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How to Succeed with Your DAM Project: Key Strategies and Insights

July 5, 2024 Ricky Patten

coffee meeting

Discover key strategies and insights on how to successfully implement and manage your DAM project. Learn from real-life examples and practical advice to achieve effective digital asset management.


From Confusion to Clarity: A Strategic Guide to DAM Implementation


I had coffee with a friend the other day, Michael who works in state government.

“I need to bend your ear,” said Michael.

Bend away,” I said more interested in the coffee that had appeared in front of me.

AdobeStock_336474844 (1)I’ve just been appointed to lead the new DAM project for our department,” Michael explained. “I’m really stuck. The vendor has shown us all the great capabilities of the solution we’re using, but no-one seems to really know what you’re supposed to do with the DAM to be successful.”

Luckily by now I had finished the most of my coffee and gave Michael my full attention. After taking a few deep breaths to help me focus, I decided that I first needed to know more about Michaels organisation, you see we know each other socially not via business.

“Michael, I don’t really know much about what you do other than work for state government. Tell me a little bit about what your job role is, and what team do you head up?”

“Oh, I’m the head of the creative department, we’re eight people strong including myself.”

“OK so you’re doing a wide range of content, photography, illustrations, logos, just about whatever whoever needs,” I confirmed with Michael.


Identifying your Target Audience

So lets drill down on whoever and whatever first.”

croppedUh-uh. No one’s asked me that before,” Michael looked a bit stressed at this point, so I decided we needed to work with simple questions so he didn’t feel vulnerable.

Who are your main target audience… like whos your main customer within the department?”

“Oh, that’s simple, it’s the comms and marketing teams. There’s about eighty of them doing whole range of different stuff. The department is quite segmented and we need to cover lots of different needs.”

And I take it that one of your main objectives is to provide those eighty comms and marketing people with a self service portal where they can get what they need on a daily basis… freeing up your team of eight to focus on creating great content… rather than answering emails and phone calls from the comms and marketing people needing whatever they need straight away!”

Michael nodded enthusiastically.

Great, youve got the key right there Michael, we just need to focus on these eighty people.”

“Later we might want to share out content with more people in the department, there’s about five thousand people in total that work for the department,” Michael ventured.

Perfect, lets crawl before we run and just keep focused on those eighty people to start with. Now I know you just said that you need to cover lots of different needs but is it also true that the vast majority of what you need to supply to the comms and marketing teams is really a short list of stuff? Like everyone needs the same stuff again and again.”

Michael, who hadn’t finished his coffee yet, put down his cup and looked me straight in the eye, “I’ve got no idea to tell you the truth. One of the reasons we’re getting a DAM is so we can get a handle on what we actually do.”

Its a lot simpler than that Michael, have you ever heard of the Pareto Principle?”


 The Pareto Principle

A very stunned and stressed Michael looked back at me bewildered.

Youve probably heard of it as the eighty twenty rule. You know twenty percent of everything that you do is eighty percent of whats important.

“YES YES!” Michael cried out jubilantly, he could sense that success was within his grasp, “My wife is always telling me that I should just focus on what’s important and ignore all the other distractions around me. She’s much more organised than I am,” He admitted.

Well your wife sounds like a fine lady and youre a lucky man Michael. Take her advice. Ill explain what I mean.”

At this point I attracted the attention of a waiter to order a cup of latte, giving Michael enough time to return his attention successfully to his. 

What I recommend is that you create a short survey form for your staff, you said there was eight of you. The form is to be a list of the content that they think matters the most, the stuff they get asked for repetitively day in day out. The important stuff… like your wife said… the stuff you need to focus on and ignore the rest for the moment.” 


Youre going to be surprised… I bet you that many of your senior staff can give you a list of twenty or thirty files that cover the most of what the comms and marketing team asks for,” I ventured further. Absolutely there will be the matching content for whatever the latest new projects are, and some of the answers you get from your team will be a general list of say…

Fifty high quality life style images that we have copyright for the next six months, that can be used generically in presentations.

