Not implementing a digital asset management system successfully isn’t just like burning a big pile of money, it hurts in less tangible ways as well. You can lose respect from people in your organization. You can lose future opportunities for budget. You can even lose valuable time and resources on a project that never gets off the ground.

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Here are five high-level reasons why digital asset management projects don't take off, and five ways you can avoid them.

1. No DAM strategy

A DAM strategy can help you avoid common pitfalls such as making the project team too large, not inviting the right people in the initial phases of the project (i.e. system selection without involving digital asset managers, librarians or other information professionals in your organization), or even not expertly defining where you're currently at in your DAM maturity.


  • Use the DAM Maturity Model (Modeled after the ECM3 Maturity model) to benchmark your current state of maturity with digital asset management in your organization
  • Use a RACI chart to outline specific responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed people for tasks and deliverables
  • Document risks (throughout the project, not just at the beginning) and define how you plan to mitigate them
  • Keep project team focused. Reach out to HR to find subject matter experts in your organization or use your company directory (or even LinkedIn) to search for librarians, archivists and digital asset managers in your organization.

2. No DAM champion

A DAM champion is your cheerleader for the entire project. This person will have the expertise, social standing, and respect in your organization. People listen when this person talks, and get excited about the DAM project as a result. This person will understandd the true value that a DAM project will bring to the organization and is not put off by past failures.


3. No DAM budget

DAM projects cost money and time. That’s why you have to take into account both people and monetary resources in your budget for a successful DAM project.


  • Hire a DAM admin. This person can be in-house or out-sourced. But the more they know about your business, the better
  • Build your DAM business case or proposal and get relevant stakeholders on your side. Put yourself in the shoes of the person who has the power to allocate (or not allocate) budget. Tell them the story of why DAM is needed and what quantitative and qualitative ROI metrics will be a result of a successful DAM project in a way that speaks to them and also reflects high-level organizational goals
  • Timing is everything. End of year is a great time to go to the well for some organizations. Know that timing can be a big factor in securing resources for a DAM project

4. No DAM adoption

If your organization is going to get a return on their DAM investment, people need to be using it. If you have low system adoption among your stakeholders, then you’ll be in for a world of trouble when you’re looking for additional funding. You’ve got to be able to show that the DAM system is being utilized, and is an asset to the organization.


  • Track your DAM usage regularly. Report on user activity and measure any upticks in use or decreases in use
  • Meet each team to identify the specific reasons for lack of DAM adoption. Actively seek out ways to improve adoption by getting user feedback
  • Market the #*&! out of your DAM initiative. This requires constant advocacy. Hold training sessions regularly. Send emails, chats, texts. Bring it up in relevant business discussions. Put a link on your intranet. Do whatever it takes.

5. No DAM scope

Scope creep isn’t just a problem unique to digital asset management projects. In fact, it can happen in a number of business projects. What's scope creep? According to PMI: "Scope creep is adding additional features or functions of a new product, requirements, or work that is not authorized."

Use data to create an informed, reasonable timeline for implementation (not too long, not too short, not a random guess, but a well-informed, well-researched project methodology backed by data.) Keep out things that aren’t relevant. Hit main objectives, table edge cases and future work in another planning document. Know what your DAM scope is by outlining a mission statement and a framework.


  • Outline business requirements
  • Outline your scope
  • Have a mission statement
  • Say no to projects that don’t fit in the scope
  • Define the people, processes and technologies involved in your DAM project for its initial rollout and later phases

Remember that these are only some of the common reasons that DAM projects fail. There are many other reasons such as not considering metadata, not getting buy-in from senior management, and more. According to McKinsey & Company, "the longer a project is scheduled to last, the more likely it is that it will run over time and budget, with every additional year spent on the project increasing cost overruns by 15 percent."

They suggest that successful software projects have four common factors, which we believe also apply to your DAM projects as well:

  • Managing strategy and stakeholders
  • Mastering technology and content
  • Building team and capabilities
  • Excelling at project management practices

Remember, digital asset management projects have a lot of moving parts: scope, requirements, people, process, technology, planning, budget, and more. Now that you know some of the most common reasons why DAM projects fail, check out our package of DAM homework materials to help you to get started on your path to DAM success.

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