Selecting a DAM system

Working with Digital Assets


While you might like to investigate who will be affected by the DAM/MAM in your organization and in your affiliate network, you will never know where your initial needs will lead. From our experience as a pioneer in the field, we know that neither demands nor stakeholders remain static. Needs are growing, and often, processes are changed when it is realized that a poor decision has led to issues down the road. You need a system that can easily adapt to evolving needs as you grow. It is a sensible policy to include your stakeholders in the deployment of your system, but in just a few years, the number of the initial participants will have diminished. In other words, refrain from trying to include the door man, but focus on the most important core when you first define who should have access to your file collection (you do not want a system that needs ‘training’ for poor processes but one that works intuitively).

At ONISON, we provide networks with thousands of affiliate participants that are beyond the reach of training. If every single individual would need training and support, the system would rapidly become unaffordable. The system needs to be simple on the surface but be able to accommodate complexity where needed. Choosing the right tool sets up the DAM/MAM initiative for success without creating bottlenecks and frustration down the road. A ‘kick-off training session’ serves for rapid acceptance and dispersal rather than for training. Spend 90% of the ‘training’ time on organizational goals and process optimization (that is independent of the DAM/MAM) and 10% on actual training.

  • Focus on your core needs (what problem do you want to solve)
  • Focus on your core stakeholders (including partners, clients, and vendors)
  • Look for a DAM/MAM solution that can adapt as the complexities of your demands increase
  • Plan a kick-off ‘training’ for rapid penetration

Manage Files Securely

ONISON - Simplicity meets complexity

We have seen it all: long requirement lists that are coming out of a mindset that a DAM/MAM needs to be perfectly designed for your organization. They are usually originated in old-school IT departments and cost more to create than to run the system for the next ten years. But be aware that the industry is not renown for innovation. It is critical that the vendor allows you to download all the data and files in the case that your chosen system turns out to be inflexible for your changing needs.

Thus, rather than spending all of your budget on endless custom requirements that will ultimately make your system expensive, focus on your priorities and put a MAM/DAM champion in charge. In very large organizations, the champ might become responsible for the DAM/MAM system alone while in others he/she may have other responsibilities. In our experience, champs beat consultants and committees hands down, and we know of no exception where the DAM/MAM project has not turned into a full success for the organization and the champs themselves. It is a matter of pride that consultants and committees just do not have.

Customizable DAM systems

Also, absolutely refuse to adapt your processes to a DAM/MAM system. The system has to adapt to your priorities without intruding on your processes. If you need to change your workflow, then it must be for organizational reasons, not for the requirements of the tools. Look for systems that can handle access rights on a per-asset level. For large organizations that have extensive hierarchical levels, teams and divisions can be organized separately where needed but are enabled to collaborate where advantageous. Bear in mind that different teams and divisions may have different needs or even unique branding requirements. Look for systems that let you branch out, are open to customization and possible system integration, if need be, and offer reasonable cost expectations. Yet, sometimes there is no necessity to run the same system in multiple groups. In other words, do not add complexity where not needed. It will bite you in the back.

Digital Asset Security

On the other hand, you do not want to manage every file individually. Sometimes, you want to be able to pre-assign certain metadata such as corporate wide copyright information. Make sure that all the file information embedded in every file is automatically imported into the metadata. Automated imports and mass editing functions can ease the bulk of the workload in managing DAM/MAM systems.

Where multiple people manage a DAM/MAM system, it is important to set some organizational ground rules, such as how to categorize files, how to provide for access rights, minimum standards for metadata (perhaps through a click-list), or how to deal with Digital Rights issues (DRM). Some organizations use file naming conventions, and others have approval processes for new material in place. Since approval processes constitute bottlenecks in the workflow, they will voluntarily be evaded. This is commonly viewed as not being a problem since organizations learn that stakeholders treat DAM/MAM systems with more care than their own hard-drives.

Data Management Software

If you have more than a few dozen users, you might like to stop managing them manually. Make sure that your system provides for and allows to switch to an automated registration and user approval process (users that need to remind you for setting up their account are creating work where there should be none). Of course, the parts of a DAM/MAM systems that ties into an intranet need to be locked down with machine-to-machine conformity or further measures.

We consider your data as sensitive, and is the main reason as to why we do not put your data on the public cloud. It is certainly ok to share servers with others; but imagine! You have your future marketing data on Amazon or Google, fully exposed to data mining. Do you really think that it is a good idea to have third parties in the know before you, what makes your business successful? How do you think they have become so successful themselves? It is through mining your data, and in the twenty-first century, information is king. They freely sell it to others or use it to their own advantage.


The Company

Onison Corporation is a leading global provider of branding tools that assist companies to manage their digital assets and contents for various media outputs.

Products & Services

Onison's scalable enterprise brand management platform provides a smart approach to manage brand and marketing workflows.

ImageDirector Media Asset Management
Preeon Web-to-Print Publisher
Automatic Catalogue Production
Product Information Management

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