Managing passwords shouldn't get in the way of doing good work for your clients. However, when each client has several, dozens, or hundreds of passwords to manage, it's easy to get overwhelmed. There's nothing quite so infuriating as getting held up on a big project because you can't "find the damn password."
Managing passwords on a shared Google Doc can be not only messy but insecure (anyone with edit access can change those privacy settings!) And a password-protected Excel document is going to become outdated over several different versions on different people's computers. Who wants to spend more time looking at spreadsheets, anyway?
What do we suggest? Signing up for a team password manager app like TeamPassword (totally unbiased recommendation, obviously), and using one of the below methods to easily organize your passwords.
Method 1: Group passwords by client
This one is straightforward: every time you sign a new client, you'll create a new group for that client in TeamPassword. You can add your whole client services team to that group in TeamPassword, or only add the people assigned to that client account - whatever works best for your agency. As with all of the methods covered in this post, you should also have groups for your internal passwords, just like any small business.
When it works: This approach works well for clients who are particularly sensitive to who has access to their accounts. For example, if you have to create a "silo" to manage a client who competes with another client, structuring your passwords this way ensures that Pepsi's Twitter manager can't login and sabotage Coke's account.
When it's not great: If you are constantly signing many new clients, then creating new password groups on a regular basis may become onerous (but we're working to streamline this process). Still, this is probably the simplest way for most agencies to manage passwords.
Method 2: Group your passwords by internal team
If you have teams of employees that work together to service client accounts, and those employees don't bounce around from team to team often, this method could be right for you. You can just set up your password groups once, and add new client information as it comes in.
When it works: If you have large client accounts, and many employees from your team service each account, this will cut down on the time it takes to organize your passwords.
When it's not great: If every client has a different, intermingled mix of team members, this method will become complicated to manage.
Method 3: Add all client passwords to one large group
With this approach, your agency can simply create one group for client passwords and add all client accounts and client services employees.
When it works: This is great for smaller agencies who collaborate on almost all client accounts.
When it's not great: This approach breaks down when you have a large number of clients and employees. Imagine if you stored 100+ Twitter accounts in one group and had to hunt down the correct account! Of course, TeamPassword's search features help with that, but only if you know what to search for and each password has been properly named.
The Bottom Line
Taking the time to think through and set up a password management system will save you time and stress down the road. Once you establish a login management system that works for your marketing, PR, or creative agency, you can let the password details fade into the background, and focus on providing excellent services to your clients.
Try TeamPassword now, and follow @teampassword on Twitter for more management and security tips.