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Digital Asset Management Business Case: Securing Budget

21 February 2023

Digital Asset Management Business Case: Securing Budget for Your DAM

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You, like so many other DAM managers out there, are a team of one or few. Every week you’re working hard to add more assets to your digital asset management (DAM) system, improve data quality, and help users, while also being asked to fix another problem, onboard new users, run another audit, or start another project. There is also a laundry list of improvements you want to make, if you can ever find the time.

  • You’ve outgrown your current solution (Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, hard drives, etc)
  • Your DAM has launched, but it needs more resources to scale
  • Your legacy DAM is no longer meeting the requirement of the business or it can’t scales.

When you ask for resources to help solve the problem, it’s crickets. The budget is just not there.

You should know you’re not alone. It can be notoriously difficult for DAM managers to get the budget they’re asking for, because the ROI is not always clear (or easy to calculate). 

We’re here to help. No, we can’t give you a magic wand to conjure up a budget that doesn’t exist. But we can certainly help you maximize your chances of getting the ‘yes’ for that next budget pitch you’re making to your leaders.

Trust us: the right planning and execution can turn your frustration into feelings of optimism and empowerment as you convince budget-holders that DAM is worth the ongoing investment.

Here we go.

Understand Your Audience and Stakeholders

As with most projects, everything starts with trying to understand the people (stakeholders) you’re pitching to. Remember, DAM doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It is a service that delivers value to the organization and furthers its strategic aims. Therefore, to make a compelling case, you need to look out, not in. Be able to tell leaders what’s in it for them, while empathizing with the prioritization decisions they have to make.

Start by asking the very basic question: how does the DAM advance my stakeholders’ goals  (and what are those things)?

This simple exercise is going to help you consider how the DAM brings value to the people you’re pitching to. Remember, you’re trying to inspire and motivate leaders to support your vision for DAM. To do it, start by understanding theirs.

So, where do you start?

Look to existing resources to understand the priorities of your organization, division, and/or business unit.

  • Strategic plans: What are the competitive goals and objectives your organization is setting? What are they committing to achieve?
  • Recent communications: Have there been internal or external communications published that provide information on strategic directions for the business?
  • People: Can you speak with your leaders, or if they aren’t available, the people that report into them? Try to learn what decisions they are weighing, where they are focusing their energy and resources, and what are their current priorities (or even better, goals or KPIs)

Don’t assume you already know these answers. Goals, priorities, concerns, and stock prices change frequently. What was true last week may not be this week. Taking the time to learn from relevant and timely sources can help you identify opportunities to show value against what’s happening in the company today, and where it’s going.

Once you’ve gone through this exercise, pick the top two or three issues or goals that DAM can help to enable. We’ll focus on those moving forward.

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Enable Strategic Goals Through Digital Asset Management

Now that we have our top two or three strategic goals, we need to identify just how exactly the DAM is going to enable those.

It’s not always an easy 1:1 relationship when it comes to how the DAM provides value to a business. You may need to do some thinking here, but here’s an example to help you get your head around it:

By looking at the strategic plan, you’ve identified the business is really pushing to speed up time to market for new products. You know the company is starting to use 3D models as part of the design and production of these products, but that the workflows for these creative assets is less than optimal. Different teams store assets in different locations, and people spend a lot of time looking for specific assets. Then once they find them, they can’t be sure they’ve found the right version. Just by centralizing those 3D assets in the DAM you can immediately save time and money on those processes and help advance that push to speed time to market. 

Another example is a company’s new data transparency strategy. The organization wants to ensure that both employees and customers understand what data is collected, stored, and used, and maintain a clear provenance of data collection and use. Because digital assets are part of the organization’s enterprise data set, it can act as a centralized data hub and source of truth for certain classes of data.

Neither of those examples may apply to your specific situation, but you can see how understanding the strategic goals of your organization can help you tie in DAM to those essential projects.

The key is to empathize with the problem, align in your understanding of the goal, and THEN to articulate a solution. Think about using this format to articulate your value proposition pitch:

We know that [goal] is a major priority of [org name], based on [the timely primary resources consulted]. We believe that doing [x, y, z] will help further this goal in these specific ways: [list, items, here]

Identify Digital Asset Management Cost Savings

Just because you’ve figured out how to tie DAM to strategic projects and goals, that doesn’t mean you’re done yet! 

You’re almost guaranteed to be asked how your system is saving the company time and money. And here’s where a lot of DAM managers get tripped up, because there are many ways to answer the question. Ultimately, you want to go beyond saying “DAM increases productivity” or “DAM reduces content spend.” Instead go deeper with details on how and try to quantify wherever possible.

Reducing content spend

Here’s an example for you. One of a creative team’s biggest expenses can be the cost of licensing content from a creator or company like Getty Images. Let’s say your organization also shoots a lot of video content. Some of this was expensive-to-produce footage, shot on location in remote areas. As part of the editing process, we can be generous and say 80% of footage (b-roll and other cuts) are left unused from a given shoot. That doesn’t mean the footage is bad, it just didn’t make the cut for this video. This content is often forgotten about as the creative team moves onto new projects. It is kept—probably on a hard drive on someone’s desk, along with hundreds of others—because the team knows there is potential value there, but it just contributes to the enormous growing backlog that never seems to get tackled.

The next year, the production team is working on a new edit, and that aerial footage that ended up on the cutting room floor last year would be perfect. Unfortunately, no one remembers it, much less knows where it is. They license similar, although far more generic footage, from a stock provider instead – and, this is the same footage they licensed two years ago.

