What are the individual parts of your IT infrastructure up to right now? Who is the person you should talk to if any of them have an issue? When is the next invoice due for hosting or domain renewal? As a business owner, you need to be cognizant of each part of your IT setup and be proactive in managing and coordinating these resources.
As part of having your site build, you might get your designer or developer to register your domain name for you. This is a mistake. The domain is the single most valuable IP you own and handing it off to a third party is leaving yourself open to unnecessary hardship. It can’t be backed up and wrangling it out of the hands of someone who is either malfeasant or has absconded is extremely difficult and painful.
You need to keep the keys to the castle so to speak close to your chest. Do not defer this to an intern or a random person in the office. Take control of it from the beginning and register it yourself using a username and password that you will remember (write it down somewhere safe if need be). Keep the account details to yourself and keep them organised and secure. Your designer and developer can assist you with the process but do not allow them to do it for you.
You will also need to know when the domain is going to expire. Domains are purchased in yearly increments, often only two years at a time. If it does expire, your website, email and link to your customers won’t work until the site has been re-registered, often with several hours delay after payment is complete.
Which site is the domain registered with? What is the username, password and URL for that site? Make sure you know and test these details before the site needs your attention. It is far less painful to recover account information while a domain is registered than it is while your site cannot receive traffic, and emails are not being sent and received.
Take away: YOU need to register your company’s domain yourself. Take this information and put it on your calendar. Most sites allow you to renew the domain up to three months in advance.
Who is the person, group or site to contact if there is an issue with your hosting? What are their names? Who is the best contact there? What is their number?
Having ready access to this information can save time and heartache. While not as critical as the domain name information, it is valuable to know who to ring and speak to at a moments notice.
When does your hosting expire? Again, put this on the calendar. If you have not received an invoice within a month (depending on your accounts payable pipeline) you should probably start asking questions.
Take away: Put pertinent contact information up in a common area so that everyone knows who to talk to if there is an issue. Keep significant events visible.
How many email addresses are there in your setup? Who runs them (your server provider, Google, Office365 etc)? Are any forwarded to other addresses? How do you make a new one?
Emails can get tricky, and it can take time and effort to have them running effectively. For example, where should emails from your contact form be sent? Should there be a second email attached to that in case someone is sick or leaves unexpectedly? In a similar vein, would you abstract common emails away from individuals; should you send contact form emails to email@example.com or use firstname.lastname@example.org with forwarders to a.person and b.person. Now think about how to add a new name to that list.
Take away: Emails need to be curated to be effective and manageable.
IT services and products form an integrated and critical part of your business. You need to be the one aware of and in control of how it runs. If you do not, you are at risk of crippling your company with an easily avoided situation.