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5 steps to fixing your startup’s password management

Originally published:|Last updated:|Tom

If you need perspective on how much of your work day is dependent on online tools, try and think back to a time the office connection cut out. Even for just 20 minutes. There was perhaps a fight to the death for an Internet cable. A few people probably suggested packing it all in and going home for the day. The Internet had left you, and there was no real point in trying to carry on without it.

To get going in the morning, the modern office needs more than coffee. It lives on online accounts and the login credentials that come with them. Perhaps you already have unique secure passwords on each of those accounts, in which case you know how much of a pain it is to log in to each one. Or perhaps you use the same one for each, in which case you’ve always got a creeping fear that someone’s going to break in, steal your customer data and post rude words on your corporate Twitter account all at once. For all its advantages, business in the cloud can come at the expense of efficiency and even security if it’s not managed in the right way.

Now let’s take the above issues and put them into a Startup environment. Life in a Startup can be pretty relentless. There is a constant requirement to be a jack-of-all-trades and take on different tasks in different areas constantly. Take marketing for instance. A PR manager from a big corporate may join a Startup and find themselves taking care of not only media inquiries, but also social, brand, the company blog, SEO, PPC tools, business analytics. The list could go on.

So that means even more passwords and login to look after. As with all small teams, most of your colleagues will want to have visibility of your work or even help out, so that also means sharing all of these logins with everyone too.  Navigating this online business labyrinth can easily get out of control, especially in an agile Startup environment when work hours are at a premium.

However, there is hope. With a few simple steps, you can restore control of your online accounts and streamline the management of all of these channels and improving productivity within your team and business.

  • Get your accounts under one roof

To keep control of all of your business and personal logins from Google Analytics to email to CRM, you need a completely secure place to store of all of these accounts, that’s not controlled by one individual. This means the business maintains control instead of one stakeholder.  Many companies use open-source spreadsheets which everyone can access however if one person changes the password and doesn’t update the spreadsheet then everyone else is then left in the dark. Using a password manager such as Dashlane keeps all passwords in a single, secure vault and automatically updates all team members’ devices automatically if a password is changed.

  • Don’t forget those “fake” accounts

Many Startups, especially those who are developing a product, will not only rely on staff usernames and log-ins, but also “fake” ones which can be used for testing and demos. This could involve filling in numerous forms time and time again with many accounts. Over time this can be incredibly confusing and time consumer if you need to constantly search for these different details.

To make life easier, you can put the same structure into these test accounts as you do with the real ones, by creating complete profiles of a defined set of personas once, and refer to these whenever you’re playing around on your sites. Using a service with an auto-fill function will also save you a lot of time.

  • Start collaborating efficiently with your colleagues                            

Working effectively in any company, let alone a Startup, relies on collaboration. For example several colleagues may be working on a client’s analytics at once, with just a single login for everyone to share. Many companies share these credentials by simply asking specific people for specific accounts. Each request like this may only seem small, but every little thing that delays you from just doing your own job can be both frustrating and time-consuming.

Instead, if you share your passwords in a centralised (but secure) way, it’s really easy to change them without disrupting anyone.

Furthermore, what if an employee leaves the business but keeps the passwords? Not only do you open yourself up to greater and greater risk, you may also waste hours tracking down that password. Another reason to stay clear of individual account owners.

  • Stay accountable

Sharing logins is important for many different kinds of account; however that’s not the case for everything. Not only can it get you in trouble with certain corporate software providers, but with the wrong kind of sharing you also eliminate a crucial level of business information in certain scenarios. For example, sharing logins for analytics accounts may be ideal, but for other systems such as CRM there is a need to be accountable for any activity that goes on, so it’s important to put a system in place which provides accountability, like team members logging their own activity against their own name in certain situations.

  • Secure Your Business

It’s important to use secure login details for each account you use within your business. This means using a unique alphanumeric password for every account and changing these regularly. After all, you don’t lock all your doors with the same key and security codes. Don’t forget to also invest in security software and regularly update to the latest operating system, software and apps to protect your computer and devices from new attacks.

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