Risk Management Framework: Opportunity Management

This article is part of the Risk Response Development process. This is considered to be a activity inside that process. To understand the full picture please read this article first and follow the links provided to navigate the post.

For the sake of brevity, this series has focused on negative risks—what can go wrong on a project. There is a flip side—what could go right on a project? This is commonly referred to as a positive risk or opportunity management.

An opportunity is an event that can have a positive impact on project objectives.

For example, unusually favorable weather can accelerate construction work, or a drop in fuel prices may create savings that could be used to add value to a project.

Essentially the same process that is used to manage negative risks is applied to positive risks. Opportunities are identified, assessed in terms of likelihood and impact, responses are determined, and even contingency plans and funds can be established to take advantage of the opportunity if it occurs.

Opportunity Management Structure

The major exception between managing negative risks and opportunity is in the responses. The project management profession has identified four different types of response to an opportunity that are used as a opportunity management framework. Here they are:

Exploit. This tactic seeks to eliminate the uncertainty associated with an opportunity to ensure that it definitely happens. Examples include assigning your best personnel to a critical burst activity to reduce the time to completion or revising a design to enable a component to be purchased rather than developed internally.

Share. This strategy involves allocating some or all of the ownership of an opportunity to another party who is best able to capture the opportunity for the benefit of the project. Examples include establishing continuous improvement incentives for external contractors or joint ventures.

Enhance. Enhance is the opposite of mitigation in that action is taken to increase the probability and/or the positive impact of an opportunity. Examples include choosing site location based on favorable weather patterns or choosing raw materials that are likely to decline in puce.

Accept. Accepting an opportunity is being willing 10 take advantage of it if it occurs, but not taking action to pursue it.

While it is only natural to focus on negative risks, it is sound practice to engage in active opportunity management as well.

The Opportunity Management article is part of a much larger post on risk management. If you have landed on this article directly from a search engine I would recommend you head to this article Risk Management Guide, where you can get the full picture on how I have organized the series and have the the correct sequence.

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