That’s a huge opportunity here for DAM. How much could the company have saved by reusing its own footage instead of re-licensing it? You can easily source that information, and just there you’ve found quantifiable cost savings for the creative team. And as a bonus, you have the opportunity to create higher quality content that is original and on-brand.

The DAM gives you an entire library of images, b-roll footage, and more your company can use in lieu of purchasing stock footage. And these are assets that are created as part of existing projects, meaning you’re helping to not only save your company money on purchasing content, but maximizing the ROI of existing creative/content spend. These are the types of outcomes that make executives happy, and ones you can demonstrate in your digital asset management business case.

Boost efficiency and time savings

Don’t make the mistake of thinking what is obvious to you is obvious to others. In your digital asset management business case, don’t overlook how much time users save by having a centralized content repository optimized for findability.

Your creative teams will tell you that any time they can’t find an asset in the DAM, one of two things will happen:

  • They recreate an asset from scratch: see the above section on digital asset management cost savings associated with reducing production and licensing costs.
  • They ask someone where to find it: this triggers a chain of events that often leads to the creative waiting days, sometimes weeks for an answer from “the person who knows where everything is,” who may be on PTO this week, or is just too busy to help.

Remember: whatever integrations you do apply, make sure they are aligned with the governance standards you established earlier.

Once they find the asset they are looking for, it will often have no metadata (including critical rights information) associated. That forces them to turn to the legal team, and the wait gets even longer. 

So, it’s not an exaggeration to say the DAM can speed up content creation by a factor of weeks. It can also improve the likelihood that your users will find what they are looking for, rather than settling for something familiar and easy to use (but has been used too many times before). 

You can get more precise by talking with your creative team to understand on average how much time they are spending (or would spend if they didn’t have a DAM) on finding assets to use. While you’re at it, find out how often they are successful in finding what they’re looking for,  how often they have to compromise by using a less compelling or overused asset, or turn to stock once again.

The cost of inaction

Sometimes the best way to think about this is not always identifying the benefit of DAM, but calling out the cost of inaction if DAM doesn’t get the investment it needs.

You can go from saying:

“DAM centralizes video assets to make it easier to find and reuse content.”

To something like:

“Reshooting videos next year is going to cost you $10 million, unless you have a DAM to reduce how many reshoots we need.”

Or saying:

“DAM can help protect restricted assets.”

To something like:

“We have experienced several cases of license violations that have cost us $1 million annually the last two years, and which we are budgeting for in the future. Implementing a DAM with strong permissions and usage metadata can protect our media content and reduce our litigation budget.”

It’s a subtle but different way of thinking about the ROI the DAM provides. Sometimes when you’re dealing with budget holders, it can be easier to loosen the purse strings when they see the problem they’re solving first. Spending $200,000 per year to save millions on video reshoots sounds like a no brainer, right?

Calculate the ROI of Your Requested DAM Investment

By now we’ve identified the strategic goals that matter to your stakeholders, budget-holders, and leaders. We’ve also decided what measures (cost savings, time savings, etc.) to use in our business case, and started to collect some initial data. Now it’s time to gather even more quantifiable data, and put it all  together to measure or project the ROI of our investment in DAM.

Try to avoid the trap of measuring everything you can think of to maximize the perceived DAM ROI. Instead, stay hyper-focused on the measurements that relate to the strategic priorities you identified in the beginning of this process.

ROI is a pretty simple formula = Return or Benefit / Cost or Investment. Let’s start with the return.

Start by measuring your baselines. What are we doing right now, and how is it performing? 

If we’re measuring cost-savings, then we need to know what our costs are right now. If our measure is time savings, we need to measure how much time we’re spending on things right now. If it’s risk mitigation (rights management), how much are we spending on content-related lawsuits today?

The takeaway here is that we can’t calculate the ROI until we understand these baselines.

Now, you may not always have the exact numbers in front of you, but it’s ok to extrapolate a little as long as the multipliers you’re using make sense. Gather as much data as you can, then do some analysis.

For example, you may be able to find out exactly how much the creative team spends on licensing content per campaign. But to find out how much time they spend looking for assets and trying to find out the allowed usage, you may need to take the average time a few designers spend looking for images, multiply that by how many images are needed on average for a campaign (considering multiple distribution channels as well, so each image has multiple versions), and how many campaigns are run each year.

Now use those baselines to set thoughtful projections on how the DAM will impact them, and set and communicate the goals you have for each measurement so leaders know there is accountability on your end.

Next, you will need to have figures on the cost of the investment you want to make, to round out the other side of the equation. You will need to have projected what resources you need, and what the associated costs will be. 

When you put it all together, you need to be able to demonstrate that the benefits outweigh the costs.

How to Demonstrate Impact and Make the Case For Funding

This is a lot of data you’ve collected. You run the risk of overloading your audience with information that takes away from the main points you want to make in your pitch.

While each organization is different, often the strongest communication mechanism when addressing leaders and executives is to use a short, streamlined slide deck. You may or may not have the chance to present it, so make sure it can stand alone to get the key messages across at a glance. 

Your presentation should clearly describe how the DAM is going to contribute to the organization’s strategic goals. Lead with this so the impact is clear.

