Guru Call: DAM Meetup – Mumbai, India

Looking for DAM Guru Program members who are interested in joining a DAM Meetup that covers the Mumbai, Thane, Kalyan areas of India.

Interested members should connect with their program manager. Your information will be passed on to the DGP member who is looking to organize this DAM Meetup.

Reminder, you must be a DGP member for your information to be shared with the inquiring member.


Guru Call: DAM Meetup – Grand Rapids, MI

USA FlagLooking for DAM Guru Program members who are interested in joining a DAM Meetup that covers the Grand Rapids, Holland, Muskegon areas of Michigan.

Interested members should connect with their program manager. Your information will be passed on to the DGP member who is looking to organize this DAM Meetup.

Reminder, you must be a DGP member for your information to be shared with the inquiring member.


Guru Call: DAM Meetup – Seattle, WA

USA FlagLooking for DAM Guru Program members who are interested in joining a Seattle, WA DAM Meetup.

Interested members can respond via the comments section or let their program manager know.

Your information will be passed on to the DGP member who is looking to organize this DAM Meetup.

Reminder, you must be a DGP member for your information to be shared.


Using DAM Guru Program to start a DAM Meetup

Looking to start a digital asset management Meetup in your area? DAM Guru Program can connect you with others nearby who are interested in doing the same.

Some of the benefits of getting a DAM Meetup going include:

  • Meet others in your area who share your interest in DAM
  • Conduct in-person educational sessions without the expense of trade shows
  • Establish a local Meetup chapter that isn’t under the control of any commercial interests

DAM Guru Program encourages its members to connect with one another via Meetups because we believe facetime and ongoing educational focus are good for building a stronger DAM community. Meetups are local, recurring and, best of all, free, so everyone can attend.

Digital asset management Meetups that are already active are listed here. There’s a button at the top you can use to start your own.

If you’d first like to connect with some other DAM people in your area, contact your DAM Guru Program manager. If you’re not yet a member of DAM Guru Program, you can get started by using the form on this page. Membership and all related services are always free of charge.

Here’s a group to keep an eye on no matter where you are:

Guru Call: USA

USA FlagLooking for a Guru in Tampa Bay, FL. Member seeking some advice on digital asset management best practices.

DGP member’s inquiry is regarding creating new policies for naming conventions, taxonomy, keywords and tags. They are also curious about migration of data.

Available DAM Guru members who are able to help may reach out to their program manager for more details.

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Guru Talk: Matthew Patulski – DAM Professional

Matthew Patulski - DAM ProfessionalMatthew knows building a user culture after launch is key to really making a DAM implementation successful. He shares his three-part approach to this.

What companies/organizations have you worked for as a DAM professional? What was your role at each?

My Digital Asset Management experience began at Capgemini in 2008 as the DAM Solution Manager for Capgemini’s Global Marketing and Communications team, a distributed team of 700 persons in 40 countries enabling 140,000 consultants, subject matter experts, and sales professionals.

To identify our specific needs for DAM, I conducted solution discovery process, which provided us with a business case and project plan for an Enterprise-wide DAM solution. The initial focus of our DAM was to drive branding consistency while addressing delivery challenges being experienced by our marketing and sales teams with our nascent B2B video program.

Once we launched, feedback from online surveys, training sessions, 1:1 meetings, and support requests were all used to programmatically integrate DAM into marketing team processes.

How do you describe digital asset management to others?

For a lot of people, Digital Asset Management is a solution that they may not be familiar with by name, but will understand once you start explaining the concepts behind it. Practically speaking, a DAM is a library of your media assets built to your specifications. Leveraging Digital Asset Management drives consistent brand and content strategies because assets are clearly organized and accessible. DAM delivers ROI through the reuse and repurposing of existing content in new ways.

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

I came to be a DAM Solution Manager out of necessity—DAM was the best way for us to deliver heavy assets like video to a global distributed team. Throughout my time in this role, I drew upon my previous workplace experiences in agencies, pulling the best practices and learned lessons from how each team would organize its content to suit their needs. The DAM field was smaller 8 years ago than it is now, so I spent a lot of time scouring online articles and whatever thought leadership I could find from the application developers of the day.

If I were starting now, I would begin with a great book called ‘Digital Asset Management: Content Architectures, Project Management, and Creating Order out of Media Chaos’ by Elizabeth Ferguson Keathley. Take a look at for DAM and content strategy groups in your area. Also check out the Henry Stewart DAM Conferences which are very good for gaining new knowledge and a chance to network with national-level peers.

