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accessibility benefits of standard software packages with the potentially limitless opportu-
nities offered by the Web. Hosted Web-based solutions can be customised to meet an
organisation's particular needs and once in place, the Website will be maintained and
managed by the host company. Hosted solutions may provide an ideal balance of effi-
ciency, capability and affordability for
smaller institutions, without the need
to maintain the software, hardware or
expertise on-site.
Although this is rare, a notable risk
is that the host company or its Web site
may collapse, potentially taking irre-
placeable data down with it. Contin-
gency plans must be put in place for
such an eventuality.
The option to upgrade to a more
technologically involved package must
also be present should the company
wish to begin operating beyond its cur-
rent sphere. Essentially, the risks of each
approach must be carefully weighed
against the potential financial rewards.
Potential difficulties
The first question in deciding on a DAMS strategy is whether to customise an off-
the-shelf solution or to build or commission a bespoke system.The question will be set-
tled depending on the size of the organisation and the scale of the asset repository that
needs to be managed. Building a bespoke system will involve carrying the overheads and
risks of recruiting and retaining specialised staff, and for many smaller organisations this
may not even be an option. Ordering a bespoke system from a much smaller vendor may
be less expensive, but it also carries the risk of the vendor collapsing along with the cus-
tomer's funds. In any case, selecting the right product and vendor will take a significant
amount of consideration. It will also involve setting budget target levels, assessing the
suitability of the technologies for the assets and the existing organisational working prac-
tices and then attempting to balance these crucial factors.
The accuracy and consistency of metadata will also be crucial. Prior to rollout, indi-
vidual users who deal with a large number of files may hold their own guide or index
to, perhaps, different versions of the files held on their own computers.This approach
must be firmly discouraged. Among the major difficulties that planners face is to get
employees and customers to use the workflow and asset management as part of their
everyday business. It is essential to have support across the user base.
Database integration may also be particularly problematic and may require outside
Digital Asset
Management Systems
The Documentum interface