A few other tips:

  • Know your audience: If they like to have all the data in front of them, consider including an executive summary slide first so they get the key message before diving into the data. Include some compelling, on-brand visuals.
  • Demonstrate past impact (optional): If you have already achieved success with the DAM, showcase this! What returns have you already realized? Include a quote from someone who has benefited.
  • Demonstrate future impact: Show the benchmark data you’ve pulled and how you anticipate to improve it through the DAM initiative.
  • Be succinct: Slide overload will kill your pitch – 5-10 slides should be your target.
  • Show your roadmap: let them see your plan, project milestones, different phases, and how you’re going to track progress

Next, be specific about what you’re asking for:

  • You need to be prepared to answer questions about digital asset management costs. If your ask is for technology, you need to consider DAM license costs and implementation fees – do some shopping around to get a ballpark figure to use.
  • If your ask is for more headcount/resources, you should know what the costs are.

If you aren’t sure about these things, talk to sister organizations – companies in the same industry or of similar size – and ask these community resources what their commitments were/what they spent.

Include what success is going to look like. How are you putting the new budget to use, what is it going to do for the organization/how are you measuring success, and what timeline do you need to achieve those results.

The Power of Storytelling

People love stories. They’re easy to relate to, and can be a compelling way to receive information.

As you’re presenting your data to the leadership team, think about how you can turn it into a story that helps you make your business case. For example, let’s say you’re asking for additional budget to implement a new workflow module in your DAM. Maybe you showcase the lifecycle of the creative process, and walk executives through each step of the process from the perspective of the user, through a specific example that resonates with them. For example, use a common scenario like, “Where can I find the most recent version of our last campaign in Mexico?” Walk the audience through the challenges that this user faces today, then what their experience will be once it is solved — calling out your data points in compelling visuals along the way – in order to demonstrate exactly where your proposed plan will make an impact on productivity and change the story’s outcome.

You can do this on a single slide! It doesn’t have to be complicated – just make sure you’re telling a story with your data that will help contextualize the impact of your proposed project.

Getting Budget for Your DAM

Securing a budget is not easy, but the steps outlined above are going to help you be well-prepared for the pitch. Just be sure you factor in your company’s budget cycles. You want to be prepared ahead of time so you’re ready when the time comes, rather than scrambling at the last minute to get your pitch in. 

By the time you’ve gone through this process, you should have:

  • Identified strategic priorities for the business that are enabled by DAM
  • Documented cost, time, and resource savings generally provided by the DAM to further those strategic aims
  • Measured baselines, set benchmarks, and identified goals for success
  • Built and (possibly) delivered a pitch deck tailored to the needs of your budget-holders specifically

For help pulling this all together, click here to download a slide deck template that will help you document the details you’ll want to include in your pitch, help you calculate some of the figures that you will want to highlight, and pull together your story. This free tool was developed collaboratively by Tenovos and AVP.

With the new budget you’re going to win, you can start to deliver on the evolving requirements of the business and your stakeholders without the late nights and stress that comes with being understaffed, or saddled with the wrong tool for the job. There’s hope – it just takes the right planning and execution.

This piece was written in collaboration with Tenovos. Tenovos is a data-first digital asset management platform, intuitively designed to empower brands to streamline and automate the traditional complexities of creating and publishing global content.

A DAM Operational Model

8 February 2023

Running a DAM System? Here’s an Operational Model for Success

Choosing digital asset management (DAM) software is the easiest part—onboarding users, integrating it into your existing tech stack, and weaving it into the ways of your company is when the real difficulties can begin. But those challenges are easier managed, and the value of the DAMS easier realized, if you employ an operational model for your DAM system.

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We’ve customized this approach from years of experience, working with highly varied organizations, to correctly implement and scale DAMS. Our operational model shared here is a supported, systematic approach that isn’t included with your digital asset management software.

A DAM operational model (OM) is a method and mindset for managing and mastering your DAM system that utilizes a blended approach of program, product, and service management.

Think of your DAM OM as the literal roadmap toward a complete implementation, long-term ease of asset management, and delivery of value to your organization. To achieve lasting success—and what we will lay out in full detail in this piece—your DAM OM should account for the following components:


Purpose Process Diagram
Starting from right to left
Centered: Purpose

What does implementing these components look like in a business that has many of the same concerns and goals that you have? We’ll spell out exactly how to navigate these seven components of a DAM OM and explain how they both build upon and interact with one another.



Table of Contents

Purpose: Defining the value of your DAM system

Everything begins with a purpose, including enterprise technology initiatives like implementing a DAMS. So what’s the purpose of your DAM system?

Most likely, it’s so you can get a better handle on your brand assets, but dig a bit deeper and think about the larger problem or opportunity your DAMS is meant to serve, and the value that it is meant to add to your organization. There are a few key results many managers look for when adopting a DAM system: saved time and money, reduced risks, and improved new value creation.

Here’s how your DAM system achieves those goals:

Saved Time and Money

Around 48% of employees across multiple industries report that their productivity is hampered by the constant need to search for and effectively reuse their assets. With a high-functioning DAM system in place, those employees can spend as much as 28% less time searching for assets.

Why? Because when a DAM is implemented well, finding what you need is fast, intuitive, and straightforward. With features like centralized asset storage, optimized search and browse, clear usage information, and opportunities for collaboration, employees of all skill levels can easily find and put assets to good use.

Improved New Value Creation

Adopting a DAM system can open new opportunities for content creation, distribution, and even monetization. Since your employees can more easily access approved assets, they’ll have greater confidence in what they can and can’t use, and how to appropriately caption and credit what they do use. Assets with full context—like source, subject, location, and rights (which a file store can’t provide you)—help employees gain insight and tell better stories.