What’s the most important thing for someone new to DAM to understand about DAM?

Digital Asset Management is just one of many tools in your kit. You need to know why you want to leverage DAM as part of your workflow landscape. Before researching the technologies, understand your organization’s culture and how your team goes about creating and organizing potential assets. From there, think about how DAM can solve the challenges in your organization when used as part of your workflows through integrations with other communication and content creation tools.

What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?

Building a user culture after launch. Having the right technology in place is important. But to really make DAM implementation successful, a three-part approach is needed:

  1. Identify your power users. They can help evangelize and council their colleagues on how to get most out of DAM and give them the content and support need to do it even better.
  2. Build reporting around keyword usage, asset types, record creation, and download activity to see where content generation and interest occurs within your user community. Where you see clusters happening, approach those teams and learn more about what is peaking their activity and discuss how DAM can support and expand it.
  3. Run user surveys to identify pain points and feature requests. These can be integrated into a solution roadmap that you can make part of your budget cycle and validate with your stakeholders to mature your DAM offering.

What is your vision for DAM? What will it look like in 5 years?

Successful DAM solutions will see the mainstreaming of application ecosystems to support many different physical and digital outcomes. Designers will be able to easily work with creative software suites from within the DAM and be able to save their files while they work and collaborate from within the solution. Publishers will be leveraging historical archives and establishing ‘Create Once, Publish Everywhere’ or COPE workflows, supported by open standards, APIs, and application-specific integrations. This approach will require more sophisticated connections from DAM to web analytic tools for effective reporting on content usage, social media shares, and lead generation.

What was your biggest success with regard to DAM?

Making DAM invisible to the go-to-market delivery of marketing materials by leveraging APIs to integrate the Capgemini’s DAM solution into the organization’s go-to-market workflows. Here are 2 examples:

  1. First by leveraging the DAM API to allow a CMS pull an XML feed into the application and populate content. The DAM is searchable through the CMS, allowing a video to be embedded using the CMS’ HTML5 video player. The page editor does not know the file is residing on a Amazon Web Services server, they just insert the content they need and continue on with their editorial workflow. We started offering this an option in 2012. By 2014, 325K video impressions were made on the Capgemini intranet.
  2. Secondly, accessing an external API to push DAM content into social media. For example, we integrated YouTube’s API with our DAM to make the delivery go-to-market video content as seamless and painless as possible. Capgemini’s video approval process was already leveraging the DAM application to manage content and legal sign off with stakeholders. This was a logical conclusion to our existing processes. To drive consistency, we mine the title, description and keyword of the DAM record in the publishing process and a YouTube URL is written back to the DAM record. In 2014, 400 videos were published on YouTube averaging over 1000 views each—which is really good in a niche marketing space like B2B technology services.

Would you like to be a DAM Guru Program featured DAM professional? Signup now (for free) or contact your DAM Guru Program manager.

  Category: DGP Member Interviews
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Guru Talk: Michelle Adams – Triad Retail Media

Michelle Adams - Digital Asset ManagerMichelle knows that a successful DAM requires understanding the perspective of the stakeholders. Those who use it daily will ultimately determine the system’s success and adoption rate.

What companies/organizations have you worked for as a DAM professional? What was your role at each?

I work for Triad Retail Media. We sell, manage and execute Digital Retail Media programs on websites, mobile devices and in-store TVs — in fact, on any Digital Retail Platform targeting consumers. In the last couple of years, we have been expanding globally with offices in the UK, Germany, Netherlands and Australia.

My role as Digital Asset Manager was to find a DAM system that would meet the growing needs of our company, and help with the challenges of collecting large files (print, web, video, audio, etc.) from our clients so that our creative teams, internal and remote, can collaborate and build world-class engaging designs to meet our clients needs to drive sales while keeping their assets secure so that we do not breach our non-disclosure agreements. I was responsible for:

  • spearheading the search for the DAM,
  • leading an internal and outsourced team to collect the assets,
  • working with the DAM vendor and our IT team to customize the DAM to meet our companies needs,
  • determining permissions, taxonomy, metadata attributes,
  • tying-in a custom delivery portal for our clients so that they could drop off files directly into a specified folder within the DAM that would trigger an email to stakeholders that assets have arrived,
  • ingesting the assets from our drives into the new DAM,
  • creating the training docs and train all internal and external end users on the new DAM, and
  • working with the stakeholders to update and improve the process documentation to streamline and incorporate the new DAM.

