8 tips for choosing dam

How to Choose a Digital Asset Management System: 8 Tips to Get Started

Getting new software can be hard. From researching and evaluating vendors to onboarding your employees, the list of tasks can leave you feeling overwhelmed and confused.

That's why we’re here to help.

We recently hosted a webinar, “The Journey Towards a Winning DAM Strategy,” to help digital asset management (DAM) champions (like you) successfully find and choose a digital asset management system. Now, we want to take it a step further by offering a few tips to help you embark on your own DAM journey.

When to Consider a DAM

The first step to any good initiative is realizing you have a problem – and realizing it early enough that you can address the problem while it’s still manageable. The worst mistake you can make with a DAM system is putting it off in hopes that managing content will get easier. We promise you, whether it’s two months from now or two years from now, one day you’ll be sitting at your desk wondering why you have six different systems for managing your marketing materials, yet you still can’t find that darn logo you’ve been hunting for.

But, what are the early signs that it’s time to consider a DAM system? Here are the most common issues that lead many organizations to add a DAM to their tech stack:

Asset versions and duplicates

You need to print a brochure for an upcoming conference, but a quick computer search pulls up three different versions. So, which one is the most up-to-date? You quickly skim all three in hopes of finding some sort of indicator, but to be honest, they all look the same to you, yet printing the wrong one can be detrimental to your company.

Sound familiar?

This is one of the most common problems we hear from people and is usually a key reason they started looking into a DAM in the first place.

Too many asset requests

Another common one we hear, especially from creative teams, is the constant requests for digital assets coming from other departments. With every other team depending on marketing for logos, photos, videos, and other brand assets, hours every day can be spent just transferring files to various people throughout the company. And even if people have the photo they need, sometimes it’s in the wrong format.

It quickly becomes a losing battle for the creative team, where the more they create, the more requests they get. They need a tool in place that can lighten the request load, while still getting the content to those who need it.

Lack of content control

It’s the situation any good marketing team has come to fear and pray never becomes a reality – the dreaded content scandal. We’ve all seen it. An embarrassing photo makes its way onto social media, an outdated whitepaper is sent to a potential customer, or an old logo is used on a press release. Sure, these are small mistakes, but you have to admit, they tarnished your brand a little bit.

As more employees are becoming customer and public-facing, it’s becoming vital for companies to take control of their brand and assets, and a DAM is becoming an essential tool for that control.

Sharing large files

Digital files are getting bigger. This is the reality of today and it’s causing a lot of problems with collaboration. You try to send a few photos to your agency and instantly get a bounce-back due to file size. So, you split it into two emails…still get a bounce back! Eventually, you’re sending six emails for one project, and even then, there’s a chance your files are too large.

Companies are realizing that this way of working just isn’t effective. They need a system where they can easily share assets and collaborate with their teams to get work done. They need a digital asset management system.MediaValet DAM Interface

8 Tips for Selecting a DAM Vendor

Once you’ve recognized your need for a DAM, it’s time to start looking at vendors. Although it's hard to ensure any DAM system is going to be a perfect fit for your needs, here are 8 tips to help you find one that works for you:

  1. Determine your stakeholders first,
  2. Understand what you want to allow (and restrict),
  3. Think of your existing tools,
  4. Set realistic timelines,
  5. Include IT early on,
  6. Leverage review sites,
  7. Do the discovery call, and
  8. Choose a partner, not a vendor.

Let's dive into more detail below.

1. Determine your stakeholders first

It’s important to know what internal and external partners will be impacted during your DAM implementation and work to get them on board from the start. What functionality do they need? How can you help them be successful? Make sure you’re communicating with them over the course of your DAM journey and that they understand how the system will benefit them (especially if their budget is involved).

A key part of having digital asset management success is getting buy-in right from the start. It won’t matter how great the system is if people aren’t using it, or are using it incorrectly.

2. Understand what you want to allow (and restrict)

Once you have a clear understanding of who’s going to be using the system, it’s time to start thinking about what each group needs access to - and just as importantly: what they don’t. One of the great benefits of a digital asset management system is the ability to segregate each group or user into various permission groups to dictate what they can do and see. While it can be easier to allow everyone to have access to all of your categories, this approach doesn’t realize the full control benefits of a digital asset management system.

Take your marketing agency, for example. You want them to have access to categories containing your brand logos, some stock imagery, and maybe a few headshots, but it would be unnecessary and potentially harmful for them to have access to any other assets.

3. Think of your existing tools

Something to consider when trying to get buy-in from stakeholders is to leverage existing systems that your stakeholders are already used to. Would your social media team benefit from a Hootsuite integration? Can your creative team improve processes with an Adobe Creative Suite connector? Research DAM systems that have integrations into your existing tools to maximize buy-in and happiness for your users.

4. Set realistic timelines

Setting a realistic timeline can be tricky – especially when you have multiple departments that all want the DAM system up and running ASAP! This kind of pressure can make it tempting to try to pick a vendor, onboard, and integrate with your tools within the next month, but it’s important to take the time to ensure you do it right.

Separating your implementation into phases can mitigate some of these pressures because stakeholders can see the project moving along and boxes being ticked, rather than just wondering when the project will be completed.

5. Include IT early on

Leaving IT in the dark until the last minute can be tempting – they can be frustrating, demanding, and slow projects down. But, the reality is that IT has more knowledge and experience in implementing technology and can quickly tell you which DAM systems don’t meet your needs. Forming these relationships early can speed up the selection process and help eliminate vendors from the selection process right off the bat.

6. Leverage review sites

A quick way to narrow down your digital asset management search is to use the many technology review sites out there, such as Capterra, Serchen, and G2Crowd. This is where each vendor’s existing customers are talking about the good, the bad, and the ugly of their digital asset management systems and where you’ll get unbiased insight into which will work for you.

7. Do the discovery call

When searching for a DAM, we often see people wanting to skip the discovery process and jump right into a demo. Of course, we can do a demo without the discovery call, but this call is where the vendors can discover your needs and tailor the demo specifically to your use case. While it can be a pain to have 15-minute calls with each of your short-listed vendors, it ends up benefiting you in the long run.

8. Choose a partner, not a vendor

As you narrow your search down to the final few vendors who can meet your functional requirements, it’s important to look at them as a company, not just a product. Does their direction align with your future goals? How are they with support after onboarding?

It’s crucial to choose a partner that’s going to pursue an ongoing relationship, not just someone who will onboard you and forget you. Remember that the people component is just as important.

Want to Learn More?

Don't forget to download our recent eBook, Choosing the Right DAM, to learn how to determine which DAM will best meet your needs and keep your users happy.