Project Risk Management: Enhance vs Exploit for PMP Exam

Project Risk Management: Enhance vs Exploit for PMP Exam

Already updated/will be updated for PMP Exam in 2023.

In project risk management, according to different types of risk (positive or negative), the PMBOK® Guide recommends the following risk management strategies:

  • For negative risks:
    • Mitigate
    • Avoid
    • Transfer
    • Accept
    • Escalate
  • For positive risks (i.e. opportunities):
    • Enhance
    • Exploit
    • Share
    • Accept
    • Escalate

Out of the four risk management strategies for opportunities, “enhance” and “exploit” are always not thoroughly understood and may be considered very similar or even identical as they both would result in taking advantage of the opportunities. However, there are many reasons why they are separately identified as one of the risk management strategies.

Article Highlights

Enhance vs Exploit

  • Enhance: taking measures/actions (e.g. changing the project plan or approach) to increase the probability of the occurrence of opportunities / increase the benefits from the opportunities
    • note that the opportunities may not realize in the end
    • may be considered as the opposite of “mitigation” in negative risk response strategy
  • Exploit: taking any possible actions to make sure the opportunities will realize
    • do everything to realize the opportunities, including adding budgets or carrying out dramatic actions
    • may be considered as the opposite of “avoid” in negative risk response strategy

Illustrated Example

Let’s take the project of exam study and preparation again for the illustration of the meanings of Enhance vs Exploit risk management strategies.

An Aspirant, Dave, aims to sit for the exam before the change of the exam syllabus as his employer has set up a scholarship for the study materials for the current version (the costs of exam prep books as well as mock exam question banks would be paid by his employer). In order to take advantage of the offer, Dave has formulated the following actions in the “Enhance” and “Exploit” categories:

  • Enhance Risk Management Strategy
    • Submit application as early as possible
    • Spare an extra hour of study time every day
    • Make use of an online exam prep course (instead of a classroom course/bootcamp) to allow him to study anywhere with his mobile phone
    • Attempt mock exams early in his preparation to understand his knowledge gap
  • Exploit Risk Management Strategy
    • Subscribe to an exam coach service to tailor a study plan with an experience tutor
    • Take leave from work till he has finished all the study and preparation
    • Use same day courier service to submit the audit document (if required for an audit)
    • Schedule and take the exam before the change of exam version (even if he has not finished his preparation)
    • Book a hotel room in the vicinity of the exam centre for the night before the exam day

As one can see, in order to carry out the Exploit Risk Management Strategy, a lot of extra money may need to be spent in order to ensure the opportunity can realize for sure.

Mock Exam Question

  1. Helen is the project manager for a large building project for a toys museum. After she has identified all the risks and opportunities, she is currently planning the risk response strategies. For the opportunity of finishing the project earlier to coincide the opening date with the 70th anniversary of the country, she wants to make sure the project can ride on the benefits (e.g. national holidays, lots of visitors, etc.). What risk response strategy will she adopt for this opportunity?
    1. Enhance
    2. Avoid
    3. Accept
    4. Exploit
    Solution: D
    “Exploit” is to make sure the opportunity can realize by all means of possible actions while “enhance” is just to increase the likelihood of occurrence. The other two risk response strategies are just for negative risks (i.e. threats).


To distinguish between Enhance vs Exploit, remember that:

  • Enhance will increase the % of occurrence of the opportunity or to increase the benefits from the realization of the opportunities
  • Exploit will make the occurrence 100%
recommended PMP resourcesAdditional FREE PMP resources: 47+ Commonly Confused Term Pairs with detailed explanations. If you found this article useful, you may wish to reference other Commonly Confused Term articles.

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Edward Chung

Edward Chung aspires to become a full-stack web developer and project manager. In the quest to become a more competent professional, Edward studied for and passed the PMP Certification, ITIL v3 Foundation Certification, PMI-ACP Certification and Zend PHP Certification. Edward shares his certification experience and resources here in the hope of helping others who are pursuing these certification exams to achieve exam success.

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4 Responses

  1. Abdul Gafoor says:

    Hi, PMI has included “Escalate” also a strategy for meeting the Positive Risks (Opportunities) in the PMBOK6.

  2. Jeff says:

    For Exploit, how can we ensure it can happen in 100%?

    • Hi Jeff,

      That’s a good question. For example, if an additional software is needed to enhance success, just purchase it at any cost. But the fact is not everything in life can be 100% certain.

      Wish you PMP success!