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How to choose a Digital Asset Management system
9th September 2021
More and more organisations from a wide range of industries are recognising the need for Digital Asset Management (DAM), but how to choose a Digital Asset Management system is complicated.
First of all, there are a lot of vendors to choose from. Second of all, how do you know which type of DAM your organisation needs?
In this article we've broken down the process of choosing your DAM. We'll look at the aspects you need to consider, questions you need to ask vendors and, finally, what mistakes to avoid.
Make use of a free trial/freemium offer
When choosing a DAM it's crucial you try it out first..
A free trial will show you whether the product will work for your organisation in the real world, rather than a hypothetical sales consultation. A comprehensive demo of the software can be useful, but it isn't a substitute for the chance to get your hands on the DAM itself.
ResourceSpace offers an unrivalled freemium product.
Our DAM is 100% free, with no limits on users or feature restrictions—and we also offer 100GB of free cloud storage.
Try ResourceSpace for free
Don't confuse file storage for Digital Asset Management
You might be thinking that a free Digital Asset Management platform is great, but you've already got all the storage you need for free with Google Drive/Dropbox/Sharepoint.
While those products do offer a storage solution, they are not DAMs.
They don't include the wide variety of features that the best DAMs include, and they don't give you a way to handle digital asset permissions, asset sharing, version control or accountability.
On-premise versus cloud
This is one of the number one considerations organisations have to make ahead of choosing a Digital Asset Management system.
There can be arguments in favour of both (and at ResourceSpace we do offer an on-premise solution) but more and more organisations are choosing the hosted option, particularly with the increase in hybrid and remote working since the Covid-19 pandemic.
The main benefit of a cloud-based DAM is that technical support and maintenance is also taken care of. It's perfect for organisations without significant internal IT resources or infrastructure.
Want to find out more about the cloud versus on-premise debate? Check out our free whitepaper.
Open source versus proprietary software
'Open source' refers to software with code that is available to be downloaded, modified and developed at little or no extra charge. In contrast, proprietary software is fully owned by the vendor and cannot be developed by anyone other than the vendor.
ResourceSpace is the leading open source DAM platform, so you won't be surprised to hear we're all for open source software, but what are the benefits to your organisation?
With proprietary software you'll often be 'locked in' to that vendor. With open source software, like ResourceSpace, you're free to manage the DAM yourself or with another vendor, and there's no huge migration project required if you don't want to use our support and/or hosting.
6 questions to ask a DAM provider
If you think you've identified a potential DAM provider, make sure you ask these six questions ahead of signing on the dotted line.
1. How scalable is the platform?
Your digital asset library can grow quickly, so it's important that whatever DAM you invest in has room to grow without frequent increases in cost. You also need to think about this in terms of team members. For example, you might only need two active users at the moment, but what about when your team expands?
Make sure you are clear on the points at which your price would increase based on asset storage as well as users.
2. What security measures are in place?
This might be the most important question you ask.
Your DAM isn't just a place to store stock photos or images that are already publicly available on your website or social media platforms. There'll also be digital data that needs to be kept private or that has copyright restrictions. With this in mind, you need to know the platform you're investing in is secure.
Ask about all of the following:
- How can I manage permissions?
- Is there a single sign-on solution available?
- Can I configure multi-user privacy?
3. Do you have experience in my industry?
No two industries are the same, and they often have unique requirements.
To make sure a DAM is suitable for your sector, ask if the vendor has experience in it. If they do, request case studies or testimonials.
4. What's involved in the onboarding process?
Whether or not a new DAM will be adopted successfully in your organisation often comes down to the onboarding process and initial vendor support.
Speak to your shortlisted vendors about how much help they can provide in getting set up, if they can provide long term support, and the costs involved with this.
5. Is support available if required?
Some vendors will set you up with your DAM and send you on your way. Sometimes that's all organisations need, especially if they have a DAM specialist on the team.
However, even if you think you don't require post-sales support now, this doesn't mean you won't at some point in the future. Think about what would happen if the person responsible for managing and maintaining your organisation's DAM left the business (even if that's going to be you). How would the business continue to get the best from the platform without that person's experience and knowledge? This is where on-demand customer support would be invaluable.
6. What future updates are planned for the system?
Digital Asset Management platforms should be constantly improving and evolving. What's standard now won't necessarily be adequate in a few years time.
Ask about the recent changes made to the software, and if they have a published development roadmap.
Common mistakes when choosing a DAM
Make sure you're not making these common mistakes when deciding on the right Digital Asset Management vendor for your business.
Not conducting an audit ahead of implementation
One of the main reasons for investing in a DAM solution is to gain visibility of your assets and manage them effectively. However, it's going to be very difficult to get to this point if you don't start off by working out what's wrong with your current asset management strategy.
Take stock of all current assets before making the switch. Where are they, who's managing the process currently, and how are they categorised?
Organisations that don't audit their digital assets ahead of migrating to the new DAM will find their processes are just as disorganised as before.
Not shopping around
Don't just purchase from the first vendor you find. Even if it's us! You need to be sure that the DAM you invest in is right for you. This means considering the problems you want to solve and asking the questions we've listed above.
Underestimating the importance of metadata
A successful DAM has metadata at its heart. It's what allows for logical categorisation (in many different ways) and makes it easy for users to locate the assets they're looking for.
If you don't take the importance of metadata seriously you'll end up not collecting the right metadata, not structuring it properly, or not collecting it at all.
Misunderstanding the total costs involved
Sometimes the total cost of ownership of a DAM isn't as clear cut as it might appear. What's more, not all DAM vendors are transparent with their prices.
With ResourceSpace you only pay for cloud storage above 100GB and technical support if it's required. However, other providers will also charge for:
- Additional users
- Installation and onboarding
- Maintenance costs
- Additional cloud storage at much smaller increments
Make sure you know exactly what you're paying for, and what will incur more charges, before you invest in a DAM.
Not securing buy-in from the DAM users
The biggest threat to your DAM's success is a lack of buy-in from the people who will be using it on a regular basis.
In our experience, most of the issues arise when the person responsible for implementing the system hasn't involved the wider team in the decision process.
If there's a free trial let them try it out; if there's a sales demo get them on the call. The key is to get them invested in the DAM early on, while comprehensive training on how to use it is also essential.
The key for organisations looking to choose a Digital Asset Management system is to research, research and then research some more. This should involve speaking to the vendors, but that's never a substitute for getting to use the platform for free.
Ready to get stuck into your first DAM system? Request your free ResourceSpace instance below. There's no credit card required, and you'll enjoy unlimited access, unlimited users and 100GB of cloud storage—forever.