shutterstock_80843131.jpgAfter reading one of my most popular blog posts, a few readers have asked "What does a Digital Asset Manager need to know?"

This is assuming an organization realizes why a Digital Asset Manager is needed who is skilled and experienced in the field.

That said, they will need to know how to work with the following:


  • Be helpful. You should there to help the people, the process, the technology and the information work together. No small feat in many cases nor a temporary effort.
  • Be resourceful.
  • Be honest. Brutally honest if needed. Do not hold back much. The truth may require revealing news people do not want to hear, but rather need to hear (if you have read my blog or know me well enough, you will know what I mean).
  • Be patient. Not everyone will be technical nor understand what is involved.
  • Listen. To your users. All of them. Not just to yourself talking and repeating yourself.
  • Be specific. Do not assume that people know even the obvious. Remember, not everyone is technical.
  • Explain issues and their solutions to the people who need to know about it in their perspective. Keep in mind who your audience is. Use visuals to explain as needed. Document how to resolve issues often, then share this documentation openly and often. Repeat.
  • Simplify. Do not overcomplicate unless you like confusion, fixing errors and having delays.
  • Be an agent of change. Change, not because it is shiny/new/cool, but because it is needed for increased effectiveness and efficiency across the organization.
  • Know who is responsible for what. If you are not in charge of something, who is? If no one is in charge, take charge. "Initiative isn't given, you take it"... along with responsibility.
  • Speak up. Interject as needed. Do not "wait your turn" or your points will be overlooked. Leave your emotions elsewhere. This is business.
  • Be accountable and hold others accountable for their actions (or lack thereof) when it comes to the DAM and everything else in your perview. It is a 'two-way street' whether we realize it or not. Top to bottom and back.
  • Be proactive as well as reactive as needed. You should not be "fire fighting" issues all day, every day (otherwise there is a prioritization and process issue).
  • Know how and when to say "No." Contrary to some people's belief, "yes men" can hurt the organization as well as themselves especially if a constant "yes" is believed to always be the right answer. It is not. Reality checks are necessary for all.
  • Do not kill yourself, physically nor mentally. Nor anyone else for that matter. Even if it starts to sound really tempting. Really.


  • There is at least one process, right? And it is followed?
  • How do DAM users interact with the Digital Asset Management process and system?
  • Help establish a process, test the process in the real world, document the process in writing and train users on the process/workflow as needed (especially when lacking). Work one-on-one or with small groups. Why? Large groups and committees are like large ships: they are harder to steer in any direction and slower to start, stop or react in general. Don't believe me? Try it. Find out yourself.
  • How does metadata entry occur from sources (owned internally and/or externally) to normalization of the data to entry into the DAM. Then, track the process all the way through to use within system to yield the requested search results.
  • Manage by assigning, measuring and prioritizing daily. Of what you ask?
    • Assets
    • Accuracy of metadata entries and usage
    • Error rates
    • Performance of systems and users
    • Tasks
    • Users
    • There is plenty more to assign, measure and prioritize ...
  • Establish a process of user adoption from the beginning of the selection process of a DAM system to the integration of other systems to the regular operations of the solution. What are you doing to encourage your users?
  • How to make coffee (or tea) without spilling it nor burning yourself. (Like most things, carefully.)


  • Digital Asset Management solution within your organization
  • Use of metadata validation and when applicable, metadata automation
  • How to use and apply the LAMP solution stack (in case you thought there was nothing else to learn to improve your skills)
    • Linux
    • Apache
    • MySQL
    • PHP, Perl or Python
    • Unix
    • Java (the programming language as well as the coffee)


  • Love information and data. Really. It may not love you back, but it is a give and take relationship. You get what you put into it, along with compounding value over time. Of course, I am talking about metadata. You should be one of the information experts within your organization.
  • Know what is available (and what is not), where it lives, how to get to it, how to report on it, how to filter it and analyze it. Explain it. Train people on how to take ownership of it in their role, how to complete their part (metadata), the value of this information and why.
  • Evaluate, audit, report and analyze the quality of the metadata delivered to the DAM solution.
  • Know the difference between data, information and knowledge.
  • If you want a baseline to know how mature your DAM solution is now within your organization, start studying the DAM Maturity Model (DAM3), which was based on ECM3 as it continues to mature. Using DAM3, you can plot how mature your DAM solution is within organization today as well as where it could improve.

I write this as I leave my position where I was Digital Asset Manager for over 5 years. I have accepted another position as a Digital Asset Management professional in a different capacity to assist other organizations with DAM.

Title image courtesy of Lightspring (Shutterstock)

Editor's Note: To read more of Henrik's thoughts on Digital Asset Management:

-- Does Your Digital Asset Management System Scale?