DAM migration, either from one DAM to another or from a different storage system to your first DAM can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be! There are a number of best practice tips for ensuring that this process is streamlined and effective to protect the movement of your assets.

Every contributing element of a digital asset management system is put under scrutiny when transferring assets from one system to another. Not only do you need to consider the assets themselves, but the people accessing these assets, the metadata structure, usage rights, and user adoption. These three steps can serve as an outline for where to begin with this process.

Step 1: Asset audit

Looking for digital assets

The best place to start is at the most basic asset level: figure out what you need to take with you for this migration and what can be left behind.

The audit should begin with your most crucial assets, assets you and your team are accessing on a daily basis: think logos, active marketing material, this month’s product shots, etc. These are the most business-critical assets that you will need in the DAM from day one to keep your business up and running.

After these are established, work backwards. Look at the assets you may look for once or twice a month. These assets are seen more as 'nice-to-haves.' You’ll need them in the DAM eventually, but if you didn’t have them there from the start it shouldn't hinder you. Once the DAM is up and running, these are the next assets you will want to migrate. Then you will come to your archive material, inactive material that you need to keep. At this point you will also need to start thinking about digital preservation.

Step 2: Clean up and define your metadata structure

Once you have your assets queued up and ready to go, the next step is looking at how they are going to be classified. Metadata is the architectural basis for everything undertaken within a digital asset management system. A structurally sound set of metadata allows for innovation and makes the platform much more flexible to change. This is applicable both within the DAM and when migrating assets.

Your metadata structure should be extensive enough to classify your assets in such a way that it captures all of the applicable information and makes them easy for your users to find. For some ideas on creating metadata structure, view our recommendations for Tag Management Best Practice and our taxonomy exercises.

Step 3: Figure out how

Many DAM solutions will approach this migration a number of different ways. It is important to think about both the time and cost effectiveness of these different methods, as well as the feasibility. Migrating over 500 assets manually is a lot different than migrating over 500,000 assets manually. As the scale of the project increases it becomes more important to look at more technical migration options, such as using an API.

Bynder recommends a few main options for its initial media migration: including a manual import by the Bynder team from a hard drive, an API import or a client self-upload. More details about what each of these options entail and how they differ can be found here. Although these options are specific to Bynder, they can be applicable to many DAM systems.

Case study

Digital asset management for publishing company case study

Imagine you’re the project lead for a large publishing company. You have over two million assets dating over a one hundred year span and you’re in the process of migrating these from an old DAM to a new, more cost effective solution. Due to the nature of a publishing company you recognize that preserving the metadata structure is going to be a highly important factor. This metadata structure ensures that the various brands are able to continue to differentiate their assets from one another and easily find the assets they need. Another aspect that is prominent within your business is usage rights, since many of these assets are syndicated out to brands around the world.

Starting with such a large asset base means the auditing process is going to be an even more crucial step. Moving over millions of assets is not a simple task regardless of how organized they are, therefore cutting down this initial number for migration will be beneficial. At the same time, this audit will allow you to think about digital preservation because the dated assets that are not going to be needed actively in the DAM still need to be preserved in some way.

For a project of this scale you will need to establish a clear team that is going to be responsible for managing the process, including a DAM manager, a technical lead and a core team of the initial users of the new system. For such a large amount of assets it will be more effective to solve for this migration technically rather than manually. Utilizing something such as an API and automating this process as much as possible will make it a smoother transition and allow your team to map over any valuable information that exists in the old platform rather than starting from scratch.

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