Today’s business world is all about data. If there’s a problem or potential risks with your company’s data, everything else comes to a screeching halt. Customer service, production, profitability — it all stops. When everything is working well, an unexpected issue seems unlikely. However, if there is a disruption to your company’s data, how will you handle it? How long will it take things to get back to normal? This is where the importance of contingency planning and having an effective contingency plan as part of risk management comes in. In this era of cybercrime, hacks, ransomware, and potential risks to sensitive client data, you only have to read the news to know how much havoc something like that can cause. It’s not a stretch to imagine what could happen to your business in the event of some sort of data disaster.


Data Contingency Plans

Contingency is defined as a chance, accident or possible condition of something uncertain. A contingency plan is a set of detailed actions that will be put into place in the event of an unexpected event, in order to reduce the impact of that event. So, a data contingency plan is the list of steps your company would take to handle a complete data disaster or meltdown.

A data contingency plan is important for all the obvious reasons — a disruption to your data can cripple your company. Think about it — if your data was suddenly wiped out (for whatever reason), how long would it take to regain equilibrium? Would your company ever be the same? So, in the event of a data disaster, you need to have a way of getting yourself back to normal. This is why understanding the importance of contingency planning and having a sound business contingency plan is crucial.


What Does a Data Contingency Plan Consist Of?

A data contingency plan consists of three elements. They are the following.

  1. Data backup plan: This is a secure backup of all your data that should be located in a secure location such as a virtual data room (VDR). Data backups typically spread throughout various departments — sales data, accounts, emails, internal communications, etc.
  2. Disaster recovery plan: Once you’ve reviewed what it takes to make a safe and secure backup of your company’s data, then it’s time to plan exactly how to restore it in the event of a disaster. You have to identify and prioritize your critical data and systems. Draft a procedure of how you would restore your data, starting with the most critical systems first.
  3. Emergency operation plan: This is where the two data backup and disaster recovery plans come together. It’s the overall plan of how you will handle things in the event of a disaster and how you will implement the systems and data in the event of an issue.  


How To Set Up a Data Contingency Plan

In order to set up a data contingency plan, you’ll want to assign staff members to specific tasks in the event of an emergency. All of the particulars must be spelled out in an effective contingency plan — the order of the restoration, and who is responsible for each of the steps and all the players involved. In short, it contains the overall strategy and risk management steps for the deployment of the business contingency plan. This also means setting priorities for the order of restoring the systems and delegating which team members have the authority to view, alter, retrieve and restore data.  

Of course, it’s vital to test and revise your plan on a regular basis. Any changes in your business must be factored in — new hardware, software, personnel changes, new locations, etc. Think of it like a fire drill — it works best when well documented and practiced regularly.


The Risks of Not Having a Data Contingency Plan

As long as you know why your company has a data contingency plan in place, you’ll understand the risks of leaving your company vulnerable to a data disaster. There are scores of things that could go bad — natural disasters (hurricane, flood, earthquake, etc.), accidents (fire, voltage spike, server crash, etc.) or even man-made events (vandalism, corruption, cybercrime, sabotage, etc.). Any of these can ruin your company.


VDRs for Your Data Contingency Plan

Adding a VDR to your data security stack is a great way to be compliant with your data contingency plan. Having your data contingency plan located on a remote server is an excellent way to start the restoration process in the event of a disaster. A VDR is a secure, online location where documents can be stored, shared and edited. When selecting a VDR for your data contingency plan, you will need to choose one that features maximum security measures, which include top-level encryption, backup, document and version management, high-level administrative controls, multiple layers of security and 24/7 customer support.


The CapLinked Solution for Contigency Planning

CapLinked, an industry leader in the VDR space, is a provider of virtual data rooms for users in many industries, including those using a data contingency plan. And because its user-friendly interface is compatible with virtually every OS, users can upload, edit and download documents from every type of computer, smartphone or tablet. To learn more about how CapLinked can help with your data contingency plan with our virtual data rooms, try a free trial.

Chris Capelle is a technology expert, writer and instructor. For over 25 years, he has worked in the publishing, advertising and consumer products industries.


Database Trends and Applications – Database Contingency Planning – Preparing for Disasters You Hope Won’t Happen

Inc. – How to Create a Contingency Plan That Actually Works

American Psychological Association (APA) – Contingency Planning: Do You Know What HIPAA Requires?