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How to choose the best DAM system and what you need to consider

How to find the best DAM system

Due to ongoing digitalisation, the amount of digital data in companies is constantly growing. A digital asset management (DAM) system helps companies to store this mass of files centrally, to organise these assets easily and to grant all relevant employees controlled access to the files. However, the market offers a wide range of DAM software. Many systems offer the same standard functions at first glance, but differ in terms of additional features, experience in project implementation and, of course, price. Choosing the right DAM system is therefore not always easy. So how do you find the best DAM system for your company?

How to compare DAM software?

Which digital assets should be managed?

It is important to first get an overview of the assets to be organised and to clarify which creative files and formats are to be stored, managed, edited and shared in the DAM system. Already the possibilities given in the management and organisation of photos, videos and other content can narrow the circle. Moreover, not every digital asset management solution can handle more specialised or new file formats. Some systems only offer simple basic functions and are therefore more suitable as image database software rather than a fully integrated digital asset management solution with automatic workflows. This is partly sufficient, but in other situations it misses the requirements completely.

Who will use the digital asset management system?

The number and roles of the people who will work with the system play a decisive role in the choice of platform. Do all users need access at the same time? The number of (simultaneous) users is a cost factor and is handled differently depending on the provider. Also crucial is how the users want to use the DAM platform. The offline marketing team of an enterprise probably has different requirements than the e-commerce managers. Clarify in advance which areas, departments, customers and external employees will use the DAM. Talk to all stakeholders in the company and involve them in the selection process. After all, they are the ones who will work with the software and manage their media files and documents there. If all relevant users are involved in the decision, a newly implemented software usually experiences more acceptance and users find it easier to change their habits.

What access rights should users have?

Many DAM systems offer the possibility to set up an internal rights management. This allows certain access rules to be defined for individual employees or defined groups. It is useful when groups of varying size and different departments have to work with the assets. Some systems allow the management of users with Windows Active Directory. If this is already in use, the management is simplified significantly. External service providers or customers can also have limited and controlled access to the content. In this way, the visibility of digital assets can be regulated or certain groups can receive read-only rights, i.e. they cannot make any edits.

Which processes and workflows should the DAM optimise? 

The scope of features and the differences between the DAM systems have a major influence how the software can be used. It is therefore also important how the providers can support you in creating new efficient workflows. A look at the areas of application of the various systems can help. Has a provider already implemented projects in your industry? Then you can benefit from this experience by using workflows and automatisms that have already been tried and tested.

In this context, metadata also has a central role to play. All digital asset management systems work with metadata. This metadata records concrete information about the assets, such as keywords about the content of the images. They are directly linked to the digital assets and simplify the search for images, files and other content as well as their versions. This simplifies the file management, especially with large databases. It can be helpful if metadata can be customised. For example, different industries usually need different metadata. E-commerce companies, for example, need product data, which many companies manage in a PIM system. Linking the PIM and DAM systems can automate metadata maintenance and ensure that the relevant information can be found on every digital asset.

Which application programming interfaces are possible?

The integration of a DAM system into the existing IT infrastructure is another important point to consider. Pay attention to what the system architecture of the digital asset management software looks like and which interfaces are possible. Analyse in which programmes you need digital content and documents. Native or open-source interfaces make integration easy and also allows a high level of automation. This includes automatically exchanging digital media and also product information or metadata between the DAM and other platforms. This can be a content management system, for example, to which a file edited and released in the DAM is automatically made available in the appropriate format and resolution to simplify the process.

It is also interesting to see how system updates are handled. Can updates be installed quickly and easily? What about new programme licences such as an update of the Adobe Creative Cloud? Can the creative assets also be used and edited with these directly from the DAM system or does it take months until an update is available? Here, a look at the experience reports of other users or in the news section of the DAM providers can provide an impression.

Cloud or local data storage on your own servers?

The type of preferred storage of the digital asset data must also be clarified. There are basically two variants to choose from here. On the one hand, there is the local data storage of all digital media assets on one's own servers. On the other hand, there are cloud-based DAM systems. Some providers also offer both options. The question of whether to use on premises or cloud-based DAM depends on several factors, for example, the amount of data. Media files such as images and videos with high resolution quickly generate large amounts of data. This requires storage space locally on the company's own servers. But some cloud providers also charge according to the amount of storage space used, so that the costs increase over time. The situation surrounding the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) should also be taken into account. If the assets are stored externally by a service provider, the location of the server is crucial. If located in the USA, the regulations applicable there apply. In the case of personal data from your customers and employees, the local data protection guidelines must be respected and a server location in Germany or Europe is recommended.

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Do you like the user interface?

The usability of the digital asset management software should not be neglected either. This point is subjective and therefore requires an individual assessment. It depends primarily on the users and how they perceive the control, user interface and editing of the assets. An evaluation is possible with the help of demo versions. This allows a realistic assessment of how intuitive the user interface is. In addition, you should find out whether your favoured provider offers training or tutorials for its users, which make it easier to get started with the system.

Are individual adjustments possible?

Individual customisations may also play a further role in choosing the right DAM system. Not every DAM platform provides flexibly to customers' wishes. Other models, however, are based on the modular principle. This makes it possible to build a customised system with individual functions or interfaces, for example to a PIM system. Be clear to what extent you need individual customisations or whether an out-of-the-box solution is sufficient for your workflows. Many people get bogged down in wishes and ideas that then unnecessarily drag out the project. Good advice in advance is therefore very valuable.

What does a DAM system cost?

Of course, the total price also needs to be considered. The providers often differ considerably in this respect. In addition to licence models that are based on the number of users or the amount of digitally stored content, there are also all-in-one packages. Another possibility are models in which individual features of the DAM, such as interfaces to a PIM system, are booked via additional packages. When evaluating licensing models, it is important to also consider the future development of your company. Is the software designed for growth or will the costs increase disproportionately? What will the expenses look like if the amount of images, videos and other digital content increases significantly?

Conclusion: What ist the best DAM system?

The listed questions and criteria can support you in choosing the best DAM system for you. Once you have collected the key requirements for a new DAM system together with your colleagues, get an initial overview of different systems and talk to your favourite providers.

We will be pleased to analyse your needs together with you and check out how our digital asset management system Cavok fits your requirements and can help you to better manage your digital files.

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