The DAM Playbook

6 Steps to DAM Success

DAM implementations and digital transformations don’t happen overnight

Digital Asset Management (DAM) is a large undertaking, even when simply changing from one DAM system to another it is important to construct and then implement a digital strategy.

The key to developing strategy is realising that while DAM sits at the heart of the delivery of digital content within an organisation, the software itself is only one part, organisation-wide considerations must be made.

Before you select a software vendor, you must go through a set of steps looking inward at your organisation.

Implementing DAM successfully involves people, processes, information and systems, not just buying and installing a piece of software and hoping for the best.

Companies undertake digital transformation projects involving DAM to instigate changes and improvements, selecting software is just one change when in reality you need to make changes across the business.

IQ Equity developed the 6 Steps to DAM Success (6 Steps) which is based on 30+ years collective experience working in the DAM industry and extensive industry-wide knowledge.

We have consulted businesses and organisations from a range of verticals and sectors on all aspects of digital strategy, and served as industry-leading analysts during our tenure.

The 6 Steps is a framework to construct and implement a successful DAM strategy, a framework which forms the basis of The DAM Playbook.

By following the 6 Steps it is possible for you to understand your business better, to focus on what you want, on what you need and prepare the entire organisation for ongoing improvements.

The DAM Playbook grants customers access to a set of data, tools and documentation which walk the user through the process of the 6 Steps.

IQ Equity also creates bespoke services, reports and analyses, alongside the 6 Steps, to personalise the process to the user’s particular needs.

The database behind The DAM Playbook and 6 Steps is unique, a DAM-specific project management tool and the most extensive database of specialist, DAM-specific data available.

Step 1
GAP Analysis

Identifying ‘gaps’ in the business and making a plan for what you hope to achieve by carrying out the desired project.

Step 2
Resource Audits

Looking at your business and identifying what you have in terms of assets, metadata, people, software tools, etc.

Step 3
Requirements Gathering

Gathering together your stakeholders, looking at their needs and writing up a list of shared goals.

Step 4

Administration, maintenance and support of a DAM system, as well as defining who is responsible for which areas of the system and establishing rules for proper usage.

Step 5
Use Case Scenarios

By understanding how and why departments work with assets in specific ways will enhance vendor demos, aid change management and identify training needs.

Step 6
Vendor Selection

Once you know what you don’t have, what you already have, and how to achieve what you want, you can begin to choose the Vendor that’s best for you.

Gap Analysis is carried out using the DAM Maturity Model.

It allows you to identify gaps within the business, your company’s current knowledge of data-driven systems and understanding of digital strategy, and gain an overall understanding of how the business currently operates.

People, Information, Systems and Processes must be considered. Understanding the ‘gaps’ within your company allows you to identify areas for improvement and lead you to your desired outcome when implementing DAM.

The DAM Maturity Model is broken down into 4 categories with a total of 15 sub-categories:


The need for talented teams of people and individuals is necessary for effective DAM operation and it is people who form the backbone of any DAM system.

Technical Expertise

An assessment of the abilities of those who form the DAM infrastructure in the management of DAM technologies.

Business Expertise

This relates to the understanding of fundamental DAM concepts with a view to maintaining the overriding vision of DAM strategy.


An assessment of the combination of technical and business expertise and the resulting ability of an organisation to operate a collaborative, unified DAM strategy.


This is the structuring and maintenance of metadata, taxonomies and controlled vocabularies within a strong framework which lies at the base of successful organisational strategies within DAM.


The maturity model looks for the defined practices and standards in place to gain the maximum value from your asset repository. A digital file becomes an asset when you add value to it through metadata and use organisational tools employed by DAM systems to make it finadable and available for reuse.


This measures the proficiency with which metadata supports categorisation and classification of assets through taxonomies and controlled vocabularies but also how metadata is used to define administration, access, rights management and other DAM functions.


An assessment of how successfully an organisation repurposes and reuses assets, this relates both to how the organisation makes assets available for adaptation, but also the frequency with which reuse and repurposing is carried out, rather than the creation of new assets.


Measures how well assets can be retrieved, this relies upon an associated, detailed array of metadata and taxonomies but also on tagging and storage practices and policies.

Use Cases

Measures the breadth of different ways in which the DAM is accessed and utilised and the corresponding information employed to benefit the largest number of users.


Systems within DAM are required to facilitate the lifecycle of assets. The systems category therefore refers to the ways in which the DAM is accessed and is made secure through a management infrastructure and through the direction of resources across the organisation.


This refers to the level to which DAM operation is spread within an organisation; referring both to the number of use cases represented and also to the uptake of the DAM system itself by employees working within different departments and silos.