Add to that, your DAM system’s reporting capabilities help you track how your content performs, giving you a true understanding of the value of certain assets. Integration with other key business technologies can enable a 360 degree view of asset investment, use, and performance.

Reduced Risk

Unmanaged assets are much more easily lost, deleted, misplaced, and certainly misused. There are measurable risks to not using a DAM system. In fact, the legal risks surrounding asset misuse can be some very expensive errors, especially for larger brands. By implementing and effectively operating a DAMS, you’re protecting the integrity of the brand and organization in many ways, all through one system.

What’s Your Purpose?

Before we go any further, remember this: Your purpose for adopting a DAM system drives how every other component in your OM operates. So what’s your purpose? This element of a systematic approach is at the core, and is important to get clarity on before you dive into implementation. Discuss your reasoning with a representative team, and maybe ask yourselves:

  • Is there a specific problem you want to solve?
  • What do you want from the investment of a DAM?
  • What value should the system deliver, and to whom?

Whatever your purpose for taking on a DAMS, be sure to keep that as your focus as you go through the long-tail process of implementation and ongoing DAMS operation. Document it, post it prominently, and share it with your stakeholders. Remember, this is not a once and done exercise completed when you are first implementing a DAMS—the purpose should drive all decisions throughout the system life cycle. Purpose should have staying power, but may be revisited and revised annually, always keeping value delivery at the forefront.

Companies with
a DAM report:

Improved brand integrity

Improved visibility of asset usage

Better version control and tracking

Better visibility of asset performance

People: The power behind the DAM’s success

The purpose of your DAM system is likely tied to both the needs of your people and the pain points of their roles. The team members who are served by a DAMS usually fall into the following user groups:

  • Content Contributors: your team members who create new digital assets, adding brand and content assets to the DAM system directly
  • End Users: anyone in the organization who can access the DAMS, search and download assets, and create new content using those assets
  • DAM Product Managers & Asset Managers: your team who manages the DAM system and program,  defining rules of the road for the system, ensuring quality and process are maintained, and continually adding new features, content, and users.

It’s important that each of these user groups are considered and connected in the operational model. If any group isn’t on board, the whole DAM implementation can lose effectiveness, suffer in quality, and ultimately prevent widespread adoption. Delivering value to these users should always be a top priority for DAM system decision-making.

Conducting exploratory work with each user group sets a strong foundation for implementation and ongoing operations. Integrating and aligning the people in your organization who manage and use the DAM system to the purpose is the second step in the operating system we recommend. 

Content Contributors

You aren’t pulling assets out of thin air; you need content creators and contributors to develop and add resources to your DAM. But while creating content may be second nature for your contributors, it’s the transition to new asset processes and standards that can be a struggle for some employees.

  • Align the DAM system with the impact these users will receive. If they don’t see the value it will bring them, it can seem like a burden to participate.
  • Develop clarity for their role in the DAM system, plus training that helps them create assets according to DAM standards
  • Include these users when determining the DAM configuration and usage to ensure the system fits their workflows increase buy-in and adoption
  • Create an easy feedback loop and clear channels for handling issues, including IT support for these heavy DAM system users

End Users

Whether internal, external, or blended-it’s the end user groups and downstream apps who pull from your DAM system for use that are expecting an easy and streamlined user experience. The list of people within this group can vary widely in different organizations. For your brand, is everyone in the organization an end user, or is it more specific to certain business units and functions?

No matter how big or small your end user community is, it is critical to help them adapt to anew asset system and adopt new processes for accessing those brand elements they need to support their work.

In general, you’ll want to prioritize the following:

  • Focus on making access and use of the DAM system as simple as possible, paying close attention to common DAM activities like free- form browsing, technical searches, and down load and use rules.
  • Conduct user research early on to understand common use cases for search and browsing needs. You should have a clear understanding of what information and navigational features your end users need to find the right assets and to use them effectively once they are found. We address this fully here, if you’re inter ested in more information.
  • Consider the access needed for applications as well as the data points that need to align for integration. Make sure you have correctly gathered the requirements of these applications so that proper capabilities, rules, and datasets are enabled in the DAM system

DAM Product Managers & Asset Managers

If it’s not clear by now, it’s worth clarifying that DAM systems are not plug-and-play solutions. The need people whose role it is to implement, continually monitor, and mitigate as-needed.

The functional owners of a DAMS are usually some combination of product managers–to configure and manage the application- and asset managers who manage the assets, metadata, and taxonomy. Sometimes this can be achieved by one person, sometimes it is a team. Regardless, don’t expect the systemtorunitself. It depends on the size and scope of your DAM program, and what the breakdown of responsibilities are between user groups.

Consider hiring specific support roles for your DAM system, knowing the need to manage will only increase as you scale the solution. Establish their authority within the sphere of the DAM system, and clearly define how these roles work in conjunction with content creator, end user, and support groups.

We will continue to discuss responsibilities in the next section of a DAM operating system: governance.

Governance: Critical for integrity and quality

Proper governance of your DAM system can enable long-term effectiveness and sustainability. How so? Governance includes your policies and standards that ensure data quality, create an effective user experience, and mitigate risks.  Essentially, it’s a systematic way to maintain the integrity of your DAM system.

