One simple step to finding a digital asset management solution

Develop a list of functional requirements.

I know. It certainly doesn’t sound glamorous. It makes up for any lacking excitement by paying off when you evaluate DAM providers, though, so it is worth it. Compiling a list of your asset management requirements is a straightforward task and a major part of selecting the right system.

Also called functional requirements, this list identifies what you need in a DAM system to help you meet your objectives, reach business goals, and get solutions to the unique problems facing your organization.

This post will give some examples of functional requirements, explain why prioritizing them is important, and show how requirements can inform use cases.

We’ll use an example. Devon is graphic designer at Feather and Fang, a pet supply wholesaler. They get images from manufacturers, and he is responsible for putting them into a catalogue and also sending the images on to wholesale customers for their marketing materials.

DAMuser_graphic_designer

Once it became clear that their current shared folder system wasn’t working anymore, Devon started looking at DAM systems. He did some research and got together a few of his colleagues in marketing and sales to develop a list of what they needed a DAM system for.

Here is their draft:

  1. Store all image, audio, video, graphic, layout and creative files.
  2. Quick and easy search with advanced option that filters results by category and/or file type.
  3. Metadata should allow for configurable schemas, have bulk editing capabilities, and be able to append, replace, read, and write embedded file data.
  4. Categories and indexing for a category structure to organize and search for assets.
  5. Viewing and commenting features to preview assets and comment on existing work.
  6. File processing and transcoding, or automatically converting files from one master file to other formats on-the-fly.
  7. Asset collections for the creation and sharing of groups of media (similar to lightboxes in the photo world”.
  8. Versioning to manage file updates and track asset history.
  9. Easy uploading and downloading either via drag and drop or other bulk import methods.
  10. Asset distribution from system via download, social publishing, and embed links.
  11. Ability to attach rights management info to assets (for example: license agreements, permissions, and usage guidelines).
  12. Reporting to track asset usage throughout the asset lifecycle.
  13. APIs to allow connectivity with other systems.
  14. Roles and permissions to manage and control different levels of access and usage by user group.
  15. Service support to answers questions when users have questions.
  16. The next step with a list like this is to categorize it into “must haves”, “nice to have”, and “future need”. This prioritization of requirements will help you evaluate DAM systems for the aspects important to you.

The Feather and Fang team decided on the following “must haves”:

  • Store all image, audio, video, graphic, layout and creative files.
  • Quick and easy search with advanced option that filters results by category and/or file type.
  • Asset collections for the creation and sharing of groups of media (similar to lightboxes in the photo world).
  • APIs to allow connectivity with other systems.

Based on those four top requirements, Devon and the team came up with some user scenarios, or use cases. User scenarios, typically presented in a couple lines of text, are situations that highlight your organization’s digital asset needs.

Here’s how the Feather and Fang team started the user scenarios:

  1. Sales staff need to be able to display seasonal or collections of products in customer meetings. How would they we able to do that?
  2. Devon wants to search the image library for images for an ad. He is looking for a dog, light brown, with pointy ears. How would he find relevant images?
  3. Feather and Fang wants to connect a DAM system to their current product database so that image, item number, and other related metadata can be exported to catalog layouts. What kind of API capabilities does your system offer?

browndogDAM

Functional requirements are worth your time and effort. The enhance your internal assessment, guide development of user scenarios, provide a framework for evaluating vendors, and help you make an informed decision about what digital asset management system to go with.

Any requirements you see missing from the list? Let us know in the comments.

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