Skip to main content
Reading Time: 9 minutes

Enterprise digital asset management (DAM) systems are a big investment of resources. They can cost quite a bit to purchase, and require a commitment of people and time to select, implement, and ultimately manage this important tool.

So it goes without saying (but we’ll say it anyway) that few companies can afford to waste all that time and money on a system that isn’t providing a good return on investment.

As a DAM manager, the last thing you want is your CMO coming to you asking about this big expense, and you have nothing to show for it. Before things get to that point, here are some red flags you can watch out for that will let you know your DAM isn’t doing what it should – and potentially trigger actions to start seeing that ROI you and your leaders are looking for.

Let’s get into it.

1 - Poor User Adoption

Maybe the most obvious (and important) thing to look for is whether or not people are using the DAM – and using it the way it’s designed to be used.

You’ve put a lot of time and effort into understanding the needs of the business and your users (if not, this might be the root of the issue), and have selected the DAM accordingly. You’ve designed workflows and processes alongside your stakeholders, and yet still they’re refusing to abandon old ways of doing things, or legacy tools and systems.

If users aren’t using your digital asset management platform as intended, that’s an immediate red flag you aren’t getting the DAM ROI you want.

The cause can be any number of things, including poor user experience in the DAM or the system not actually having the functionality they need. But by far the most common reason we see that users aren’t in the DAM is a lack of ongoing change management practices on the part of the DAM team and leaders.

Remember, users are people, and people are creatures of habit. If they’ve been using processes or tools for a long time, getting them to change is hard. That’s why, as part of any new DAM implementation, change management should be an integral part of the process.

But where DAM managers often go wrong is thinking that once the system is launched, change management is over… Instead, you should have ongoing communications, training sessions, activities, and support for users to keep them in the tool. You should be making an effort to understand how the needs of users are evolving, and plan for ways to solve those before they become a problem that pushes them into old habits.Your DAM should evolve, too. So if user adoption is a problem for you, start with evaluating change management.

And if you need additional support to do that, check out our user adoption toolkit for some helpful tools.

2- Users Can’t Find Content

As the DAM manager, maybe one of your worst nightmares is users being unable to consistently and quickly find content in the DAM.

Modern DAM platforms like Tenovos exist to help you maximize the value of your content. We want to help your users find the right assets at the right time, and get in front of the right people, in order to achieve a goal. So, if the DAM isn’t doing that, it’s not giving you the ROI you need – and it’s impacting the ROI of your content, too.

That’s a problem.

Going back to change management, there is a human element here that can be part of the challenge. Your users may not be searching for content properly, and a few education sessions will go a long way to solving the issue. Do they know how to search? What advanced functions and filters exist to find content, or what taxonomy do you use to identify the right content?

If the answer is no, well, start there. If the answer is yes, then maybe it’s your metadata structure that is the problem. It could be time to reevaluate. You’ll want to look at how you’ve structured your metadata and organized your content, what keywords are you using and do they contain language that makes sense. You also want to speak with your users. How do they search for content?

A pro tip here:
look at searches in the DAM that failed to return any content. This will give you insight into how users look for content.

We’ve published a whole guide on metadata in DAM you can read through for even better insights into maximizing content findability in the DAM. Start with chapter 3 on keywording.

3 - Duplicate Content

If you’re finding duplicate content in your DAM, something’s wrong. This issue piggybacks off #2 above, and is often the result of users not being able to find content fast, so they remake it.

But it’s a big problem when you’re talking about spending more time and money (resources today’s creative teams just don’t have) to make content that already exists somewhere. It also leads to inflated agency/content licensing spend to pay for things to be recreated or a photographer to shoot (another) round of product images.

Duplicate content can be a symptom of the findability issue, but it’s an immediate indication your DAM isn’t performing in an optimized way. Many of the fixes for this issue we’ve already discussed – think about improving content findability in the DAM and educating users on how to find content quickly.

It’s also an opportunity to talk to your stakeholders about processes. Are users searching the DAM first? Are they trying to find the content, or just putting in a quick search and immediately abandoning it to create a new creative brief instead? Some of the responsibility has to be on users to look before they create, but at the same time, the DAM needs to surface that content without too much effort, otherwise this problem will persist.

There is another reason this happens, and if this is the case, while not technically your job as the DAM manager, it impacts your DAM’s ROI. Digital asset management platforms should empower creative teams to reuse existing assets as both a way to maximize the value of their content, but also to move faster in terms of productivity. This is one of the best ways to achieve a positive DAM ROI.

So, if your stakeholders complain that reusing content isn’t as good as building from scratch, remind them that not only does content reuse save them time and money, it can also be done in incredibly creative ways that drive audience engagement across multiple digital channels simultaneously.

4 - Little to No Productivity Gains

The DAM is a productivity tool (among other things). It helps your users get more done by making content accessible, fast.

Where once DAMs were just archives, today’s platforms are workflow power tools that let creative teams find, edit, review, approve and publish content without ever leaving the system. Which means, if your creative team says their output hasn’t increased or it’s harder for them to get their job done, something’s gone wrong.

This DAM ROI red flag is one you need to address. It will impact user adoption (as discussed above), and ultimately slow down your marketing team’s ability to drive audience engagement with your brand. In today’s digital landscape where teams are publishing more and more content every year, it puts a lot of pressure on the DAM to perform to its full potential.

No one wants to be bogged down by process, so start by evaluating how you’ve designed the DAM to work between teams. Does it have the capabilities it needs to achieve the level of integration you want with existing enterprise technologies? Do the workflows make sense with how stakeholders are expecting to use the system? Does the DAM effectively eliminate manual tasks or does it create more work in other areas?

These are all questions you want to ask, and get answers with the help of your users. Remember, the DAM is for them to use – therefore they’re your best resource for help at this point. The ultimate solution here could be as simple as a few process tweaks, or the extreme response of switching DAMs to something more suited to the needs of the business. But ultimately it’s something you can’t afford to wait on – action is required here.

To better understand how your creative teams are using DAM for productivity, read our DAM productivity guide.

5 - You’re Still In the Dark

How your marketing and creative teams decide what content they should make is all dependent upon data: what content is published to which channels, how it performs, who engages with it, who uses it. These are all things they care about, and while many digital channels provide that information piecemeal, the DAM should be a source of truth for all users to access important asset-level data to make better content decisions.

This is the next evolution of modern digital asset management. Not every system can achieve this for you, but it is still an expectation of your leaders that at least some of this data is available in the DAM. If not, that should be an indication you have the opportunity to extract more value from the DAM – whether by improving reporting in your existing tool or thinking about a new platform to give you those insights.

Today’s marketers just can’t afford to publish content in the dark anymore. They require asset-level insights to make the right choices – and it’s on you as the DAM manager to provide those through your system.

The good news is that data not only helps your stakeholders, it helps you calculate the true ROI of your DAM. You’ll be able to understand who is using the system and how, and when content performance metrics are included, you’ll even be able to understand the DAM’s impact on things like revenue.

Now that’s a goal to shoot for.

Want to understand how your DAM data can help you calculate true ROI? Read chapter 4 of our data guide, here.

Modern Digital Asset Management

Your DAM is a big commitment of time and resources to keep operating, and as its manager you’re always on the lookout for ways to improve ROI in order to justify that spend. It’s also going to help your career, help you secure additional resources for support (so many DAM managers are teams of one, even at the enterprise level), and budget to invest further in this integral piece of technology.

Keep an eye out for these red flags, be proactive in addressing them, and you’ll be well on your way to achieving positive ROI for your DAM.