Understanding roles and permissions in a DAM system

How a DAM administrator can use roles and permissions to make sure that system users have access to what they need

DAM roles and permissions

Finding a DAM system is often at the top of the list for people looking to organize, centralize, and make their files more accessible. Another critical step in the digital asset management process is designating or hiring a DAM administrator (admin).

The DAM admin role is extremely important and can be handled by one person or a small team of people. It takes a person with special skills or interests to manage a DAM because no matter how powerful or user-friendly a digital asset management system is, you’ll need an admin to keep it running smoothly.

The DAM admin functions like the crew chief of a Formula 1 race team. It’s a person or people who understand the needs of the pit crew, driver, spotter, team owner — as well as larger systems, processes, and the race car itself — in order to keep the organization functioning on an optimal level.

Your DAM system will function at it’s best when you have a dedicated DAM admin or admins who are trained and comfortable in their role — this may be someone with experience in marketing technology, library science, or with excellent organizational and people skills. Who you choose as a digital asset management admin will depend on the size of your organization and your workflows.

Digital asset management admins come from all sorts of backgrounds and may have different titles. Typical responsibilities of a digital asset management administrator include:

  • Entering and reviewing metadata, which can help with quick, efficient searching.
  • Determining and implementing best practices, including system improvements and ongoing process changes.
  • Gathering user feedback, which is a critical component in process improvement, as well as ongoing training and support.
  • Auditing system performance
 to ensure optimal DAM system functionality.
  • Working with outside stakeholders like agencies, media, partners and consultants.
  • Creating and assigning roles and permissions.

In addition, your DAM admin(s) may be part of implementing integrations, identifying and fixing problems, and looking out for DAM software issues. Being aware of possible problems is key to efficiency and return-on-investment. One “kink” in a DAM system can cause lost time and revenue.

Today, we’re going to dive deeper into the DAM admin’s task of creating and assigning DAM roles and permissions. If you’d like to learn more about the other tasks mentioned above, feel free to check out our article, What does a DAM administrator do?

Creating effective roles & permissions

Roles and permissions are an important part of a digital asset management system. They allow the DAM admin to control who has access to which assets and what they can do with them. Setting different roles and the permissions associated with a role is part of making a DAM secure.

Before we get into the details, this is the overview: All users of a DAM system are assigned to one or more roles. Each role has certain permissions associated with it, and the permissions determine how the user interacts with the assets. Interactions include viewing, uploading, downloading, adding or editing metadata, and deleting.

Here’s an example of how it works. Let’s say that Company A has a new employee. His name is Oscar and he has been hired as a graphic designer. Company A has a DAM system in place, and the admin is going to give Oscar access to the system. Since Oscar has not used a DAM system before and will spend the first two months getting accustomed to the company’s brand guidelines and workflows, they decide that he should start in the general user role.

The admin has already set up the permissions that guide how a general user can interact with the files in their DAM so in that role, Oscar has permission view a large number of assets, upload new assets, and download brand guidelines, logos, and publicity photos. He cannot edit metadata, delete files, or view expired and unreleased assets.

The plan is that after Oscar settles in and becomes accustomed to the metadata schema at Company A, the admin will change his role to asset administrator role, which allows him to do all of those things and more. He can create specialized collections to share seasonal asset groups, comment on assets, and edit metadata.

Creating user roles gives the DAM admin the ability to assign specific parameters to groups or individuals, giving them clearly defined permissions (access to certain functionalities) within the DAM system. Some DAM systems have predefined user roles, and the admin can configure permissions within each role. When you are shopping for a DAM system, it’s important to know what kind of user groups you have and how they will need to interact with assets. That ensures you select a digital asset management system that will work for you.

Common user types in a digital asset management system

Depending on your organization’s size and needs, you might have more variance in your hierarchy of user roles. For our purposes here, let’s review four common roles:

Global administrator

As you may have guessed, the global administrator has full access to all assets and user accounts in the DAM system. You might have one global administrator or split responsibilities between a couple people. If you do have more than one global admin, it’s important that responsibilities are clearly divided so that everything is taken care of.

A global admin has an “all-access” pass to the digital asset management system. They can add and delete users, change the permissions associated with other user roles, and have complete control of digital assets throughout their lifecycle. Literally, there is nothing they can’t do.

Global admins play a central role in every DAM system, and are particularly important in large organizations where there may be multiple user and asset administrators. You can read about their responsibilities below.

User administrator

The permissions of a user administrator center around their access to user accounts. They can create, edit, and delete user accounts, change user roles, and do things like create system messages or end-user agreements. Having people in a user administrator role is important if an organization is decentralized. A local user admin can take care of adding, editing, and deleting people in their location or region so that a global admin can focus on larger management issues.

Asset administrator

Just like a user admin focuses on user roles and permissions, an asset administrator focuses on the assets themselves. Asset admins can typically see all assets, expired and published, as well as make edits to metadata, upload new versions, and use the full range of search capabilities. They can make special collections and order or share assets.

General user

Since most DAM systems have a range of flexibility in assigning permissions to user roles, the general user can share aspects of the user and asset admin roles. You can customize it for the way that your users will interact with the DAM system.

Examples of roles and permissions

Below are some screenshots from a digital asset management system. The Demo page will take you to Ebikes.com, a free demo site you can register for to see what a DAM looks and feels like.

These screenshots might not be exactly what you see in under Admin > Roles because they were taken from an administrative account. The first one shows three types of roles:

Digital Asset Management Administrator Create & Manage Roles

The next two show what the user permissions look like for a user in an Administrator Role and a DAM System Role. The admin role, as you can see, has a lot of permissions:

DAM System Administrator Role User Permissions

The demo role, which is the role you will be assigned when you register to enter the system, only allows access to the user’s own account:

DAM System Demo Role User Permissions

More info

This article gives insight into how a DAM system administrator can use roles and permissions to make sure all users have the access they need, while keeping digital assets secure. For more information about what a DAM admin does, we have several articles and resources that may interest you:

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