The DAM Maturity Model – what step are you on?

The DAM Maturity Model - what step are you on?

Whether your organization has been using a digital asset management (DAM) system for years, months or not at all, it is productive to assess where you are in the DAM Maturity Model.

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The model that we’ll be referencing in this post is from the site and authored by a number of industry experts, including analysts from The Real Story Group.

Like most business process, the more streamlined, repeatable, and predictable you make it, the more efficient it becomes and the more value you’ll derive from it. For example, getting a web banner created, reviewed and approved in a couple hours instead of days by reducing the back-and-forth with the designers saves time and expensive designer fees.

Reducing the time people spend looking for specific files for a project saves countless hours. Being able to find the original art files used for a marketing campaign from last year for a similar campaign this year can save tens of thousands of dollars in rework.

The bottom line is the more “mature” your are with managing digital assets, the more value you can achieve. So the first step is to get a baseline of where you are and set goals to improve.  

The DAM Maturity Model is broken down into four categories, each looking at a particular aspect of digital asset management including people, information, systems and processes. Within these four areas are sub dimensions, making a total of 15 assessment dimensions.

The DAM Maturity Model - what step are you on?

Each dimension can be evaluated on a scale of 1 to 5:

  1. Ad hoc (no DAM)
  2. Incipient (initial stage)
  3. Formative (early)
  4. Operational
  5. Optimal
The DAM Maturity Model - what step are you on?

Although very few organizations will score a perfect five for each dimension, understanding where you need to focus on improving will help increase the overall ROI of your DAM investment. Let’s take a closer look at each of the four DAM categories.

Maturity Categories

Every DAM environment needs to take into account these four areas: people, information, systems and processes. The following outlines that each of these consists of.


The range of your organization’s DAM maturity may range from having little to no exposure to a DAM technology or system all the way to having a deep understanding of DAM topics such as metadata and schemas and and can positively align across departments and globally on how to optimize a DAM.


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Subtopics for the information category include the physical assets, metadata, reuse of assets, findability and use cases. Here is where companies that do not have any DAM solution have what we call a DIY (do it yourself) model of managing assets. Files are spread everywhere, there is no organizational strategy or policies.

There is no real metadata beyond file names and duplicated efforts is a big, expensive problem. Employees spend a lot of time trying to find files, often times either not finding the file at all or finding an older, out of compliant asset.

Lastly, how a DAM would be used across the organization has had little thought.

On the other end of the scale, an optimized DAM environment will have assets that are prepared for multiple users across channels. Metadata schemas are well understood and embedded with files. The ability to discover assets easy, promoting reuse and repurposing across the organization.


DAM systems that are in the ad-hoc phase of maturity may be individualized with employees keeping assets on their own systems or stored in siloed shared systems like Google Drive or personal Dropboxes. They have no security plan in place and usability is disjointed with employee frustration rates high.

The IT infrastructure is nonexistent and the phrase “DAM” is not even a concept within the organization. Organizations that have optimized their DAM have aligned their company culture with their DAM and has become an integral part of their environment interconnected with other systems such as as PIM, ERP, CMS and marketing automation. Security is SSO-driven with enterprise credentials and the user interface is intuitive and inviting that little training is required.


DAM not only is made up of a centralized asset repository it also supports workflow, collaboration, and governance. An ad-hoc DAM environment will have few or no standardized procedures or notion of an asset lifecycle.

Collaboration will most certainly be limited to email and passing files back and forth with disconnected notes within the email. Employees self-govern and easily leads to asset misuse and customers may experience an inconsistent brand experience.

In an optimized environment, work processes are continually reviewed and streamlined. Asset usage is also continually reviewed to inform the next iteration of creative assets.

Improve your score

Set aside a morning and evaluate your DAM and how your team manages your marketing assets. Where are there gaps in your scores? What can be improved upon? Where do you need to make changes?

If you need help improving your DAM Maturity score, give us a call.

Click here to download DAM Maturity Model PDF

Stephen Skidmore


Acquia, Inc.

Stephen Skidmore is the director of product marketing for partners at Acquia. He has more than 20 years working for software technology driving product innovation and go-to-market for companies including Lotus, IBM, and EMC. Stephen also ran his own consulting business helping technology companies develop their product strategies.