all the pieces of an Ikea puzzle
Ikea: some assembly required PHOTO: Robert Couse-Baker via a CC BY 2.0 license

You've interviewed your stakeholders. You wrote your list of requirements. You met with and have seen demonstrations from a number of vendors. 

At last — you choose a vendor and sign the contract. Your work is done.

Not so fast.

Buying technology is the easy part. Now comes the work of implementation.

Don't Enter Implementation Lightly

Implementation of any software is like buying an Ikea bed. It looks great in the showroom — all assembled with pillows and sheets and bedside tables — but don’t forget that you’ve got to take it home as a flat-pack. 

And you could end up regretting your purchase when you find you haven’t got half the screwdrivers, allen keys and know-how to get the thing constructed.

That’s why it’s vitally important to think about how you’ll execute the implementation of your DAM system before you sign a purchase order. 

Ideally the implementation team at the company you are buying your DAM platform from will get involved from the outset of the sales process, so you can get a good first impression of the people you’d be dealing with. If the vendor suggests this, take it as a good sign.

But there’s more to it than first impressions. So here’s a practical instruction manual that we’ve put together to help you ensure that you really achieve the DAM system you want.

What to Look For In An Implementation Partner

Good chemistry

Always be sure to meet the implementation team before you buy. They will be the foundation of a successful collaborative relationship lasting way beyond the initial project. Chances are you’ll be back for further features and functionality, so you’ll be meeting them again and again. Make sure the chemistry is sound.

Track record

You’ll need to discover whether they have experience of implementing systems for varied clients with different requirements. Ask what they’ve done for previous clients. You may even learn useful stuff you can apply in your own implementation.  

They ask questions

The implementation team should ask you a lot of questions too. They need to elicit precisely how you plan to use your system and how you see it evolving, your business strategy, where you’re going, how your teams are structured and what your specific DAM system requirements are. 

Who’ll be using it? How will it work with your business processes? Do you have a lot of requests? How do you make it easy to find? Is it intuitive enough? Will your end users enjoy using it? 

In short, they need to demonstrate that they truly understand your business from all angles.

Plain English

Of course you want to feel confident that they have thorough knowledge of the technology — but can they explain the technical aspects of the system to non-technical people? That’s part of the empathy they need in order to build a good relationship. 

You trust them 

You’ll be investing more than just company money in the project. Time, colleague relationships and possibly even your professional reputation will be at stake, so you must be able to trust that they’ll deliver on time, on budget and with a product that your end users are going to want to use. 

Your implementation team needs to understand you well and have the confidence to explore options with you, rather than imposing their own solutions. 

They ‘get’ the brief ...

It takes mutual understanding between you and the implementation team of what is to be delivered, when and how. If the team explains the process clearly and realistically in the consultation phase, the likelihood is they’ll be able to manage the implementation well too.

... and ease the strain

One of the biggest concerns for clients is how much time and effort they’ll need to put into the project. Some are willing and able to get stuck in; others don’t have the time or the skills. Is your implementation team clear about the effort needed from either side? 

Make sure they are flexible enough to take the strain when it’s needed, as well as guiding you and advising on best practice.

Start of a Long Relationship

When the implementation team gets involved in the sales process early, you reduce the possibilities of unforeseen issues. You get a dose of realism and a glimpse of the people you will be dealing with. 

Starting the relationship before the contract is signed is always a good thing. Think of it as having your new Nornäs bed arrive at your house, complete with a team of people and the right tools, ready to put it together. No hassle, no allen wrenches required.