Those well-acquainted with the world of digital asset management no doubt have a basic understanding about what to expect from a DAM—what features are needed to cover which use cases, and roughly how much it should cost.

But for those DAM-newbies among us, trying to pick the perfect DAM for your team can be a daunting task. It can all seem pretty abstract and overwhelming when browsing the various offerings on the market: how do you find the right solution for your needs? What problems should it be solving? How do you get your team to use it consistently?

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No matter how big or small you want to go with your first DAM, it’s an investment that needs due consideration. Like any other investment, you need to make sure that your investment yields a solid return, and becomes “sticky” within your organization.

That’s why it’s important to scope out your project plan for implementing a DAM and outline how your company plans to make use of it—what value do you expect a DAM to give your team, and how much are you willing to invest in it? It is, after all, an investment, and one you’ll want to make sure pays dividends for years to come.

So to make sure your first DAM is perfect for your team, you should keep in mind the following five benchmarks when browsing the market.

1. Onboarding and consulting

Each DAM provider will approach the onboarding and consultation process slightly differently, but these tips should apply all the same.

  1. Make sure your onboarding package is comprehensive and there’s expertise on the other end of the phone
  2. Ask the provider what their net and gross retention rates are to gauge how likely customers are to renew their contracts
  3. There’s no shame in not knowing everything your first time around, so don't scrimp on the questions!

2. Intuitive UI & UX

More often than not, implementing your first DAM means coming off a whole host of other digital platforms—each with their own interfaces and user experiences. After all, one of the key benefits of a DAM is its ability to be an all-encompassing system for your file-managing needs.

To get everyone on the same page (sometimes literally), it’s crucial that the DAM can adapt to how your different users want to work, and therefore meet the needs of each job role. Otherwise, you may find that the DAM is failing to 'stick', i.e. be used by colleagues.

So what does that mean for a platform specializing in the organization of digital files? More than anything else, it means being search-driven and visually-oriented. Things to keep in mind:

  1. Adoption spells success in digital asset management, and the only way to ramp up adoption within your team is through usability
  2. Implementing a DAM can feel daunting your first time round, because chances are the large majority of users have never used one, so they might not be familiar with terms like “metadata”, “light editing” or “boolean search”. You’re going to want something without a steep learning curve, that looks and behaves more like Google and not like a clunky IT system from the 90s

3. Shareability

Having your digital assets stored and organized in one central place is a great way to cut out the chaos of managing your content; a quality DAM should almost act like an 'internal Google' for your team to find what they need, when they need it. But the file-sharing capabilities are equally important when assessing a DAM, so it's important to think about how your own team shares content, and whether the DAM meets those needs.

Think of all the bad behaviors surrounding file-sharing you’ve seen with your own brand’s digital assets, and make it a goal to correct them with this project.

  1. Who are the stakeholders that are typically involved in sending and receiving digital assets? (i.e. marketing, communications, sales, partners, agencies, etc.)
  2. What do you want them to be able to do in the DAM? Mapping out who should ideally do what with assets is a huge step forward. Which of your stakeholders should have the ability to upload, and which should only have access to view and download?
  3. What do you want to make “public”? Making assets public allows them to be accessed via a shared link, with no login credentials needed

4. Version control and maintenance

Version control over your assets is a key ingredient to a quality digital asset management system, as defined in the DAM Maturity Model by the DAM Foundation. So it's a good idea to think about how your team would use this functionality and how much control the DAM gives you over your asset as it makes its way through the content lifecycle. What you'll want to look for:

  1. Assurance and confidence that the content your team is accessing, editing and sharing is approved and up-to-date
  2. Same file, different version: keep up with the pace of always creating more content. Adding a new version to the same asset (as opposed to uploading a new file) means that the collections and links that the asset is associated with will update automatically as well
People don’t store files on their desktop anymore. They just login to the page and get what they need. Even if they have downloaded it and stored it on their desktop, when we update an asset they receive a notification next time they login saying it was updated.
Addy Procter
Product Marketing Specialist at Monotype

5. The right price

It’s always tempting, but evaluating the price when choosing your first DAM should not just be a race to the bottom. The key is not to seek out the lowest price, but the most suitable price that checks off the above 4 characteristics in meeting the needs of your team.

A DAM is a long-term investment that reaps rewards for your team over time, and should scale with the growth of your brand. So don’t be afraid to invest a little more if it’s going to save you time and money in the long-run.

To help you build a business case for implementing a DAM at your own organization, check out our article on building a business case for DAM: How to become an Influencer.

Once you know that DAM is the next great step for your brand, download our DAM comparison guide to further your evaluation.

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