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With the Rio Olympics in full swing, a recent headline may have put the fear into the heart of every athlete competing in water sports…

. . . 1,400 athletes at risk of getting violently ill due to contaminated waterways. 

But read on and you discover that a number of protocols have been put in place by British Swimming, Rowing and Sailing to mitigate the risks – including disinfecting anything that goes into the dirty seawater (like clothing and oars), taking dietary supplements to improve gut health and even using antibiotic mouthwashes in certain conditions!

The result is that so far, British Sailing has had nine fewer days per sailor lost to illness than in the last Olympics. So while the bad quality of water could have had a devastating impact on the health of the Olympic Athletes – with careful planning they’re actually in better shape than previous events.

What does this have to do with websites?

Identifying and managing risks is just as important to a successful website build as it is for Team GB. When we start a new project, there may be elements which are as hard to see through as the murky waters off Rio de Janeiro. For example, if a website needs third party software integration, there will be many questions to explore. How is data sent and received? What data is available? What language is the system coded in? How can we make the website talk to it? How does the site need to interact with the other system? That’s a lot of unknowns – which can make integration a risky part of a web build.

Planning for success helps us prepare for risks. At the start of a project, as a team, we explore all the areas of a project we think might be risky. We agree what we can do to mitigate the risks from turning into actual problems. We also talk to our clients about the risks, so we can work together, to make sure we are as prepared as possible for the work to go smoothly. And all through the project we revisit risks, to check we still have the right plans in place, to keep the project on track.

While our risk planning hasn’t yet led to us wandering around with antiseptic spray, it does result in healthy projects. If building websites was an Olympic sport, we’d be prepared for the dark corners of cyberspace.