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SharePoint Vs. DAM Software – What’s the difference?

SharePoint Vs. DAM Software – What’s the difference?

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Both SharePoint and Digital Asset Management (DAM) systems are online business software solutions designed to centralize file collaboration and storage. To get a basic understanding of the differences between them, you don’t have to dig too deep. Just by looking at their purpose, you’ll quickly grasp each platform’s specialty. This article looks broadly at the two then delves into the important differences, particularly in their ability to manage digital creative assets.

What is SharePoint?

SharePoint is a web-based document management and collaboration platform. Backed by Microsoft, it’s usually included as part of an Office 365 bundle, so works seamlessly with Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint. While it can store and share images, it’s more of a basic offering. Primarily used as an intranet between internal departments, it can also act as a place to share company news, run polls and post to the web. As it’s not out of the box software, it relies heavily on implementation by IT departments, and in the end, its performance will only ever be as good as the set up. 

What is DAM software?

Digital Asset Management systems are tailor made to control creative files such as images, video, and audio. Marketers, particularly those in medium to large organizations managing moderate to large volumes of content, require the bespoke functionalities and workflows that only DAM software offers. DAMs provide an end-to-end solution that can take teams from content ideation to launch, all in the one place. Not only that, it does so with great efficiency and accountability, which of course means far less chaos.

What can a DAM do that SharePoint can’t?

While SharePoint is far from the town donkey, if you’re looking to manage a bank of digital creative assets, it’s critical to understand SharePoint’s limitations. 

Advanced metadata tagging

This is one of the key differentiators between a DAM and SharePoint. A creative file without metadata relies on its file name or position in a share drive alone to get located. Metadata tagging is data that’s ‘baked in’ to each creative asset. Tags can include keywords for objects, people and places as well as carry technical details and license agreements. This makes a phenomenal difference to search times. Tags can be manually entered or generated via AI. They are also completely customizable so you can tailor them to include categories important to your business. 

Easy sharing and integration

SharePoint is designed to be used by one organization, which means sharing assets with external partners is clunky. And while a DAM offers bulletproof security, it allows you to set global granular permissions either at folder or asset level. Files can be embedded or shared in a simple click without the need for access codes required by SharePoint. Most marketers have relationships with external creative agencies, production studios or collaboration partners. Having the ability to easily share and approve creative assets directly from the DAM then integrate them with third party software like Adobe Creative Cloud, Drupal or WordPress cuts out an enormous amount of double handling, not to mention risk of using unapproved assets.

Transform files in seconds

A DAM allows even non-technical users the ability to crop and adjust files on the fly. It can also instantly convert assets to an endless list of formats, for example, changing a video from a MOV to an AVI or an image from a JPG to a PNG. This tool brings autonomy and speed to marketing teams and lifts the burden from creative studios to fulfil basic and repetitive tasks. 

Manage the creative process

DAMs give teams the ability to manage the entire creative process from brief to ideation, feedback, proof, version comparison, approvals, and performance. They are also packed with automation tools to help with both the process and the creation. Because of its multifunctionality, it becomes a place that all team members – whether they’re management, legal or marketing – can rely on as their single source of truth. 

Sophisticated version control

Version control is critical to ensuring team members collaborate on the most recent version of an asset, compare it to previous versions and  see a clear history of changes. A DAM’s version control also gives you complete visibility to track who said what, when.

Incorporate online brand guidelines 

While there is nothing stopping you uploading a PDF of your brand guidelines in SharePoint, it doesn’t provide the scope for wider accessibility and download. Online brand guidelines are not only a live record of the absolute latest rules, they enable easy, permission based asset downloads. They can also be incorporated as part of the standard creative briefing process for easy reference. Migrating your brand guidelines online can result in major improvements in engagement, efficiency and compliance. 


Although SharePoint can provide general analytics, it doesn’t compare to the granular usage statistics a DAM is capable of generating. DAMs can easily produce data that helps organizations determine the value of an asset. Usage reports can be configured by asset, department, or user, as well as flag expiry dates.


Automation of low value creative tasks is a no brainer. From simple logo download permissions to editable creative templates and automatic disclaimer content and auto tagging, there are a multitude of time saving functions available through a DAM that cannot be replicated in SharePoint.

Can a DAM and SharePoint work together?

While they are distinctly different, the good news is that DAM and SharePoint can easily work together. We have seen this work well, where general, internal files are stored in SharePoint. However, for advanced collaboration, (such as externally sharing and distributing creative files, logos and brand guidelines), you will need to rely on a DAM platform.

So, what’s right for you?

Clearly, if you already have SharePoint as a part of your tech stack, it’s important to rate its functionalities against a DAM, particularly if you need to make a case for additional software expenditure. For those struggling to wrangle assets and are told by IT to use SharePoint as it’s ‘free’ – it isn’t. The hours spent struggling to locate assets or recreating them because finding them was impossible are a material cost to the business. So too is running incorrect or out of license creative. The effects on productivity and efficiencies when combined with a DAM’s ability to automate routine tasks are significant. 

But while all businesses would gain an advantage by having a DAM, not all businesses absolutely need one. There are many benefits of a DAM but for smaller teams with a low volume of assets, SharePoint may be just fine. But for advanced content marketers who need more than a glorified shared drive, Digital Asset Management software is the ideal solution.

To find out more about how incorporating a DAM can create a seismic shift in your productivity, read our Ultimate guide to Digital Asset Management, or better yet, contact us.

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