There are five main components of DAM governance:

Policy Icon

1. Policies

Policies help maintain system health. You should outline your system policies into at least a few categories:

  • Collection policies: What assets are and aren’t in scope for the DAM? What formats and variations are accepted? What metadata is required upon submission?
  • Curation policies: Are all assets given equal treatment in terms of processing and metadata? What metadata is required prior to making assets accessible to end users?
  • Lifecycle management policy: How long are assets retained in the DAM system? What happens to the asset after it’s removed from the system?
Standards Icon

2. Standards

Standards assist the system’s hygiene and data quality. It’s critical to have standards defined and in place as you implement and operate your DAM system, but it is equally as important to define how to handle changes and updates that are necessary over time.

Consider developing local standards and ongoing review processes for:

  • Metadata: What fields are used and how should they be populated? Are different fields used for different assets?
  • Taxonomy: What terms are used to describe the assets? How do these terms enable navigation through the DAM through search and browse features? How is the taxonomy in the DAM aligned with enterprise taxonomy?
  • Classification and Categorization: This is a subset of taxonomy, but a distinct question: How do you categorize and classify assets so that users can easily understand what is available in the system? How are assets grouped for easy access and proper selection for the use case they are needed for?
Permissions, Rights, and Security Icon

3. Permissions, Rights, and Security

  • Permissions: Who has access to the system? How is access granted? What functionality does each  user group have access to? What assets can each user access in the system? What can they do with them? 
  • Rights: What rights information is tracked in the system? What are the different levels of access rights for various user groups? What data fields are secured to maintain asset integrity? How do you establish rights to a licensed asset?
  • Security: What enterprise security policies and systems govern access to your DAMS?
Roles and Responsibilities Icon

4. Roles and Responsibilities

The user groups we broke out earlier in the people section all should have very clear parameters. It’s critical that all continuous functions of the DAM system are monitored and supported by a specific role function. This means role descriptions that are highly detailed, example based, and likely come with a set of standard processes as well. 

Consider the following:

  • Who is/are the primary business owner(s) who has the authority to make strategic decisions, guide DAM administrators, and continually align the DAM system to business objectives?
  • Who are the domain stewards responsible for tactical steering, decision-making, and planning to enable strategy for different functional, content, or business areas served by the DAMS?
  • How are the responsibilities for the day-to-day operations of the DAM system defined? If multiple people, how are the roles divided?
  • How are responsibilities for asset ingest, organization, tagging, and publication delineated between content contributors and DAM administrators? 

You may opt to divide responsibilities across multiple teams or keep DAM system resources together. However you approach assigning, just make sure the responsibilities are clear.

Issue & Change Management Icon

5. Issue & Change Management

The final component of governance is establishing a protocol for issue tracking and resolution. This should involve the creation of mechanisms and tools your teams can use to identify and prioritize issues, as well as creating pathways that resolve the issue.

Protocols should also be in place for change management. A DAM system is constantly changing, growing, and scaling. How is that process managed? How are milestones planned, tracked, and executed? How are new features validated? How do requests and problems that users report get gathered, ranked, fixed, and reported on? How frequently are new features released? How are they communicated to users? 

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Technology: The DAM software

Let’s revisit that purpose we started with. From your purpose, you can envision what success should look like and what the users need in order to succeed. You also understand how the use of a DAM system aligns with or supports those goals.

What you don’t know is exactly how your DAM system should function to deliver on those goals. This is where technology comes in. Your DAM system should be configured so it can fulfill your purpose of taking on a DAM in the first place.

How you use the technology entirely depends on your business objectives, users, use cases, and the value you want the system to deliver.

Configuring Your System

Once you have your base system, it’s time to configure it for impact. Again, this should be driven by your purpose and usage scenarios for the people who will be using the DAM. Here are seven steps to help you configure your system:

  • For each user group, determine the jobs-to-be-done that the DAM system can help fulfill.  Draft narrative and graphical scenarios that illustrate how those groups expect to interact with the system to fulfill those jobs.
  • Determine how your system can be configured to best address those scenarios.
  • Configure the DAM using approaches that are as simple as possible and as complicated as necessary
  • Validate internal user acceptance by testing with a DAM implementation team.
  • Validate once more with real users.
  • Gather feedback and revise where necessary.
  • Repeat the cycle often to perfect the functional performance and user experience of the DAM system.

When you are starting a new implementation, consider which features are most important to your purpose and users, and roll those out incrementally. Start your configuration with the highest value and biggest impact features and functionality. As you build on more advanced features, such as workflow automation and AI enrichment, take a moment to go back to your purpose and people to ensure implementing these features will create value and impact.

Integrating Your System

Your DAM system shouldn’t be an island—it is most successful when it is connected to other business systems that use and/or deliver your managed assets. But don’t overdo it; integrations can be hard to pull off and should be reserved for only when they have the potential to create the most impact. 

For every integration, consider:

  • What is the expected impact of the integration?
  • What data is being shared?
  • What is the system of record for each type of data?
  • What is the direction of data flow?
  • Who is responsible for setting up the integration?
  • Who will maintain the integration as systems change?

Remember: whatever integrations you do apply, make sure they are aligned with the governance standards you established earlier.

DAM System | Tech Checklist

  • analytics
  • asset display & interaction
  • asset management
  • collaboration & personalization
  • delivery
  • export / exit strategy
  • ingest
  • integrations
  • localization
  • metadata / description
  • asset organization
  • preservation
  • search & browse
  • security
  • taxonomy
  • workflow

Process: Scale and integrate the DAM system

Along with governance, which sets boundaries and guidelines for your DAM system, you must also establish and document processes. Processes can help establish trust and a sense of consistency when working with your DAM system.

