Recently, some people asked me to look into software integrators because they were having issues with their present one. Sadly, this is far too common. A client saw the integrator at a conference. They had a good relationship with their preferred vendor. Integration and implementation of a solution like Digital Asset Management (DAM) was not the clients’ core competency. Why not leave it up to experts to do this work? Hear this story before?
The integrator said they were experts in the integration and implementation for this specific DAM system. They would not lie for the business, would they? Salespeople lie? Misrepresentation? Say it ain’t true. Hear this one before?
Turns out the “experts” in question had not completed a single implementation nor integration with this DAM system. Ever. Guinea pig client number one getting billed for the integrator to learn about that DAM system on the client’s dime. Sadly, the client learned this after the most basic of all DAM implementations was running late. A project running late is not a new story for most people either, but remember to ask why.
A DAM is a DAM is a DAM, right? Wrong. The DAM concepts are the same. The DAM systems are different. There are many subtle difference in how different DAM systems are architected, how they handle assets with metadata and how they integrate with other systems. Or not.
Here is what you need to look for in a DAM integrator:
- How many solutions have they completed for other clients? With these systems? Be specific.
- What kind of assets did they work with? Does that match the asset types you work with? DAM is not just about photography.
- How did they handle use cases for their client? What about metadata? workflow? Rights and permissions? Whose eyes are glazing over now?
- Is there an SDK along with a clear set of updated documentation provided by the vendor for the integrator(s) in order to work with their tool? Is there a certification process by the DAM vendor for integrators? Are the integrators certified for this solution or are they partners with vendors? Or do we need to reverse engineer a solution to figure out how it works?
- Can you see real case studies of real organizations with real people’s names stating satisfaction with that integrator and vendor combination? Why is that page blank on their website? If there isn’t anything posted, you might know why. “We have not had time to post it yet” is a very poor excuse for the often more truthful “we do not have anything to post yet.” Care to guess why?
- If this is too much for you to handle, hire a DAM consultant that is truly independent of all vendors and integrators. Not one that just recommends the same one or two vendors each time. Those are the ones that often do the “recommendation” for a nice, fat hidden commission from the vendor and/or integrator. Then, they collect from the client as well. Impartiality is not part of the available vocabulary when it needs to be.
- Word of mouth by the user community. Anyone heard of them?
- Just because the vendor recommends an integrator or they hang out with the vendor means…nothing. Someone is expecting a check someday though.
- Do the Project Managers have a clue? Can they keep the project on budget, on schedule and within specifications in a phased approach?
- Will you have weekly meetings with the parties to discuss clarifications, decisions, expectations, issues and progress? This is called staying informed. Are you?
What do you know about your integrator?