How Will Your Digital Legacy Survive?
As a business owner, have you thought about the “digital assets” you own? If you don’t own a business, I bet you still have digital assets you use at work.
What are “digital assets?”
Digital assets can be broken down into several categories, however if you consider the possibilities, they will likely fall into one of two classifications: financial or sentimental/memorabilia. Ironically, this is also why most people have difficulty letting go of “stuff” in their lives – either because they paid money for something or that something has memories attached. Your digital assets are similar in nature.
When I’ve asked our clients the following questions; I get a lot of blank stares.
How would you answer the following questions?
1. What are digital assets?
2. What digital assets do you use in your business?
3. Do you have a list of your digital assets in one location in case something happens to you?
4. Do you have someone in your organization that has been appointed to access these assets in case of an emergency or death?
5. Does the person know how to access these assets with the appropriate credentials?
6. If you own the business, does someone know what your wishes are for certain assets?
Based on the lack of responses I’ve received or the blank stares leads me to believe that this is an area of business that has not received much thought, time attention.
Some of these digital assets are vital to the everyday business operations and ongoing operations.
Partial List of Digital Asset Categories
- File Storage
- Frequent Flyer Accounts
- Social Networking
- Website Hosting
How to Get Started Tracking Digital Assets
1. Create a list of all digital assets. This will likely not be something you sit down and complete in one sitting; however as you come across additional assets, you can add to the list. Besides just listing a user name and password, I also recommend that you identify how the account is used the purpose it serves. You may also want to specify what accounts need immediate attention.
2. Determine a centralized collection point to store this information. It could be a password-protected
spreadsheet, however I would recommend LastPass – a digital password manager instead. You can use this encrypted cloud-solution to capture far more than just passwords. You can also store notes about the account, such as your wishes for the account when something happens and you can’t access. You can learn more about LastPass in this newsletter.
For example, in our office, we use LastPass and I have an entire section dedicated to Eliminate Chaos digital assets so they are all in one place. I did this by creating a main folder for the business and then subfolders based on categories I mentioned above as you can see from the partial image of our assets. This makes it very easy for someone to find everything they need in ONE location and it will save them a tremendous amount of time.
3. Identify a person or persons that will take responsibility for these digital assets. You may want to identify more than one person to share the responsibility to ensure they are comfortable with this eventual additional responsibility. They will also need to know how to access this information and a password if necessary if you are storing in a password-protected Excel workbook. Don’t forget to spend time with them to show them your system and provide the proper access.
4. Keep information up-to-date. As mentioned in #1 above, you won’t sit down and create your list in one sitting; you will likely do a large part at the beginning and then update over time with accounts you didn’t think about to begin with. Don’t forget to keep the information updated as information changes, new accounts are added, or assets are no longer used. It’s all about the maintenance at this point to ensure your data is current.
Digital Assets – Do You Know What the Policies Are?
Have you ever considered what happens to your social media accounts when you pass? For example, your LinkedIn, Twitter or business Facebook pages? I know in the past, I’ve run across LinkedIn accounts for individuals I know that have passed away and their accounts are still active. Worse yet, a LinkedIn account shares information to your connections about your work anniversary date. I’m sure you don’t want to wish someone a “happy anniversary” when there is no more anniversary and a family member wonders why this is happening? Likely it’s because they aren’t aware of the news and the account is still live.
Each company has different terms as to what they will do with your account, the data, or who can have access to it. You can find this information on the “terms” or “policies” page. For example:
Facebook: The agreement does not allow others to access your account if they are not the account holder; however you can grant someone access to claim your account so it can be memorialized.
Organizing Digital Assets
In some organizations, photos, images and videos are a valuable digital assets and there are large quantities of these items. Our team members, Malia Fazzio and Robert Leist recently completed a photo organizing project that not only included the organization of the photos and videos, but also selecting the service to house these digital assets, based on company requirements, along with creating policies for retention and the lifecycle of these assets.
Organizations that generate volumes of digital photos for their business need a systematic approach to process, along with the storage and retention of these photos. With that said, we recommend you develop both a Photo Retention Policy and a Photo Lifecycle Policy.
Creating a workflow for importing storing photos is critical. The goal is to design the workflow so anyone can find the photos quickly and easily. Deciding what name to give the photo, what Tags are appropriate, what folder to file it in, and what to keep and what to throw away is best done with a systematic approach. The systematic approach is better than leaving such decisions to periodic housekeeping that quickly becomes overwhelming. Once the workflow is in place it should be carefully reviewed on a periodic basis.
Your Photo Lifecycle Policy should contain the following:
- The Submission & Importing Process
- Retrieval Process
- On-Going Maintenance
- Just as with any project, it will require resources and dedicated time.
Legislation Regarding Digital Assets
You may want to check with your state to see if there are laws that have been passed regarding digital assets regarding who has rights to these. Some states have laws however many don’t – so in this case you will need to follow the terms for each provider of the digital asset.
Organizing your digital assets and putting these systems in place take time; however I can assure you that once it is done, it will provide considerable peace of mind. Determine which areas are most critical to your business and start there.
~ Making You More Productive - so you have More Time for Life®
Laura Leist, CPO, MOS
CPO = Certified Professional Organizer
MOS = Microsoft Office Specialist