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Using DAM Tips From Vendors And Consultants

by Ralph Windsor on March 5, 2013

There have been a few articles out recently with tips about how best to manage the process of DAM implementation (at all different stages).  A number of these are written by consultants and vendors either directly via online channels they own themselves like blogs, website, twitter etc while others are published in trade press like CMSWire.  Below are a few more recent ones.

The Widen blog offers this advice (which I have paraphrased):

  • Use controlled vocabulary fields rather than free text where possible
  • Make sure you have an internal sponsor or senior user (or ‘Champion’ to use their term) and ensure they understand the significance of the role

The champion, however, is not always able to coordinate that actual implementation for a variety of reasons, and the responsibilities of executing the implementation are handed over to someone else. When this is the case, it is imperative that the individual(s) selected for the job understands the goal of the project, how it will benefit the organization, what will be required of them to meet the desired outcome, and ultimately that the implementation will not be successful unless he or she is completely on board.” [Read More]

Both of those are solid tips which I wouldn’t take issue with.

A few more from Ed Smith of Extensis via CMSWire with reference to tasks to carry out before you choose a system:

  • Audit how many files you have and what kinds
  • Find out where they are stored currently
  • Decide who requires access to the system
  • Identify third party system integration needs
  • Identify what type of database server you use

The IT department in your organization may prefer storing data in SQL databases whenever possible for consistent management of data across computer systems. Many IT departments prefer SQL servers because application-specific databases (like the built-in databases found in DAM solutions) may use specialized database formats that require exceptions to established data management and backup processes.” [ Read More]

That all makes sense, although the last one conventionally only applies if you’re using an internally hosted (‘on premise’) DAM – such as those Extensis offer.  If you’re considering a hosted or SaaS DAM, that specific tip may be less important as the database will normally be exclusively the vendor’s concern.  You might become a lot more interested in it later, however, if you need to get your hands on your data should the vendor go bust (a problem which has less serious consequences for an on-premise DAM than it does for a SaaS one).

DAM Survival Guide author, David Diamond publishes many useful tips as tweets if you follow his Twitter feed @DAMSurvival and there are a few others on our resources page – which also includes the blogs or websites of many who work in the DAM field as staff or freelancers rather than necessarily selling any direct product or service associated with it.

The situation with user education in the DAM market has improved a lot in the last 3-4 years.  With free web based resources (and some spare time) you can assemble a useful set of tips relevant to your circumstances from various sources (both commercial and otherwise) without having to pay anything for it.  My guess is this can be attributed to both a general increase in the number of end users of DAM systems who are willing to share their experiences and far less software marketing on auto-pilot from vendors (which is also based on a realisation that DAM is a complex subject and people are usually reticent to buy into anything they don’t properly understand).

Of course, equally, you need to be aware of the agenda of those handing out the free advice, all of which, one way or another, is being subsidised by paying customers somewhere down the line (or perhaps an employer in the case of some of the DAM users who operate their own blogs).

The same obviously applies to consultants too (including the author of this article).  Open source developers are no exception either and still have to cover their costs with support, hosting or customisation deals etc.  As illustrated in my examples above, to get a true perspective, you need to critically examine all sides of a given argument.  Often it’s what isn’t said as much as what is.  So if something is a touchy subject (like missing features or a specific weakness based on the delivery model) then you either won’t hear it mentioned or you might get fabricated propaganda about an alternative option designed to deflect your attention.

Even though you can’t buy wholesale into a single information source, the experience of whoever is offering the advice is always instructive.  One tip published by David Diamond via @DAMSurvival earlier today was:

“The best DAM white papers come from authors who have spent time in the trenches of the industry.”

Which I would absolutely agree with.  You need to have some confidence they’ve been closely involved in a good number of  implementations – and in some hands-on capacity so they can discuss the subject of DAM with some authority.  Also you must be sure that they’ve not collected second-hand tips ripped off from all of these free information resources now on offer.

It’s important to remember that complex products like DAM systems are one of those purchases where there is rarely a single right product or strategy, there are merely better or worse options, several of which you may only properly discover with hindsight.  You need to base your assessments about what direction to take with DAM on proven facts that you can verify via multiple independent sources.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

David Diamond March 5, 2013 at 7:49 pm

Thank you for this article, Ralph! (And for the mentions.)

As a DAM user advocate, I’m a proponent of user education because I know how frustrating it is to be hindered by cumbersome software. (Really, nothing irks me more than stupid software design.) As a vendor rep, I’m a proponent of education because people who know more make better purchase decisions. This is why Picturepark focuses on providing user education resources like our best-practice webinars, and it’s why we’re supporting DAM Guru Program. (http://DAMGuru.com)

As I just told my buddy and counterpart at Widen, Jake, I believe that the more people know, the more successful the vendors, analysts and consultants who have something good to offer will become. So, when people are looking for the “commercial angle” on what we’re doing, there it is.

DAM is too big a decision for people to dive into armed only with vendor marketing materials. If we can collectively educate our community, I believe the community will be better equipped to further educate itself. And when that happens, I think we’ll see a rising tide of quality, as the nonsense drowns in its own absurdity.

David Diamond
Director of Global Marketing
Picturepark DAM

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