Security in the maturity model assessment refers to the security of assets and the involvement of metadata. This includes authorisation, authentication, policy enforcement, users, roles, internal/external access controls and rights management.


This assesses the overall user experience (UX). Maintenance of a positive UX relies on the system itself but also collaboration between different departments and individuals, so that each user type is getting the most out of their DAM usage.


This is a broad assessment of the success with which assets, metadata and people are managed across the organisation, and how well the systems in place support DAM usage.


This final category focuses on the processes by which people use information within established systems. It is essentially what brings everything together and provides the tools with which the DAM strategy can be realised.


An assessment of how successfully business processes and workflow tools are used to increase efficiency and quality in the production of content. It involves the collaboration and coordination of different parties, effective communication and self-monitoring.


This looks at the people who have been put in place to manage the DAM, being mindful of the overriding goals of the DAM strategy alongside the maintenance and constant improvement of DAM operation. It is a reflection of how well governance policies within the company are delivered through the use of DAM.


DAM systems are not simply storage repositories, as such this category assesses the success with which integrated tools improve DAM usage. This includes a wide range of tools, from creative tools for delivering rich content, to workflow management tools which increase organisational efficiencies.

A business can carry out its own Gap Analysis using our FREE resource, the DAM Maturity Model.

IQ Equity can also supply a bespoke report on businesses in your vertical / sector so you can benchmark your maturity against levels within the industry.

Resource Audits are a more focused assessment which involves an in depth analysis of the current state of your business.

The goal is to identify the who, where, what and how within your company; who are your main stakeholders, where are all of your assets and metadata stored, what kind of assets and metadata do you have / produce and how are you ideating, creating, curating, analysing and archiving assets, and utilising metadata.

Resources includes every valuable entity your company utilises People, Information, Systems and Processes.

To construct and deliver a successful strategy you must understand the resources you have and how all of the pieces fit together. With the information gathered it is much easier to transform the way you handle content and the way your business operates.

A crucial part of resource audits is identifying stakeholders within different business units who will help guide, manage and deliver on the strategy both before and after software implementation.

Stakeholders are likely to have very different roles, skill sets and use the DAM for different purposes.

The five stages of the asset lifecycle aim to align stakeholder roles, focusing on how they interact with assets in a broad sense rather than looking at specifics…


Capturing the expression of an idea


Taking that idea and turning it into a tangible asset


Sharing that tangible asset with a wider audience


Gaining insight from that audience on your asset


Preserving that asset safely and securely

Stakeholders may fulfil one of these roles or all five.

The importance of the five stages is recognising that all Creators are likely to have shared needs and requirements, as will Ideators, Curators and so on.

It also places the asset at the core of DAM strategy, something that every successful content-driven company must do.

Stakeholders are both the backbone of DAM from an organisational standpoint, but also play a key role in directing requirements gathering and achieving user buy-in.

Engaging with stakeholders early on ensures that decisions made further along are backed by the people using the DAM system and will help you to build a Board of Stakeholders to help manage the DAM.

Through surveying end users and stakeholders you can gain an understanding of which areas require attention and the functionality desired from the implementation of DAM and/or other software.

You need to align the Must Haves, Should Haves, Could Haves and Will Not Haves (MoSCoW) from across the organisation/enterprise, which helps you to prioritise the most desirable functionalities and engage directly with your stakeholders.

The end goal is a list of requirements which reflects the organisation-wide desires and expectations for DAM implementation.

With requirements gathering, you are creating a deeper understanding of what you and each of your end users are looking for in terms of your DAM system, processes and overall organisational architecture.

In the end, this helps you to identify the best-suited vendors for your needs.

Many companies ask vendors to fill out lengthy RFPs (request for proposal), RFQs (request for quotation) and RFIs (request for information) in order to gather vendor-specific requirements data.

This can be a painstaking process for the company, who may have a limited knowledge of DAM and other software platforms.

A lay person, with little understanding of DAM technologies will struggle to get this right; not understanding the current state of the DAM market and what functionality is available from DAM systems and other downstream applications leads to failure in asking the right questions.

Vendors have to commit time and resources into completing these documents and based on the answers they provide may not even be considered for further evaluation.

No vendor is likely to fulfil 100% of your requirements, so it’s important to talk to vendors to find workable solutions to these problems, an inflexible request gives the vendor no opportunity to do this.

In summary the RFP/RFI/RFQ system often fails to deliver the desired information and can prevent companies from having conversations with fit-for-purpose vendors.

The DAM Playbook Requirements Builder utilises a rich database of relevant information on our 10 Core Accredited Vendors, where common DAM requirements are mapped to vendor capabilities.