How do you describe digital asset management to others?

A secure repository for all of your assets, (copy docs, video files, audio files, lifestyle imagery, working files and final artwork, banner and page builds), all in one place where they can be easily searched, shared, tracked and repurposed throughout the company and across the globe. Think of it as a virtual library that can be accessed through a secure login through your browser and you can add the items to your cart and quickly download them or send them to others you are collaborating with on any project.

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

I knew about DAMs through my research for a tool that would meet our company’s needs and through using our clients DAMs when they asked us to search and download items from their sites. Through working with others DAMs, I learned what wasn’t working for them and what systems would not meet the needs of our company. When we decided on a system, I studied all of the documentation from the vendor and did extensive testing of the system to see what would work out-of-the box and what would need to be customized in order to meet my company’s needs and the way we work. DAM Survival Guide has been instrumental in my understanding of DAM principles and framework.

What’s the most important thing for someone new to DAM to understand about DAM?

It is important that you sit down with the stakeholders (the end users of the DAM) and understand how they intend to use the system. Only by understanding everyone’s role and needs (internal users and external users) will you be able to make sure that the system is customized to meet their needs. Rarely is a DAM ready for use out-of-the box. You will need to do some customization or tweaking so that it will perform the way your end users will be expecting it to perform.

If you weren’t doing DAM as a career, what would you be doing?

Probably something in IT—I love computers and learning new technologies and helping others learn new ways to make their jobs easier.

What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?

Getting end users to not be afraid to try a new tool and instead embrace the DAM as something that will help them find things easier, faster and allow them to track content and the contracts associated with them. Also, to get them to understand the concept of virtual folders and that fewer folders are better than too many, and that metadata is your friend and can help you search easier than a multitude of nested folders.

What is your vision for DAM? What will it look like in 5 years?

I would like it to be more than a repository. I would like for the designers to be able to easily work with creative software suites from within the DAM and be able to save their files while they work and collaborate from within the system. I would also like for there to be a way to send those files securely for approvals and feedback from within the system so that the client can markup and provide feedback directly on the files without them being able to download or email feedback separately. The current system requires 3rd party plugins and is not as secure as it needs to be.

What was your biggest mistake with regard to DAM?

Listening to the concerns of some of the end users who wanted a lot of folders. Because of this, I had to redo the taxonomy multiple times so that it would not overtax the DAM. The final structure was much more streamlined and intuitive and easier to use.

What was your biggest success with regard to DAM?

Working with the vendor to create a “blind delivery portal” for our external clients so that we could send out a secure link to multiple clients working on a single project and they could upload their files easily without being able to see anything within the DAM. Thus keeping our client’s assets secure and our company safe from breach of contract worries.

What more would you like to learn about DAM?

Everything. I want to learn as much as I can so that I can continue to make sure that it becomes an intuitive tool that is easy to use for everyone, meets the company and clients business needs and becomes something that everyone is eager to use and talk about with others.

Would you like to be a DAM Guru Program featured DAM professional? Signup now (for free) or contact your DAM Guru Program manager.

  Category: DGP Member Interviews
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DAM Ready Reference


Librarian Tips for DAM Managers

DAM Ready Reference

by Deb Fanslow, MLIS

Often, DAM professionals are the sole information managers at the helm within an organization, tasked with ingesting, cataloging, managing, securing, distributing, preserving, and providing access to a collection of digital assets. This involves juggling a multitude of responsibilities, some of which are centered around designing and maintaining the information architecture of a DAM system:

  • Designing and maintaining metadata schemas
  • Developing taxonomies and controlled vocabularies
  • Customizing search functionality
  • Designing, configuring, and developing user interfaces

Digital asset management also involves many behind-the-scenes administrative tasks that are essential to keeping a DAM system well oiled and running, such as:

  • Curating, cataloging, and managing digital assets throughout the digital asset lifecycle
  • Developing, monitoring, and customizing workflows
  • Monitoring, reporting, and analyzing DAM system statistics
  • Creating and maintaining user accounts and permissions
  • System maintenance (upgrades, bug fixes, upgrades, testing, patches, rebuilds, etc.)
  • Planning and overseeing system customizations and integrations

