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The Essential Guide for DAM Admins

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Four large overlapping "E"s that take up the full vertical space of the illustration. With the "E" on the right fully exposed and three more layered under it stretching to the left side of the page. With the last one the least visible.

A DAM administrator maintains and promotes 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, training, and user support.

Sounds like a lot? It is. But a DAM admin is key to effective and efficient digital operations. Our 2016 customer satisfaction survey found that companies with a dedicated admin, or an individual that spends more than half of their time on DAM, see a greater return on investment (ROI) in their DAM system and content efforts than those with an admin that spends less than 20 percent of their time on DAM.

Those with a dedicated DAM admin reaped the benefits of:

  • 65% more people using their DAM system
  • Access to 200% more assets
  • Two times the use of digital assets

So, now that you’re aware of how critical DAM admins are to the success of coordinating the access of content across teams, 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 the 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 key abilities of a DAM admin 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.

Light the fire, aka 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.

“Inspire users with experiences showing how DAM gives [you] a competitive edge. Catalyze teams to look past DAM as static storage and instead as a strategy to drive business results and priorities,” Michael Shattuck shared when speaking about New Balance’s award-winning DAM system launch in 2017.


Metadata is the key to effective searching. 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 too, controlled vocabulary lists (CVLs) bring consistency to your metadata.

DAM maintenance

DAM sites can get cluttered or messy over time. 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 the DAM system alerts to identify areas of concern. For example, digital assets without categories.
  • Review new login 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 regular emails to users, 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 your leadership team to communicate the DAM system’s performance and user engagement.
  • Review and delete inactive users.


  • 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 filenames, 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.

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 — which is a larger endeavor than maintenance tasks.

One sign that it’s time for a site cleanup is crabby users. Do you hear conversations of people complaining about the DAM software? 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 cleanup.

What are the results of a DAM site cleanup? One Widen customer set out to clean up metadata, roles, asset groups, upload profiles, and assets. Here’s a look at some of their results.

Digital Asset Management Site Cleanup

Kerry Ingredients, another Widen customer, was able to grow their user base by 215 percent over the course of a year and increase downloads of on-brand assets by 134 percent as a result of their cleanup efforts.

To learn more about how to perform a DAM site audit and get started with a cleanup, read “The four stops you need to make when plotting your DAM site audit roadmap.”

DAM admin resources

There's a lot to learn as a DAM admin. For further reading, try out these articles.

Get the admin playbook

Yes, being a DAM admin is no simple task. It requires a variety of skills, from cataloging to UX research, to change management. Download the playbook for a best practices guide for new and experienced DAM system admins. You got this!

Note: This post was originally published in November 2017 and has been updated to remain current.

Topics: DAMsters, DAM

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