What is a Digital Asset Management Workflow

Learn how to develop a digital asset management workflow to manage your ever-growing content production schedule.

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Isn’t it a little bit shocking? 

According to this article from Forbes, 85% of us marketers admit to feeling under pressure to deliver more content and do so quicker and quicker. 

Then again, it makes sense. We produce more and more content, after all, and we often face an even greater demand for more. 

But I also think that the bigger problem is not the pressure to create content. It’s the pressure resulting from challenges during the content production process. 

How often do you find yourself wasting time trying to locate files, images, or the newest version of some digital asset that you need right now? 

For me, the answer is – quite often.

That’s why we turn our attention to DAM systems. We do so because those systems promise to help us storing, managing, and processing digital assets easier. They can also streamline production, help us get reviews and approvals faster, and basically, deliver more content with ease. 

But there’s a catch – DAM software rarely does it all by itself. In fact, to get the most out of it, you need to create a workflow to manage digital assets, and that’s what we’re going to cover in this guide. 

Below, you’ll discover what a digital asset management (DAM) workflow is, and you’ll also see what it, typically, looks like. 

Intrigued? Let’s take it from the top, then.

What Is the Digital Asset Management Workflow?

Let’s start by defining the word, workflow. 

Why? Because this simple phrase contains the explanation to what we’re talking about in this guide. 

And so, a workflow is as a set of steps or procedures that allow to move a particular activity from conception to completion. The purpose of the workflow, as beautifully described by Kissflow, is to “define how something goes from being undone to done, or raw to processed.”  

In the content creation process, a workflow would include all the steps required to turn a raw idea into a completed, and ideally, published asset. Using a blog article for example, the workflow would include steps to:

  • Define the article brief, 
  • Write the asset,
  • Actions required to edit, review, proofread and sign it off,
  • On-page SEO optimization tasks, 
  • Steps required to publish the article, and more. 

All in all, the concept is pretty simple. 

Unfortunately, it gets a little murkier when it comes to DAM workflow. 

Digital asset management workflows

It’s a common mistake – Many marketers consider digital asset management workflows as steps and processes to manage how a DAM platform works. Or as processes that define how a DAM system should operate but that’s not what they are. 

A digital asset management workflow defines how you manage digital assets and get content projects completed. Although it focuses largely on the DAM and requires a DAM platform to implement, it has little to do with the software. 

In other words, the DAM workflow outlines how you request an asset for the system, or how you create a brief in the system, etc. But it has nothing to do with how the system processes that information. 

Think of the DAM workflow as a list of common actions and processes for managing digital assets. Sure, it all happens in the DAM system but the workflow does not define the system. 

This brings me to the next thing…

Why your digital asset management system without a workflow is likely to fail

Digital Asset Management (DAM, for short) is a process of creating, managing, organizing, and distributing digital assets from one, content location or a hub. 

The purpose of using a DAM is typically to keep track of the growing number of digital assets better, and ensure that relevant teams can find the assets they need quickly and efficiently.

The thing is – without a solid workflow, it’s almost impossible to achieve those two objectives. 

A workflow makes it easier to manage tasks relating to content creation and collecting reviews. It also makes it easier to ensure that everyone involved, and that means both your colleagues and external vendors, knows exactly what they need to do and when. 

Combined with a powerful DAM system, the workflow allows you to get a detailed view of the project, monitor the progress, watch for delays, and often, eliminate those before they happen. 

Because of that, the workflow helps completing projects faster. With all steps relating to creation, reviews, and approvals clearly defined, there is no other option but for the content production production process to run smoothly. 

You also experience fewer mistakes with a workflow. Since everyone knows what they’re supposed to do, where they’re supposed to look for assets, which assets to use, and so on, the possibility of errors drops dramatically. 

4 Aspects of the DAM Workflow That Help Increase Productivity

As you’ll see shortly, DAM workflows can be quite complex. Naturally, you can start with a simple one. But as your DAM integration continues to evolve, you’ll, most likely, start expanding the workflow’s complexity. 

Before I show you what such a workflow looks like, I want to draw your attention to four aspects of the workflow that help boost productivity and increase content output in particular. 

#1. Reducing bottlenecks

By their nature, workflows define steps and processes. 

For you, this means that they help you regain control of many seemingly random elements in the process. The approval and reviews process is a good example here. In many cases, this happens through outdated channels like email or ad hoc in-person meetings. Creative teams often have to chase other stakeholders for comments, sign offs, approvals, etc. 

