Digital succession planning – what it is and why you need it.

There’s an issue we encounter time and time again as a digital agency that we’d like to put on your radar.

Ownership of digital accounts.

Most of our clients come to us with existing accounts for services and tools such as Google My Business, Analytics, Adwords and other digital assets.

And, it can be a surprising source of entirely preventable delays and drama.

It may surprise you how often we spend weeks trying to get access for our clients, who either weren’t given it by their agency, don’t know who has it… or even that it exists.

It’s something you might not think about, until you find yourself caught up in an urgent situation: a campaign, a website launch, or having to make urgent changes like respond to a bad review, take ads down, or even deal with a vindictive ex employee who had access to sensitive information.

You don’t want to be near an immovable deadline in this situation. Or worse, be unable to manage, or reply to a bad review. Or deal with any other major issues that may arise, in a crisis, when the damage has already been done. It is the Internet, after all.

Finding yourself at the mercy of Google at a time like this, exposes you to all sorts of potential problems and delays. Which is why it is absolutely critical that you own everything, so you can login to any of your accounts at any time, or at a minimum, have a clear documented procedure for getting (and giving, and taking away) access.

Nobody wants relationships to break down (either agencies or employees), or to go out of business, or to be hit by a truck, but it happens every day.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Make sure you ask the following questions from the start:

1. Do you have full access?

What if they go bust, or you part ways? Be wary of any business that doesn’t happily give access to their clients “in case of fire”. From website, to hosting, to any platform or tool, you should be making sure that you have access… and backups.

They may simply have forgotten, or just be a bit disorganised. However, if your agency is refusing access to anything that you, as the client, are paying for, it should be a red flag.

If you currently have access, is it Editor or View-only?

Can you manage user accounts, especially in an emergency? Many digital agencies are wary of granting admin access to clients, however, there is no reason why access cannot be given, with an accessible recovery email (see below), as a backup plan, should something go wrong.

This won’t be a risk if managed correctly. Many agencies withhold admin access under the guise of “risk”. The clients might make changes, or break things somehow. But, this is not true in our experience. It just needs to be managed properly. And, we trust our clients.

For example, you can still create an Editor-level account for day-to-day stuff. But, your business should always have an account with admin access, with an accessible recovery email, as an insurance policy should anything happen.

2. Does more than one person have access internally?

You might have a team member who currently holds all of this information. What happens should they leave (or become incapacitated)?

The solution? Make the account and recovery email one that is distributed to a couple of appointed people, eg marketing@yoursite.com.au. If you need to get access quickly, it is far easier to gain access this way than to try and figure out who had access, or what the recovery email was. Trust us, this is common.

3. Are there any other accounts?

Check whether employees have set up multiple accounts for multiple parts of the business – often with little or no visibility on who has done what, or owns what. They’ve possibly created accounts (maybe even paid subscriptions), and you don’t know even who did it, let alone access it.

Organise a central place of ownership for all of your digital accounts. One thing that many business do badly, is set up Analytics for their own silo in the business, unaware that you can run all projects, with varying permission levels, on a centralised account.

Always consider the most efficient way for your business to utilise tools, reduce duplicates, and have a fallback. Make sure you have multiple admins on a single account. Controlling user access from one account is far more efficient than trying to figure out who put analytics on that microsite from 2 years ago, when half the team has left.

Take control and think it through.

Digital is not the exception when it comes to risk and succession planning. Make sure you have good processes and policies for the “what ifs”.

While all of these issues are usually fixable, and accounts reclaimable, know that it can cause delays, and often put you through a number of hurdles.

Here at Kintsugi, we strongly believe that digital agencies should always be working in the best interest of you, the client. We are your partners – not custodians or gatekeepers of a world you have no access to, or control of. Every Kintsugi client has admin access to everything, by way of habit, and make sure we take care of the “what ifs” for you in the background. If your agency isn’t doing this, treat it as a red flag, and ask them why.

In the meantime, if you’re having any digital issues, need an audit or for someone to fix this for you, contact us for a formal or informal chat. We can clear obstacles or offer you a path out of the wilderness, consolidating your accounts, or develop a digital policy that puts you in control.