Implementing any enterprise-wide DAM software can be challenging. It can get complex, cause disruption, face resistance, or overrun its time frame or cost. A primary research advisory organization, The Standish Group, reports that nearly 84% of IT projects fail.

Why do ambitious projects fail despite detailed planning and resource management? Most often, it is because, at the implementation stage, the stakeholders fail to follow best practices. This snowballs into bigger inefficiencies that cause the project to fail. The same could happen to your DAM implementation project as well. If you want to prevent such a situation, it s better to follow the best practices for DAM implementation.

8 steps to successful digital asset management implementation

If you are looking at implementing a DAM system in your organization without running the risk of failure, you must follow certain best practices that promise the best outcomes. Here are 8 of them.

1.  Choose the right DAM system

Understanding which DAM system would best suit your organization requires taking stock of your existing infrastructure and asset management capabilities. You might have to audit your digital assets, understand the workflows around them, and study your users’ behavior and their needs. This data will help you define the goals you want to achieve with a new DAM system. You will be able to identify the digital assets you want to migrate and the workflows and processes you want to streamline.

The next step is to understand if your organization has any limitations concerning the IT policies and protocols it follows to determine the steps you need to take to ensure the DAM system adheres to enterprise IT mandates.

Weigh your preference to own versus outsource the management of your system to external vendors. This becomes relevant when choosing between a cloud-based or software-as-a-service (SaaS) DAM or an on-premise solution. The choice between SaaS and on-premise would also depend on how much storage, computing power, and network capacities you need to manage your digital assets.

A cloud-based DAM requires low investment and shorter implementation cycles. It can also scale up pretty quickly as your business grows. The vendor typically handles the management, saving your time and effort while you focus on more strategic aspects of your business. An on-premise system allows customization with more ownership. Still, one needs a mature IT function to run and maintain the system, making it more expensive. Clearly, the benefits of a cloud-based DAM system outweighs a an on-premises alternative.

Once you evaluate your options and make a purchasing decision, creating a team who will own the implementation project is time.

2. Establish a DAM implementation task force

Form a team that ensures the technical success of the implementation and synchronizes the needs of the various stakeholders in the project. Typically, these would be the users, the IT department, and the business heads. The team must believe in the value they create through the DAM implementation and champion its successful adoption across the company.

Choose a team leader who understands the operations involved, brings in the best use cases, and has the insight to know what would work for the users.

3.  Prioritize the first asset management activities

Before beginning the project, you need to work on two key ideas - what are those critical challenges that must be addressed? Secondly, who are those users who will benefit the most or believe that a DAM can ease their work? This will get you some quick wins and mitigate risks.

You can move on to expanding the scope of the implementation in the next phase and include other departments as you achieve maturity. List out the different dimensions of the implementations that need prioritization – choosing the internal systems that need to be integrated or the data models/sets that must be migrated.

Run past your ideas with your stakeholders. They will help you separate the needs from the wants and prioritize the activities that need immediate implementation.

4. Define DAM user roles

The success of your DAM implementation project depends to a very large extent on the users. DAM must meet the user goals; hence, you need to define the user roles, responsibilities, and privileges. The users, too, should be ready to participate by engaging with the implementation team, testing the processes and workflows, and providing feedback.

Common roles include:

  • Administrators have maximum control over access and management functions.
  • Digital Asset Managers who act as custodians, approving asset uploads, organizing them, and managing the metadata.
  • Contributors are the designers or developers who access, preview, and download assets and create new ones.
  • Users are other employees, usually marketers, sales teams, product teams, brand teams, and other organizational functions, who need to use digital assets for their jobs.
  • Guests include clients, vendors, or other professionals who may need access to DAM to provide an opinion or share approvals. These users are restricted to ‘view only’ access.

When documenting the users, their rights, and their responsibilities, you will need to determine the permission level required for each user and their requirements. For example, you can streamline access by providing low-resolution images to external agencies and allowing high-resolution to designers.

Learn more about user access management in ImageKit.

5. Plan for systematic integration of other tools

DAM acts as the single truth source for all an organization's digital assets. Thus, integrating DAM with other systems that process or use these digital assets is essential. DAM integrations aid in making maximum use of the system as well the offerings of the third-party software. They also aid in storing and accessing data from cloud data storage servers seamlessly.

The five DAM integrations that are commonly used include

  1. Content management system (CMS):
  2. Cloud storage
  3. eCommerce and digital experience platforms
  4. Product information management (PIM)
  5. Operational tools

6. Provide employee training

When implementing any new software, change management is an integral part of the process for better adoption of the new ways of working that a new system brings. The company must make a list of the changes required at each department level and provide the necessary support and training to people who have to be part of this change.

Appointing a product champion gives assurance to users and they appreciate the benefits of shifting over to the new DAM better. User feedback is important during all the different stages of the implementation and even post-implementation so that appropriate training modules can be created as per the gaps. Organizations can leverage the vendor’s training programs and complement them with tailor-made learning sessions.

  1. Leverage vendor’s product demo or training videos
  2. Create a learning course for all DAM users
  3. Identify DAM power users who need advanced training

7. Establish the rules and streamline the details

With most of the groundwork done, it’s time to organize the digital assets and set the rules for how things will be handled in the system.

Define the metadata well, because that is what will ensure your assets are easy to find. Write the governance policies that call out the taxonomy, and define the categories and the cluster of mandatory metadata that goes under each one. Establish a review process, and appoint a guardian who can ensure the digital assets are accurate and consistent before they are released.

8. Observe. Analyze. Improvise

The work on DAM does not stop with its implementation. Once in place, you must observe, analyze, and improvise.

To ensure the ongoing success of DAM, you need to continuously identify and measure those metrics that will tell you how well your system is functioning. It could be the number of users, the number of assets downloaded, or the number of searches made. Set the benchmarks you must meet, the dimensions you must audit, and the numbers you must monitor and report.

Periodical review of the system using DAM analytics will help you see what features users rely on the most and how workflows can be better optimized to help improve their productivity. It will ensure you make the changes needed to keep pace with the changing demands of the business over time.

Bonus: DAM implementation planning and best practices to follow

Getting started is the hardest part of any new project; failing to meet your goal after getting started is even tougher. Implementing DAM is certainly no exception. The above-mentioned pointers ensure you plan every step to mitigate the risks and prepare for success.

We share these guidelines with our customers who appreciate ImageKit’s simple implementation process. Our established templates, platform guides, and recommended best practices provide an easy learning curve. You don’t need to be technically savvy or have any prior implementation experience to start with ImageKit.

Read our eBook to get a thorough understanding how to implement a DAM system without mishaps.