DAM administrators maintain and promote the global digital asset management (DAM) solution. They lead in areas of technical system maintenance, marketing global processes and procedures, communications, metadata creation and consistency, system training, and user support. Sounds like a lot? It is. But a DAM admin is key to effective and efficient digital operations.
Anna Raugalis, the DAM admin at beauty retailer Laura Mercier, helped get the company’s system up and running efficiently as it made the transition from Box to Widen. “At a certain point, managing assets using Box became not just a day-to-day annoyance but something that was actually costing the company money and something they wanted to invest in. They realized they needed a dedicated person who had expertise in DAM,” said Anna about the state of Laura Mercier’s assets and the need for her role.
And Leah Carlson, the DAM admin at food manufacturer McCormick, enhanced collaboration across end-to-end content operations. “Our product content is in demand by all internal stakeholders because it’s used and repurposed by a wide range of internal teams and external partners to extend existing content or build new,” Leah shared.
While the role of a DAM admin can sometimes be overlooked, their leadership is key to success. So, let's look at what it really takes to be a DAM admin.
Beyond a task: What it really takes to be a DAM admin
Being a DAM admin isn’t just a task. It requires vision to align a DAM system’s mission statement with business objectives and needs. It requires creativity to problem solve and engage others. And it requires strategy to coordinate all the data and people involved. Here are some of a DAM admin’s key responsibilities and how to learn them.
Engage current and potential DAM users
Don’t think that a DAM admin is someone who just sits at their desk tinkering with metadata fields. That’s important, but engaging with current and potential users will guide your metadata and overall digital asset management strategy.
By connecting to others via calls, surveys, interviews, and emails, you’ll better understand users’ expectations and desires for the DAM system. You can then take that information and make adjustments to your site to meet those needs.
Lead change management
Change management is a real challenge for DAM projects. DAM doesn’t exist in a silo. It connects marketing, creative, IT, HR, and more. Your user research will help you understand the opportunities to improve specific teams’ workflows and inspire ideas on what to communicate to those teams.
Be a master of metadata
Metadata is the key to effective searching, which is why metadata management is essential. As the DAM admin, your ability to create a sound metadata strategy that matches user searches to the data describing the files will help foster findability and usability within your DAM system.
Whether you own the majority of metadata application or you empower others to, controlled vocabulary lists (CVLs) bring consistency to your metadata.
Perform DAM maintenance
DAM sites can get cluttered or messy over time. Which makes sense because they’re constantly evolving — another reason a DAM admin is essential. Sometimes it happens when your workload is greater than the time allotted to DAM maintenance. Sometimes it’s just a slow buildup. But staying on top of recurring tasks and initiatives will help keep your DAM system running smoothly.
Outlining what to focus on weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually can make maintenance more manageable and ensure important tasks are receiving the appropriate level of attention. Here are examples of tasks that should be considered and addressed regularly.
- Check uploads. Keep an eye on empty metadata fields and duplicate uploads.
- Monitor DAM system alerts to identify areas of concern. For example, digital assets without categories.
- Review new log in requests.
- Keep an eye on recent upload/download activity to understand who’s uploading/downloading what.
- Train users. If people are simply searching and downloading, a video may suffice. For users who will be uploading and editing, an in-person or live webinar training is advised.
- Send users regular emails — perhaps monthly — that are concise but keep them up-to-date on new content and features.
- Leverage analytics tools like the Widen Insights app to see how the system is performing. Create reports to share with leadership to communicate the DAM system’s performance and user engagement.
- Review and delete inactive users.
- Review expired and expiring assets to help keep your site clean.
- Ask for feedback from users with a survey, meeting, or desk visit.
- Go through the Admin Dashboard to review the tools, permissions, and asset groups.
- Refresh the Dashboard and/or login page.
- Review the deleted assets in the Pending Delete queue.
- Review standards and store them in the DAM system as a resource for users. Include information on file names, abbreviations, keywords, expiration dates, etc.
- Review governance policies. This ensures a consistent pass off if the DAM admin changes.
These tasks are a great jumping-off point but should be adjusted and added to based on your site’s governance plan and DAM strategy.
Execute a DAM site cleanup
Following admin maintenance tasks will keep your digital asset management system running smoothly, but you should also be aware of signals that it’s time for a DAM site cleanup, a larger endeavor than maintenance tasks.
One sign that it’s time for a cleanup is crabby users. Do you hear people complain about the DAM site? Are users frustrated because they can’t find what they need? Another sign is lost assets. Does searching for an asset in your DAM result in feelings similar to losing your phone when it’s on silent? You know it’s somewhere, but where!? And if you’re constantly having to tell people how to find things, or if you’re unsure of how to categorize or tag things, it’s time for a DAM site audit.
The results of your audit might pinpoint simple tweaks to make or indicate that a larger effort is needed. Either way, taking regular deep dives into your site will help keep your site running smoothly and increase the ROI of your DAM investment.
Look for ways to optimize your DAM system
Since your DAM site is always evolving, that means there are always opportunities to optimize and get more from your DAM investment. Evaluate your system regularly and look for ways to take your brand management further by using different maturity methodologies, like our Brand Management Maturity Model. This model looks at DAM across five interconnected dimensions — strategy, people, process, technology, and impact — to help you realize your system’s full potential.
DAM admin resources
There's a lot to learn as a DAM admin. To further your education, check out these articles.
- An Intro to the Five Foundations of Digital Asset Management | Explore five core concepts that lay the groundwork for businesses to realize the benefits of DAM.
- UX Methodologies for DAM Admins | Apply these UX methodologies to optimize the system for your users’ experience.
- The Metadata Brainstorm Exercise | Try this exercise to get a sampling of terms users will use to search for assets and how they want to use the DAM system.
- What Are the Types of Metadata Fields? | Key to the success of DAM is metadata. Learn about the options for open and controlled field formats.
- Improve the Health of Your Metadata with Controlled Vocabularies | Dive deeper into metadata fields with this article about controlled vocabularies. Controlled vocabularies help tackle the challenge of accurate and consistent metadata.
- Using Image Recognition Software to Streamline Your DAM Workflows | Learn about some of the uses for integrating DAM and auto-tagging technologies and how to implement this integration successfully.
- DAM Survey Questions for Collecting User Feedback | Get feedback from your DAM users by sending out a survey. This article features a list of sample survey questions and tips for getting the data you need.
- How to Do a Content Audit | Try these four steps and a spreadsheet to conduct a content audit to help inform your content strategy.
- DAM ROI: The Business Case for DAM | Learn how to justify the new or continued investment in DAM technology
- Using Digital Asset Management Integrations | Learn about the ways you can integrate your DAM system with other marketing and creative tools.
- Guide Your Creative Budget with DAM Data | See how to use creative asset management practices and tools to stay organized, measure results, and inform your creative strategy.
DAM admins for the win
Yes, being a DAM admin is not a simple role. Hopefully, this overview of what it takes to be an admin shows just how much value they bring to an organization. Taking on this role requires a variety of skills from cataloging and UX research to change management. That’s why an admin should be considered essential for DAM success.
If you’re a Widen DAM admin, we’d love to have you as part of our DAM community where you can learn and share tricks of the trade with others who share your DAM passions. Check out Widen Connect and get involved.
And if you’re searching for your next DAM system, we’re happy to share more about what Widen DAM can do for you. Watch an for a quick overview or with our Advisor team to learn more.
Note: This post was originally published in November 2017 and has been updated to remain current.