The choice to incorporate a digital asset management (DAM) system into your business’s repertoire of invaluable technological resources is a decision that will have a significant impact on marketing strategies. The DAM is the central source of truth for assets. With it, you can improve cross-functional collaboration, automate manual tasks, simplify asset searching for everyone, and deliver a consistent brand across all channels.
With so much at stake and so many vendors selling DAM systems, carefully consider what your business values.
Questions for choosing the best DAM software
To prepare for your DAM decision, work with your marketing technology team to identify what you really need from a DAM system and vendor. You’ll need to answer questions like what do you want to accomplish, what types of assets do you have, and what’s your plan for metadata?
What does the company want to accomplish with DAM?
Don’t assume everyone at your organization has the same vision for DAM. Talk to your teams and leadership to clarify what your company wants to accomplish. And don’t forget to write it down. These discussions may bring forth multiple opportunities and pain points. If they all need to be addressed, try prioritizing them.
How many and what types of digital assets does the company have?
It’s helpful to know how many assets you have to understand the scale of your implementation and on-going maintenance. Your company probably has more digital assets than you realize. This is often the case without a central system that brings transparency to what’s out there. Before you reach for the panic button, you don’t need to solve that challenge just yet. You’re not the first or last company to be wondering how you’re going to get your 10,000, 100,000, or 1 million assets organized. Use this info to help select your DAM system and provider. Ask vendors about how they’ve helped other organizations with similar situations.
You’ll also want to know what types of digital assets your company has. Many companies start their search for DAM because they need to get their photographs and other graphics files in order. But DAM supports video files, audio files, Word and Excel documents, PDFs, presentations, and much more.
Knowing how many and what types of digital assets will help your team identify what key functionalities and integrations to look for in the DAM software.
Will the DAM system be replacing one that is already in place?
If your company is already using some form of DAM software, investigate how to migrate those assets into the new system. You may be replacing multiple systems or make-shift repositories and will need to get numerous parties on board with the new options to get the most value from your DAM software tools and digital assets.
Have you considered a plan for metadata?
Metadata is the information associated with digital assets that is used for cataloging, managing and searching for assets. This is vital knowledge that should be worked out in advance because it determines how easily assets can be searched for and found. Metadata development depends upon the context in which the assets will be used as well as the users themselves. Consider a metadata structure that captures and uses as much information to power a useful search that meets user expectations, but is also easy to maintain over time for all assets in the system.
How will the new digital asset management tools be used with current and changing workflows?
Centralization of assets with a DAM solution can provide increased efficiency and collaboration and should make working with digital assets a smooth and easy process. To ensure that this is the case, every company in evaluating DAM software should decide how the new system will complement existing workflows and what adjustments to make for a more streamlined approach.
Mapping your marketing technology is a helpful exercise to get your team thinking about your choices about technology, people, and processes.
Areas of focus when talking to DAM vendors
There are many things to think about as you explore different DAM solutions. It can be confusing when some vendors seem to offer similar feature sets. Here are primary areas to focus on when you create your list of solution requirements and start talking to DAM providers.
The user interface (UI) | How is the software designed? Does your organization value configuring the UI for your brand or neutral styling that’s optimized for usability?
The user experience (UX) | Does the software make it easy for your teams to accomplish their work? Are actions intuitive to ease user adoption? Does the software offer a familiar and useful search experience?
Filetypes supported | Does the system support the file types you need? What file types support image previews? Can you preview audio and video files in the system?
Users, licenses, and storage | Do you have flexibility in the number and types of users? Does the storage scale as you need it?
Use of metadata | How does the system support metadata? Can you customize your metadata and, if so, how? What types of metadata fields are available? Can you import existing metadata? Does metadata travel with the file as it leaves the system?
Recent changes and future roadmap | While you shouldn’t purchase a DAM system on what they plan on doing, it is helpful to know what features and functionality they’ve recently released and the direction the DAM system is heading.
Customer service | What training, support, and resources does the vendor provide? Do they have a user community?
Company stability | The technology sector can be a volatile place, and DAM vendors are no exception. How long has the company been around? Did they build the software or did they acquire it?
Choosing and implementing a DAM system is a big deal. It’s going to take a lot of planning and work but, like the businesses that have done it before you, you’ll gain so much in return. To do more research on what to consider before you go forward with DAM, read !
Editor's note: This post was originally published on June 17, 2011 and was updated for relevancy.