migrate assets from an old system or multiple systems? Do you need to integrate with other systems?

Create a process flow diagram that clearly defines the life of a file. This document should include as much detail as possible about all the inputs, transformations and output. The more detail, the better.

3. Be A Cheerleader: Do Back Flips and Get Everyone Excited

Promote and educate everyone about the importance of the DAM project. DO NOT over-promise. Get people involved early and keep them engaged. Listen to all ideas -- no idea is too far fetched. Having everyone on the team contribute during the conceptual phase of the project provides inclusion. They are now part of and invested in the project.

4. What’s the DAM Inventory Look Like?

Perform a thorough content inventory to identify all content sources. Look at your current inventory to see what type of assets will be ingested into the new DAM and what metadata is available or needed. If the existing assets are being migrated from an older DAM, export the metadata and analyze it. This is a great opportunity to identify ways to normalize the old metadata and correct typos as part of the migration process. If you have old design files, this is a great opportunity to convert the assets into the latest version, which will extend the usefulness of these assets. Understanding what types of assets may also help determine if they should be stored on-premises or in the cloud.