Knowing your needs and finding the right solution

Do you struggle to find the company assets you need when you need them? Are your colleagues forever asking you where the right asset is? Do repetitive tasks such as resizing, renaming and converting files eat away at too much of your time? Is your brand image under threat by the use of outdated assets? Or is the creation and syndication of your marketing collateral moving at a glacial pace? If plagued by even one of these problems, digital asset management (DAM) software can help you, a lot.

Knowing the challenges that DAM can help you to resolve is one thing, however, choosing a solution is another. A DAM system should most certainly offer a friendly interface that’s simple to use, but there are three key steps worth taking before you invest.

Step 1: Identify your goals and expectations

As the saying goes ‘Fail to plan, and plan to fail.’ That’s why identifying your DAM goals and codifying your expectations are so critical. Distinguishing a clear view of what you want to accomplish usingDAM is imperative for DAM success. Work with keystakeholders within your organization to identify thewider needs of all future DAM users, and ask yourself:

  • Where is your company today, and where do you want it to be? What are your growth plans? It may be that you need a system that can scale with you, supports cloud access for external agencies, and can support a significant growth in users.
  • How many assets are you currently storing? Knowing how many files you have now, and how that number will grow in the future, will help you to plan your DAM’s capacity requirements.
  • What file types are you looking to transfer? DAM systems can vary in regard to the file formats they support. Therefore, you’ll want to know what files future users want to store and organize and if the system can optimize how you work with them.
  • How many people will use the system and what access do you want to permit?
  • What types of user authentication do you require?
  • Do you want your system to offer a variety of access levels for granting and restricting access to your assets and administrative functions?
  • How will DAM integrate with the software tools and workflow solutions you already have in place, so that you can make the most of your existing IT investments or plan any upgrades?
  • How quickly do you want it up and running? If you’re in need of a system ASAP, then you need to look at vendors who can provide a system quickly and educate your teams on adoption best practices.

Step 2: Identify must-have features

Most DAM solutions offer a somewhat comparablelist of standard features—for example, thumbnails,keyword search, custom metadata, and version control. After analyzing your goals andexpectations, develop a list of critical features thatwill help you and your team to get the most out ofyour solution day in, day out, and ask yourself:

  • Do you want a DAM system that can help youto manage brand consistency and messaging?If so, look for a solution that offers good brandmanagement features.
  • Will you and your DAM’s users benefit fromfeatures that offer mobile support? If so, lookfor solutions that offer mobile apps.
  • Are you looking for a DAM system to not onlystore and manage your assets but also help totrack and support the creation of digital assetsamong co-workers? If so, look for a solutionthat offers collaboration features.
  • Do you want a DAM solution that will act as acentral resource point which facilitates user-friendly review and approval processes? If so,you may need to look for Creative Workflowfeatures.
  • Do you want your users to have the ability toquickly create on-brand marketing contentwithin your DAM platform? If so, look for a tool that offers Brand Templates functionality thatcan help you to adapt and produce materials forinstant use.
  • Do you need an intelligent DAM that can grouprelated files together, such as images from aphotoshoot? If so, look for solutions that offerfeatures like Collections and Related Files.

For more information on what features you might look for, check out the DAM Features Overview Guide.

Step 3: Identify the right provider

Choosing the right digital asset managementprovider is crucial to your DAM experience. It’simportant to build a relationship with a vendor whocan strike a healthy balance between innovation, customer satisfaction, and transparency, but,how does one determine if a vendor is all of thesethings, or just very good at marketing themselves?

  • Look for a vendor that knows how to make the most of cutting-edge technologies, and subsequently offers greater benefits for customers by releasing more new features.
  • Look at the features each vendor offers. Do you feel confident that they can help you meld the solution into your organization?
  • Read case studies and customer references about your potential providers—they’re an honest and trustworthy indicator of how satisfied a vendor’s customers are, or have been. If a vendor has not published customer case studies online, ask them to provide a couple.
  • Look at how different vendors engage with social media. Those who participate in meaningful ways do not only offer value to the DAM community but effectively communicate their brand to the wider market.
  • Ask for a demo or a free trial. This is not only a great way to test the functionality of each solution, but it provides a window from which you can see how the vendor operates and communicates.
  • Use third-party tools or review sites and look at how each vendor scores. Often they have a handy pros and cons rundown built from user reviews.
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