DAM Governance: Why It Matters

by Siri Raasch


So, you’ve updated your digital asset management (DAM) system, imported all your media, and trained everyone to use the catalog. Great! But you’re not done--to ensure the long-term health and success of your DAM, you need a governance strategy. 

In the DAM world, governance is the process in which you continually work with stakeholders to manage change. Change management allows your DAM to grow and evolve to continually fit user needs, helps find ways to encourage user engagement and proactively improve the system, and establishes and maintains communication between all relevant stakeholders to make a sustained team effort for DAM success. 

In practice, governance usually takes the form of regular meetings between different stakeholders to review and address user feedback, changes to processes and policies, and technical upgrades or repairs. These stakeholders should include representatives from many different areas and levels of the team. This gives all relevant parties a forum to be heard, to ensure that user experience is understood in a multi-faceted way, and to have parties present that will be able to react, respond, and solve issues efficiently, leading to the improvement of the system.

Every organization’s needs are different when it comes to planning long term change management for a DAM. One of the most essential groups to include in these meetings is IT. After all, if you have a DAM system, you will most likely need the help of the IT professionals in your organization to manage the technical needs of your solution. IT’s support of a DAM project can be critical for the success of a system, so it’s important to include them and develop a good rapport from the outset. You will also need to assess what other teams and units will want to have a hand in the long-term success of the DAM. Often these teams will include marketing and communication, creative professionals, budgeting/finance staff, and the dedicated professionals who may be working day to day in the system. Every organization is different, and your team may want to ensure that legal or broadcast professionals are also represented, or you may establish specialized groups to address specific issues such as taxonomies, metadata application, or ontology. Together, these people will be able to talk through workflow and assess feasibility of processes of the system as a whole, rather than in silos, helping your team efficiently govern the DAM for long-term use.

Change management allows your DAM to grow and evolve to continually fit user needs

DAM governance is certainly not without its challenges, which can include poor communication, lack of resources, low engagement, and misaligned expectations. Through careful governance planning, these can be avoided--and the first key is ensuring strong communication throughout. Communication can actually resolve most of these challenges, but can be hard when creatives are trying to communicate their needs to IT, IT is trying to explain their resource limits to finance, and the finance people are trying to get a clear idea from upper management about future budget needs. Buy in from all these groups, especially upper management, can make or break DAM governance. Engaging all of these stakeholders and making them feel that their concerns and needs are being listened to will foster growth and accountability at all levels. 

Sometimes, it can be difficult to get this process started without someone to walk your team through the steps of establishing and maintaining a governance plan. We work with many organizations and companies on their DAM governance strategy. Aldis often serves as the translator, or interdepartmental ambassador, helping to explain the needs and capabilities of the DAM to each group of stakeholders with the language that makes sense and matters to them. Our team understands the whole structure, what questions to ask, and how to communicate to and persuade upper management, daily users and every other stakeholder, simply because we’ve done it many times before. We know that we need to tailor our approach to management so that we explain the big picture of how the system will help brand and mission, and how it will impact the budget. Daily users want to hear about how the system will function in terms of speed and ease of use, and who will be accountable for system upkeep. We can translate all of these sets of needs, synthesize feedback, help your team act on issues to make the system function well for everyone, and manage change for long-term success.