We use so many different technologies, it's almost like a zoo.

We Bought A Zoo

So, I am sitting in the office the other day and I think, “The activity on our latest campaign is dying down.” So I attempt to log into our email marketing platform, except I type in “surveymonkey.com” and I say, “Wait that isn’t it – that’s for our surveys. Wait, what is our email software?” I think, “Send chimp.” and I am like, “No, no that is Send Owl.” By this time my frustration must have been apparent by an increased pounding on the keyboard … finally it comes to me … “MailChimp!” I start laughing to myself and seriously start to question my sanity.

As an aside, can you imagine the cacophony of monkeys, chimps, and owls if they were actually in our office? And, while we are on the topic, what is it with the trend of naming all of these web-based apps after animals, anyway?

But, this story does raise an important point. I was simply logging on to check the status of an email campaign and three related apps came to mind. If you take this concept and extrapolate it across all departments of the company and all the people within a company that have the ability to try out an app, sign up for a free trial and test run some software, you start to see that having a record, and understanding the scope of all of this, is really important.

Today, without question, small to mid-size businesses need many different technology applications to get anything done. And if you are at the point where you can hire an IT specialist to manage all of this, you can bring order to the chaos.

Your business is going to accumulate a lot of logins, passwords, and urls that multiple people will need to remember and be able to access. Managing this is extremely important so that your team has access to what they need. A simple solution we’ve implemented is a password-protected document that contains all of this information.

Anytime anyone signs up for a new service, subscription or anything else that requires a login, we add that information to a form like the one below. It is non-negotiable, and everyone is required to participate. As an aside, if you want to know how we set up passwords, check out our blog on how to use formulas to craft safer, yet easy to remember passwords.

The chart is very simplistic, by design, and merely requires adding the site name, description and login credentials, but adding another column for trail information, etc. might be useful. While this focus is on the software side of the house, a very simple document like this can also be used to track login information for hardware assets (laptops, desktops, printers, etc.), as well. This is a very basic way to keep organized, but once you grow beyond 5-6 employees, it is an absolute necessity.

A couple additional tips:

1. Hide the columns with the password and send it to your bookkeeping department. Then, as charges appear that need to be reconciled, they have a list of accounts and the department that should be charged.
2. Make technology a standing line item in your monthly team meeting. Pull this chart up, review additions, and dedicate some time to solicit feedback on what is working, how people are using the tool, etc.
3. Create a practice of using 10 minute teach back portions during monthly meetings so that as new tools are added, whoever acquired the tool lets others in the organization know it is available and how to best benefit from its use.

We all know that somedays are an absolute zoo, but make those days easier by creating systems that bring order to the chaos. Your scatterbrained self will thank you the next time you need to access your latest primate named site.