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Things to Consider When Choosing a Digital Asset Management System

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Incorporating 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. A DAM platform is the central source of truth for content that can help you improve cross-functional collaboration, automate manual tasks, simplify asset searching, and deliver a consistent brand across all channels.

With so much at stake and so many vendors selling DAM systems, it’s important to carefully consider your business priorities.

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 many questions, including what do you want to accomplish, what types of assets do you have, and what your plan is for metadata, and more.

What does the company want to accomplish with DAM?

Don’t assume everyone at your organization has the same vision for a DAM system. Talk to your teams and leadership to clarify your shared goals. And don’t forget to write them down. These discussions may bring forward 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 important to know how many assets you have to understand the scale of your implementation and ongoing 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 content is out there. 

Before you reach for the panic button, know that you don’t need to solve this challenge just yet. You’re not the first or last company to wonder how you’re going to get your 10,000, 100,000, or one million assets organized. Use this info to help select your DAM system and provider, and 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 a DAM solution because they need to get their photographs and other graphics files in order. But a DAM platform also supports video files, audio files, 360º images, Word and Excel documents, PDFs, presentations, and much more.

Knowing how many and what types of digital assets you have will help your team identify what key functionalities and integrations to look for in a DAM solution.

Will the DAM system replace an existing platform?

If your company is already using some form of DAM software, investigate how to migrate those assets in a new system. If you replace multiple systems or make-shift repositories, you’ll need to get numerous parties on board and engaged with the new DAM solution to maximize its value.

Have you considered a plan for metadata?

Metadata is the information associated with digital assets that is used to catalog, manage, and search for assets. Strong and relevant metadata is vital 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. Try to build a metadata structure that captures enough information to power a useful and effective search, but is also easy to maintain over time.

How will new digital asset management tools be used with current and changing workflows?

Centralization of assets in 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 evaluating DAM software should determine how the new system will complement existing workflows.

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 compare different DAM solutions, and it can be confusing when some vendors seem to offer similar feature sets. 

Here are the 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? Do you want to be able to configure the UI to reflect your brand? Is neutral styling that’s optimized for usability important?

    • The user experience (UX). Does the software make it easy for your teams to accomplish their work? Are actions intuitive? Does the software offer a familiar and useful search experience?

    • File types supported. Does the system support the file types you need? What file types have 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? Will storage capacity scale with your business growth?

    • 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 based on what they plan to do, it is helpful to know what features and functionality they’ve recently released and the direction the software is heading.

    • Customer service. What training, support, and resources does the vendor provide? Do they have a user community? Will you have a dedicated contact?

    • Company stability. The technology sector can be a volatile place, and DAM is 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 — and important — investment for any organization. It will take a lot of planning and work, but know that you’ll gain so much in return — just like the businesses that have done it before you

To understand more about what to look for and to start your search, download our DAM Evaluation Toolkit. This step-by-step guide is filled with key questions to consider and exercises to help you find the right DAM solution for your business.

Note: This post was originally published in June 2011 and has been regularly updated to remain current.

Topics: DAM

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