Where To Start With DAM? (It Depends…)
Starting with DAM can be like jumping into a marathon race when you thought you were headed out for a nice hike. It's important to decide where you are and what your team needs, then build your DAM project. There's no singular way to start your company's DAM implementation.

There will always be a starting point that's different for your company than others. Your starting point depends on what your company needs to get out of your Digital Asset Management policies. Are you a Micro company looking for a better way to organize, store, and find your assets by building your first true library?

Maybe you're a Small company that has accumulated thousands of assets and you have grown your team; You have a system in place but maybe no workflow or SOP for how your assets should be handled by your growing team.

That means your starting point depends on:
  • Whether you're using a system already (homegrown, some software, or a combination of tools)
  • Whether you have solid processes in place now
  • What your company needs to accomplish with your Digital Asset Management policies
Start small and grow or take on a full system implementation?

No matter the tool or combination of tools you use, your company will have unique requirements for your DAM system and workflow. So let's find a starting point that makes sense for your needs.

In this post, we'll talk about asset lifecycle and metadata that needs to support your team and company no matter where anyone is located.

If you choose to identify it and it holds value for your company, it's an asset.

Lifecycle: What are you doing with your assets today?

Before you invite sales into the room, understand what you already do with your files. What do you like about your current processes and what isn't working for you?

This information will help you decide what type of Digital Asset Management System will fit with your company's specific Policies so your team will have the best chance of making your DAM work well.

For this post, we'll use the term Assets to talk about any digital item your company will have a lifecycle for. We are not talking about financial digital assets.

All of the file types your team stores now - slide decks, contracts, documents, pdf files, photos, videos, graphics - are your company’s digital assets. With the pace of technology, you should be prepared for new file types too.

Typically, this is the lifecycle for an asset:
  • Create and describe
  • Approval
  • Catalog | Index
  • Store for various uses
  • Use the file
  • Archive
  • Delete
Within your DAM, assets will be in one of these states:
  • Development
  • Storage
  • Usage (internal or public)
  • Archive
  • Delete (ends the use of the asset, assumes it is no longer part of your asset library in any form)

So. How does your team create, use, and store assets now?

And how is that process working for your company? How does your team find assets, and is it a pain in the "you know what" to find things? Is your team duplicating assets because finding them is so time consuming?

4 simple questions will help you understand what's going on with assets now:
  • After you create a file, where do you keep it?
  • When you share a file, how easy is it to share?
  • What do you do when you can't find the file you need?
  • How would you improve our file storage, usage, sharing?

With these questions, you’re going to learn a lot about the current state of your digital asset management and your team will already have pain points to share with you that will eventually be answered by the system you use.

Metadata: The more you know about DAM, the more you'll hear about metadata.

Metadata is defined as "data about data". Simply put, it means information about the asset like author, the date it was created, edited, revised, approved, etc. Metadata also includes a description of what the file is or is meant for in your company.

With metadata, your DAM helps you put your files in context so you can search for and find all related files to help you and your team manage workflow and lifecycles of assets with much more ease.

That doesn't mean metadata management isn't a heavy lift, especially if you're just getting started with DAM. Metadata is an integral part of your DAM system planning, and as tedious as it will be, you'll be extremely happy you bothered with it at the start of your project, it will be an immense asset to you over the life of your company (yep, pun intended).

And bonus, your good metadata policies will support and inform your SEO when assets are living online "in the wild".

Where do YOU start with DAM?

If you're looking at DAM because you understand you need better asset organization, or you want to improve policies and processes that don't work any longer, or you want your teams to access assets easier, start where you are so you can choose the DAM that will serve your company best.

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