Finding Trusted Guidance for Digital Asset Management

Unless you are already a digital asset management professional with many DAM system launches under your belt, it is unlikely that you currently possess all the experience or skills you need to make the best decisions for your DAM initiative. The advice and guidance of trusted advisers can be the difference between the success and failure of your entire initiative. Advisers can save you from wasting time and money on software and configurations that won’t work for you.

DAM experts come with a variety of backgrounds. Among them are:

  • DAM Analysts – DAM analysts make a living evaluating DAM software and reporting their findings. In doing so, they amass a valuable stockpile of information about which systems work well in various applications.
  • Business process and/or workflow analysts – These folks approach DAM primarily from the perspective of policy and goals. They are the advisers most likely to get out a business microscope and take a good hard look at the way you do things.
  • System integrators (installers) – Coming from an approach of making sure all of DAM’s moving parts work in harmony, systems integrators offer a value that is pragmatic and easily measured: it either works or it doesn’t.
  • Information professionals – Librarians and archivists approach DAM in a way that is similar to how they would design a library: It has to be built and organized so that it is understandable to anyone who walks through the front door. Taxonomy and metadata experts are another breed of information professional that can provide tremendous value to a new DAM.

If armed with the guidance of a rock star from each of these fields, your DAM would likely turn out to be a legend of performance and design. However, only the largest DAM initiatives could afford such a vast team of experts. For most initiatives, the guidance of one or two experts will suffice.

Keep in mind that at this stage of your DAM initiative planning, you might want to align yourself with experts who are not biased toward a given DAM solution. The problem with software bias is that it often translates into process bias too. In other words, instead of recommending a DAM solution that makes your workflow needs easy, a biased expert might think only of how the systems he or she knows would work for you.

Choosing the right experts

More important than the background of any adviser you hire will be the experience and talent the individual offers. That is, a skilled information professional would likely be able to help you analyze your digital asset management processes better than could a generic business analyst whose primary focus falls outside Digital Asset Management.

The table below shows situations designed to help you determine where you might want to invest your adviser budget. Where multiple options are indicated, either or both types might work.

Circumstance DAM Analyst Process Expert System Integrator Information Professional
We have many users and many assets. Our goal for DAM is to help us better manage it all.
Our DAM will be used by multiple departments. It is the first time we’ve implemented an enterprise-wide system on this scale.
We are a small work group looking for a central repository that will make it easier for us to find things.
Our DAM will be integrated with our Web CMS and other business systems. Our primary goal is to make approved content available to those systems.
We are migrating from an older DAM. Our users are DAM-experienced and we want to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Worth noting is that regardless of your circumstance and the DAM  software you choose, you might need to hire someone to install and configure your DAM software. DAM vendors sometimes offer services departments that can do this work but also consider vendor partners or other organizations that have significant experience with the system you choose.

In all cases, ask for customer references. Key to what you need from your advisers is experience. Any adviser with experience will also have customers willing to speak about their experiences.

Assessing your needs assessment

Depending on the scope of your DAM initiative, your needs assessment period (which includes all the steps mentioned throughout this section) might take a few hours or it might last months. It can be tempting to skip this stage of the DAM purchase process if you assume your needs aren’t too particular, but this is a mistake. More than budget or any other factor, your needs should determine which DAM software you should buy.

If your DAM will be used by only a handful of users whose workflows are straightforward and not likely to change, you can probably determine your core requirements quickly.

On the other hand, if your DAM initiative will involve your entire organization, extending to users that speak different languages in different time zones, each with different digital asset management goals and integration needs, you have much prep work to do before you can be certain about which DAM solution will be best.

One-stop shopping for DAM advice

DAM Guru Program is a community of more than 500 digital asset management professionals from around the world. Members can be connected with other members who can offer help and advice, and all DAM Guru Program services are free. http://DAMGuru.com

This post is an excerpt of Picturepark’s DAM Prep in 7 Steps digital asset management eBook »