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Choosing a Digital Asset Management System

Published on 1st May 2018 at 12:19 by Jennifer Armstrong

Choosing a Digital Asset Management System

The digital landscape is continually expanding and, as such, your digital assets have never been more vital to your business. Customers expect to be able to interact with you seamlessly both online and offline. You need to portray your brand and the services you offer in a way that is engaging and easily accessible. On top of this, you need to ensure your team is working efficiently with your digital assets. Let’s just think for a second about the rapidly growing photo libraries within the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) and Real Estate industries. These images are often stored in multiple locations, old images aren’t archived correctly, and large file sizes are a burden on IT teams. It takes a lot of resources to manage the sheer volume of digital assets, especially within industries where images are a key business tool. With this in mind, keeping digital assets organized and accessible is fundamental.

What Is Digital Asset Management?

In short, Digital Asset Management (DAM) systems are for storing and organizing your digital assets to make them accessible to those who need them, when they need them. Ultimately, making your assets accessible is what gives them value. Digital asset management solutions facilitate this by creating a centralized, organized repository. In addition to the basic ability to store and organize your digital files, DAM solutions offer two main functions:

●  Controlled creation and capture of asset metadata- every image or file is tagged with relevant information. There are two types of tag, keywords and fields. Keywords allow you to easily refine searches for assets using standard search terms. Fields, on the other hand, give you unique information for each file or project; such as copyright and photographer information. Fields are particularly useful in industries such as AEC and Real Estate that have substantial image libraries.

●   Digital Asset Management tools to improve workflows- an efficient workflow not only allows you to keep track of your assets but it ensures the longevity of your digital asset management solution. Great workflows enable large teams to work together seamlessly, regardless of location. This is facilitated by the way files are shared and routed. For example, CMS systems allow assets to be pushed to end-users. Enabling your sales team to have the most up-to-date version of assets at their fingertips is one of the many ways digital asset management solutions provide an undeniable return on investment.

Does Your Company Need DAM?

As we’ve already mentioned, the digital landscape is constantly growing and evolving. This means that year on year you will have more and more digital assets to account for. This is especially relevant in relation to image libraries. Firstly, due to the technology we use, images are easier to produce, we have more devices and high-quality images are easier to obtain. Secondly the demand for images is growing. There are countless requirements for high-quality photographs such as social media marketing, proposals, and presentations. The other big area of growth is in online video consumption. Consumers are now expecting to see video content and businesses are having to rise to the challenge. The AEC and Real Estate industries will need to produce more high-quality video content to reach their target audiences. This increase in video content has a significant impact on the need for efficient storage solutions.

It’s a good idea to assess your digital assets and business requirements to work out whether you could benefit from a digital asset management solution. Ask yourself whether you can easily find the files you need and whether you often have to replicate content. Do you find yourself frequently wasting time resizing, renaming and converting files? If these problems sound familiar, then the features of a digital asset management system may well offer the solution.

 

How To Choose A Digital Asset Management Solution

Now that you’ve established that DAM is the answer to your business’s needs, the question is how to go about choosing one. Evaluating the different digital asset management software can be daunting. There is a lot of variety out there and finding the solution best suited to your company, and the digital asset challenges it faces is the key to success. Here are our six top tips for getting the right fit:

1. Carry out an audit of your digital assets

First, you need to evaluate the size of your asset library and how quickly it is growing. This can be trickier than it might at first seem as not everyone will have the same view. Marketing teams will, more than likely, estimate that you have a lot more assets than executives. The best way to get a clear view is to carry out an audit. You will need to consider how many assets you have, what types of files they are, where they are stored, and who has access to them.

An audit will help you to have a better understanding of your digital assets. Not only will you know the volume of assets that need to be managed but the audit can help you to identify ways to repurpose content and can help you remove assets that are no longer of value.

2. Assess your business needs

You need to understand how the business is using your digital assets and the related requirements to inform your DAM selection criteria. Assessing the business requirements will include finding out how much time staff across the organization spend managing and working with images. It may well be that without the right digital asset management tools they are spending an incredible amount of time editing and resizing images.

