IT consultants are asked to perform numerous tasks, many of which we wouldn't anticipate. Throughout the years, I've jumped in to help in more areas than I ever anticipated, from showing property in the absence of a realtor to helping carry retail merchandise to my clients' customers' cars. There have also been requests to help code applications, better manage cost centers within accounting software, troubleshoot PBX phone systems, install electrical circuits, and more.
But possibly the biggest favor I've done for clients is to help them track their domain expiration dates. Whenever you register domains for clients, you already have systems in place to ensure those domains are automatically renewed and billed. If you don't, you better put one in place. A domain only needs to lapse for a few hours before an offshore consortium scoops it up and offers it back only at great expense.
The tricky part is helping manage those domains your organization did not initiate or register. Domains your consultancy inherits -- that is, domains registered by the client, someone's brother-in-law who does computer work on the side, or another IT firm -- are outside of your control. And yet, guess who's likely to get blamed if that domain is allowed to expire? You.
Clients may well assume that, since you're hosting their Web site, managing their network, or maintaining their email server, you are also ensuring their domain registration remains current. Obviously, that can prove to be a costly mistake.
Don't let clients' domain registrations fall through the cracks. Put plans or checklists in place that ensures these steps are taken each time a new client comes on board:
- Record the client's Web domain(s)
- Record the client's e-mail domain(s)
- Record all A records used for Web-based mail, Outlook Web Access, VPN, and other connections
- Record all MX records
- List expiration dates for each of those domains
- Note which registrar is associated with each domain
- Note which name servers are used for each domain
- Note all administrative and technical contact information for each domain
Store this information for each client, but only after setting calendar or other reminders for your staff a full 30 to 45 days before any domain expiration dates. Allowing a minimum of 30 days helps ensure you can track down the necessary account and log in information necessary to renew a domain before it expires.
Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president of Eckel Media Corp., a communications company specializing in public relations and technical authoring projects.