Demo or proposal? A guide to getting the info you need from technology vendors
Spring cleaning doesn’t just happen at home. Many companies also “clean house” at this time of year by reviewing business processes and systems with the goal to improve them.
Improving processes and workflows often means adopting new technology, like digital asset management (DAM) systems. The importance of properly managing digital assets, like photos, videos, and documents, grows daily, causing businesses of all sizes to purchase DAM systems.
Proper review, evaluation, and testing are part of finding a system that works for you. Part of evaluating systems is knowing what kind of requests to make from a DAM provider. The most common is a request for proposal, or RFP.
The request for demo, or RFD, is gaining popularity as a way to get to know DAM systems firsthand, learning about features and capabilities in a real environment. We think that the RFD, combined with the development of realistic user scenarios from your team, is the best way to find a DAM system that has the features you need.
This article will focus on RFPs and RFDs, explaining what they are, when to use them, and how they can help you find the perfect digital asset management solution. We’ll quickly run through the steps to evaluating DAM systems, define RFPs and RFDs, provide tips for making the most of your requests, and provide additional resources for your next steps.
The DAM adoption path
Below is what we recommend as a way to investigate and evaluate your options in digital asset management.
- Complete an internal assessment.
- Research DAM software providers.
- Develop a justification and return on investment (ROI).
- Send a request for demo or request for proposal to top contenders.
An internal assessment is the first step and is very important to finding the right system. You have to know who will be using the DAM system and how to get a solution that works.
At the most basic level, a document that outlines the kind of digital assets you will be managing, their size, and what business objectives you intend to support with a DAM system will help you narrow your options. We recommend taking it a little further and meeting with the people in your organization who handle digital assets to map workflows and discuss the kind of functionality they need.
Understanding how your organization uses assets is key to developing use cases or user scenarios. We’ll talk more about them in the section on making the most of your requests. For more information on internal assessment, see the Before you DAM page.
RFD and RFP defined
On the surface, requesting a demo versus requesting a proposal don’t seem that different. The basic idea, after all, is to learn more about a DAM system from a given provider. Where they start to differ is the intent of the request.
Requests for proposals are traditionally issued at the request of an accounting department and used as a way to evaluate different providers side by side. For example, a company might send RFPs to three DAM providers and use the results to determine which provider offers the lowest price.
RFDs are a more functional approach to assessing DAM systems. Demo requests should include real user scenarios, and the intent is to see how the DAM system would address those scenarios. For example, if a common task among your design team is to upload multiple versions of a logo and you want to keep all versions in the same location, a demo can illustrate exactly how the system handles multiple versions of the same file.
Ultimately, we feel that an RFD is a more useful tool along the DAM adoption journey, because it directly addresses your needs and allows you to interact with DAM providers. While proposal requests can be (and often are) followed by demos, they are generally vendor-driven, highlighting features that might not be relevant to how you will use a DAM system.
Making the most of your requests
The number one way to make the most of any request is to have user scenarios ready and provide them to your shortlist of DAM providers, whether in an RFD or alongside an RFP.
User scenarios do not have to be long. Below are a couple of examples pulled directly from our RFD resource.
“Brian handles the company video collection. He wants the marketing team to have access to the newest versions of product videos, organized by product type and year. What kind of options are possible to enable that?”
“Graphic designer Jasmine wants to access old campaigns to make sure she stays within brand look and feel but doesn’t replicate anything too closely. How would she do that?”
If you go with an RFP, avoid “cookie-cutter” documents with little opportunity for vendors to show how they can meet your specific workflow needs. At worst, RFPs are sent blind, with little or no interaction with the companies that provide DAM systems. In order to address your needs, a company needs to know the basics, like what kind of assets you handle, how many users you have, and how they will use the system.
Next steps and additional resources
If you haven’t done so already, develop some user scenarios. The blog post “10 short questions that assess your DAM system needs” is a great place to start. It includes a list of questions that will prompt you to start thinking about who handles your organization’s digital assets and how management can be improved. It also touches on topics like rights management and raw file storage that will help you target your DAM system needs.
Any questions or comments about sending requests while evaluating DAM systems? Let us know in the comments!