Digital Asset Management Best Practices: Implementing a Bit at a Time

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As a leading provider of hosted digital asset management software and services, Widen is often asked by our customers to help them define and understand “Best Practices” for implementing, maintaining and using a DAM system.  One of the first things I bring up is always regarding initial preparation and expectations.  I have spoken to numerous customers that are evaluating their second, third or even fourth DAM implementation.  When asked why they are looking at vendors again and why previous DAM projects proved unsuccessful, the answer is almost always the same.  They tried to bite off more than they could chew.  Someone, somewhere along the line convinced them that they could meet every single requirement from every single user, from every single division and group in a single solution.  Requirements got thrown into an RFP and hazily addressed by a host of vendors from different overlapping industries.  A solution and vendor were selected because their RFP response had more check boxes checked in the affirmative for the least cost.  Each departments requirements got lost in the shuffle or mixed together and no one gets what they want.  User adoption never actually happens and the solution gets forgotten about and eventually rejected altogether. 

I offer the following solution to this problem… Try going one step at a time. Define your DAM project’s goals and milestones early on.  Make them easy to start with and be careful to manage project creep.  I know this isn’t some brain smashing revelation but you would be surprised by how many projects I have seen fail, or never even get off the ground, because managers felt the need to include other divisions and requirements to help justify or budget a project.  Look at approaching a DAM solution in phases and addressing new or advanced requirements, and other divisions, as part of a second or third cycle rather than right up front.  Focus on phase one on the core list of your requirements.  The stuff you really can’t live without.  Address those with an out-of-the-box implementation if possible and then look to more advanced requirements.   

A great way to learn what you and your users need in a DAM system is to setup a pilot or sandbox site.  Widen offers our customers a month-to-month service and pay-as-you-go pricing so it’s easy to test a system out as you are building up the initial requirements list.  Create a set of test users who will have access to the pilot DAM implementation and turn them loose for awhile.  At the end of the pilot find out what comments they have and which suggestions might make sense as a feature requirement.  Take that time to also start deciding what files you will be storing on the DAM site and tagging them with metadata.  Once you have a real world perspective on what a DAM system is going to be like and how you are going to use it then pull the trigger and proceed to phase 1 or 2.  Happy DAM-ing. 

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