Reasons Why Your DAM May Not Be Working the Way You Hoped

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Let’s face it. Keeping all content sorted and easily accessible can be a challenge, especially for businesses with tens and hundreds of thousands of digital assets. That’s where a good digital asset management (DAM) system is invaluable.

For businesses that have a ton of content, they really struggle in keeping all that content effectively organized. DAM’s are specifically designed to better serve this need. However, like any technology, if the DAM customer is not flexible, doesn’t outline expectations with their vendor or establish best practices or guidelines for system user behavior, they can certainly hit some bumps along the way. If you feel that your DAM strategy just doesn’t seem to be working the way you envisioned, there may be reasons for this and there may be a few things you could do to ensure you have a better experience moving forward.

Some reasons why you may be struggling with your DAM strategy:


1. No standardization.

Let’s start first by saying that there really is no industry guideline or standard for the backend workings of a DAM, DAM best practices or how any DAM should “talk” to other systems. Vendors typically don’t need to meet any sort of real criteria in these areas, thus over the years some DAM systems have been more like silos than information highways. Sharing digital information between different systems can certainly be problematic, for any software, system, app, plugin, etc. that’s not a native integration. The industry lacks any sort of universal formatting, so every system has its own best practices of system integration, implementation, customization, coding, filtering, security, etc. Because of this, DAM customers should understand that every system will have its limitations; they may need to be open to compromising a few things and making a few iterations to their strategy before they get it right.

2. Lack of Protocol for Metadata, Asset Categorization and Tagging.

In addition to the lack of standardization, there are no universal standards for creating metadata and categorizing digital assets, both from a system to system and from an individual user point of view. Each individual currently has his or her own view of how this task should be accomplished. Unless a company drafts out a clear strategy and protocol on how assets should be tagged and organized, it can quickly become the Wild West. Each individual organizes things differently. Some prefer the glassware in the cupboard to be facing up, others like them to be facing down and some people have no rhyme or reason to their madness. If you can’t find assets, or if your content files seem to be amuck, it may not be the system at all. It may be that your taxonomy, metadata and filtering structures need work.


One way for DAM systems to communicate with another type of system is via an API. This provides one pillar of truth for content creation, content distribution and content analytics. However, sometimes APIs can be fickle. For example, even with a plugin, CRM systems can randomly have issues “talking” to marketing automation software or other tools. This can be the same case for DAMs. Sometimes it’s like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. Two systems may be trying really hard to speak the same language all the time, though could experience a few miscommunication hiccups here and there.

Hammering square peg into round hole

If you haven’t chosen your DAM system yet, ask to see how the integrations actually work to ensure your expectations of the user experience will be met. If you are already a DAM user, keep on the pulse of how your systems are connected and quickly report any bugs you notice in the synch. There may be a quick fix, or as mentioned, it could just be one of those periodic pains that technology users go through. Either way, certain tech talks to other tech more effectively than others. This is just a reality of the tech industry in general. Though if you are experience constant issues here, don’t delay talking to your vendor and your IT team and work with them directly on trouble shooting the source of the problem.

5. Lack of Compliance

men on horses with lassos

Lack of compliance (or different levels of compliance) is another stumbling block to whether or not your DAM project is as effective as it could be. To be honest, system users can be extremely lazy, and again without any sort of corporate accountability policy, the system won’t function properly, nor will it talk nice with the rest of the tools, programs, software, and systems it integrates into. It takes the entire village to keep all users accountable and to always adhere to best practice. The advice here is you need to prepare for this, ensure there’s continuous transparency and always promote good practice.

What can you do?

1) Be flexible

Understand that all technology has limits. Not everything will work 100% the way you would like it to and that’s just the reality for any technology. However, if there are aspects of your DAM system or how it is currently set up that is hindering your business or your daily workflow, then definitely have these conversations with your vendor immediately. When it comes to DAM customization or patching requests, evaluate between what are the must-haves and what are the nice to haves. Your vendor will not always be able to multitask your every product request simultaneously. Again, because every business is different, this will take time for your vendor if your requests are specialized or unique. Be realistic and flexible and help your vendor prioritize what is most important to your business. It’s part of their job to help make your DAM experience a success!

2) Have a user compliance policy in place

This is huge. Adopt standards for metadata, asset tagging and keyword attribution; build out unique identifiers, asset registries and make standardizing your digital assets a priority for all of your users. This will better ensure your database is clean, always up to date, and that everyone is adhering to the same best practice. Maybe you don’t currently have a best practice policy set. If that’s the case, take a step back back, administer one and be clear about why adhering to it is crucial for every user. If you have best practices in place but people still seem to be going rogue, get management involved to address poor behavior and have them help outline possible consequences to a continuous lack of compliance. I ensure you, those cowboys will listen then!

3) Be clear about your DAM expectations before, during and after implementation. Have open dialogue with your vendor on a continuous basis.

If you’re expecting, let’s say, your filtering or permissions structure to perform a certain way make sure you’re clear with your vendor from the beginning. Again, some systems may not support everything or meet all your expectations out of the box. Always ask before buying a DAM if a vendor is open to taking on custom work and if so, know that sometimes you could expect those requests to come at an additional cost. If you believe aspects of your DAM are not behaving properly, always bring it up with your vendor. While it certainly could be a bug, it could also be other (more strategic issues) coming into play that they can definitely help you sort out.

Get started doing your part today. To learn more about DAM and how we can help your company minimize the challenges associated with it, contact us at

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