How to Develop a Digital Asset Strategy visual

How to Develop a Digital Asset Strategy

by Chris Ransick


Managing digital assets is like building a house. Without a strong foundation and an effective plan, the house will crumble. A digital asset management strategy is that plan; it provides the structure and stability needed to ensure that all of your digital assets are organized, accessible, and secure.

With a well-thought-out strategy in place, you can maximize your investment, improve productivity, and let your creative teams focus on their work instead of wasting time searching for assets. Without one, your digital assets are at risk of crumbling under the pressure of increasing demands and ever-changing technology.

But where do you start?

Plan Your Digital Asset Management solution

Ultimately, a digital asset management solution is supposed to help you save time and money while achieving greater organizational efficiency, but a successful DAM strategy must be tailored to the needs of your organization.

As you start the process, you will want to pay particular attention to the types of digital assets your organization has, who needs access to them (who are the asset creators, who are the asset users), and how those assets will be used. You need to get down to specifics.

Now, think about the desired results.

Sit down with the people most directly affected. Ask them to answer questions like, "What do I think a digital asset management solution should do for me?" and get them to map out the ways they currently handle their workflows.

The goal is to start to identify the use cases that will constitute a win for your digital asset management strategy. What would the beautifully designed, sturdy house you want to build look like for you?

Spend the time and resources to gather the information. Write down the characteristics.

Assess your current digital media assets

Now that you have some idea of who is going to be using the solution and what it needs to accomplish, you can go back again to the beginning and ask yourself, "What do we already have to work with?"

The answer here is never going to be "nothing.

"You already have digital assets. And this isn't just images, copy, and videos.

You have employees. They are assets. They already have workflows and processes in place - even if those were evolved organically and in a patchwork fashion. These are assets. Management already has a mindset, or seven, and these are assets too.

All these assets are your foundation. It will need grading and leveling, utilities will need to be laid in. It will make sense to keep some of the existing materials. Some will have to be retrofitted, and some will have to be taken to the landfill. But until you know what you have, you can't begin to build the house.

Create a plan for managing digital media assets

Now that you have an inventory of your assets, it's time to create a plan for managing them. This plan should include workflows for creating, storing, sharing, and disposing of digital media assets.

It should also include procedures for authorizing access to those assets and tracking changes to their ownership.

Don't forget in this stage to consider your plans for disaster recovery and data backup. After all, if your house falls down, you want to be able to rebuild it quickly and without any loss of data.

Create the governance framework for digital media assets

So, you’ve got a plan for keeping track of your digital media assets. It's time to develop a governance framework to support it. This framework is different from the workflows and should include taxonomy, policies, and procedures for creating, storing, sharing, and tracking changes to those assets along with the archiving of them at the end of their lifecycle.

The governance framework should also include legal policies for authorizing access to those assets, tracking changes to their ownership, and repercussions for violating guidelines. Include where on the organization chart responsibility for managing the assets rests and the upline chain of command for making sure everything is run according to the established governance framework.

Create integration for digital media assets

Ok, you've assessed your current digital asset management situation, considered all the assets' needs, including the human element, and you've started considering governance policies. What's next?

You need to consider the disruptive possibilities of your digital asset management solution. This includes understanding how the DAM solution will integrate with the existing systems you have - or making plans to develop ways if they can't be integrated out of the box.

In addition to integrating with your existing enterprise, it is also important to ensure that any DAM solution integrates with existing workflows.

This means understanding how users will interact with the system, as well as what processes need to be in place in order to ensure that assets are managed properly within the system.

Doing this well ahead of implementation gives you the opportunity to plan for any customizations or integrations prior to launch. The number of manhours you will save by being ahead of the game here is staggering.

Finally, it is important to ensure that the future performance and scalability of your existing enterprise architecture are not hijacked by a new DAM solution.

This can be done by carefully testing out any new features prior to launch, as well as ensuring that any integrations needed are handled properly prior to launch.

You may also have to adjust hardware resources or software configurations in order to ensure optimal performance and scalability of the DAM solution within an enterprise architecture. You won't know until you start looking.

Create maintenance plans for digital media assets

Like a house slowly creeping into disrepair without regular maintenance and attention, you can turn a blind eye to the slow decay - until you can't, and then you are saddled with losses of efficiency and more costly repair expenses.

There are a number of things you'll need to keep up with.Doing regular backups is an obvious one, but one that can slip out of mind, particularly if there is an assumption that the task has been automated.

Don't bet on it. In your strategic planning process, task a person (or better yet, a position on the org chart to prevent the baton from getting dropped with personnel changes) with the responsibility of making sure the automation is working.

Even with a smooth-running piece of software, things under the hood can get gunked up over time. Performing regular testing of the software can keep things running at peak efficiency. More importantly, it can catch issues before they become expensive problems.

This holds true for the human aspect of your DAM system. Just as you wouldn't open the doors to your house and walk away for extended periods of time, even with people you trust, it's important to periodically check in with employees to make sure they are adhering to the policies and workflows you've put in place.

Even without considering malice, it is too easy with deadline pressures, new hires and unauthorized shortcuts for workflows and software to quickly become unrecognizable. This erodes efficiency, but possibly worse, it leaves your assets open to security issues and your business open to legal issues.

Regular assessments can help catch issues early. They can also maintain processes the way regular patrols through a neighborhood can improve quality of life by letting people know they are being monitored.


Developing a digital asset management strategy is a complex and multi-faceted process that requires time, energy, and careful consideration of your organization's specific needs and goals.

When you are done, you should have a solid plan for moving forward. And while plans don't guarantee success, having one certainly tilts the odds of a positive outcome in your favor.

DAM Ops Consulting is available to help you shoulder the load

DAM Ops Consulting has decades of experience assessing enterprises' current digital asset state and providing them with a strategy for digital asset operational success based on best practice experience.

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