Get to know the product team who build your software
Before you visit a top-notch restaurant, you’ll probably have done some research on the chef and his/her reputation. After all, at those prices you’d like to feel confident you are getting a meal created by a passionate perfectionist using the very best ingredients – and that every member of the team is committed to delivering the same high quality.
But have you thought about the ‘brigade de cuisine’ responsible for creating the digital asset management system you’re considering buying? Doubtless you will have done the online research, spoken to a salesperson and seen a demo. But what do you know about the team behind the product – the people who actually build your platform?
Just as it takes skill, effort and passion to put Michelin-starred food on the table, so too does it take skill, effort and passion to build a software system that people will enjoy using. And it’s the boys and girls of the product team who must have the vision and knowhow to create and evolve a platform that you and your users are going to want to come back to again and again.
So don’t be shy about asking to meet these people before you buy. There’s a lot you can learn about your potential vendor and the software solution they propose by asking some leading questions:
- Are you assured that they’re passionate about improving user-experience? If you could ask only one question – this should be it. An interface that’s easy and intuitive to use, and can execute complex business tasks simply, will get users enthusiastically onside – and that makes the interface one of the most vital features of a good platform.
- But don’t forget the software architecture! To marketing buyers of digital asset management software this may feel like an overly technical question, but it’s a crucial ingredient. Ask the Product team how flexible the underlying software is. Can it be configured (without custom development) for your business structure or purposes? Can vitally important aspects like metadata, workflows, user groups or site structure, be adapted for your uses? Indeed, can you as the site admin, amend these yourself after implementation as your business changes and grows?
- What are their sources of inspiration? What software products do they admire? Do they recognise that today’s business users expect that same user-friendly and efficient experience they get from software they use in their personal lives? There is an emotional bond between people and software. When things go right, people will be pleased to engage with it; when things go wrong, they certainly won’t want to go there again.
- Do they understand business, and the marketing function specifically? Product developers are techies first and foremost but you must be confident that they also understand how the marketing discipline is evolving, the real world marketing challenges that you face and how to create DAM software that meets those challenges.
- Do they see the big picture? Product design must encompass strategic thinking about the future, the way the industry is going and what others in the marketplace are doing. It is about balancing innovation with market understanding.
- How closely do the product people work with the other teams in the vendor’s business? How often do they hold cross-department meetings with sales, marketing and client services so the roadmap and product strategy can be shared? If they do you can be confident you’ll hear the right information whichever team you talk to.
- Can they tell you how the platform is going to grow in the future; what their roadmap looks like? The key is that everyone at your vendor company, whether sales, marketing, client services or tech has got common objectives about where the product is going. And they should be able to share that with you, as the client, at any point in the sales process.
- Will the product team attend any of your sales meetings in order to hear first-hand what you are asking for? If they are present, it’s an excellent sign that they are passionate about building the right product for you.
In short, good DAM software is able to execute complex tasks via a simple, intuitive and easy-to-use interface. And it’s the product team members who are responsible for achieving that. Trust the people behind the product, and you can be confident you’re buying a DAM platform that contains the ingredients necessary to satisfy the DAM appetite of you and your users for the long term.