Choosing the right Digital Asset Management System


Finding the right system can be daunting. Not only are there over 400 software solutions available but there are also different types of systems (own system, managed system and Software As A Service (SaaS) system.

Piles of disks containing images, photos, videos, logos and PowerPoint presentations pile up. The Share drive is a mess and you’re considering centralising all your files into library or repository that will make Storing, Organising and Sharing easier.

So what should you look for when exploring the DAM [digital asset management] solutions available to you? In this article we will explore a number criteria that need careful consideration.  As in all big business decisions various company departments will need to be consulted, most notably your I.T. department.

Criteria to consider when investing in an Image & Media Management System:

Scalability, Flexibility and Customization:

  • Can the system be tailored to your requirements?
  • Is it modular so that you can purchase only the aspects of it that apply to your organization?
  • Is the system flexible?
  • Can you easily upgrade the system or add extra modules without bringing the system down for long periods?
  • Can you implement the system in phases?
  • Can it be customised to fit your current infrastructure?
  • Can the look and feel of the user-interface be designed around your branding?
  • Can certain features be switched on and off ?

System Compatibility:

  • How will the DAM system INTEGRATE into your current I.T infrastructure with regards to:
  • Operating system (Linux, Mac, Windows)
  • Mail Packages
  • MS Office
  • Mac users and PC Users
  • Design packages

A DAM system needs to fit in seamlessly.

User-Friendliness and Training:

  • How user-friendly is the product from an administrator’s perspective?
  • How user-friendly is the product from a reader’s perspective?
  • How much training is required? In an ideal world you’d like a product that has an easy navigation.
  • Ease of Use:
  • How easy will it be to implement the system in your organization? How much customization will be required?
  • How easy is it to upload and download files? A cumbersome system won’t be used.
  • Can the system synchronize updated files with files currently in the system?
  • Can the system recognize and alert to file duplicates?


  • Do you need external users to access selected digital assets e.g. press?
  • Do you need your system available to staff working from home or traveling?

If so, you need a stable, secure, fast, web-based system that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Search Ability:

  • Easy?
  • Intuitive?
  • Powerful?
  • Fast?
  • Accurate?
  • How are the results will displayed? Will you be able to preview search results without having to download it to your computer first?

File Format:

  • Will the system support all the file formats generated by your organization? e.g. PDF, MS Office documents, video file formats, audio file formats, design package formats, photos, drawings
  • How will these formats be displayed during searches through the system?
  • Will your system be able to extract text from the various file formats during searches (without you having to caption detailed descriptions)?

Security / Authentication / /Permissions:

  • How will authentication (log-in) into the system work?
  • Can you tie the DAM system authentication to your own server/intranet/internet authentication?
  • How secure will assets in your system be?
  • How secure will your system be to the outside worldCan you apply permissions to individual files, making them accessible only to pre-selected persons/departments?
  • Can selected files be made invalid on pre-determined dates e.g. price lists?
  • Can you give limited access to the system on an ad hoc basis? e.g. a basket of 10 files to be made available to an outside party without thembeing able to view other files in the system?


  • Is the system powerful enough to archive your assets, with room for growth?
  • Will the system slow down as more assets are added to it?
  • How will the system’s hardware need to change as the system grows?


  • Does the system you  fit into your budget?
  • Can the system be “lightened” or downscaled to fit your budget?
  • How much will customisation cost?
  • How affordable are the enhancements or add-on modules?
  • Can the system be upgraded as budget becomes available?
  • Does the system have annual re-licensing costs associated with it? Or is it a once-off cost?
  • Is there an annual feature enhancements cost? Is it mandatory? Is it affordable?

Local Support:

  • Do the DAM developers have a local support presence to assist with installation, training, maintenance and troubleshooting?
  • A local presence will ensure that system problems are solved very quickly.
  • Dealing with developers overseas will certainly mean delays in trouble-shooting.

Long-term Development:

  • Are the developers constantly upgrading the product with enhancements?
  • Do the developers have sufficient backing to ensure on-going development?

Fly-by-night developers will have you paying premium for a product that could be discontinued at any time.

Metadata: IPTC and EXCIF:

  • Will the system support metadata extraction from files uploaded into the system?

Metadata is additional information about your files. This information can include:

  • Author
  • Location
  • Content description
  • Keywords
  • Copyright
  • Technical description of exposure, conditions etc.

If this information is important to you then a DAM system that can extract the metadata and display it during searching will be important. Added to this the metadata can serve as keywords without additional capturing.

Selecting and implementing a good DAM system doesn’t need to be to be too complicated. Having a clear idea of what you need is the one of the first steps, along with a good idea of budget available!. Hopefully the questions in this article will help you list your requirements with the goal of short-listing the many systems on offer.

For more information please contact us .