The only way to get an accurate picture is to talk to the teams that use your assets. You will need to speak to the marketing and communications staff as a starting point and then any other teams that have touch points with your digital assets. For example, project teams and HR can be significant image users within the AEC and real estate industries. You need to assure you’ve assessed everyone’s photo management requirements to ensure you find a solution that will work for everyone. You’ll want to find out what their main concerns are with the way you currently work.

To get a true reflection of your team’s usage, the best thing is to ask them to track their activities for a week. This will produce real data that you can analyze to inform your requirements. You should consider asking your staff to make a note of their time spent on the following digital asset management activities:

●      Searching for assets and seeking help from colleagues

●      Looking for copyright information

●      Creating duplicate image sizes or resizing images

●      Packaging images to send to clients

●      Emailing images to collaborate on proposals or other marketing documents

Involving a variety of teams and key stakeholders at an early stage will help later on when you are trying to implement a digital asset management solution. Consulting with the right people will allow you to get a better idea of your business needs and existing pain points. Communication is key to ensure that everyone understands how DAM will benefit them and having buy-in from the start will help you succeed.

Finally, when assessing the business needs don’t forget to involve your IT department. They can often be seen as blocking or slowing down projects for new systems, but ultimately their knowledge is invaluable. They will be instrumental in ensuring digital asset management software meets your business needs and that it will integrate correctly with your existing systems.

3. Consider your technology and functionality requirements

You need to ensure that potential DAMs have the features you require to meet your business needs, as discovered in your research phase. This will include things such as project-based tagging, multiple image search options and varying levels of user access. The DAM solution you choose should meet as many of your criteria as possible. Do bear in mind, however, that it is unlikely you’ll find one provider who can meet all of your requirements.

Give some thought to what are the most important criteria to you. You can then ask potential vendors to explain how their solution meets these criteria. For example, is the DAM cloud-based and independent of specific hardware? Also give some thought to your future business needs, how your digital asset requirements will grow, and whether your solution will be future-proof. Cloud-based digital asset management systems are fast becoming the most commonly used due to their ease of integration. You need to ensure that any solution you select will be able to work with your existing systems such as your CMS and project databases. It’s also worth asking whether potential vendors have trial systems. What better way to ensure that the features of digital asset management are fit for purpose than to be able to test the functionality?

4. Ensure your potential vendors understand your industry

When working with a DAM vendor, you are ultimately looking for a business partner. You need to be able to work well together to ensure the implementation runs as smoothly as possible. This is much more likely to be the case if your vendor understands the industry you work in. A great way to do this is to look for recommendations. Ask your vendor to supply references that match your company’s industry and size. You’ll also want to make sure that their ways of working align with your business objectives and road map. And finally, be sure to ask how much support they will offer after onboarding.

5. Account for upfront costs and ongoing value

You will need to understand all of the costs involved with any potential digital asset management solution. The obvious cost is the software itself, but there are other add-ons and service charges to consider to get your DAM up and running. These include things such as software licenses, installation and configuration, data migration, product training and ongoing support.

When you take all of the costs into account ensure that you balance this against the return on investment (ROI). You will need to evaluate the time savings and what this is worth to your business. Companies within the AEC and Real Estate industries are often extremely complex, with users in different locations needing simultaneous access to the most up-to-date assets available. A system to facilitate this will have great ongoing business value.

6. Set realistic timelines

It can be difficult to set realistic timelines, especially when there is a huge demand for your new system. It can be tempting to try to rush the process, but it will be much more worthwhile to take time and ensure that it is done right. You will be using the system for years to come after all. The best way to help set realistic timelines, and to manage stakeholder expectations, is to split the process into phases. Your vendor should be able to help guide you through the process and to create a plan with milestones.

The digital asset landscape has grown immensely over recent decades, and it isn’t slowing down. With a greater demand for high-quality images, efficient storage and sharing capabilities are vital. Digital asset management offers the best solution to not only manage your digital assets but to harness their potential. To ensure your business gets the best solution you will need to review your digital assets and user requirements. Ensure you collaborate well with teams across your organization and that your vendor understands your business needs and you’ll be reaping the rewards for years to come.

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