Don't let your agency own your hosting account

Nov 18, 2021   •   3 min read

By Sylvain Reiter
Table of contents

Time and time again, I am meeting clients from large companies that have outsourced their website and technology platforms to external agencies. What I find incredible is when those clients don't have any control over the hosting accounts where their main intellectual property and all their data is being held.

In this video, I want to discuss with you the 3 main three problems that clients are facing when they outsource the hosting of their digital platform to their agency. Then I'll give you two options, two easy solutions to mitigate that.

Let's get to it.

Being myself on the agency side, I understand that clients don't have the digital expertise and it makes sense to hire a team of experts when you need to rebrand, redesign, rebuild a digital platform.

Whether it's an eCommerce or a content management system, whatever the digital platform is, we can all agree that it's usually a critical part of your digital presence, right? After all, it is running all your transactions, holding all your customers' data and hosting a lot of your files.

So tell me: what would be the impact on your business if these critical platforms were to go offline?

Not owning your hosting account?

If you do not have control over where the solutions are hosted, it will bring three main challenges.

1. Paying a Markup

The first one is that you're paying a markup. If your agency is managing your hosting platform, they will have to resell a service and charge a management fee on top of that, because you're just adding an extra middleman.

2. Investigating a data breach

The second biggest risk is in the event of a data breach. Most agencies that I've seen out there usually bundle all their clients under a single hosting account.

If something terrible were to happen, and if you want your own auditor, or if you want the authorities to go in and investigate your infrastructure, the agency that's controlling that will not be able to give them access to the main platform... because they're sharing with other, it would be a breach of their other clients' confidentiality and secure data. This could get you in real trouble.

3. Commercial dispute or bankruptcy

The third and worst-case scenario is that you might face a commercial dispute with your agency. It could be anything around the quality of a deliverable or the warranty period, a change of scope... whatever it might be, if you decide not to pay an invoice - or forget to pay one - your digital partner can just decide to take your platform completely offline.

You will then have little recourse with the hosting company, trying to get access directly.

The same would happen if your agency goes bust. You might be legally the owner of your internal intellectual property that they've built for you, but if you get locked out, it will take you months to recover the assets. Can you really afford to be offline that long?

Solutions to better manage your hosting account

All of that sounds very scary, right? It doesn't have to be that way. There are better solutions.

1. Involve your IT team

My main recommendation first of all, is that even if you're in marketing, you have to make sure that your it team is involved in your projects. You have to communicate with them and make sure they have access to the cloud hosting accounts where the servers and the database reside.

That means that even if your agency owns the overall parents' accounts, your project's assets and files should be isolated under a unique child account for example... just for you, not mixed with other people.

2. Pay the bill yourself

The second option, even better, is that you should really be owning your hosting account. Yes, it's a bit more procurement work upfront, but you can give full technical access to your external agency so they can configure it, deploy your application and manage the ongoing maintenance.

If you pay the bill, you will have better control and be the legal owner. You can connect directly with the hosting company, and you will have direct access to all the assets and information. If something bad were to happen, you would be the one that can disconnect and kick out your agency partner, rather than the other way around.

That sounds like much less risky solution, right? It's not that hard to implement.

I really hope that you can find that useful and it makes you think, and hopefully save you some headaches in the future.

If you're looking for a partner to manage your existing hosting accounts and migrate from a legacy provider, or if you need help to optimise and upgrade your current systems, just get in touch. Don't forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel and follow me on Twitter to keep learning with me and grow your career in digital.

Until next time, stay safe and see you soon.

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