Of course, beyond customizing and maintaining the DAM system and its information architecture, there’s also the not so trivial responsibility of determining and meeting user’s needs, including:

  • Creating, documenting, and reviewing policies and procedures
  • Providing technical support
  • Developing and delivering training programs
  • Designing web portals for internal and/or external user access
  • User testing and feedback

Last but certainly not least, there’s the DAM program itself and the requisite ongoing planning, responsibilities, and maintenance that cannot be neglected, such as:

  • Governance (metadata, taxonomy, workflow, rights management, distribution, storage, etc.)
  • Digital preservation (asset integrity, storage management, disaster planning, etc.)
  • Program management (strategic planning, staffing, budgeting, etc.)
  • Advocacy and promotion campaigns

With this wide range of responsibilities on the digital asset manager’s plate, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. When faced with a DAM challenge, where’s a digital asset manager to turn? If you’re lucky, you can consult with a librarian, archivist, records manager, knowledge manager, or other information professional on staff who may be able to help you with burning questions such as:

  • So many metadata standards, so little time…which fields do I really need?
  • How can I integrate our enterprise taxonomy with my DAM system’s search platform?
  • What steps can I take to best preserve my company’s digital assets for the long term?

However, if you’re the only person steering the DAM ship (or you just want to extend your personal learning network), another option is to tap into the knowledge base of those who have experience dealing with the management of digital collections and thorny information management challenges…the Library and Information Science (LIS) community.

First, the good news: the LIS community maintains a longstanding culture of sharing and publishing research, case studies, best practices, and lessons learned throughout its 50+ year history of information management (built upon knowledge organizational principles dating back to antiquity). Over the past two decades, a significant body of knowledge related to curating and managing digital asset collections has been amassed and published within the library, archival, and museum communities. Now for the bad news: not all of this information is freely available. Due to the longstanding publishing and tenure models within the scholarly community, access to a large portion of LIS knowledge sits secured behind scholarly database walls. However, thankfully there are many passionate info pros who also freely disseminate their wisdom on the web, just ripe for the picking.

Exploring the Virtual Reference Shelf

Below are links to some of my favorite free resources created by info pros who are involved with digital asset management within the public, private, and nonprofit sectors:

General DAM resources

DAM implementation


  • Metadata (Marcia Lei Zeng, 2011): this website is an online textbook companion, which is worth browsing for its comprehensive reading lists and appendices of resources.
  • Cultural Objects Digitization Planning: Metadata (Janice L. Eklund, 2012): if you’re planning an image digitization project, consult this guide from the Visual Resources Association to learn about questions to consider, minimal metadata requirements, and best practices.
  • FADGI Guidelines: this set of guidelines from the Feds includes frameworks, methodologies, and technical recommendations for digitizing still images and audiovisual works.
  • Video metadata modeling for DAM systems (Tom Bachmann, 2010): this article provides thorough and detailed coverage of metadata schema design for video.
  • Descriptive Metadata in the Music Industry: Why It Is Broken And How to Fix It (Tony Brooke, 2014): this comprehensive report identifies the need for descriptive metadata standards specific to the music industry, along with a proposed metadata schema standard.


  • Taxonomy Fundamentals Workshop (Marjorie M.K. Hlava, 2013): this presentation covers taxonomy basics, how to leverage and access taxonomies, and relevant standards to be aware of.
  • Using a Taxonomy for Your Database or Website: A Look Behind the Scenes (Marjorie M.K. Hlava, 2013): this brief article balances technical information with well placed visuals to describe how taxonomies and thesauri are stored and associated within various types of databases.
  • Taxonomies in Search (Marjorie M.K. Hlava, 2011): if you’re looking to learn more about how information retrieval works and how taxonomy drives effective search, look no further.
  • Success Factors in Building an Enterprise Taxonomy (Stephanie Lemieux, 2014): this brief article lists several factors to consider before embarking on your next enterprise taxonomy project.
  • What is Facet Analysis? (Ian Matzen, 2014): if you need to create a faceted classification system, this brief article presents a good introduction, along with examples and informative references.
  • Taxonomy Bootcamp: for the past couple of years, presentations from this conference have been available for free online. Get ‘em while they’re hot!

Digital preservation

Reference services

User Experience (UX)

Semantic Web

  • Linked Data for Libraries (OCLC, 2012): Got 15 minutes? Although this video is presented within the context of sharing bibliographic data, most of the concepts and visuals are universally applicable.
  • Linked Data: Evolving the Web into a Global Data Space* (Tom Heath & Christian Bizer, 2011):
    This free eBook provides a brief explanation of the concepts behind the Semantic Web and Linked Data, then progresses quickly into a highly detailed technical introduction.

