The uncomfortable truth about DAM is it takes a lot of effort, it costs more money than anticipated, it needs more resources than planned, and needs more pre-DAM strategy and effort to make it all work.

But, it’s worth it.

I always remind people to not only be prepared, but be ready for the DAM journey because it will take time, and it will be worth your while.

DAM is more often than not a part of a bigger corporate-wide solution in managing assets and content in marketing, operations, production, distribution and more. DAM demands you understand what it will be for your organization and how it will be successful. DAM is a program, not a project. A project by definition has an end date. A program goes on, and continues to mature over time. That’s a good thing.

Any successful DAM implementation requires more than just new technology: it requires a foundation for digital strategy. Using DAM effectively can deliver knowledge and measurable cost savings, time to market gains, and greater brand voice consistency — valuable and meaningful effects for your digital strategy foundation.

What to Do Before Starting Your DAM Journey

The truth is you have a lot of work ahead as you start your DAM journey. You should definitely start taking time “now” to evaluate your content: what you have, where it is, how much you have, how it is organized, what you are trying to do with it, are you able to use it, is it identified, tagged, etc. This is one of the best ways to start the whole process and will help you learn more about your assets — which will help inform your decision on which DAM to select.

Content is no longer the only king: the user is also worthy of the title, so start talking to your users. Learn how they want to interact with content before you start the DAM user experience and user interface design. Ensure you are building the right system for the right users. Accept it won’t be perfect right out of the gate, and that it will be an excellent and formidable work in progress. Yes, it will be expensive. It will be more than you thought, and more than what your manager or your manager’s manager thought. Get over it. Bring your manager and boss to one of the DAM conferences and let them see firsthand how valuable and powerful DAM will be for your organization.

As an organization, you need to assess your methods and business processes for managing content against best practices and clear, agnostic benchmarks. Only then will you be able to achieve goals and receive stakeholder satisfaction. The key to successfully managing in a rapidly changing world is to focus on what really matters for you and your business, and to make more focused business-aligned decisions. 

Governance is no longer an option. Governance is a framework to ensure that program goals are met both during implementation and for the future. Ultimately, it is the only way to manage and mitigate risk. The more success you have in getting executives involved in the big decisions, keeping them talking about the DAM and program, and making this a regular, operational discussion (not just for project approval or yearly budget reviews), the greater the benefits your organization will have from DAM. The best way to plan for future change is to apply an effective layer of governance to your DAM program. If it makes you uncomfortable you are not doing it, good — start doing it.

Learning Opportunities

Metadata is the foundation of your content upon which your DAM will be built. It is designed to provide a fully engaging consumer experience because content drives brand, regardless of where it comes from and what it is, content is what is driving the DAM and more importantly, your brand. Think of content for what it does for you but also for what it is for your users. If DAM is a journey, then content is the road upon which you travel. Metadata is the constant connection between your content, your people, process and technology. Metadata is the truth for your DAM.

Related Article: Governance Is No Longer Optional

Power of the People

If you don’t have a librarian on your DAM team, go get one now. Librarians are critical to the success of the DAM. They know more than anyone how to organize content so that it may be identified, discovered and then used. They manage the metadata which make your assets smart. The truth is DAM is a human endeavor, it is far more than the technology. It requires ongoing decision making that only human insight can provide. DAM is not about the totally elimination of human effort, but the best use of human intelligence with technology.

Related Article: Library Science, Not Library Silence

DAM Is Worth the Investment

DAM takes work to be successful. And it is worth every penny, every minute, every whiteboard session and piece of strategy. DAM is by nature a complex undertaking when you consider all of the inputs, the connecting points, and the human element required to create and maintain the governance structure needed to flex and adapt to your growing and evolving business. DAM brings with it great responsibility as to how the organization’s assets will be efficiently and effectively managed in its daily operations.

The opportunity in front of us is clear: we can invest in this effort. The benefits of DAM are within your reach. We can dedicate this investment — this effort — in our people, processes and technology. We can work hard to make the complex simple. And, that should make all of us more comfortable: you are worth it.

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