How to plan a DAM project

Benedict Marck, Lead Project Manager, Canto Professional Services
Benedict Marck, Lead Project Manager, Canto Professional Services

One of the reasons many customers chose Canto is that we offer a pretty unique combination: we have been developing DAM software for 25 years – but we also offer a vast amount of expertise when it comes to planning, implementing and extending DAM-solutions in companies. Canto Professional Services is the heart of all this expertise – and this is why we have decided to share some of this expertise with you. Throughout the year – we will be offering you a series of interviews with our Canto Professional Services consultants. Use this opportunity to learn more about how to manage a DAM project – and to get to know our consultants a little bit more.

The first interview is all about planning…. In Germany we reiterate the saying “a good plan is half the work”. It seems so simple– and yet planning out your DAM-initiative is a crucial point that cannot be stretched enough – and the lack thereof is still a reason so many companies fail. Benedict Marck, Lead Project Manager at Canto, explains what to take into account when planning your DAM project.

What is the most important question for me when I start planning a DAM project?

For me as a project manager the most important thing is to ask myself if I really know what my customer is trying to achieve with that DAM project and where the initiative comes from.

  • What are the targets and requirements of my client?
  • What is my client’s deadline and is that realistic?
  • What’s my client’s budget?

All other questions derive out of those three basic questions. For instance:

  • Do I really know all requirements or is something left unclear?
  • Are the typical requests for a DAM system part of this project or not? Why?
  • What resources do I need to finish the project within the given time and budget limit and with the required quality?

To what extent do I have to involve my project environment? Who do I have to convince?

The key to success within a DAM project is to manage your stakeholders and your project team. As someone who is planning a project I have to know who I am working with and what the people around me need and expect from me. To some people a personal and trustful relationship is more important than just plain facts.  Others are into details and need more information – a mainly professional relationship. When planning a DAM project I need to ask myself who will make the decisions when it comes to my project and who has influence in this matter, who has influence in my project team and so on.

Taking care of the project environment is especially important when you work with different cultures and/or languages. Not caring for those differences can mean that you will regret that later on.

What technical questions need to be cleared before starting the actual project?

In DAM projects these questions usually relate to the resources for servers and storage systems or bandwidth. In more complex setups that also includes the integration APIs with relevant systems like CMS, ERP or PIM for example. Ideally those setup questions are clarified early within the project to be ready as soon as the execution phase takes place.

What are the individual steps of a DAM project?

From my perspective as someone who is actually implementing a DAM these are the typical project steps:

  • Definition of the project,
  • planning,
  • execution and controlling
  • and then project completion

I can’t stress enough how important the definition and planning phase is. As for the completion it is vital not just to deliver the technical setup but to make sure that the DAM supports everyone’s needs in the best possible way. That is essentially what good project management is all about!

What is the most common mistake in planning and realizing DAM projects? And how can I avoid it?

Like in almost every project the most common and probably the worst mistake you can do is to start without a proper definition of what you want to achieve. That makes it very hard for me, the one who is supposed to carry out the DAM project, because how can I succeed if my client doesn’t exactly know what he wants. For me the clarification of this vital point is part of my job and of my professional understanding as a consultant – I help to precisely outline and to rule out unnecessary requirements that potentially burden a project.

What costs do I need to plan for the introduction of a Digital Asset Management System and its maintenance?

That very much depends on the scenario in which you want to use your DAM system and what kind of components it includes. But as I said it depends on your needs. And you need to make sure you factor in costs for licenses, for system integrations you might need – as well as a sufficient amount for maintenance, support and consulting that you will need later on – some vendors offer cheap pricing – but fail in consulting the customer to factor in these things. That is not the approach we go for at Canto.

It’s not easy to say how much a DAM costs in general – because it’s an extremely flexible technology that can be used in millions of scenarios. My colleagues from Sales are happy to help you with the financial parameters in planning a DAM project.

Do I need an On Premise or a Hosted solution?

That’s a very crucial point for a DAM project and you certainly should take your time to consider this. An On Premise solution is very flexible because it can be integrated in your other systems to further optimize your workflows. A hosted solution is a very clean choice because the costs are transparent and it doesn’t require many IT resources. But maybe your company is actually looking for a hybrid approach which combines the best of both worlds. I can recommend our new Whitepaper Understanding Cumulus Deployment Options if you are not sure which scenario fits your requirements best.

How many DAM projects did you realize up to now?

Actually I stopped counting already. To come up with a number, let me think – I worked with a least 57 clients and with each of them I realized between one and eight projects. I think I carried out something like 200 projects in the past 5 ½ years. That sounds like a lot indeed, even to me.

Thank you for the interview, Benedict!

In our next interview our Canto Professional Services team will talk about stakeholder management. Stay tuned!

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