DAM Maturity Model

DAM Maturity Model is a tool originally developed by the DAM Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Think Tank, for companies and organisations to measure their Digital Asset Management effectiveness across four categories: People, Information, Systems and Processes.

Thousands of DAM professionals completed the Maturity Model assessment, spanning a range of verticals and specialities.

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The Digital Asset Management Maturity Model serves as a means by which companies are able to assess their level of expertise in different aspects of DAM operation. The model is based on five competency levels, placing proficiency in a certain area in increasing categories of sophistication / functionality. The five levels on this scale are as follows:

  • AD HOC
    Some exposure to DAM

    A casual understanding of DAM

    Demonstrated experience of DAM

    In-depth knowledge of DAM operation, but abilities not yet optimal

    Effective, demonstrable experience in DAM operations

The five point system is used to describe proficiency in four parent categories, which are further subdivided into a total of 15 dimensions.

The parent categories reflect the four aspects of DAM which most inform its success as a management system:
People, Information, Systems and Processes.

The 15 dimensions within each of the parent categories are:
Technical Expertise, Business Expertise, Alignment, Assets, Metadata, Reuse, Findability, Use Cases, Prevalence, Security, Usability, Infrastructure, Workflow, Governance, Integration.

Companies can make their own assessments of and pinpoint where they might be lacking in terms of infrastructure, functionality, management and expertise.


The need for talented teams of people and individuals is necessary for effective DAM operation and it is people who form the backbone of any DAM system. In the maturity model, rather than focussing on individuals or individual departments themselves, attempts are made to assess the company’s overall proficiency in three areas:

    An assessment of the abilities of those who form the DAM infrastructure in the management of DAM technologies. Companies with optimal or operational levels of proficiency, understand the importance of knowledge transfer and operate with an understanding of the future business requirements as they relate to DAM.

    This relates to the understanding of fundamental DAM concepts with a view to maintaining the overriding vision of DAM strategy. With technical expertise, companies at operational and optimal levels will operate an effective system geared towards organised knowledge transfer and future readiness.

    An assessment of the combination of technical and business expertise and the resulting ability of an organisation to operate a collaborative, unified DAM system, through a similarly unified DAM strategy. Companies at operational and optimal levels will employ cross-functional teams to constantly refine DAM capabilities and maintain a high level of asset value into the future.


One of DAM’s strengths lies in its capacity to structure and maintain metadata, taxonomies and controlled vocabularies. Information is split into the greatest number of sub-categories in order to achieve the greatest possible level of detail, relevance, functionality and flexibility in terms of effective DAM operation. The five sub-categories are as follows:

    A digital file becomes an asset when you add value to it through metadata and through other organisational tools employed by DAM systems. Companies at operational and optimal levels will operate under defined practices and standards for the creation and reuse of assets across multiple channels and employ distinct practices when authoring for different intentions.

    The real workhorse of any DAM system; metadata forms an important part of DAM strategy and is the cornerstone of most DAM functions. This relates not only to metadata’s usefulness in defining and organising a repository of assets but also in terms of administration, access, and rights management which use metadata to assign rules in these areas. Companies at operational and optimal levels will require all new assets, libraries and repositories to be registered and related under defined strategies. Metadata will be insistent upon ingestion, travel with assets and the tracking and monitoring of metadata changes will lead to constant improvements in this area.

    Through the use of workflow tools, DAM allows the ability to repurpose and reuse assets. Companies at operational and optimal levels will have a strong focus on the reuse and repurposing of assets and will strive towards the discovery of new uses beyond those originally intended for an asset.

    The retrieval of assets relies upon an associated, detailed array of metadata. One of the main reasons that organisations opt for DAM is that its employees spend a lot of their time trying to find assets. Companies at operational and optimal levels have a strong focus on search tools, operating multiple methods of refining and improving searches and with a view to continually add search functionality when available.

    Perhaps the most variable of the categories within Information, use cases reflects the breadth of different ways in which the DAM is accessed and utilised and the corresponding information employed to benefit the largest number of use cases. Companies at operational and optimal levels will recognise the specific needs of different use cases and operate well structured and defined strategies to meet the needs and expectations of disparate parties.


In order for a digital file to become an asset and be put to use in one form or another, systems within DAM are required to facilitate the lifecycle of assets. A high level of proficiency in the systems category is achieved in large part by appropriate staffing and the implementation of a strong informational architecture. The four sub-categories are as follows:

    This refers to the level to which DAM operation is spread within an organisation; referring both to the number of use cases represented and also to the uptake of the DAM system itself by employees working within different departments and silos. Companies at operational and optimal levels encourage user-buy in through various methods and will have built a bottom-up DAM strategy with end users in mind, this vision has been realised and are maintained post-implementation.

    There is some variability in the extent to which security plays a role in different DAM projects but in all cases there is a need to employ certain strategies in order that security is upheld. Companies at operational and optimal levels will enforce security at the asset level, through metadata and through moderators of assets within the organisation. There will be a recognition of the potential of threats in the future and some level of automation in order to alleviate the issue of human error.

    This sub-category is pretty self explanatory and refers to the overall user experience (UX). Companies at operational and optimal levels operate multi-platform support, will have a focus on user-centric improvement and conduct feedback collection in order to improve UX. There will be a consistent user experience across all user types / departments.

    Effective systems rely on collaboration and discussion between all the involved parties, achieved through employing an effective management infrastructure. Companies at operational and optimal levels will have undergone some change management and will have an organisational infrastructure in place which allows for coordination and mutual accountability with agreed timelines, roles and goals.


This final category refers to the ways in which the DAM strategy is realised, i.e. the processes by which people use information within established systems to realise the goals of each stage in an asset’s lifecycle. It is essentially what brings everything together and provides the tools with which the DAM strategy can be properly achieved. The three sub-categories are as follows:

    DAM serves as a platform on which business processes can be applied in order to increase efficiency in the production of content. Companies at operational and optimal levels will have a level of workflow automation across departments governed by a set of agreed standards and will continually refine workflow tools through feedback and performance indicators.

    Organisational infrastructure plays an important role in effective governance, process governance refers to more than just the people who have been put in place to manage the DAM. It is the maintenance and constant improvement of DAM operation resulting in a universally positive UX which is the hallmark of good DAM governance. Companies at operational and optimal levels will have a set of policies and procedures in place across the organisation, there will be a focus on constant training and support and a constant desire to improve / refine UX and DAM operation.

    It is rare that DAM implementation will start from scratch, there will be pre-existing systems and structures in place that must accounted for in DAM operations. It will also be the case that there are pre-existing methods by which content is produced, shared, marked up and protected, which must be taken into account and catered for. Companies at operational and optimal levels have spent the often considerable time required to realise the integration vision. This has been achieved through the integration of people, process and technology, understanding the individual and common needs of the users to result in a common UX.

TlAs, as the name suggests, The Maturity Model provides information on how mature an organisation’s DAM strategy has become. By denoting the key areas in which a successful DAM operates at an optimal level, the model describes how it is possible for an organisation to properly realise the potential of a DAM system.

It is rare that any organisation will score optimal in each and every category and this is to be expected, but it does show organisations the ways in which they can achieve optimal functionality. The DAM Maturity Model serves as the go-to method by which an organisation can benchmark themselves within DAM.