Insight - The Inherent Costs of an Inhouse DAM

09 Aug 2021

Have you ever seen any of those TV programmes where famous chefs try to recreate much loved confectionary? The branded bar of chocolate that has been loved for generations is deconstructed, the recipe identified as best as it possibly can be and recreated? Each time, no matter how good the chef, it’s not quite the same. The team that has devoted its working life to that much loved chocolate bar wins every time.

It’s quite a good analogy to the specialist application of technology. It’s a sophisticated ‘recipe’, where specific experience gained over a long period of time in delivering one thing consistently delivers the desired outcome.

This is very pertinent to the development of a Digital Asset Management (DAM) system for a particular organisation’s needs. Every compliance and marketing department has a unique way of doing things. Every company has its unique culture on collaboration and idea generation, its own unique marketing communications mix and a particular combination of channels and routes to market.

Every DAM needs to be built around that unique combination. If you decide to utilise an off the shelf project management or database tool you are starting with a system with a multitude of business applications. It then requires configuration. Therein can lie quite a substantial hidden cost in drilling down into the complexities of the user requirements and matching them to the configuration options that are available within the chosen system. This invariably leads to compromises having to be made in terms of what the system can deliver.

It can also take much longer to configure than envisaged. If you have had hundreds of briefs for DAM systems, you can pretty much hit the ground running and quickly elevate above the basics of the processes into the finesse elements that will make everyone’s working day run much more smoothly. But if you are starting from a layperson’s knowledge of marketing and compliance, then the specification process alone can be a steep and risk laden learning curve. There can therefore be a substantial opportunity cost of spending time on learning and developing when there are bigger tech outcomes to create for the organisation.

But the challenges and costs only start with the build phase. There’s updates, fixes, ongoing security and new user requirements to support. With changes in personnel there’s the need to keep an IT team up to speed on a very particular suite of software that has a specific purpose, rather than supporting pan organisational need. Therein lies the most hidden cost of all - needing to relatively intensively support something quite niche on an ongoing basis.

Some of our clients come to us after they have tried to self-build or adapt something from the shelf. Some have unfortunately gone from the shelf straight to the bin because they never worked properly. Others have started out OK but become unfit for purpose because there are greater business priorities to support.

The required intensity of development and maintenance needs to drive an important return on investment consideration to be tackled at the very outset of the project scoping phase. The true lifetime cost of building a system from scratch, or configuring a generic workflow/document tool, needs to be calculated.

This calculation always leads to one conclusion - that it is better for the organisation to purchase a system that is built for the job.

In our case, we have devoted 20 years to building market leading DAM systems for many respected leading names. Before you start your project do give us a call. The economies to be gained and costs/time to be saved could be an eye opener.

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