Preparation for a DAM Purchase

We have done many DAM implementations at our company and most succeed. We have also helped a number of clients with dormant or crippled DAM systems bring them back to life. What makes a DAM system succeed? In a word, preparation.

There are a number of reasons for DAM systems to fail: no upper level commitment; no front line commitment; no training; never installed; improperly installed. These usually lead to premature abandonment. Thus the primary reason for failure of a DAM system is lack of preparation.

We have a document that we usually give out at the start of our DAM exploration with clients early in the sales cycle. It is called the 6 Mistakes commonly made in choosing a DAM solution and how to avoid them all! Those 6 mistakes are:

  1. It takes forever to find a solution and then you’re still uncertain what to get.
  2. You don’t get proof it works.
  3. It takes a lifetime to get installed and never gets completed.
  4. Being oversold or undersold.
  5. Overlooking or underestimating the need for ongoing support.
  6. Making a purchase decision before you’ve confirmed the stability of the manufacturer.

The key to avoiding all of these is preparation. You should know why you need it and how you can benefit from it, what features you need, what work flow you will use and who the stakeholders are. Most of these steps can be accomplished before you even engage vendors and doing so will avoid most of the 6 mistakes. For example:

  • Having an upper management stakeholder yields a budget which helps avoid being over and undersold and allows you to seriously approach vendors.
  • Engaging front line stakeholders will yield a set of features and requirements for your solution which also avoid over and under selling and also makes it quicker to select your solution and evaluate the features the vendor shows (proof).
  • Evaluating potential vendors via web resources shortens the time to find candidates and determine how solid a company they are.

Knowing these common mistakes allows you to address them during vendor engagement. This ensures that you get assurances that you are dealing with the right manufacturer and integrator and that you have the right solution and support package in place. Proper planning assures that you meet your timelines and start achieving ROI on the schedule you intended.

Once you have chosen the solution, you still have to manage the process of installation and handover. This is key because at some point, your vendor and integrator will go away and you will be responsible for running the system on a day-to-day basis. You must make sure you are ready for this.

We have a suite of service products specifically designed to get us out of the account as soon as possible and leave a fully functioning solution with a client ready to administer and use the system. These are installation, training, consulting and support products that have proven very successful in getting the client up and running as soon as we leave.

We offer user training, administrative training, support packages (the system comes with one year built in) and consulting. The critical step missed in most engagements is the time you spent before you start implementing anything, where we discuss work flow, metadata, taxonomy and organizational practices for DAM systems. The first half introduces the options and most common practices we are aware of, including: taxonomy standards, metadata and work flow with an eye to the client’s use. In this session, we encourage the client to discuss this and then discuss further internally over the next few days before the second half of the session. The second half is ideally a session where we listen to what the client has decided and help them solidify this and discuss any potential opportunities or pitfalls. We also know a number of specialists who focus almost solely on metadata whom we refer them to for more specialized help. Some DAM users actually spend years developing metadata standards and work flows before they even start looking for a solution.

Proper training is essential to success and achieving your ROI with your DAM system. Only with training do you understand the capabilities and possibilities of your solution. This is the only way you can assume control of the solution and take it to new levels.