The 5 “Ws” to Consider When Implementing a DAM

Picture of Author, Maria OsipovaThis May I attended a Garter Digital Marketing Conference in San Diego. While most of the analyst-led sessions were focused on future marketing trends and best practices, there were a small number of presentations that focused on the in-depth overview of select technology areas. Imagine my excitement when out of over 6,000 different MarTech solutions, one of the Gartner sessions focused exclusively on Digital Asset Management.

Brian Yeager presented the session on “DAM – What it is, why you need it and how to find the right solution”. Brian shared a great framework for evaluating any technology implementation - “Ask the Five Whys”. If you are a Gartner client and are looking into a DAM technology, I would highly recommend that you request this presentation, as it thoroughly reviews the buying considerations for digital asset management. For me it was both educational and inspiring, which sparked the idea for this post.

What questions enable a successful DAM initiative?

We often use the term DAM ‘initiative’ rather than referring to ‘buying’ DAM technology. There is a good reason for this. Having a digital asset management system is more than just signing the dotted line with a technology vendor. It’s a sign of maturity and accountability within an organization. It’s an indicator that the content and resources that company creates carry measurable value and need to be organized and managed over time, ensuring that their value remains intact. It’s making sure that the company benefits from that investment and does not encounter legal or security risks associated with those assets. As any major initiative, it involves people, process and technology at a specific point in time. That’s why finding answers to the five “W” questions are crucial to ensuring DAM success.

Let’s dive in:


“What is the challenge you are trying to solve?” Is a digital asset management system the best technology that would resolve that challenge? Start with outlining specific use cases of challenges the team is currently experiencing. Is it possible for any team member to find content, visual assets, or resources they need? Is it a time-consuming process? Can teams effectively find building blocks such as imagery, product photography, copy, and logos for the assets they need to produce? Can they be sure it’s the latest approved versions of these assets and do they conform with all the legal and rights management requirements? There are many complementary technologies and integrations that work with a DAM system that can help solve a unique use case. Is the challenge specifically around website content and visuals? Is it related to sales enablement? In this case, a combination of DAM and case-specific technology is important to consider and explore.


Why is it important for your team or your company to solve this challenge? For marketers that are responsible for finding the correct logos, images, and resources when needed, bringing in a digital asset management platform is a no-brainer. They understand the number of hours it takes every week to fulfill these requests. They understand how little the extended team, contractors and partners know of the resources available to the company. However, it often requires building a business case or an ROI calculation to justify these projects to the extended teams. If the “why” is not addressed with a strong business case, initiatives that could provide possible solutions for the team will lose their momentum or stall.


Digital asset management has a positive impact whenever it’s implemented, just like organizing your tools or office space is bound to increase efficiency and improve your workflow. Examples of strategies DAM can have a positive impact on include: re-branding, website updates and reorganization, brand acquisition, channel program launches, new product launches, and sales enablement initiative launches. While the impact can be positive, it usually takes a major event or trigger to spark a major organizational initiative. If your organization is planning any of these major initiatives, implementing a DAM system should be a priority as it can streamline and facilitate future projects.


A DAM initiative can be implemented at any scale, from a single team to an entire company. Depending on the specific use case within the company, teams or departments should be identified for the initial implementation and expanded teams should be assigned to further leverage the technology. A crawl-walk-run approach is advised for larger organizations, beginning with the team who would benefit most, then expanding to other teams, contractors or archival initiatives.


People and processes are critical for a successful DAM initiative. With projects spanning multiple departments and entire libraries of content and assets, it’s important to establish project champions, stakeholders and accountabilities. A best practice is to assign a dedicated DAM administrator who is responsible for overall taxonomy, data quality and providing continuous training for team members. It is also important to showcase the top users of the system and their positive results with the rest of the team. And of course, having executive support from key stakeholders is important to move the project forward and achieve consensus on permission models and data practices.

If you are exploring Digital Asset Management for your organization, think of these five questions. When properly planned and implemented, DAM initiatives have a profound impact on companies’ bottom line, processes and teams. A little planning goes a long way in implementing DAM on time and on budget.

For tips on how to begin your DAM journey, check out our eBook: "Getting Started with DAM"