In the previous post, DAM is Not a Commodity – Part 1, we established why DAM is not a commodity. In this post, we'll examine a few areas to help you get started in your search for the right DAM solution.
What questions to ask first?
A few basic starting points of consideration when selecting a Digital Asset Management solution:
First, what must it do? What would be nice? Ideally, you will know and be able to communicate these to the vendor right off the bat. We've developed a neutral assessment survey to help this process along – Take the DAM Assessment Survey. Put together a list of vendors, and submit your "Must" and "Nice" list to them – see how easily you can do that, and how quickly they respond, to start with. Pay close attention to whether they're giving straight answers or not! Are they asking questions of their own, and challenging you to think more? Put those vendors at the top of the evaluation list. Then, you're ready to move on to exploring your use cases with the selected candidates. Bonus, ask the vendor to share the results of a recent customer satisfaction survey.
#1 Use Cases – Is this product/solution a fit or not a fit with my current and predicted future needs? Will the DAM system help me achieve my short-term and long-term goals? How? How has the product worked is similar instances? Does it meet my basic technology needs and fit with our current infrastructure and user base?
Know your use cases… Then try it out. Ask for a "sandbox" or hold a bake-off in your kitchen to be able to trial the DAM solution with your digital assets, your users and your workflows. Go ahead and put it to the test. Try to break it! Want to trial Widen web-based DAM software? Sign up for the VIP Pass.
We pretty much insist that prospective customers try it out first – how else can you tell what your stakeholders will think, unless they are really part of the hands-on experience? You are implementing a culture-changing technology that many people will be interacting with and relying on, on a daily basis. Is it starting to seem like price is important, but not the first question?
#2 Scalability, flexibility, customization vs. configuration – summed up with Sustainability
While features* are important, what's more important is finding a DAM provider that helps your organization scale, adapt and support the present and future uses for your digital media and brand assets.
*A note on features… Don't get caught up in features. Most vendors lead with the latest "cool thing" and it may not be essential to you. Once you get "under the hood" with a DAM product, you'll pick up on a number of other "cool ways" to do things in how you review, collaborate, manage, track, send and share your digital assets. These "cool ways" aren't necessarily features, but rather flexible / configurable points of changing the way people can interact with your assets. Beyond your core goals of getting better organized, you anticipate this technology to help change the way you do things (or at least streamline processes). If it's something that's cumbersome and requires a major shift in the way your people are going to do their daily jobs, then they're not going to use it.
Things change, people change, workflows change, media and mediums change. Your DAM technology better be able to change too. But, change better not mean big custom dollars and multi-year timelines to respond to change. By that time, it will have already changed twice-over. Be sure to evaluate the vendor stability, support, service levels and future development roadmap. What is the process and cycle for upgrades? It's much like you can expect when hiring a new employee—you hire someone for the long haul and with the expectation they can grow and adapt with your company. DAM is not a one-time event but rather an ongoing process—a process that your people must embrace and evolve. Your DAM solution must be one that is sustainable and scalable to meet the changing needs of the climate in whatever functional areas it is used.
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#3 TCO and ROI – Total Cost of Ownership and Return on Investment are realized over-time. Therefore, they must be deployed, adopted and used over a substantial period of time before you recognize the time and cost savings, payback, and understand ways to leverage the technology in new, revenue-generating ways. Evaluate the costs over the long haul, including hard dollar costs, soft costs, direct and indirect cost savings.
From Tony Byrne of The Real Story Group post on Understanding SaaS CMS Pricing:
As a broad generalization, the license formula for SaaS solutions is "pay-less-now-and-more-later," while for installed software it's "pay-more-now-and-less-later."
His blog post goes on to explain that when you dig into the details, it becomes much more complicated than that.
Learn more about justifying digital asset management software.
See also the CMSWire article from Dee-Ann Leblanc: 6 Things to consider when selecting a Digital Asset Management solution
Learn more about the Pitfalls of DAM!
Read the CMSWire article from Jeremy Wilker: The 6 hidden costs of running a DAM system
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