*Although the following resources are not free, they are worthy of mention here. There are many additional books in the Synthesis Lectures on the Semantic Web: Theory and Technology series that are worth exploring, as well as those in the Information Concepts, Retrieval, and Services series. For those interested in the history, concepts, and implementation of taxonomies, I strongly recommend Marjorie M.K. Hlava’s Taxobook series.

Going Underground

Now for some tips on discovering more elusive gems from within the academic LIS community. If you’re willing to spend a little time digging, you can always partake in one of my favorite activities…mining resources offered through DAM related academic courses and professional communities. It’s like being a student without the interminable loans and tests! Here are some tactics that have proven effective for unearthing all sorts of educational jewels:

  • Examine a few syllabi for DAM related courses and topics, and you will often be rewarded with links to seminal research articles, recommended reading, blogs, conferences, presentations, and more. This can also be an excellent way to quickly profile and monitor DAM related topics, as well as identify relevant researchers, industry leaders, publications, terminology, issues, and challenges. Over time, you can even discover trends within the disciplines and fields themselves (assuming the institution you’re researching updates their curricula frequently in response to industry demands). Here are some of my favorite sources to start with:
  • Discover pearls of DAM wisdom within scholarly hubs and open access publications such as:
  • Take advantage of free or low cost DAM related resources and education available through LIS organizations, including:
    • ASIS&T (Association for Information Science and Technology)
    • LITA (Library and Information Technology Association)
    • SAA (Society of American Archivists)
    • AMIA (Association of Moving Image Archivists)
    • MCN (Museum Computer Network)
    • SPECTRUM DAM Resources (Collections Trust)
    • VRA (Visual Resources Association)
  • And of course, don’t forget about national libraries, many of which are involved in setting standards and best practices, exploring emerging technologies, and sharing educational resources.

Whether you work alone as a DAM Superhero or as part of a DAM team, the practice of digital asset management presents many universal challenges across all industries, as well as more specific strategies and solutions that can likely be adapted within diverse environments. When you’re faced with your next DAM challenge, don’t reinvent the wheel…leverage the collective intelligence of the entire DAM community!

About Deb Fanslow

Deb has over 7 years of experience in information management within the library, museum, and education fields. She specializes in Digital Asset Management (DAM), which is informed by working in the trenches for 13 years as a graphic designer within the publishing industry. She participates in the DAM industry as a Board Member of the DAM Foundation, the founder and head curator of The DAM Directory, and a co-organizer of the NYC DAM Meetup. Deb is a contributing writer for DAM News, and has also worked behind the scenes on various DAM educational initiatives, including DAM Guru Program and the #LearnDAM initiative.

Deb has been a DAM Guru Program member since February, 2014. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

Read more from the “Librarian Tips for DAM Managers” DAM Guru Program series »

LearnDAM-Logo-75x75DAM Guru Program recognizes this article as worthy of the #LearnDAM designation for materials that provide genuine digital asset management education without sales agendas. Search #LearnDAM on Google for more materials.

Guru Call: USA

USA FlagLooking for a Guru in Chicago, IL. Member seeking some advice on digital asset management industry.

DGP member’s inquiry is about how an MLIS degree could help them advance a potential DAM career. Looking to speak to those who have an MLIS and have achieved a position as a DAM manager in the industry.

Available DAM Guru members who are able to help may reach out to their program manager for more details.

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Best DAM Practices: A Digital Asset Management Philosophy

By Adam N. Hess, MFA | MLIS Echoing

David Diamond in his kick-off article for this series, although it is now possible to learn DAM on the job with software and new technologies, simply “managing a DAM doesn’t make one an information professional.” Those who are successful in DAM are embedded in the culture, aware of the values and trends, and able to digest and incorporate all that information into sound management of their own system. In other words, successful DAM implementation is not just reliant on the software or hardware used, but on developing a strong organizational philosophy on digital asset management. The components of DAM best practices are in many ways philosophical. Taken together, this series, Librarian Tips for DAM Managers, presents a strong foundation for developing a DAM philosophy that will be effective for your institution. The information and advice comes from seasoned information professionals with their own philosophical approaches to DAM, shaped by years of experience and contemplation. There is no one official guide or book on DAM management; there are many, and this is a good thing. Perhaps the best practice is to consume multiple resources to develop a well informed ideology for your DAM that is not pigeonholed into any one policy, standard or solution. It is more important that your DAM fits with your organization and mission, rather than into an existing model. Not all approaches are the same, and not all advice is applicable; but there are several common philosophical themes that tie DAM best practices together.

