Companies are creating more content than ever before. 41% of successful content marketing strategies focused on creating more visual content (1). The interesting point is content creation and utilization are not just limited to marketing. Other functions like HR and legal teams also use digital assets extensively, leading to increased digital assets production and utilization for the company.

As content production and utilization scale increases, so does the complexity around managing digital assets. For example, how quickly can you locate the latest file of your company’s logo?

It happens to most of us because most of the content is stored in local hard drives, email inboxes, and cloud folders. Due to these unorganized storage methods, significant time and energy are lost in locating and using assets. This is where digital asset management (DAM) comes into play. It works as a central repository to store all the digital assets and their corresponding metadata information in one location, thus providing quick access to team members.

While storage and accessing these assets is one problem, tracking digital asset creation requests and approvals is another problem. This is primarily because several stakeholders, like the designer, copywriter, developer, product manager, etc., are involved in creating a single digital asset.

Digital asset management workflows are here to make sure to break down the complex content creation process into simple steps and maintain transparency throughout.

If you are someone finding ways to organize your digital assets better, this article is the right one for you. We’ll discuss DAM workflows in detail, like the components, personnel involved, and beginners’ mistakes while setting up a DAM workflow.

What is a Digital Asset Management (DAM) workflow?

In a Digital Asset Management (DAM) context, workflow is a series of asset management activities like conception, collaboration, creation, review, ingestion, transformation, repurposing, etc.

To create any DAM workflow, it is crucial to understand the lifecycle of a digital asset. While the stages of a digital asset lifecycle vary for different companies, here are the most common stages.

  • Creation:

This stage includes activities like ideating, defining, and developing an asset into a digital format.

  • Management:

This stage starts with reviewing the first draft, editing, reiterating, finalizing the digital asset, and setting approval guidelines for access.

  • Distribution:

Sharing with relevant teams and third-party members per pre-defined permissions.

  • Archiving:

Storing and preserving different versions of the digital asset with documentation and metadata information.

For example, consider a sales pitch deck presentation. The first assignment goes to the marketing associate to create the pitch deck. It is reviewed, edited, and finalized by the marketing manager.

The final draft is shared with the sales, customer success, and product teams in the DAM software. It is then safely archived for future reference.

A DAM workflow can automate the digital asset lifecycle instead of manually performing them repeatedly.

Check off these 4 things below to create a successful DAM workflow.

  1. Determine the goal of the workflow to measure its effectiveness later.
  2. A simple and streamlined workflow is equal to an effective and efficient workflow.
  3. Define the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders at each stage of users using the DAM workflow
  4. Automate recurring and process-based tasks

Now let’s take a closer look at how DAM workflows work and how they facilitate the creative process.

How DAM workflows facilitate the creative process

A DAM workflow triggers automation like assigning to the next person in the workflow once the previous task is marked completed. These actions do not have to be initiated manually and are designed to be carried out by default, ensuring the DAM workflow works with clockwork precision. This leads to efficiencies while creating and organizing digital assets at scale.

  • Standardizes inter-functional processes:

Other teams (product, customer success, HR, etc.), apart from marketing, also access and use the latest version of digital assets without depending on the designer or the marketer to locate the assets. It reduces dependencies while ensuring all teams use a standardized version of digital assets.

  • Simplifies feedback management:

The editors and approvers can add feedback for the digital asset that is visible to everyone with access. You can also tag people to communicate feedback to specific personnel.

  • Quickens approvals:

With a DAM workflow, there is no need to follow up on email for approval on the digital asset. The system reminds you to take action on the pending approval(s). The discussion thread about the asset is also not lost

  • Notifies asset additions or editions:

Any new assets added will be automatically notified to all the users whose approval or who have to perform the next action as part of the workflow. It eliminates the need for follow-up through emails or IMs.

  • Auto-tagging and labeling of assets:

With DAM systems, you are spared from wasting time adding metadata information or manually labeling the images. will offer AI-based auto-tagging and labeling that automatically add tags and labels to the assets.

  • Quicker media transformations

With a DAM system, marketers and users who regularly use media assets do not have to depend on designers for simple image transformations. They can perform real-time images and video transformations with text overlays, background removal, change image dimensions, etc., on their own, which shortens the time taken to complete a workflow.

Components of a DAM workflow

Having a good understanding of the materials required before starting a building will result in smooth construction. Likewise, the core components of a successful DAM workflow process should be considered before mapping out the process.
Below are a few components to consider:

  • Media library:

Most creative teams deal with 1000 to 100000 images. 50% of these images are scattered across several locations in personal drives, shared drives, desktops, etc. As a result, images are lost and hidden in some unknown locations. Having a media library where you can store all the related images in specific folders will help you find them easily.

Media collection banner
  • Metadata:

It describes the data but is not the data itself. For example, meta descriptions of blog posts define what the blog post is about in a few sentences. Likewise, all your digital assets should have metadata to increase searchability. There are different types of metadata, but the relevant one for DAM is administrative metadata, where you can store keywords, date, time, resolution, etc.

