A DAM is necessary to keep your team aligned and efficient. However, with so many DAM tools out there, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one because at first glance they all do the same thing: store and organize your files. Making the right choice can start with excitement, but quickly turn to confusion if you don’t understand the most important features to look for in a DAM.
As experts in the DAM space, we can help you dig deeper into what a robust DAM should provide. In this blog, we’ll outline the seven things to look for when choosing a DAM so you can gain more knowledge on what features work best for you and your team. By the end of this blog, you’ll have a better understanding of selecting a DAM that offers specific features that are best suited for you and your team.
Why Do You Need a DAM?
Imagine your digital files—photos, videos, documents—as clothes in a massive closet. Without organization, it’s like dumping all those clothes into the closet, making it a nightmare to find that one shirt you need. A curated DAM is like having an organized closet system with labeled shelves, sections, and drawers to make life easier.
A DAM system offers several advantages that can address common challenges faced by organizations of all sizes when dealing with a growing volume of digital assets. A DAM tool:
- Offers an organized and centralized space, so you don’t search through a mess every time you need a file.
- Ensures everyone uses correct, updated assets, preserving the integrity of your brand.
- Provides an organized system with powerful search, so you can quickly find a specific asset.
- Lets you decide who can see or use what to keep sensitive or crucial assets accessible only to the right individuals.
- Offers a shared platform for teams to ensure everyone is on the same page.
- Keeps a single version of an asset, removing uncertainty, and saving space instead of multiple copies of the same file floating around.
- Track usage rights and expiration to ensure you’re always compliant.
- Integrate seamlessly with your other tools to streamline processes.
- Offers easy access and leads to reduced mistakes, so teams can avoid costly errors.
- Acts as a vault to keep your digital assets protected from mishaps or unauthorized access.
How to Choose: 7 Most Important DAM Features
Stepping into the world of DAM software for the first time can be tricky. With so many options out there, each having different things to offer, it’s easy to get confused. But by understanding the basic (and necessary) features, you can make a smarter choice.
It’s key to pick a DAM that works well with how your organization functions. When looking at different tools, make sure it fits your current ways of working and meets what you’re looking for. Here are seven things to look for in a DAM:
1. User-Friendly Interface
When you introduce your initial DAM, you’re transitioning from several different digital platforms, each having its own interface and user experience. A system’s usability can often dictate its success within an organization. Success in digital asset management is defined by adoption, and enhancing usability is the key to increasing adoption within your team. If users find the interface intuitive, the adoption rate and overall user satisfaction are likely to be high.
Implementing a DAM might seem overwhelming initially, especially if users are not familiar with specific terms used. More complex systems might require longer training for both the administrators overseeing the assets and the individuals accessing them. For this reason, it’s better to have a system that’s intuitive, resembling the user-friendliness of other software, like Google, rather than an old IT platform.
Moreover, to align all users, it’s important that the DAM adjusts to the preferences of each user and caters to specific job roles. If it doesn’t, there’s a risk that the DAM might not be consistently used by team members.
What to look for:
- A clean, organized layout with clearly labeled functions
- Drag-and-drop capabilities
- Customizable dashboards
- Effortless navigation
- Seamless browsing
- Features that further enhance the user experience
2. Search and Metadata Capabilities
With potentially thousands of assets stored, the ability to quickly locate a specific item is crucial. If you can’t locate the assets in your media library, they’re useless. Hence, a robust search feature is necessary. This is where metadata—a set of data that describes and gives information about other data—comes into play.
Metadata includes details you provide for each asset. This may include keywords, dates, copyright, product line, approval status, and other helpful data for your company. It’s vital that your DAM tool offers automated metadata handling to ensure precise file organization and save you time from long data input tasks.
Beyond basic keyword searches, an advanced DAM system allows for filtering by attributes such as author, date, project, and file type, among others. With capabilities like smart tags, assets become easily searchable, even without manually adding keywords. AI-powered search features, such as image recognition are also a must, which we will go more into detail later.
What to look for:
- Advanced search functions
- Filtering options based on metadata tags
- Easily add, modify, and categorize metadata, enabling precise and speedy asset retrieval
- AI-enable search features
A digital asset management system should seamlessly integrate with an organization’s current infrastructure to enhance marketing responsiveness. Most organizations use a suite of digital tools, from customer relationship management systems (CMS) to document creation platforms.
A DAM that integrates seamlessly with these tools can significantly streamline workflows, eliminating the repetitive task of exporting and then re-uploading assets elsewhere. The easier it is to connect the DAM with other systems, the smoother the data interchange and overall operational flow.
What to look for:
- Open APIs and pre-built integrations or plugins for popular platforms
- Integrations with design tools like Adobe for easy document creation and editing
- Integrations with industry-specific tools
- For something more niche, your DAM should offer a robust API, so your developers can connect it with any application you like
4. Controls and Security
Digital assets can be proprietary, sensitive, or subject to licensing agreements. Ensuring they don’t fall into the wrong hands or get used inaccurately is crucial.