Librarians understand assets

In her article earlier in this series, Linda Rouse said it best: “Librarians understand assets.” Archiving and creating access to assets is part of every librarian’s philosophy. Hiring a librarian for your DAM project is wise; but preferably you want a librarian with cataloging and database experience, since not all librarians understand the intricacies involved in cataloging or user interfaces. As other articles in this series have addressed, metadata and controlled vocabularies are no quick venture. Cataloging a wide variety of assets is something librarians do well, as they are experienced in everything from evaluating and incorporating standards to updating existing schemas. It is rare to find a librarian with strong IT experience, but experience with databases and applications management is also essential. Understanding how applications work, being able to configure your tools, and being able to communicate with the vendor are essential to keeping your DAM alive. Content housed in a DAM is not any more useful than information spread across hundreds of CD-Rs. Therefore, intellectual value needs to be added to the assets in the DAM, whether it is in the form of metadata and controlled vocabularies, or application and user interface customization. Librarians are well prepared to add this essential value needed to make your DAM really dynamic. Further evidence that the philosophy within librarianship fits well with DAM can be found in one of the discipline standards. The Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL), the professional organization for thousands of academic librarians, publishes the Information Literacy Framework, a guideline for information literacy instruction at the university level. This framework has been around for about fifteen years, with a few iterations, and this latest one is perhaps the most progressive. Of note is Frame #3: Information has value. While this framework was designed for college students, the overarching concepts fit many industries and settings. Outside the library, DAM initiatives are almost always centered on the concept that a company’s digital assets have value that needs to respected, preserved, and made accessible to the best of their abilities. That concept has been embedded in librarian philosophy for as long as there have been libraries, and further proves why you need a librarian to run your DAM.

What Do You Want To Do?

A common question librarians will ask patrons when a vague reference inquiry comes to their desk is, What are you really looking for? In librarianship, it is well documented that a patron’s initial reference question is usually not their actual research question. To get to the real request, the librarian must dig in and ask a lot of questions on what the patron is trying to research and what he or she is trying to do. Only after investigating a bit will the reference librarian get to the heart of the research inquiry. This step in the reference process is crucial to moving forward in the right direction. It follows, then, that before any RFP (Request for Proposal), before any software or hardware considerations, and before any full DAM committee meetings, the organization must ask themselves what they want to do with digital asset management. Just as with the reference interview, this step is essential before anything else can happen. This is that big philosophical moment where you ask those deep questions – Who are we? What do we want to do? Where are we going? – before drilling down into specifics, like investigating software packages or planning your metadata schema. Do you want to centralize all digital assets into one location in an effort to reduce duplications and redundancies? What assets will be included or not included? Do you need to create a job-ticketing module or integrate into an existing one? Or do you even need ticketing? How will users in the company interact with the system, and will they all need to use it? Contemplate the how, what and why, as well as functions and tools that make sense for your organization, and don’t focus too much on what others are doing. Too often, DAM planning starts with a look at what is out there and at what solutions other companies in your industry are using. Take a moment and forget what is physical and think in the abstract. Dream a little bit! What if you had a full computer lab with endless technology and skilled staff literally giving you the resources to build something homegrown and totally custom? What would this amazing system look like? What would it do, who would interact with it, and how? While maintaining strong vendor relations is critical for the health of your DAM, you should also have bigger vision for your DAM and be able to articulate that to your vendor. Once these big-picture questions begin to have answers, heavy documentation must follow. While this is a digital discipline, there is no greater value than having a physical governing document that explains the who, what, where, why and how. A solid DAM governing document or policy is detailed and granular. It explains roles from administrators down to basic users; it defines asset types, metadata schemas, and naming conventions; and it should document all workflows. If a decision was made, if a process or workflow was defined or updated, it needs to be documented. Once this documentation is generated, treat it as a living document, and review and update it annually.