A digital asset management workflow eliminates all that by helping you enforce a solid and rigid process. Not only the workflow defines who should be involved in the review process, and when they should deliver the feedback. It also communicates clearly that without completing their tasks on time, various stakeholders will hold the project from completion.

#2. Keeping everyone in the loop

It’s often difficult to notify everyone involved about a new asset or revision to review, comment on, or publish. A lot of the time, someone’s name will slip through the cracks, and they never hear about an update. 

Again, by its nature, the workflow will prevent situations like this from happening by identifying and setting up a process (often automated) to ensure that all the right people know about the right assets. 

#3. Preventing tasks from falling behind

Without a proper way to manage them, tasks often end up at risk of falling behind (or even not being done at all.) This is particularly true if there’s no system for spotting risky tasks, and allocating them to another resource. The situation is different with a proper DAM workflow. In this case, with everyone knowing what needs to be done and when, spotting tasks at risk of falling behind is easy. 

#4. Reducing issues from escalating

The same goes for any issues and problems you or other team members might have with completing tasks. Having a clearly defined process for managing the work will make it easy to a.) know whom to notify of a potential issue, and b.) the process for deal with issues before they escalate.

But enough theory. Let me show you what a typical digital asset management workflow looks like.

Digital Asset Management Workflow Example

A quick note: For the purpose of this example, I’m going to focus on visual asset creation. So, the DAM workflow to govern such an asset could look something like this:

Step 1. Asset request. This stage of the workflow would define how different departments would request assets from the creative or design teams.

Step 2. Ideation stage outlining steps needed to prepare the brief and get it signed off for production.

Step 3. Asset creation which includes all steps required to create the initial draft version of the visual. 

Step 4. Review and approval stage that details actions, roles and responsibilities, and timelines for collecting feedback, processing reviews, creating revisions, and repeating the process until the final approval. 

Step 5. Routing the asset to relevant channels (i.e., website or social media)

Step 6. Asset storing and management. The workflow at this stage would define actions to take to properly tag the asset so that other teams could locate and retrieve it easily. 

Two types of DAM workflows

The example above outlined the most generic and common digital asset management workflow. However, you can also approach creating your own workflow differently. In fact, depending on your goals, you can use one of two different approaches:

#1. Asset-based workflows

This is the approach to take if your aim is to improve how the organization manages digital assets.

Asset-based workflows define what happens with digital assets at different stages of their lifecycle. And so, the workflow could define: 

  • How both internal and external teams (i.e., third-party photographers) upload files to the DAM system. Where should they go to do so, etc. 
  • Where those assets need to be uploaded and how they should be categorized. 
  • What aspects of storing an asset are controlled by the person uploading, and what happens when they’ve uploaded the asset. 
  • How to describe and categorize an asset, including tags, metadata, and more. 
  • Who needs to review and approve newly uploaded items and what is the process to do so, etc. 

#2. Project-based workflows

Project-based workflows are very similar to the generic example I’ve shown you above. These workflows focus on specifying tasks and processes that help take a particular idea from concept to completed asset. 

And so, a project-based workflow will define all the steps required to create an asset (rather than store it, as per the asset-based workflow) and might include actions such as:

  • Asset ideation and briefing
  • The production process
  • Reviews, approvals, and sign off
  • Routing
  • Storing and management, and more. 

What Do You Need to Implement a DAM Workflow?

We’ve touched on this briefly already, and so you know that to implement such a workflow, you need a digital asset management system. You also know that these platforms help store, manage, retrieve, categories, and work with large amounts of digital assets easily. 

So, for the end, let me show you one of the leading DAM systems to consider. 

Introducing CELUM digital asset management software

CELUM (disclaimer: this is our tool) is a complete digital asset management solution for organizations of all sizes. Because of that, CELUM offers all the capabilities you’d expect from the most robust tool on the market:

  • The ability to store, organize, and manage even the largest digital asset collection in one central location. 
  • Working with multiple file formats, including documents, audio, video, and other digital content assets. 
  • Advanced asset management capabilities including folders, collections, metadata, tags, and more.
  • Flexible node structures and asset collections so that you and other team members can go through vast amounts of files and find anything in an instant. 
  • Defining relevant asset types and categorizing your content based on a variety of formats and use cases.
  • Collecting usage data from connected systems to visualize where your assets are and how they are related to each other.
  • Review and approval workflows.  
  • Access control and rights management to ensure that only the right people can access the right assets. 
  • Ai-based capabilities to assist your teams with finding similar assets, detecting duplicates and auto-tagging your content.
  • Powerful integrations.
  • Asset routing to various marketing channels that you use in your campaigns, and more. 

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