What is a Digital Asset Management System? Tips & Best Practices for Choosing and Maintaining a DAM

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Getting frustrated with the time your team is wasting searching for – or recreating – digital assets, or tracking down need-to-know information about usage rights? It’s time to consider a digital asset management system. Here’s what you need to know about how to choose the right digital asset management system for your needs, as well as some best practices for maintaining a DAM system to maximize your investment.

First: What is a Digital Asset Management System?  network of shapes in blues and greens

Digital asset management is the process a business uses to organize digital assets so that they’re easily stored and retrieved. A digital asset management system, on the other hand, is the tool or solution a company uses to facilitate this process. Digital asset management systems are sometimes called digital asset management software or DAM solutions. A DAM system isn’t always a single tool or software application; sometimes, a set of integrated tools are used.

That said, today’s DAM solutions are raising the bar to meet a variety of enterprise requirements, making a single-tool solution a practical one for many companies. These DAM systems provide a single source of truth – a central repository plus a powerful search database that allows you to store and manage all your digital assets from one place.

How to Choose the Right DAM System

Once used primarily by publishing and media companies, the widespread proliferation of digital media and, subsequently, companies’ use of digital media channels to reach prospective buyers, means that companies of all stripes are now finding a need for effective digital asset management solutions. From written content to sales brochures, stock photos, video files, and more, digital asset management systems not only make it easy to store and retrieve all types of digital assets, but they can help to optimize workflows, too.

So, what do you need to know to choose the right DAM system for your company’s needs? Here are a few important considerations when selecting a DAM system:

  • On-premise, SaaS, or cloud? There are advantages and disadvantages to the various deployment configurations, so there’s no one-size-fits-all ideal solution here. MerlinOne offers flexible deployment configuration options, so you can choose the configuration that best meets your needs.
  • Integration with CMS and other tools. Odds are, you’re already using a number of tools to distribute content and other digital assets to your audience. Choose a DAM system that integrates seamlessly with your content management system and other tools to enhance, rather than disrupt, your existing workflows.
  • Security. Limit your search to DAM systems that meet any applicable regulatory requirements. Healthcare organizations, for instance, should look for a HIPAA-compliant DAM system. Regulations aside, all organizations should look for a DAM solution that can keep your digital assets secure.
  • Manual vs. automatic metadata extraction. Whether you have a large volume of assets that must be digitized or are merging digital assets from disparate repositories, a DAM system that automatically extracts metadata from your existing assets will have you up and running in a fraction of the time – and you won’t need to devote vast human labor resources to manually tagging every asset.
  • Sharing and permissions. If you need to manage digital rights, such as stock photo usage rights, or share digital assets between teams or departments, robust sharing and permissions features are a must in a DAM system. These tools will enable you to share only approved assets suitable for the use case with certain team members, reducing errors and minimizing risk.

Best Practices for Maintaining a DAM System

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Now that you know what to look for when choosing a DAM system, let’s talk about a few ways you can get the most out of your investment.

  • Implement a consistent metadata tagging system. If users add subjective metadata to assets as they’re created or added to a DAM, there’s a good chance you’ll end up with inconsistent metadata. Practices such as using enforced picklists for fields, offering keyword suggestions, and having established formats for dates and descriptions will foster consistency, making it easier for users to quickly find assets as they’re needed.
  • Use roles and permissions to limit access. Rather than give all users access to your entire digital asset repository, take advantage of roles and permissions to ensure that users have access only to the assets they’ll need – and that rights-managed images and other assets aren’t used for unauthorized uses.
  • Customize your DAM system. A DAM solution like MerlinOne lets you customize your workspace with a simple drag-and-drop interface. Saved searches, common collections, metadata, and other tools can be configured to be shown or hidden and in any order for better usability.
  • Reduce manual tasks with the Workflow Engine. MerlinOne’s Workflow Engine is a powerful tool that can automate tedious manual tasks such as converting images to other formats or distributing content across multiple channels.
  • Take advantage of versioning features to ensure that only the most current assets are used. By checking out assets to make changes and then checking them back in, you’ll ensure that your users always have access to the most current, approved version of every asset.

Choosing a DAM system like MerlinOne provides access to robust functionality and useful, intuitive features that empowers creative and marketing teams to get more done in less time. Schedule a demo today to learn how MerlinOne’s DAM solution can transform your creative operations.

Want to learn more about whether or not a DAM is right for your business? Download our “Business Case for DAM” ebook below!
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