Tell them what you want, what you really really want

When tasked with choosing a DAM system many people immediately become lost in researching the many DAM vendors who are out there, getting bowled over by offerings of infinite functionality and pretty interfaces, resulting in a quick purchase of a system that may not be fit for purpose and have a very short life span. What many don’t realize in our world of immediacy is that there is a process that they should be going through beforehand to find out exactly what they need, and that process is neither painless nor the cool and sexy part of buying a DAM.

The need for a DAM system can come from multiple areas. Perhaps marketing want a better way of tracking and sharing their creative assets, maybe IT want to centralize asset to save them having to retrieve them for anyone who asks, perhaps the business just wants to be more efficient and have heard that having a DAM will help them do that. The key thing to remember is that although a DAM may start life beholding to one department, what you want it to do is to evolve and be fit for other departments to use. You cannot just think of your little area as DAM systems are evolving systems, and the basics of search and retrieval of centralized assets is useful for a business as a whole, not just one area.

To assess all of this you need to talk to people, and then to listen to them. Recently I spoke with a librarian from a college whos’ IT department were looking to procure a DAM. The librarian was told that IT would do everything, there was no need for her to get involved as this was an IT project. This is an owner of the system telling the person who would be the eventual user of the system that their input wasn’t needed, very poor practice indeed.

When it comes to users talk to them frankly to really get their pain points, listen to what they have to say, and then work out from that what is DAM related, and what isn’t. Sometimes frustration with a particular workflow is purely down to poor inherited working practice, and nothing that DAM could help with, but allowing people to talk through their current workflows will allow them to perhaps see where the issues lie and help when it comes to buy in for a system or change of working.

Identify the key stakeholders, people outside you immediate area who may work in a similar way to you. Look for areas that you know have silos of digital assets who would benefit from a business wide system to allow search and retrieval. Then look to anyone who shares assets, map their workflows and create a use case. Perhaps you require more in depth metadata management, or to consolidate metadata and assets into one system? Maybe you have a department that needs to send assets globally and have security greater than an FTP solution.

All of the above takes time, and often finding the departments and stakeholders can happen over a cup of coffee and a moan, so publicize internally what you are doing, what your aims are, who you feel could benefit. Then from all the multiple conversations you have create your scenarios for use of a DAM, present it to your business as your justification, and ensure from that meeting you have a senior stakeholder who will fly the flag for your project. Once you have all of this you are then ready to start your conversations with vendors.

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