Digital Asset Management: Lessons from the Field #1 – What to do BEFORE Vendor Selection

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                So you and your organization have decided you need a DAM ‘solution.’ Is it your first DAM, or are you upgrading or changing to something more robust to meet current needs? It doesn’t matter, the clock is ticking, the corporate pressure is on, and you dive in.

                 Many think step 1 is vendor selection - shopping around for the right set of features from a vendor that has been around a while. WRONG. This would be how to ensure that, at the very least, not all organizational needs will be addressed. At worst, this approach can spell disaster like Sun Tzu said - “Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”

                 OK, fine. Strategy first, but what does that mean exactly? It means understanding requirements, stakeholder needs, the current state of your digital ecosystem, functional as well as technical requirements, and the processes that will be affected. It means formally asking questions within your organization like:

  • What are the actual business objectives for the initiative?

  • Who at the executive level is sponsoring moving forward, and is that support sufficient?

  • Is your goal to address enterprise needs, or those of specific divisions or departments? Which is the better approach, and is there advantage to implementation in phases?

  • What is the real, measurable business value ROI being created as a result of implementing a new DAM?

  • Which specific business strategies do you expect to improve (UX, e-commerce, personalization, operational efficiency, etc.)?

  • Who are all the user groups that will be affected? Do you understand their needs in detail?

  • What elements of your current assets structure are already in place? Where are the gaps? What must remain in place?

  • What existing tools, systems, or processes need to be integrated (or not) with the DAM? Which of these should the DAM ‘solution’ have within its own capabilities (as not all DAMs are simply DAMS; in fact, most are not)?

  • What foundational areas need work (taxonomy, metadata, standards, etc.)?

                As you explore the above, it is also making certain that you obtain good answers that then gain consensus among stakeholders. Once you get to this state, you can actually begin modeling what the future state should look like, and that leads to documenting the specific functional and technical requirements with which to consider potential vendors. By the way, did you also diligently get acceptance of the complete requirements amongst all your key stakeholders? If so, you can confidently move forward.

                 The guidance above is a glimpse into the scores of sub-steps involved, and how your organization conducts its planning will always be a factor. If you have the right team to do this on your own, you will be ahead of the game. If not, asking for help from those who have been through it before is worth consideration. Either way, working through these areas of planning will result in a smarter DAM package/vendor selection, and fewer sleepless nights during implementation. The lesson is straightforward - you only get one chance to do the job right the first time.

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