16 of our 10 Core Accredited Vendors have also completed the Beyond Core evaluation, an extensive, deep dive on the higher functions of the DAM, covering 100+ categories

10 Core Accreditation confirms that a vendor has the core functionality to support all common DAM needs, Beyond Core builds on this, looking at the features which support more specialist functionality, helping you to align your requirements to vendor capability at a granular level.

It is possible to focus on the specific requirements desired and assess the functionality of our accredited vendors side by side, providing you with a score for each vendor’s suitability.

Effectively you are instantly able to view the results of multiple RFIs / RFPs / RFQs and focus on your specialist requirements when you contact the vendors.

Governance is an enterprise-wide infrastructure made up of the policies, standard operating procedures, and practices used to ensure an organization’s immediate and future regulatory, legal, risk, environmental and operational requirements.

Maintaining and adhering to a governance program should be an ongoing, fundamental business activity.

Governance should be a top down initiative, led by the CDO (Chief Digital Officer) that dictates DAM usage and is enforced at the user-level through rights, roles and permissions.

DAM governance policies will differ depending on your company’s processes and the sector you work in.

Developing the policies involves defining the changes that will take place during and after the implementation of the DAM.

This includes workflows, storage methods and their management, communication and defining DAM-specific user roles to ensure that the DAM system is operated effectively.

It is also ensuring the company’s own governance policies are reflected in the management and delivery of content through the DAM.

The DPB contains extensive documentation on governance policy and considerations when implementing DAM.

Governance is an integral piece of the consultancy services provided by IQ Equity, we understand the complexities involved and understand that every company operates slightly differently when it comes to Governance, often requiring a bespoke approach / strategy.

In order to visualise your requirements in a real-world environment, you need to construct Use Case Scenarios.

Stakeholders need to detail their typical interactions with the DAM, their workflows and other day to day activities.

Understanding what your users want from the DAM and how the DAM will improve their experience is key to selecting the right vendor.

Witnessing workflows being carried out with your own assets is far more informative than receiving a canned demo which is solely geared towards selling you the vendor’s product.

What you end up with is real world scenarios that are truly relevant to you. You set up a problem for the vendor to solve and then the vendor is able to utilise the features of their system in order to solve it, providing the flexibility that is often lacking from RFP/RFQ/RFIs.

We have mapped a number of common use case scenarios against requirements in The DAM Playbook, examples include Librarian, Brand Manager, Internal Creative and Product / Catalogue Manager.

These use cases were built on industry knowledge and serve as a guide for how end-users interact with the DAM system on a day to day basis.

It’s possible for you to compare vendors based on these use cases or use them as a framework to build your own use case scenarios.

Vendors could have the same score for a certain requirement subcategory but different strengths or functionality within that banding based on their capacity to support a particular use case.

Use case scenarios allow vendors to demonstrate exactly how they carry out particular functionality, giving you an idea of their proficiency, not just their ability to do something.

This allows you to fully understand the performance of different DAM systems alongside each other, mapped to your specific requirements.

Once you’ve identified what you lack, what you already have, what you want and how to achieve this, you are better prepared to approach DAM Vendors.

Each of the previous five steps is designed to ensure that your users are achieving the outcome they desire.

Your stakeholders are aligned, users understand their role within the DAM and you have identified exactly what you hope to achieve.

When each of the previous five steps have been closely followed you can make an informed and ultimately correct decision selecting a vendor and successfully implement DAM.

DAM is not just a software system decision, it’s about people, information, processes, systems and a whole range of requirements and considerations.

The DAM Playbook database combines gap analysis data, requirements data, technical attributes data, the 10 Core Characteristics scores and Beyond Core scores to calculate the best fit vendors.

10 Core and Beyond Core scoring are measures of proficiency which become a powerful comparative tool when combined with the aforementioned data; data which focuses less on how proficient a vendor is and simply on the functionality and tools they have.

Users can map out their specific requirements, denote Must Haves, Should Haves and Could Haves, filter by technical requirements such as coding languages and deployment methods, group vendors together by price, usability or customer service proficiency amongst many other variables.

Then the user can be provided a personalised report on our 40 x 10 Core Accredited Vendors and/or 16 x Beyond Core Vendors.

IQ Equity can provide documentation and how-to content, help users to map requirements and filter results, and produce bespoke reports, visualisations and analyses.

Through utilising The DAM Playbook database and the data collected from each of the 6 Steps you can map your requirements to our vendors.

IQ Equity provides the largest database on vendors, offers consultancy through the whole 6 Step process, will map requirements, filter results, and produce bespoke reports, visualisations and analyse.

Map your DAM DNA. And find your best-fit, fast.