Considerations for Selecting a Collections Management System

Neal Stimler

President, Stimler Advantage
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters

With 20 years of experience in collections management, I have worked with a variety of systems, from simple spreadsheets to comprehensive enterprise software. I take a considered approach to each client, tailoring my solutions to their specific needs. While every project is different, key considerations apply to all collections, regardless of size, scale, or type.

Key Considerations

Ask yourself these questions to identify your key considerations in evaluating a collections management system, and record your answers to document and inform your evaluation and next steps.

Case Studies, Clients, and Testimonials 

  1. Do you find projects like yours in solution provider case studies
  2. Do you find organizations on the solution provider's client lists like yours? 
  3. Do recognized industry leaders and peer institutions offer testimonials on the solution provider’s website? 

Collections Management

  1. Does the solution have the metadata fields and modules that you require?
  2. Does it incorporate industry-standard taxonomies that you need to describe and document your specific collections? 
  3. Does the solution have enough system and not too much for ease of adoption and regular use?

Media Management

  1. Does the solution preview, render, and store the expected range of industry-standard and open-source file formats for two-dimensional images, three-dimensional models, datasets, scientific imagery, and publications?
  2. Can media be appended to multiple records?
  3. Does the solution have an editing tool for managing and manipulating media within the system rather than requiring external download and transformation? 

Market Position

  1. How is the solution provider positioned in the market against its peers - is it ascending, staid, or falling behind?
  2. How is the solution ranked on popular software review websites?
  3. Does the solution serve constituents more broadly than your specific initiative, demonstrating the system's appeal, effectiveness, and extensibility? 


  1. Can you bring your data into the system as easily as you can export it from the solution?
  2. Does the solution provider offer migration services and support as part of your onboarding process or for a reasonable additional service fee?
  3. Are the data and media asset migration documentation, formats, and tools open and transparent to you? 


  1. Is the solution’s price fair and balanced at the initial time of purchase for the features included “out-of-the-box” without additional add-ons? 
  2. Can you and your initiative sustain the pricing over time, even with potential increases? 
  3. Do you see price tiers that directly correlate with your initiative type as compared among the field of potential customers? 


  1. Does the solution offer online publishing tools like a collections online feature, as included in your standard feature set?
  2. Does the solution have native mobile apps in Android and iOS that automatically synchronize with the web-based application?
  3. Does the solution have tools that enable you to publish data and images externally to other partners and platforms? 


  1. Does the solution provider offer secure user authentication and account management to control access and moderate change to the system?
  2. Does the system provide audit capabilities for ongoing and incident-based security reporting?
  3. Does the solution have the right balance of permissions that empowers users to do what they are authorized and need to do their daily work without creating unnecessary risks? 


  1. Does the solution provide cloud storage in a private or public cloud solution that works with your information technology environment?  
  2. Is cloud storage for media assets included in the solution?
  3. Are the storage offerings aligned with the potential volume of your data and media assets at the start and over time?


  1. Does the solution provider offer high-touch, responsive, timely, and actionable customer support through calls or email?
  2. Does the solution provider offer FAQs, a knowledge base, and resources for self-directed help for users?
  3. Does the solution provider offer online and on-demand certification or training for you to empower and upskill your system users? 

SWOT Analysis

If you have answered yes to the key consideration questions and recorded your answers, you may be ready to do a SWOT analysis to evaluate the solution further. The acronym SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. A SWOT analysis can help you and your organization better understand the collections management journey and make informed decisions about its future direction.

CatalogIt Can Help

As an independent executive management consultant, I utilize a variety of software applications to support my client's services. I underwent an evaluation process for one of my clients by asking the questions offered in this post to help with their collections digitization and management initiative. 

After careful and critical examination across the field of solution providers, the client selected CatalogIt. CatalogIt answered the client's questions about selecting a collections management system affirmatively yes. The onboarding process for the project was a success, and CatalogIt’s helpful, responsive, and trusted customer support has been outstanding in our journey thus far. 

Do your due diligence and critically evaluate when selecting a collections management system. The team at CatalogIt can help you better understand if their system is the right fit for you and provide the tools and support your needs.

Evaluating and selecting a collections management system can be time-consuming and complex. There are many factors to consider, such as the features offered by different systems, the needs of your organization, and your budget. However, there are also approaches that can help you focus your thinking and make the process easier.

About the Author

Neal Stimler

President, Stimler Advantage

Neal Stimler is the President of Stimler Advantage, LLC, an executive management consulting firm offering coaching, tactical, and strategy services across work areas in business, coaching, and technology. Stimler regularly advises corporate, government, nonprofit, and small-to-medium business clients on digital transformation initiatives. Stimler is a 20-year library, archives, and museum professional with over ten years of experience in collections, digital, and media asset management at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Neal is an international data and content management expert, working with clients to empower their assets, people, processes, technologies, and workflows.