Wednesday, 17 Jul 2024

The What, Why, and How of Digital Asset Management (DAM) Workflows

asset management workflow
Image Source: ImageKit

Companies are producing more content than ever before. In fact, 41% of successful content marketing strategies focus on creating more visual content[^1^]. The interesting part is that content creation and utilization are not limited to just marketing. HR and legal teams also extensively use digital assets, leading to increased production and utilization of these assets.

As the scale of content production and utilization increases, so does the complexity of managing digital assets. Have you ever struggled to locate the latest version of your company’s logo? It happens to most of us because content is often stored in various places like local hard drives, email inboxes, and cloud folders. This disorganized storage method leads to a waste of time and energy in locating and using assets. This is where Digital Asset Management (DAM) comes into play. It acts as a central repository, storing all digital assets and their metadata in one location, providing quick access to team members.

But storage and access are just one part of the problem. Another challenge lies in tracking digital asset creation requests and approvals. Multiple stakeholders, such as designers, copywriters, developers, and product managers, are involved in creating a single digital asset. This is where DAM workflows come in, breaking down the complex content creation process into simple steps and maintaining transparency throughout.

If you’re looking for ways to better organize your digital assets, this article is for you. We will delve into the details of DAM workflows, including their components, personnel involved, and the common mistakes made while setting them up.

What is a Digital Asset Management (DAM) Workflow?

In the context of Digital Asset Management (DAM), a workflow refers to a series of activities related to asset management, such as conception, collaboration, creation, review, ingestion, transformation, and repurposing.

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

  • Creation: This stage involves ideating, defining, and developing an asset into a digital format.
  • Management: This stage includes reviewing the first draft, editing, reiterating, finalizing the digital asset, and setting approval guidelines.
  • Distribution: Sharing the asset with relevant teams and third-party members based on predefined permissions.
  • Archiving: Storing and preserving different versions of the asset with documentation and metadata.
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For example, let’s consider a sales pitch deck presentation. The initial task goes to the marketing associate to create the pitch deck. It is then reviewed, edited, and finalized by the marketing manager. The final draft is shared with the sales, customer success, and product teams through the DAM software and then safely archived for future reference.

A DAM workflow automates the digital asset lifecycle, eliminating the need for repetitive manual tasks. To create a successful DAM workflow, make sure to:

  1. Determine the goal of the workflow to measure its effectiveness later.
  2. Strive for a simple and streamlined workflow for efficiency.
  3. Define the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders at each stage of the workflow.
  4. Automate recurring and process-based tasks.

Now, let’s dive deeper into how DAM workflows facilitate the creative process.

How DAM Workflows Facilitate the Creative Process

A DAM workflow triggers automation, such as assigning tasks to the next person in the workflow once the previous task is marked as completed. These actions occur automatically, ensuring the DAM workflow works with clockwork precision. This leads to efficiencies in creating and organizing digital assets at scale.

Here are some ways DAM workflows facilitate the creative process:

  • Standardizes inter-functional processes: Teams other than marketing, such as product, customer success, and HR, can access and use the latest version of digital assets without relying on designers or marketers. This reduces dependencies and ensures standardized use of digital assets.
  • Simplifies feedback management: Editors and approvers can add feedback for digital assets that is visible to everyone with access. Specific personnel can be tagged to address their feedback.
  • Quickens approvals: With a DAM workflow, there’s no need to follow up via email for approval on digital assets. The system reminds you to take action on pending approvals, and the discussion thread about the asset is not lost.
  • Notifies asset additions or editions: Any new assets added are automatically notified to users who need to approve or take the next action in the workflow. This eliminates the need for follow-up through emails or instant messages.
  • Auto-tagging and labeling of assets: DAM systems offer AI-based auto-tagging and labeling, saving time by automatically adding tags and labels to assets.
  • Quicker media transformations: With a DAM system, marketers and users can perform real-time image and video transformations without depending on designers. They can resize images, add text overlays, remove backgrounds, and more, shortening the time taken to complete a workflow.
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Components of a DAM Workflow