If You Build It (For Them), They Will Come

Spending the proper time planning an ideal DAM solution for your organization should naturally lead to employees using the system. Designing solutions with everyone and their workflows in mind should ease any issues that surround user adoption, and help you avoid comments like, “It doesn’t do what I need it to,” or “That isn’t for my department.” If planning was not successful, it’s likely that user adoption won’t be either. It is therefore critical that no matter the DAM project, every user’s needs are considered in terms of how he or she will interact with the system. Marketing and promoting your DAM initiatives is also a fundamental but often overlooked step in successful implementation and user adoption. If there is a general lack of knowledge about DAM initiatives and happenings within your organization, this will work against gaining user buy-in. It is not uncommon to hear employees mention that they did not know there was a DAM solution, or they didn’t know what it could do. If the employees in the institution don’t know what the initiatives are, or what the systems can do, or are unaware of an in-house base of knowledge, then it will be an uphill battle to educate and grow user adoption. As the DAM manager, you really need to “sell” the DAM. Just like a salesman, know your product inside and out, be aware of your users’ philosophies and values, and find connections that show departments the increased value and benefits that await them. Another common misstep in some DAM implementations is assuming that every employee will need or want to use it. A need should be articulated or defined; otherwise, a department can stick to their old processes. The hidden message there is don’t force it. Resourceful and successful DAM managers don’t spend all of their time thinking up creative ways to get all departments into the DAM. Instead, they focus on thinking of creative solutions and finding connections to increase value. User adoption and training are only part of the equation in terms of leading to a successful DAM project. Solicitation of user feedback is crucial for the growth and development of your DAM. After all, DAM managers are rarely the ones who are actively searching for and using assets within the DAM, so they need input from the people that utilize the system regularly. This is something libraries and librarians do well, since most libraries are obsessed with how patrons (users) access the library’s resources. Most libraries have a rolling program for assessing how their patrons interact with library tools and information resources in the form of surveys, data gathering, and in-person interviews. The information collected drives updates, generates new features, helps to solve problems, and generally leads to the development of services and resources that are truly needed. DAM programs need frequent user trainings and workshops, but they also need channels for feedback and user study initiatives in order to properly develop.


A final philosophical message is that DAM is a dynamic organism that needs to be nurtured, educated and respected. Above all, DAM needs room to grow and evolve. DAM is rooted in technology, and as such, it is subject to becoming obsolete quickly. Solutions and workflows put in place today are at risk of starting to decline tomorrow. What this means, ideologically speaking, is that as you create solutions that work for your organization now, develop these strategies with an eye toward the future. Good examples are metadata schemas and standards. The development and implementation of a metadata schema can be a monumental task, as was written about in an earlier article in this series. However, the implementation of the schema is only one aspect of the larger metadata picture. The schema needs to be evaluated for effectiveness, controlled vocabularies need to be continually vetted, and new needs have to be adopted and anticipated. Treating your schema as a living entity will only benefit you in the long run. The same effort applied to keeping your metadata processes up to date should be applied to all of your DAM initiatives. Again, this is not just about software and hardware updates, but rather it is about utilizing your DAM philosophy, exercising the values you documented in your DAM policy, and making sure you are meeting goals. If the goals become stale, those too may need to evolve. There is very little in DAM that is concrete, including an established and well developed DAM policy, so it is vital to be able to grow, adapt and change your DAM philosophy.

About Adam N. Hess

From capture to arrangement to discovery, Adam N. Hess has managed or consulted on many types of digital collection projects, with the proven ability to develop sustainable solutions and workflows for varied constituencies. Currently, Adam is an Assistant Professor & Digital Resources Librarian at Arcadia University (Glenside, PA), where he manages the university’s institutional repository, as well as liaisons to the departments of Art & Design, Theatre Arts, and Media & Communication. Adam also teaches First Year Seminars, University Seminars, and Studio Arts courses. Adam earned an MFA in Studio Arts (2008) and an MLIS (2010) from Louisiana State University (LSU), where he also taught art and worked in many roles for the LSU Library System. In 2011 Adam was named the Samuel H. Kress Fellow in Art Librarianship at Yale University. Before returning to academia in 2014, Adam was the Digital Asset Manager for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. Adam has been a DAM Guru Program member since July, 2014. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

Read more from the “Librarian Tips for DAM Managers” DAM Guru Program series » LearnDAM-Logo-75x75DAM Guru Program recognizes this article as worthy of the #LearnDAM designation for materials that provide genuine digital asset management education without sales agendas. Search #LearnDAM on Google for more materials.