It is finally time to write about this. Your domain name is as much an asset as any other property your organizations owns. You should treat it like that.
Over the last 16 years we have seen almost every imaginable result of the violation of this rule. People have called in a panic saying our domain expired and someone else got it. Others have tried to move their websites and found that their former web developer registered the domain in his name and will not let it go. Others have experienced the hardship of reestablishing access to manage their domain name because the domains primary contact has been gone from the company for 10 years.
These would be akin to a company's CFO leaving a bag of money on the sidewalk to be picked up by someone else, placing your home builder on the deed to your home just because he built it, or hunting down your 11th grade history teacher expecting Him to remember the grade he gave you and then when he doesn't, jumping through all the bureaucratic hoops to find your grade.
Here are some very simple and easy ways to secure your domain name(s)
1. Setup one account with an ICANN certified domain registrar and place every domain your organization owns in that one account. Place the login credentials for that account in a safe place and inform
2. Use a specially designated email address for your primary and admin contact - e.g. [email protected] Map that email account to land in the inbox of the person currently responsible for domain name management and remap it when he/she leaves a new domain manager comes. In fact, it is even better to have two persons responsible for your domain name just in case.
3. NEVER place your domain name in the hands of your web development company. Trust me, this will cost you some day. We are happy to help our clients register domain names but we will not be responsible for those domain names because we do not want the liability in the event a domain name is lost.
4. ALWAYS register your domain name for at least 5 years - longer if possible. Some say a longer duration domain registration is a minor signal search engines use for their rankings. But we know that the per year cost is reduced for longer durations and there is also less chance that your domain manager will neglect to renew the registration.
5. Set an annually recurring calendar reminder to perform a domain name check each year.
I would say "I hope this is helpful." But in this case I want to be stronger and say "Do this asap."