Before mapping out a DAM workflow, it’s essential to have a good understanding of the core components required. Just as proper planning ensures smooth construction, considering the following components will result in a successful DAM workflow process:

  • Media library: Most creative teams deal with a large number of images, scattered across various locations like personal drives, shared drives, and desktops. Having a media library where all related images are stored in specific folders makes it easier to find them.
  • Metadata: Metadata describes the data but is not the data itself. For DAM, relevant metadata includes keywords, date, time, resolution, and more. Adding metadata to digital assets increases their searchability.
  • Asset approval process: Identify tasks where approval is required and cannot be automated. Create status codes like awaiting review, under review, approved, etc., and set triggers to move to the next stage after approval.
  • DAM system: Choose a DAM system that serves as a central repository and control center, allowing for various inputs and outputs. 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.

Ensuring you have these components in place will set the foundation for an effective DAM workflow. If you need help choosing DAM software, refer to our DAM buying guide.

Personnel Involved in a DAM Workflow

Before implementing any workflow or making changes, it is crucial to consider the team members who will be affected. Defining the level of access should be driven by the role. Here are some roles you can assign to your personnel in a DAM workflow:

  • Creator (Designer): The creator is responsible for 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 reviewer is responsible for editing, reviewing, and sending the final draft of the digital asset for approval.
  • Approver (Lead + Request Initiator): The approver is the creative lead and the person who raised the request. They are responsible for approving all digital assets, including viewing assets, submitting comments, approving assets for publication, and moving the status from pending approval to approved.
  • Publisher: The publisher is responsible for taking the content to production and sharing it with relevant internal teams. They have access to view assets, submit comments, publish, and share content.
  • Administrator: The administrator is responsible for maintaining, supervising, and controlling access to the DAM system. They have control over the system and decide permissions for other roles.
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Even with assigned owners, mistakes can still occur and disrupt the DAM workflow. Here are some common mistakes to avoid when setting up DAM workflows.

Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid While Setting Up DAM Workflows

Setting up a DAM workflow can be challenging, even for seasoned techies. To save you from trouble and ensure a smooth experience, here are the most common mistakes to avoid:

  1. Not securing team endorsement before implementation: A DAM workflow requires people from diverse functional backgrounds to come together and cooperate. Active endorsement from the team is essential for successful implementation and regular usage of the workflow.
  2. Missing a balance between automation and manual processes: Automation is efficient, but complete automation is not feasible or recommended. Determine which phases of the workflow should be automated and which should be processed manually.
  3. Not assigning owners for each stage of the workflow: To ensure a workflow operates smoothly, specific owners should be assigned at every stage. Lack of ownership can cause bottlenecks and lead to a slowdown or breakdown of the workflow.
  4. Inadequate understanding of user requirements: A DAM workflow is designed to make work easier for everyone involved. Before implementing the workflow, it’s crucial to understand expectations and communicate capabilities to align everyone on the same page.
  5. Not providing training to all end-users: Proper training ensures that all users understand what to expect at each stage of the workflow and their responsibilities. This helps users become champions of the workflow and ensures smooth functioning.

Avoiding these mistakes is crucial to get the most out of a DAM workflow.

Bringing It All Together

Systems are essential to achieve goals effectively. No matter how ambitious a goal is, without proper systems in place, it becomes challenging to attain. DAM workflows are excellent examples of systems that ensure consistency, control actions, and establish ownership.

As the creation and usage of digital assets increase, businesses require reliable systems to ensure smooth operation. Legacy tools have limited ways of organizing data and lack standardized workflows, which may not yield the best results. Investing in a DAM workflow becomes crucial to manage digital assets efficiently.

DAM workflows optimize digital asset creation for maximum productivity by combining automation and manual processes. If your business is not using a DAM workflow yet, now is the time to invest in one.


[^1^] 40+ Content Marketing Statistics to Power Your 2022 Strategy