  • Asset approval process:

Mark the tasks where approval is required and cannot be automated. Create status codes like awaiting review, under review, approved, etc. Set the trigger to move to the next stage after approval.

  • DAM system:

Choosing a DAM system that works as a central repository and control center that allows for various inputs and outputs. Make sure to look for features like media library backup, automatic image performance analysis, usage analytics, integration with CMS and cloud storage servers, and top-notch customer support.

Want to make an informed choice of buying DAM software? Refer to our DAM buying guide here.

The personnel involved in a DAM workflow

Before bringing any change to the existing workflow or routines, it is crucial to consider the team members going to be affected by the change.

Defining the level of access should be driven by the role. Below are a few roles you can assign to your personnel.

  • Creator (Designer)

The creator is the person working on the digital asset. They should have access to ingest the asset, add comments, reply to feedback and send files for approval.

  • Reviewer (Design or Creative head/ Project manager)

The person responsible for editing, reviewing, and sending the final draft of the digital asset for approval.

  • Approver (Lead + Request Initiator)

The creative lead and the person who raised the request are responsible for approving all digital assets. They should have access to view assets, submit comments, approve assets for publication, and move the status from pending approval to approved.

  • Publisher

This publisher is responsible for taking the content to production and also sharing it with relevant internal teams. They should have access only to view assets, submit comments, publish and share content.

  • Administrator

This person is responsible for maintaining, supervising, and controlling access to the DAM system. The admin should control the system and decide permissions to other roles.

Despite assigning owners and entrusting them with responsibilities, it is possible for mistakes to creep in that could disrupt the entire DAM workflow. Here are some such mistakes that you should be aware of.

Top 5 mistakes to avoid while setting up DAM workflows

Even the most seasoned techie can get confused and mess up while creating a DAM workflow. It’s a frustrating experience when you are flooded with messages about the workflow not working. People often go back to their old way of using legacy tools at this stage.

To save you from all the trouble and have a smooth experience, we curated the most common mistakes made while setting up DAM workflows.

1. Not securing team endorsement before implementation

A DAM workflow, or any workflow for that matter, requires people from diverse functional backgrounds to come together and cooperate. The workflow will succeed and contribute to operational efficiency only if it is endorsed by the team. Without their active endorsement, it would be difficult to implement the workflow and sustain its usage regularly.

As a best practice, identify DAM champions within the team who can act as resourceful people to guide other team members in using the DAM correctly. They can help teammates dispel the inhibitions and concerns in adopting a new workflow and help in team-wide adoption.

2. Missing to strike a balance between automation and manual processes

Automation is efficient, there is no denial of this fact. However, complete automation is not feasible and is also not recommended in a DAM context. It is necessary to determine the workflow phases ideal for automation and those that should be manually processed.

For instance, the review of creatives should be a manual process; however, once they are approved, notifying the next stakeholder for subsequent steps can be automated.

3. Not assigning owners for each stage of the workflow

For a workflow to work with clockwork precision, it is necessary for it to have specific owners at every stage. Lack of ownership could cause bottlenecks leading to a slowdown or even a complete workflow breakdown. The creation process will be delayed. To check this, see if your DAM system allows you to mark these fields as mandatory. This way, you will not be able to create a workflow without assigning owners.

4. Inadequate understanding of user requirements

The purpose of a DAM workflow is to make work easier for everyone involved. This means the expectations must be clearly understood before the workflow is implemented. In addition to getting an endorsement from the team to use DAM software, it is also essential to understand expectations and communicate capabilities before implementing the workflow. This will help everyone conclude on the same page and ensure smooth functioning.

5. Not providing training to all end-users

Most DAM software are easy-to-use and can be mastered with a few days of interaction. However, when a large team is involved, the same process can be interpreted differently. Proper user training will ensure that all the users are well-trained on what to expect at each stage of the workflow and what the owner is responsible for performing at that stage.

Arranging elaborate on-the-job training sessions and providing personalized assistance can go a long way in making users become champions of the workflow.
Steering clear of these mistakes is necessary to get the most out of a DAM workflow.

Bringing it all together

Systems are greater than goals. No matter how ambitious a goal is, if there are no proper systems in place, it will be difficult to achieve. DAM workflows are excellent examples of systems. They ensure consistency, that actions are controlled, and establish ownership.

As the creation and usage of digital assets increase, businesses will need reliable systems to ensure the smooth running of creation and publishing activities. Legacy tools have limited ways of organizing data and lack standardized workflows, and using them might not give you the best results.

There is a pressing need for flexible and easy-to-use systems to manage your digital assets. Workflows ensure that digital asset creation is optimized for maximum productivity with a fine mix of automation and manual processes. If your business is not using a DAM workflow, maybe it is high time to invest in one.

Looking for a DAM solution that can help streamline your DAM workflows?


(1) 40+ Content Marketing Statistics to Power Your 2022 Strategy