A Tale of Two Systems: Understanding CMSs, DAMs, and How They Work Together

By Patrice Meadows — Thursday, June 22nd, 2017 at 11:00am



Content: the articles, videos, slide decks, podcasts and infographics we love (and love to share), is produced at a dizzying rate. Tons of blog posts and infographics highlight the speed at which videos, tweets, and images are created. While this is great for the "internet explorer in all of us, it presents challenges for organizations that create content—namely in the form of classification, storage, and distribution. This is where enterprise software systems like Content Management Systems (CMS) and Digital Asset Managers (DAMs) come into play. 

What are CMSs and DAMs?

On the surface, CMSs and DAMs seem pretty similar. Both systems help organizations track and update content. But how they provide value is quite different. CMSs are essentially two systems in one, as they manage content and publish it to digital properties like websites. DAMs, on the other hand, manage content and include features that make auditing and permissions management easy.   

CMS: Manages and publishes digital content to websites. CMSs allow people without coding experience to easily create, modify, or remove content from websites. Common features of CMSs include indexing, search, format management, role-based permissions, and publishing.  

DAM: Manages the organization, storage, and delivery of digital assets to a variety of systems like marketing automation platforms, business intelligence systems, and CMSs. DAMs facilitate easy auditing, collaborative authoring, and version control for various file types.    

Do I need both?

Maybe. As with any software system, how a CMS or DAM is leveraged (or if it is at all) largely depends on a company’s needs, goals, and existing software ecosystem. Some organizations use CMSs to manage digital content (as you would in a DAM) and push the content to the web. Other organizations use them together, with the CMS functioning primarily as a publisher and the DAM for storage and classification.

A consideration, in either case, is the kind of content your company produces and how often it is changed, updated, and accessed. As more and more media rich content is created and distributed, some companies may consider adding a DAM to their software stack. DAMS tend to have more storage capacity, classification tools, and permission management features than CMSs, which can help companies maintain their growing library of multimedia content.

Ready to act?

Now that you know the difference between a CMS and a DAM, perhaps it’s time to consider which one will best suit your organization. A few resources are listed below to kickstart your journey to a new system. Use these tools to further compare the features and functions of each system type or simply to learn more about each one.

In the market for a CMS?

Check out this buying guide and list of award-winning CMSs compiled by CMS Critic.

Looking for a DAM?

Here is a list of top providers of DAM software with ratings and other helpful information written by users.


Subscribe to our blog via RSS Download RSS

Hannon Hill Corporation

3423 Piedmont Road NE, Suite 520
Atlanta, GA 30305

Phone: 678.904.6900
Toll Free: 1.800.407.3540
Fax: 678.904.6901


GSA Contract Holder