Like everything else, the development of your process goes back to purpose and people—the usage scenarios will become workflows, which can then be configured into the system. You can then create documentation that will help enable your users to fulfill them effectively.

When Should You Develop Processes?

We recommend developing a DAM process for all of the following areas to help your users correctly contribute to and utilize the system:

  • Intake and ingest
  • Work-in-progress content development
  • Review and approval
  • Asset organization
  • Asset description/terminology/tagging
  • Asset delivery and quality assurance

What Makes a Successful Process?

Successful processes should be:

  • User-centered and easy to use
  • Clear and simple
  • Able to accommodate reasonable exceptions
  • Well-known among your employees
  • Easily accessible when needed
  • Communicated in such a way that the user understands the downstream impact of their actions in the system.

Note: Many DAM systems already have workflow features that can help you automate processes. But you still have to make the key decisions to configure what the steps are, and who the players are at each stage.

Beyond processes that describe how to use the system, don’t forget processes that are about the system. For example: how are the latest updates communicated, by whom, and at what frequency? Don’t forget, your DAM system needs marketing too.

“With people in place, roles and responsibilities defined, and your DAM system configured, process becomes very important to adoption. quality and trust.”

Measurement: The key to continual DAM improvement

Those goals that are tethered to your purpose should be tracked and measured–that’s the only way you can truly know if your DAM system is delivering the expected impact. That’s why establishing key performance indicators (KPIs) and/or objectives and key results (OKRs) that are tied to ROl benchmarks can help
you stay informed about your success.

How to Determine Baseline Measurements

Determining the ROl around certain metrics, like time savings, requires you to know the baseline of that metric. Using the cost savings example, how much time did users spend looking for an asset before the DAM system was implemented?

Survey your users before implementing your DAM system to understand your typical baseline measurements. Then, you can track improvements with that baseline in mind.

5 Measurements You Should Track

There are plenty of metrics you can track, but which ones should you track? This greatly depends on who you will be reporting to and what they want to know. The metrics an executive sponsor is interested in (increased business value) are likely different from what middle managers care about (increased efficiency and productivity amongst their teams). KPIs should be established according to the outcomes expected by each key stakeholder.

In addition to tracking ROl according to your KPls for stakeholders, DAM managers are going to want to ensure the system is performing well as it scales, that the right people are using the DAMS, that users are finding what they need, and that time to delivery is increasing. Here are five metrics that we suggest keeping track of.

System capacity & health: Monitoring the footprint of the infrastructure to understand what scale it can support. This may involve measuring:

  • Storage used
  • Number of assets
  • Assets uploaded during set time periods
  • Concurrent users

Content: Helping you know how to organize and describe assets so they can be easily found and used. Consider:

  • Most commonly used search terms
  • Most commonly used browse terms
  • Classification performance

Asset performance: Understanding what kind of content is performing well (which may guide future content creation). You may look at:

  • Assets viewed
  • Assets downloaded
  • Assets shared/saved
  • Asset usage purpose
  • Where an asset has been used before

Users: Which type of people are using your system (and how many)? You likely want to understand usage at both department and business unit levels. You might start by looking at:

  • Number of users
  • Logins per user
  • Downloads per user

Requests: Requests signify where people are getting stuck and/or need additional help. This analysis may reveal how you can help users self-serve more easily.


  • Reference requests (difficulty finding assets)
  • upport requests and tickets (bugs and other technical issues)

Ensure that the outcome of tracking and reporting isn’t just analytics theater or leading to analysis paralysis – your governance structure should provide mechanisms to derive insights from measurement, make decisions, and take action.

Qualitative Measurement

In addition to quantitative measurement, you should also routinely gather qualitative feedback from users. Conduct regular user testing sessions to test that the system is meeting users’ expectations. Implement mechanisms that deliver regular feedback that you can use to gather specific and actionable feedback.

Culture: The driving force of your DAM program

If purpose is the core of your DAMS implementation, culture is the driving force. This is because DAMS implementation is most successful when its value is understood by everyone in the enterprise. 

The best way to spread awareness? Embedding it into your culture, which in turn develops the behavior of your employees. 

Here are some examples of how culture can be integrated into each of the previous six components of DAM implementation:

  • Purpose: A culture of commitment to not use technology for technology’s sake but to solve business problems.
  • People: A culture of reliance and trust—DAM systems can’t run on their own, and your people should develop a culture of trust to encourage others to do their part (with support and oversight from dedicated DAM administrators).
  • Governance: A culture of “our data, not my data,” helping decision-making change for the better.
  • Process: A culture of simplicity, clear and transparent communication, and training and documentation (you care how things are done and that they are done correctly).
  • Technology: A culture of forward-thinking where users are at the forefront to implement features and configurations that have the most impact.
  • Measurement: A culture of goal setting and tracking with a commitment to continuous improvement.

Download the PDF

Download Self Assessment

It’s Time for Some DAM Success

If you read this operational guide fully, you are well on your way to improving your DAM system. Keep this in mind: reading and learning are always easier than execution. Bookmark this page, come back often through your journey, and keep returning to your purpose when you feel overwhelmed.

We recommend evaluating your DAM system’s operational health on a cyclical basis. The DAM will continually be asked to solve new problems, support new users and new types of assets. The DAM OM framework that we’ve shared is meant to help ensure you have a continuous process of DAM operational success.

