Panning for Gold

A Formal Assessment is the First Step Toward a Successful DAM Implementation

by Chris Ransick

You are always on the lookout for ways to maximize value and performance. One of the rocks you might not have considered turning over and looking under is your digital media assets.

It's a shame too, because there is gold there ... and a lot of waste too, which when addressed can be counted as gold too.

Performing a formal vendor-neutral assessment of your assets can help identify areas for improvement and provide recommendations in order to maximize their digital assets' value.

A legitimate assessment is complicated but manageable … if you mind the following steps.

Define Your Assessment's Scope

Because digital assets are complicated beasts, trying to assess the whole operation in one go will likely tax your team, your time, your budget and your leadership's patience past the breaking point. A better approach is to decide before you start what specific assets or capabilities you are going to evaluate.

So, look for areas where there are bottlenecks in the workflow. These will be good starting points.

If you find a pain point, check it out.

Once you have that, you are going to want to spell out the objectives of the assessment.
For example, the assessment may focus on the enterprise's marketing asset creation process.

Or maybe you want to take a careful look at how efficiently your digital asset and content processes are running.

This decision will be easier once you know your objectives.

Making sure that the assessment is vendor-neutral will give you the advantage of an unbiased peek behind the curtain. You want to make sure you are getting the information you need, not the information a software company wants you to have.
Here are six steps to take to get the data you need.

The first, and maybe the best, if the most time-consuming and expensive, is by interviewing or holding workshops with asset creators and users. These team members are your Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), your secret weapon. They know how your system works in reality ... and, how they wish it would work to make their lives easier.
As you conduct these interviews, pay particular attention to the current state of the assets, such as their location, usage, and value.

You are also going to want to ask how the SMEs are managing and using these assets with questions about how the assets are developed, maintained, and secured.

During the interview phase, keep in mind what you are looking for.

- What works well?
- What works well enough?
- What doesn't work at all?

Pay particular attention to the pain points that pop up more than once. These are areas where solutions might show the quickest gains.

After you're done interviewing the primary users, the second step is to expand your interviews to everyone in the organization who has an interaction with the DAM in question.

The goal with this is to make sure you have enough knowledge of the process to not be caught off-guard by a ripple effect of problems, where a "fix" in one part of the process causes pain points to arise in other parts of the process. You might not be able to fully avoid the ripple, but with forewarning, you might be able to mitigate it.

The third step is to take the information you've gained from the interviews and map out the process in as much detail as possible. This will help you to understand how the DAM process works, where the pain points are, and where the potential solutions might be. But, more than that, you are creating documentation of use cases and requirements that can be brought forward to the fourth step.

In the fourth step, you want to go back to your SMEs to make sure that you correctly and fully understand the processes and requirements. Have them go over the documents and red-line them, to use an anachronistic phrase, for errors and omissions and engage in further conversations if necessary.

Analyze Asset Discovery

Once you have gathered the data, it's time to start analyzing it.

This includes evaluating the quality of your assets and the effectiveness of your business processes. For example, if asset users cannot find needed images promptly, this could impact a product's marketing asset's speed-to-market, which will have an impact on income and your competitive edge.

After you've created a picture of your asset ecosystem with the data as it lines up with the objectives you established earlier in the process, you are going to want to look for the root causes of the pain points you've identified.

Once you have analyzed the data and determined the root cause of the problem, the next step is to come up with possible solutions to the largest problem areas. These possible solutions should be tailored to the specific use cases and the needs of the SMEs.

Provide Recommendations

This is where the pay-off happens. Provide recommendations on how to optimize your asset management.

The recommended solutions will vary widely but may include ways for tweeking your current digital asset management, but it will most likely also suggest improving the human side of the equation with things like new processes or procedures that can fit within your existing organization.

The important thing is that you have a clear, unbiased view from which to make your decisions.


While all this work will be time- and resource-consuming, taking a formal approach to assess your digital assets can help ensure that the solution you choose to implement will meet your organization's needs, keep disruptions to operations to a minimum, avoid major unforeseen and potentially costly headaches AND provide an acceptable return on investment.

The expense of getting the implementation right will more than off-set the costs of getting it wrong.

Steps to Assessing Digital Asset Management Needs

1. Define Goals and Objectives for the Assessment
- Identify Business Drivers
- Short-term Goals
- Long-term Goals
- User Needs
- System Needs
- Customer Needs

2. Analyze Current State
- Assess Current DAM System
- Asset Quality
- Metadata Standards
- Identify Gaps in Existing System
- Missing Assets
- Inconsistent Data Quality
- Customer Satisfaction
- Document Pain Points

3. Evaluate Possible Solutions and Technologies
- Research Potential Solutions

4. Develop Future State Use Cases and Requirements
- Identify and Script Future State Asset Use Cases
- Identify Requirements
- Scalability and Performance Requirements
- Security Requirements
- Automation Requirements
- Compare Solutions Against Requirements

5. Grade System Selection and Plan Implementation
- Evaluate Solutions and Vendors using Use Cases and Vendor Scoring
- Cost Considerations
- Reference Check: Vendor Reputation and Support Services
- Develop Implementation PlanTraining Requirements
- Asset Migration Strategy 


Performing a DAM assessment is crucial for choosing the appropriate DAM solution for your organization. By assessing your needs and requirements, you can analyze different DAM systems and select the one that best fits your organization. Conducting a DAM assessment before purchasing a new system can lead to long-term time and cost savings, ensure a successful implementation, and foster collaboration within your organization. For expert assistance in conducting a thorough DAM assessment and maximizing the value of your digital assets, consider contacting DAM Operations Consulting, we're here to help.

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