"It's not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are." -- Roy Disney

Yes, it's that time of year again… Spring has sprung, and with that, energy and renewal comes the Henry Stewart DAM Conference to NY, NY May 7–8. Digital Access Management practitioners and vendors will come together to share their wisdom, engage in vigorous debate, and exhibit the latest and greatest solutions that DAM has to provide.

Many attendees will be looking to buy a new or replace an existing DAM. Choosing the right DAM system is about aligning goals, vision and requirements so the vendor can become a partner that will provide the technology and support to meet key business needs.

While selecting a vendor can often be a complex process, focusing on key elements will guide you to the right DAM system for your business.

The decision to implement a Digital Asset Management system is a vital step to gaining operational and intellectual control of digital assets. Any successful DAM implementation requires more than just new technology; it requires a foundation for digital strategy. The right DAM solution ensures that assets can generate revenue, increase efficiencies and meet new and emerging market opportunities.

What DAM Needs to Do

Every strategy needs to start with a well established foundation. There are many steps to building the "House of DAM" that merit attention well before any technology has been considered, let alone purchased.

It's common knowledge but bears repeating: Technology should never lead the decision-making process for DAM demands – business needs must set the foundation for strategy. Technology is important, and the vendor review and selection process is a critical step in all this, but that step must follow the business requirements and digital strategy.

Be sure to consider your foundation first, including:

  1. Rich media collections
  2. Metadata
  3. Taxonomy
  4. Workflow
  5. Rights management
  6. Data security (roles, permissions, access)
  7. Assets – WIP or final (digital preservation)
  8. Governance

And never forget to consider the vendor intangibles, including customer support, professional services, and strategy and product roadmap.

Vendor Considerations

Choosing a DAM vendor requires more than just kicking the tires – it's filling it with gas, running it down the highway, dismantling it, and ensuring all the required parts are there from the beginning to the end! Play before you pay, and ensure you have tested for all the requirements that have been identified. And while you are at it, test-drive two DAMs instead of one, not only to determine which is the best match, but also to start the often-lengthy licensing negotiation as early as possible.

Some capabilities of the DAM to start investigating early are:

  1. Searching/browsing assets
  2. User interface
  3. Unique IDs for tracking and monitoring
  4. Metadata management and cataloging
  5. Digital asset ingestion, creation, processing
  6. Reporting and analytics
  7. Data security
  8. Configuration opportunities
  9. Documentation, training and user groups
  10. Availability of professional integration consultants

Business Requirements

"It does not take much strength to do things, but it requires a great deal of strength to decide what to do."
– Elbert Hubbard

The process of requirements gathering is critical to accomplishing a successful DAM Request for Proposal (RFP), to help truly identify whether a system can meet the goals of the project. Without clearly documented requirements, it is easy to get distracted by a sleek user interface or flashy functionality described during vendor demonstrations. The requirements gathering process should involve interviewing stakeholders across the organization, observing end-users conducting their day-to-day tasks and, most importantly, performing general discovery about the assets the system is expected to manage. The requirements gathered during interviews might include:

  1. Workflows
  2. Metadata
  3. User role definitions
  4. Business needs
  5. IT/security requirements
  6. Integration goals
  7. SaaS vs. on-premises vs. private cloud
  8. Total cost of ownership

The path to success with DAM means driving strategic decisions organizationally and technically, and ultimately working with a vendor on technical implementation to devise more innovative uses for your DAM. Our goal in working together is to look forward and define a framework and build out the capabilities now that will allow your organization to mature over time and achieve sustainable success.

Get Your Digital House in Order

Selecting a DAM should be an educational and even enjoyable process if done well. You need to get your digital house in order, know what your internal business units and external partners need, and understand how you will need to deliver assets today – and tomorrow – across multiple channels and devices.

Creative professionals and all those working in marketing, communications and operations require content to remain competitive by delivering what the consumers want, when and where they want it. The ability to provide assets of high value and quality on a timely basis is no longer a wish, it is the expectation. And yet, the decision to go with a DAM system entails a chain of questions to be carefully considered before proceeding down that path.

Using DAM effectively can deliver knowledge and measurable cost savings, time-to-market gains, and greater brand voice consistency -- valuable and meaningful effects from your digital strategy foundation.