For security and to make a DAM library effective for an entire organization, administrators must manage access permissions. Flexible permissions help everyone find exactly what they’re looking for. While admins should have thorough access and the authority to approve assets, other users might only require entry to specific libraries, select assets, or lower-resolution images.
Additionally, in dynamic environments, assets often undergo revisions. Keeping track of these changes ensures teams always have access to the most recent, approved content. Version control is necessary for an effective digital asset management system. It’s wise to consider how your team would use this feature to their benefit and the extent of control the DAM provides over your asset throughout its content lifecycle.
Moreover, protect your digital assets by choosing a DAM tool that upholds strong encryption and security measures. Consider the storage location of your assets and the data center’s security (more on this below). A DAM tool you can trust will be ready to address any of your security concerns.
What to look for:
- User role and permission settings that allow admins to define who can view, modify, or share assets
- Security features like encryption, regular backups, and two-factor authentication
- Features that track asset changes
- Easy retrieval of previous versions
- Collaboration tools, such as commenting, annotation, and approval workflows to further enhance team productivity
- Guarantee that the assets your team is accessing, editing, and sharing are approved and updated
As organizations grow, the volume of digital assets they produce and manage can increase greatly. Therefore, your DAM system should be prepared to handle this growth without bumps along the road. This is important to look out for if you want a DAM system that will meet your needs for years to come.
On-premises DAM solutions demand significant IT efforts for server setup, maintenance, and security assistance. Accessing assets remotely can be difficult, and keeping up with company growth often requires buying more hardware. However, there’s another option: The cloud.
Look for a system that maintains its speed and responsiveness regardless of the number of assets stored. Cloud-based solutions often offer scalability and adapt to changing storage demands with minimal manual work. Without any hardware upkeep, companies with limited IT resources can easily adopt this solution.
Cloud-based DAM systems offer a scalable solution that adjusts to growth without requiring significant hardware investments. They are cost-effective with reduced upfront charges, permit users to access assets from any location or device, and come strengthened by the robust security infrastructure of cloud providers.
Additionally, cloud DAMs ensure assets are safeguarded through automated backups, streamline collaborations with centralized storage, and seamlessly update to provide the latest features. Furthermore, their easy integration with other cloud services promotes a cohesive digital workflow for businesses.
What to look for:
- Accommodation for growing assets without requiring massive hardware or infrastructure changes
- Allows users to access assets from anywhere, anytime, and on various devices
- Robust security measures including encryption and regular security audits
- Automatic backups, data redundancy, and a clear disaster recovery plan.
- Real-time collaboration
- A clear pricing structure that allows for easy storage upgrades and adding users
6. AI Features
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has revolutionized numerous sectors, bringing about significant changes, and DAM tools are no exception to this transformation. Given the increasing complexities of managing a large number of digital assets, the integration of AI within DAM platforms is crucial. Incorporating AI into your tech stack can improve procedures and boost overall productivity. It not only simplifies asset management but also amplifies search functionalities and elevates overall efficiency.
What to look for:
- AI suggested keywords
- Image recognition
- Improved search by discovering similar features across your entire file library, giving you more images to select from and use
- Simple batch editing to save time
- Automated tagging
- AI-enabled advanced search
- AI content tools that analyze data in your DAM system to create original product descriptions and employee bios
7. Support and Training
Even the most intuitive systems can pose challenges. Having access to support and training resources ensures users can make the most of the DAM. Choose a DAM provider that offers genuine customer support with a committed team.
Digital asset management is a continuous journey, not just a one-time setup. When reaching out to prospective providers, communicate what you’re looking for and how you want it implemented. Pay attention to their responsiveness and the quality of their engagement with you to understand what you can expect from working with them. A reputable DAM provider will provide you with support every step of the way.
What to look for:
- Dedicated customer support that can be easily reached through various channels (e.g., chat, email, phone)
- Comprehensive training materials, tutorials, and onboarding sessions can help users get familiar quickly
- A range of services, including implementation, consulting, training, and ongoing support
Choosing the ideal DAM software requires lots of effort, but it’s an effort that is well worth it. A top DAM system can elevate productivity and propel growth. Solutions with quality features, like those provided by OpenAsset, can improve creative tasks, making them more streamlined, efficient, and ultimately more impactful.
OpenAsset, the leading DAM designed specifically for AEC and real estate professionals, provides all the necessary features and functionalities of a DAM within a single platform. Read our complete DAM Software Buyer’s Guide to learn more about choosing the right DAM for your business.
To gain valuable knowledge and expert advice for your team’s needs, reach out to our asset management experts to schedule a demo. We’ll show you how a DAM tool can elevate your creative workflow and unlock new opportunities.