…but overall youre going to be surprised at how few pieces of content your team really think are important to start off with.”

AdobeStock_403503275You think that will really work?” Michael’s expression was a study by this time, I’d use words like incredulous or dumbfounded to best sum up where he was at this point in the conversation.

You know how DAM vendors will tell you that you can manage hundreds of thousands of pieces of content in their DAM… theyll talk about expansion in tens of terabytes, database sizes of millions, less than one second retrieval times and the like?” I could see that this was all familiar to Michael.

Well, when you start a DAM project, that does not matter, it can complicate the process drastically to think in such large numbers. Stick with the simple stuff, stick with what content matters the most. Realistically you will find that to start with 20% of all the content that youve thought about will matter 80% of the time.

I always tell the story of one of the early big projects we did for a university studio and creative team. Can you imagine how wide the range of user requests they get in a university is! Well I sat Peter down, head of the creative department, and explained the Pareto Principle to him. He got it straight away. I set him the task of getting a list of less than 200 digital assets that he would go live with. He proudly managed to get the final number down to about 80 assets. His go live was a raging success, so much so that in six months he was back on my case with a pot full of money from his management wanting to invest in the DAM project further.

That university is still our customer, over ten years later. Peters moved onto bigger and greater things, but we always have a very positive relationship as the DAM solution is thought of so highly throughout the university.”

Michael was listening to this attentively. I could see he was quite relaxed now. My latte had arrived and Michael ordered himself a macchiato to finish off with. 

“Two hundred digital assets to start off with he said,” More to himself, I nodded in affirmation.

cropped-2We can do that and its not going to take that long to put that list together,” The wheels were spinning now, Michael could see the light of day.

“We focus on a short term simple win, get the comms and marketing team using the DAM, maybe we don’t deal with all the requests in the first roll out, but maybe we get eighty percent automated with the self service portal.”

I was focusing on my cake by now, my friend had his answers and knew how to take it from here.

There was a long pause as Michaels machiatto arrived and he drank it thoughtfully.

“Okay!” exclaimed Michael triumphantly, “I can see that our first roll out of a couple hundred assets will be successful. What’s next? Like we have got bucket loads of content that our IT services and my management is on my case to get off the various file servers we’ve used up. Not to mention all the stuff that sits around in Sharepoint and various rogue Dropbox and Google drives that haunt us.”

Metadata and AI Visual Search Engine

Michael went on, “The thing that no-one has successfully explained to me is why sticking all that content into a DAM is any better than leaving it where it is. It’s not like anyone really uses it, nor does anyone really know what it is for the most part. I keep suggesting that we get rid of it, but governance people keep jumping up and down saying we can’t get rid of anything.

“It’s not like my team has the time to open all those millions of files and write out what’s in them and all the search terms that people will need to find them,” Michael was taking control of the whole situation by now and had some very good points.

 Metadata,” I said as I wiped the corners of my mouth and resisted the temptation of suggesting we get a piece of cake each.

 “YES that’s right… metadata. Everyone seems to think that it grows on trees. As far as anyone has explained it to me… someone has to type it all in. My team will be up in arms if I even think of getting them to do that.”

AdobeStock_336475670And right you are Michael, this is the twenty first century and we have lots better ways of doing things than typing everything out. I sum this one up as: You drive the bus looking out the windscreen, not staring in the rear vision mirror!”

Michael nodded authoritatively in agreement with my analogy.   

What you need is an AI Visual Search engine inbuilt into your DAM. Have you got one of those?”

Michael looked at me like I was speaking Swahili.

“I didn’t pick the DAM solution,” Michael confessed. “What’s this you say ‘AI Visual Search engine’ well we’d better have one of those otherwise there will be hell to pay.”

Michael had taken out a pen and opened a new page on his notebook to write down this important piece of the puzzle.

As we got up to leave he said, “What does it do?”

Oh you can stick all that content into the DAM and let the AI Visual Search find the right content for the right people without having to type in all that metadata,” I explained with a shrug.

“Great we need one of those,” Michael agreed with me.

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