We’ve helped a lot of big companies successfully integrate DAMS. Often, we act as a guide along the road of uncertainty, helping to support a positive experience for your teams.

Aligning Our Purpose, Messaging, and Branding

22 August 2022

Over the past 9 months or so AVP has been working with the superstar team over at Parisleaf on an effort to refine our messaging and branding. If you had asked me prior to beginning this process what I thought it would be like I might have thought it would be building from the ground up. Or perhaps just figuring out how to communicate more clearly. However, as a 15 year old company I think the process may be more akin to chiseling at a large stone to reveal the underlying figure. It was a painstaking process that consisted of shedding some things, finely shaping others, rounding off rough edges, making tough decisions, and making commitments. It was a difficult, albeit rewarding process.

We went through this process rather than just building a new website because at 15 years old we knew we needed more than just a new coat of paint. We needed to do some more serious reflection, renovation, and updating. In order to do our most impactful work and deliver the most value to our clients, we needed to understand, articulate, and deliver on what we do best – and do more of it.

Our aim is to take the outcomes of this introspective process and create the flywheel:

  • Be clear within ourselves about what we do best and where our passion lies
  • Clearly articulate verbally and visually what we do best and where our passion lies
  • Attract an audience to whom we can deliver greater value and impact than anyone else out there 
  • Build and innovate on what we do best and where our passion lies, maintaining our advantage and competitive edge

And so, with this intent, you will see that we have refined/new messaging, logo, website, and of course, some really good swag.

So, what did we come up with? You can see the visual changes throughout the site, and we will explain more about the logo below. Our new colors have been selected to represent our organization’s attributes. These are:

  • Professional & Accomplished
  • Future-Forward & Imaginative
  • Dynamic & Energetic

We can also now better articulate why we exist:

We help clients to maximize the value of their digital assets.

If you don’t know what they are, 

if they can’t be found, 

if they can’t be used effectively, 

if they’re damaged or lost, 

if they’re disconnected from other systems, 

then they aren’t creating value. 

And, if they’re badly managed, 

they’re an expensive overhead and a liability. 

Because data isn’t valuable until you can do something with it.

And share our purpose:

Your digital assets have extraordinary potential. 

Our purpose is to maximize their value through the innovation of information ecosystems.

And describe how we fulfill our purpose:

We connect humans and data. In collaboration with our clients, we create complete ecosystems for managing data that are designed around how their teams actually work and think.

Our value comes from our diverse perspectives. To see value and opportunities in data, you have to see things from different angles. We’re a forward-thinking team of cross-disciplinary experts working across a wide range of industries, so we know how to work with data in unique ways for different clients. 

Since 2006, we’ve been helping clients pinpoint their true vision and reach their goals. Instead of generic solutions, we actively listen to your needs and focus on opportunities that bring about beneficial change. We’re experts at challenging organizations to see the bigger picture, to understand where they are on their digital journey, and to navigate their next steps.

Our new logo represents this.

There are multiple meaningful elements within this logo:

We meet our customers where they are.

We look at the big picture.

We bring a clarifying spark.

We guide.

We know that there will be a lot of questions about our updates and we look forward to talking with our peeps about them. Meanwhile, we have anticipated some specific questions about what our rebranding means, and have created the FAQ below.


Your new website seems to focus on digital asset management. Does this mean that you don’t offer services focused on digital preservation or collection management anymore?

No. We believe that digital asset management is a concept that encapsulates everything we do.  Sometimes when we use the term we are literally referring to digital asset management systems (i.e., DAMS), but as a concept, it also encompasses digital preservation, collection management, data management, metadata management, and more. These data are digital assets to your organization—we help you realize their value.

Do you still offer software development? I no longer see it under the services offered.

Through our reflection we had a couple of insights into how we talk about the services we offer.

First, we are not a consulting and software company. We are an information innovation firm. What does that mean? It means that we have a cross-disciplinary team of experts that maximize the value of digital assets through the innovation of information ecosystems. This team of subject matter experts consult, advise, develop, engineer, and more. The titles many of our peeps have consist of some version of Consultant and Software Engineer. We all focus on, are experienced within, and are experts in the domain of digital asset management.

Second, our continued software engineering contributions will be in support of digital asset management projects and prototypes. For instance, we will use software engineering when performing data migration, system integration, metadata cleanup, workflow automation, AI evaluation, and more. We will also use software engineering to build prototypes and proof of concept applications focused on digital asset management practice that will either be handed off to another entity to turn into a production system or will have otherwise served its purpose and be shut down.

What we won’t do moving forward is build production systems that require ongoing maintenance, support, and an entirely different infrastructure and operations to sustain. They are very different animals and operations. This approach and focus maximizes the value and impact that AVP can deliver and leaves the rest to others who can deliver maximum value and impact in those areas.

Does your focus on digital asset management mean that you are a DAM provider now?

When most people use the term DAM they are thinking of a software product/platform. We intentionally use the phrase digital asset management instead of DAM because we are 1) not a product/platform, and 2) we are referring to the broader practice of digital asset management, encompassing purpose, people, governance, process, technology, and measurement. We offer services focused on this holistic perspective of digital asset management practice.

Why did you remove products from your website? What has happened to your products?

