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In a partnership no one person should hold all the keys....


Recently Runtime was called to help on a rather difficult situation for a business. This business was not one of our regular customers, they were put onto us to help work through a fairly serious issue that had the potential to cause major havoc.

This company (let’s call them Company Y) was started by two friends (Jack & Steve). It has 16 loyal staff and was a productive and prosperous company for many years.
Unfortunately, there was a major falling out and relationship breakdown between the company owners. This resulted in one of the owners (Jack) taking over full control of Company Y and buying out the other owner (Steve).

Steve (exited partner) was more IT savvy and had setup the Company Y’s IT environment. Including their socials, their web domain, built their website and setup/managed their email/collaboration suite Google Workspace.

Settlement between Jack and Steve was reached. Money changed hands, company registration was transferred, bank accounts migrated, and everything appeared to be finalised or so Jack thought.

Now for the not so ‘fun’ part.

A month or so after Steve left the business, Jack needed to setup an email address for a new staff member, which should be a straightforward task.
Jack hadn’t done this before, so when he tried to log into the Google Admin console he received a message saying “Sign in with an Administrator Account”. It was at this point Jack realised that he had absolutely no control over their Google Workspace account. Steve was the only Admin and billing contact for Google Workspace.
Jack didn’t even have access to create a user account, let alone manage all of their Google Workspace environment.

Over the course of two weeks Jack tried to contact Steve but calls and emails went un-answered.

Panic really set in for Jack. He realised that even though he was now the sole company owner on paper, Steve still had full control and could (potentially) see everything that was going on in Company Y.
In this situation, things really have potential to turn nasty. That businesses can find themselves and their reputation being damaged irreparably.
Imagine what would happen if Steve decided to leak Company Y’s information, client information, poach clients or try to extort money.

Jack called Logan from Runtime to ask what could be done, and how we could help resolve this situation.
Logan sensing how concerned Jack was knew this was a high priority task. So, Logan went onsite to visit Jack and over a coffee he described what needed to happen and set the expectations as to how long recovering Google Access would take (approximately two weeks).

Logan and Jack went about contacting Google Support and outlining what had taken place and what was required.
Google (rightfully so) had quite a few hurdles that need to be jumped through to prove that Jack is who he says he is and is the rightful owner of Company Y.
Google required: identification checks, business validity checks and DNS modifications to take place to confirm Jack’s ownership.

Fortunately, after all requirements had been met, Google Workspace ownership was transferred to Jack and it was a successful outcome Company Y.
The total turnaround time to resolve this situation was just under two weeks, and understandably a rather stressful time for Jack and his team.
Jack is now in control of Company Y’s Google Workspace, and the business is functioning as per normal.

Takeaways and Learning.

For a business to run properly and be successful in the long term, there must always be contingency plan in place for when the unexpected happens.
It could be a relationship breakdown between business partners or worse. What would happen to your business if you became incapacitated or passed away.  How would your family deal with the stress of the business, it’s staff/vendors/clients and obligations.

Rule of thumb:

  1. In a partnership no one person should hold all the keys and have sole access.
  2. Where possible, when setting up or signing up for a new service, the primary account should be a service account (a shared account that relevant parties have access to).
  3. If a service account can’t be used, make sure that appropriate managers/owners are listed as a billing contact for software, subscriptions, and services.
  4. Documentation – Your business should have documentation outlining all mission critical aspects of the business – including usernames/passwords.
    This needs to be reviewed regularly and have several copies stored in safe places (both on and offsite)
  5. Use a password management utility and have all relevant passwords included.
  6. Review your current services and subscriptions to make sure you have contingencies in place for:
    • Phones
    • NBN / Internet
    • Accounting Software
    • Collaboration Systems (Microsoft 365 / Google Workspace)
    • Bank Accounts
    • Gas / Elec / Water subscriptions
    • Support Contracts
    • Transport & Toll accounts
    • Vendor contracts
  7. Never assume that things will be rosy the whole time. You need to expect the unexpected.

The team at Runtime are here to help. We will happily work with you on reviewing your current systems, creating documentation and implementing strategies to ensure you and your business can withstand the worst.
Don’t wait until it’s too late. Call today and give yourself piece of mind.

*** Runtime has asked our (now) client if we can use their situation for an example blog post, names and details have been changed. They are happy for us to use their case as a learning experience for other businesses ***

Call today 1300 730 331

Author Daniel

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