Like many organizations, you may find yourself at a crossroads between how you’ve managed digital content up until now and how you plan to address future digital asset management (DAM) needs.

Evaluating your digital asset management strategy often begins with a leader committed to championing DAM success -- which relies more on change management, process modeling and company culture than the software itself. Typically, this leader either resides in the C-Suite (via content and brand visionaries) or more likely, where the pain is most prevalent, in the creative and marketing arenas. In either case, getting C-level buy-in and full support is paramount.

Unfortunately, getting executive buy-in for DAM can be wrought with bumps, misunderstandings and the inability to convince others of the true value of not only safeguarding what the business owns (digital assets -- imagery, graphics, presentations, videos) but also the value of being able to serve up and repurpose those items quickly and with accuracy every time, from anywhere.

So how do you convince your C-Suite that a solid DAM investment can save money? Here are a few points to help them gain understanding and show where your organization can expect to recoup your investment both in the short- and long-term.

1. Find a Story Similar to Yours

The easiest starting place to demonstrate DAM's money saving benefits is to learn what other organizations have been able to do with a solid DAM system and process in place. DAM vendors are often willing to share case study examples detailing how organizations save time by transforming content workflows with DAM, how they save litigation fees by using DAM to protect digital licensing usage rights and how they improve sales enablement with field sales, marketing and distribution networks equipped with their brand assets at-the-ready.

Every situation is completely unique. Therefore, case study examples will only begin to show you what is possible, and not mirror your exact situation.

2. Provide Data on the Costs You Will Save

I recently spoke with an agency using only network drives and FTP. They had strong leadership and processes. They had already crunched their numbers. And they knew that shaving just 20 minutes per day off their 18-person creative team’s daily workflow would justify an investment in a DAM system for a company of their size.

Do you know your number? You may have to roll up your proverbial sleeves to measure how long specific, grossly-inefficient tasks take, and make some assumptions about how much time could potentially be saved in your post-DAM world. At a minimum, analyzing your current state at the onset of the project gives you a baseline to measure against in 1-year, 2-years, 3-years to show improvements over time. And we all know how much the C-Suite loves metrics.

Documenting your steady state may look like this: today a photo shoot with 5,000 images goes through ABC process, which takes X amount of time until the creative team has the top 30 images selected by Management. Then it takes Y amount of time to go through numerous rounds of approvals via XYZ process, and by the time creatives deliver finished work to the Web team, social media folks, distribution partners, print teams and field sales they have touched Z number of systems.

3. Outline How DAM Can Protect Your Organization

Perhaps in your business, efficiency gains won’t tip the scale for getting that Montblanc™ ink on the project. Digital rights management could be the key.

It could be that your business’s growing demand for visual content includes a requirement that each item have a signed release form or license usage agreement that must be tracked, able to be audited and upheld in court.

Talk to Legal about what the cost of a single lawsuit (let alone multiple) might cost the company without proper controls in place for managing digital asset copyrights. Sell DAM to your execs like any good insurance salesperson would, "You’re investing today for the peace of mind to avoid a potential disaster in the future." Just make sure you have the chops to see the implementation through with precision, by selecting the right technologies and experts to work with you to set up your DAM to properly manage digital rights.

4. Show Cost Savings for Optimizing IT

Cost savings for DAM may come in the form of consolidating legacy software license fees and reducing reliance on inelastic in-house IT support and hardware infrastructure costs -- especially if you are moving to a cloud / hosted DAM environment.

5. Know What Matters Most

Some may contend that setting up your taxonomy and tagging your massive library with all necessary metadata is the hard part of DAM. As important and tedious as that is, having a champion to own the endeavor and getting executive sponsorship is arguably far more important.

When getting executive buy-in for digital asset management, it comes down to this: Do you know what you want? Do you know what the C-Suite wants? Can you connect the dots between the two? And are you able to communicate, negotiate and implement a successful project that will be championed throughout the organization? When you can answer yes to these four questions, congratulations, you have done the hard part of DAM. And hopefully, you’re on your way to securing an executive sponsor.

6. Secure Long Term Support for DAM

Plan to continue championing, educating and reporting on your workflow improvements periodically, to help everyone see what a difference it makes having a centrally maintained database of all your most valuable digital assets.

7. If All Else Fails, Here’s One Last Tip to Try to Secure Buy-In

Ask your CXO to consider this: 20 years ago almost no companies used ERPs. Twelve years ago only some visionary organizations were adopting CRM. Ten years ago few companies used CMSs to power their websites. Five years ago Marketing Automation systems were rarely used. Explain that yesterday’s "luxury technologies" have become today’s "best practice technologies." With the exponential growth of visual content, DAM is no different.

Top organizations must be willing and able to commit to managing their digital assets more intelligently. What may seem like a "nice-to-have" today will be essential to survive in the digital world of tomorrow.