Invite Governance to the DAM Party

At its core, a DAM system supports content findability and discoverability (for more see the ten core characteristics of a DAM system). Most folks want to get in, find what they need, and go on with their business. So why is this goal so hard to achieve for many companies? It is all too often because companies ignore the wallflower at the information management initiative dance: governance.

What is it?

Governance is an enterprise-wide infrastructure made up of the policies, standard operating procedures, and practices used to ensure an organization’s immediate and future regulatory, legal, risk, environmental and operational requirements. Maintaining and adhering to a governance program should be an ongoing fundamental business activity.

Okay… but what does it have to do with DAM?

Pretty much everything. Governance dictates file naming conventions, tagging workflows, rights management, even what content can be shared. Think of it as the One Ring to rule them all, affecting a company’s people, information, processes, and technology. Of import is the accountability and consistency it brings to a company’s infrastructure, specifying asset handling (i.e., cataloging) so that users may find them again in the future. Among the more salient topics an information governance program includes are:

  • access controls
  • user adoption and socialization plans
  • system growth plans
  • content retention and disposition
  • ongoing total cost of ownership budget
  • content strategy
  • taxonomy/metadata change management

… and so much more.

Why is it important?

One report predicted CEOs would lose their jobs for their inability to enforce information governance. While this statement may sound like fear-mongering, governance does help protect organizations in the use of digital assets by minimizing risk and costs. It standardizes and systematizes the handling of content and the metrics that are used to measure progress. According to the DAM Maturity Model (Davey et. al., 2014), “governance ensures that the DAM strategy and policies are actually implemented and the required processes are correctly followed” (p. 8). I think most of us agree that metadata drives enterprise search, but only if it is applied across all of the content in a consistent and standardized way. Information governance provides these standards and should be every DAM professional’s best friend.


ARMA International published The Information Governance Maturity Model (ARMA, 2011). The document offers a set of eight principles to help measure a company’s governance maturity. In what areas does your company excel? What principles do you find least compelling to digital asset management?

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