We strongly believe in our products and know that they have been significant contributions to the communities we serve. We found that having both services and products on the website created confusion. People weren’t sure if we offered services or products and wondered what the relationship between our services and products were. Therefore we decided that wearavp.com will be focused on the services we offer. Paid AVP products like Aviary and Fixity Pro would best be represented by having their own independent websites. Products that have been developed by AVP for customers like embARC and ADCTest are best represented by those customers and the associated GitHub accounts. And finally, some products like MDQC, Catalyst, and Exactly will either remain available without support on GitHub or will be sunsetted.

Why did you keep the same name?

We actually set out to create a new name for AVP as part of this endeavor and we went through a process that required a great deal of time, energy, and thought. We arrived at a decision that, despite the cons of our name (not memorable, bad for SEO, etc.), redefining the name rather than changing it offered more pros and just felt right.

So, what does it stand for? Well, it stands for multiple things in different contexts. To name a few: Ambitious Vibrant People, Abundant Vantage Points, and Ample Value Proposition. You will see these sprinkled throughout our new website.

To Build a Successful DAM Program, Adopt a Service Mindset

25 August 2021

Kara_Crop-1Kara Van Malssen is Partner and Managing Director for Services at AVP.  Kara works with clients to bridge the technical, human, and business aspects of projects. Kara has supported numerous organizations with DAM selection and implementation, metadata modeling and schema development, and taxonomy development, and user experience design efforts.

[Read more]

People-Centered Media Asset Management at National Geographic Society [Webinar Recording]

28 June 2021

Understanding how content creators and Media Asset Management (MAM) users think, behave, and view the world can help create critical building blocks that translate into a powerful MAM user experience. To chart your course toward managerial success, it’s equally important to identify the goals of the MAM as well.

Our Media Asset Management consulting work with the National Geographic Society (NatGeo or NGS) illustrates how understanding the difference between the thinking, behavior, and worldview of content creators and MAM users translates to asset management of the grandest proportions.

Illuminating the World with MAM

The NGS’s primary mission is to illuminate and protect the wonder of our world. For decades their primary method for doing so was with their world-famous magazine, sharing images and written stories about the miraculous cultures, species, and wonders of our natural world. 

Today, ever in tune with the modern digital age, the NGS now shares those images and stories through its website, social media platforms, and television programs. 

However, this variety in publication means they need an ironclad method for managing all of their media content and assets—especially when the NGS supports between 700-800 explorers every year. And thanks to AVP’s asset management expertise and experience, the NGS MAM system can grow to support as many explorers as they need.

The NGS’s Media Asset Management system works as the bridge between those field explorers documenting what the world has to offer and the eyes and hearts of the people. With terabytes upon terabytes of assets to manage, a MAM helps NGS’s content creators sift through their database to find the materials they need to tell their stories.

Selection and Description of Assets

After exploring potential solutions to the NGS’s problems, AVP helped the NGS identify two primary concerns with their Media Asset Management system: Selection and description. These pain points were based on the experience of the content creators who use the system the most, helping us identify the correct Media Asset Management tools we needed to employ.

Selection, in this case, refers to the ability to curate digital media assets before they even make it into the MAM system. Since the NGS manages assets from hundreds of sources every year, this curation process is imperative for its ability to ensure that the assets in the MAM align with the scope of what the MAM is intended to support. This results in more effective management and ultimately a better user experience. 

Description largely refers to the creation and application of metadata— information that helps users search and discover relevant assets with efficiency and quality.

These two concepts, among others, were identified and addressed through multiple AVP service offerings, helping the NGS successfully launch their MAM and meet the needs of their stakeholders that are creating, managing, and using digital media assets.

Learn from the Experts

At AVP, we practice user-centered approaches to cultivate successful MAM programs. By focusing on the user experience, AVP better ensures that whether or not we help you select your MAM, that the MAM you have serves your needs, goals, and objectives as effectively as possible.

Want the full picture of the National Geographic Society’s MAM program? In this webinar, AVP Managing Director of Consulting and MAM expert Kara Van Malssen is joined by our clients Angela Sanders and Jorge Alvarenga of National Geographic Society to share how people-centered thinking is innovating how NGS is building and managing their MAM program. 

Enjoy the webinar (with searchable transcripts) in the embedded player below or hosted in the Aviary platform.

[Read more]

Designing a User-driven DAM Experience, Part 1

9 April 2021

To the user, a digital asset management (DAM) or similar system is only as good as the search and discovery experience.

If users are greeted with a homepage that they can’t relate to, if searches don’t return expected results, and if they can’t figure out how to use the navigational tools to browse, they get frustrated and leave. Many will never return.


DAM and similar systems exist to help people find assets they are looking for and use them effectively. Getting the search and discovery experience right is the key to adoption.

To design a system for findability, you have to start with the building blocks: metadata, taxonomy, and information architecture. To translate these into a good search and discovery experience, you have to learn how your users see the world.

[Read more]

Designing a User-driven DAM Experience, Part 2

15 April 2021

Kara Van Malssen

[Read more]

Designing a User-driven DAM Experience, Part 3

15 April 2021

Kara Van Malssen

[Read more]

Manage Your DAM Expectations

8 April 2020

Or, how getting a DAMS is like buying and owning a home


[Read more]

AVP Tips to Manage Your DAM Expectations Video

2 July 2020

AVP DAM System Specialists Kara Van Malssen and Kerri Willette talk through tips on how to manage expectations during a DAMS launch. The tips are from a recent AVP blog post Manage Your DAM Expectations and based on Van Malssen’s white paper Scenario Planning for a Successful DAM Journey.

[Read more]

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