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DAM 101

9 Tips for Seeing Through the Noise When Selecting A DAM

Andrea Barrera

By Andrea Barrera | Dec 21, 2021

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If you stumbled across this blog, it’s likely that your organization is considering investing in a new Digital Asset Management (DAM) system. Whether it would be your first DAM or would replace one you may have outgrown, shopping for a new DAM can be overwhelming!

Determine Your Requirements

Before shopping for a DAM system, you should find out from your team and other stakeholders (potential DAM users) what they need from a DAM. What are their requirements? Features they’d like to have? Asking everyone to make a DAM wish list can be a slippery slope. But understanding how they’d use a DAM is vital before meeting with any DAM vendors. Their goal is to wow you, and without identifying your organization's needs, you may invest in a system that doesn’t fully meet them. Here are some tips to help you see through the noise when picking a DAM system:

9 Tips for Seeing Through the Noise

1. Already Using a DAM? Document Your Needs

If you’re currently using a DAM system and have already determined that some type of DAM therapy can't improve your user experience, I will document the issues. Are there features or settings that are missing or don't work the way you need them to? Making a list will help you determine what features you’d like in your new DAM.

2. Check Out Reviews

Just like with any other purchase or investment, it’s important to read reviews of every DAM you’re considering. Find out which ones have good reviews and have worked well for organizations similar to yours. DAM vendors’ websites often list the organizations they’ve worked with and may even provide testimonials. This will let you know if they already have experience in your field. If they haven’t worked with organizations like yours, don’t cross them off your list right away! DAM systems can often be flexible to meet the needs of many different types of industries.

3. Inquire About Customer Support

When you invest time and money in a DAM, you want to ensure it’s set up properly. Find out whether the vendors you’re considering provide onboarding support so you can plan accordingly. If they offer this type of help, determine how long the process takes so you can ensure that the timing works with your team’s schedule. If the DAM platforms you’re looking at don't offer onboarding, there are third-party consultants, like Stacks, who can help with this important step. You should determine what your team is comfortable with before selecting your DAM so you can plan accordingly.

Additionally, you should find out how the vendor’s customer support is overall. Even after setting up the DAM, you'll have questions and issues to work through. Having friendly and helpful customer support will make a world of a difference!

4. Identify What Digital Assets Belong in Your DAM

It’s never too early to start thinking about what you’re going to put in your DAM. In fact, you'll want to do this before deciding on a DAM platform. This process requires you to determine what your organization considers a digital asset. People often think only photos are digital assets. However, the scope of a digital asset can reach far beyond that.

Once you’ve determined what assets you want to initially include, you should confirm with the DAM vendors you’re considering that they support your file formats. Also keep in mind that you can't predict everything in your organization’s future. Your new DAM needs to be able to support the growth of your organization and the types of assets you’re creating.

5. Consider How Your End Users Search

Will your end-users want to rely on a search bar? Or will a folder structure be a better fit? Most DAMs have a search bar enabled. Some DAMs rely heavily on either search or filtering, and others lean more on folder structures. Neither is right or wrong. But selecting a DAM that will best accommodate your users’ search methods will help them adapt more quickly to the new system and workflow.

6. Decide If Integration Is Important

Many DAM platforms promote integration as a way of streamlining workflows. But what does that mean? How would it help you? And, do you have to decide that now?

Integration enables communication between your DAM and other systems and software. This might include programs like Photoshop, Microsoft Office, Drupal, etc. Ultimately the decision should be made on whether or not integration will make your users' workflows more efficient.

One benefit of integration is that it builds a bridge between the workflows from one system to another. As a result, it often eliminates the duplication of tasks in your systems and workflows. It might even allow you to easily search assets and their correspondence in one place. If this is something that's of interest to your team, you'll want to ensure the DAM platform you choose can integrate with your current systems. You may even want to find out what this integration would look like.

7. Determine If the DAM Supports Your Metadata Needs

If you’re in the early stages of your DAM journey, you may not know a lot about metadata. That’s ok. The good news is that you probably use metadata daily without realizing it! Metadata is essentially information about a digital asset. It can be in the form of the creator’s name, dates, categories associated with the asset, copyright, or even search tags. The list doesn’t stop there, but hopefully this gives you an idea of the types of information that are deemed metadata. It’s important to consider what information you need your assets to have. This allows you to confirm if a specific DAM platform will enable you to apply that information to each asset. The good news is that your metadata doesn’t need to be planned out in great detail to make this determination.

If you’ve already applied metadata to your assets, you'll still want to ensure the DAM platform you choose will support or enhance your current metadata practices. If you already use a metadata standard, or will need a specific metadata standard to help with system integrations, be sure to ask DAM vendors which metadata standards their systems support.

8. Ensure Your User Roles Will be Supported

You'll hear many DAM vendors talk about permission groups or access controls. This translates to the types of users you’ll have in your DAM. These are often predefined groups, so DAM vendors should be able to provide you with a list of the user or permission groups they offer. They may also be able to customize your permission groups. It’s important to start this conversation sooner rather than later since it will influence how you start onboarding your users to the DAM.

9. Inquire About Reporting Tools

Many DAM vendors promote reporting tools or insight reports. These can be useful because they can help you determine what’s working, and what can use some improvements. Continued maintenance of your DAM is another element of a successful DAM. Reports can help you get the most out of your content and the overall user experience. Depending on the DAM platform, you can run a variety of reports that will show you stats on everything from the most used search terms (which can help with maintaining your DAM’s metadata), to asset usage (which can help with the development of assets). If this interests you, ask DAM vendors about their reporting capabilities. Every DAM is different.

Getting Started

Picking a DAM vendor can be a daunting task. Taking it one step at a time, in an organized way can make it a lot easier. The first vital step is to start the process by determining what your organization needs from a DAM before you purchase one.

Purchasing a DAM is not a one-person job, so if you start feeling overwhelmed, look for help either within your organization or through a third party. We know it can be hard to navigate the DAM shopping process. Because of this, Stacks offers a Matchmaker service where we meet with your team and help you pick the perfect DAM for your organization. Head to our contact page to reach out and learn more.

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