Field Project – Cupcakes for Charity

Project Audit Report

(MGT598, MBA X)


“Cupcakes for Charity – Fundraising for the less privileged”

 Project Description & Analysis

“Cupcakes for charity” was the collective brain-child of our team when we were assigned to conduct a charitable event for the course. The event fulfilled multiple objectives:

  1. Apply project management principles, as taught in class, to a real-life project.
  2. Spread social awareness of our selected charity – what they do and how they do it.
  3. Raise funds for a charitable organization.
  4. Ensure that we enjoy ourselves.

Although we were quick to define what we wanted to do and how we wanted to do it, a structured approach was followed. At the outset we created a formal proposal for the project outlining the charity, what we wanted to do, our objectives, a brief plan of action and the perceived road blocks. The next step was to create an implementation plan that provided further details on how we were planning to accomplish our objectives. This involved detailed definition of the sequence of activities plus identifying the work packages for each team member. We also had a support or rather back-up for each team member in case the original team member was unable to perform the task for any reason. So, for example, Syed’s work package included venue and stall. Hamza was in-charge of arranging the Charity and the Sponsors. Further to that, Mahmood was back-up on the Venue. Presented below is a snapshot of the final definition of our project plan:


Now that we all had a clear idea of what needed to be done, we prepared a risk management plan for the charity event. This document contained a list of 12-odd “developments” that could potentially be detrimental to our progress. Each “development” was ranked depending upon its how critical it was (“1” considered as the most critical) and associated with a strategy for mitigation plus a contingency. Mitigation of the risk identified specific actions that would be taken to ensure it did not threaten progress; the contingency would provide an alternative to safeguard out interests. So, for example, venue identification was identified as the riskiest activity and the team agreed that mitigation lay in identifying a location that was easily accessible and well-known on the island. One thing we might add is that although we had a contingency plan, it wasn’t very thought out. With the initial response that we got from Seef Mall, the probability on relying on contingency was very low. As such, we did not take into account the low demand that we will face. So if we had a proper thought out contingency plan, we would have had an option to lower the number of cupcakes from the vendor.

Planning aside, we had to move quickly due to severe time constraints. The project completion date was approximately two weeks away coinciding with the end of this course. The first thing we approached was the venue and got approval in principal from Seef Mall. In parallel, we engaged with specific firms apprising them of our future event and exploring the possibility of getting sponsorships. We also spoke to a few bakeries to determine the level of discounts they were willing to offer if we purchased merchandise on a bulk basis. This phase of the project was the most crucial since the choices here would determine our capacity at a later stage.

Unfortunately, Seef Mall started delaying and became non-responsive a few days before the event and consistent with our contingency plan, we managed to obtain space in BIBF. In the meantime, our drive to obtain sponsorships bore fruit and we raised BHD 500 cash (~$1,300). Some organizations also contributed in kind – the stall rental cost was waived (BHD 400 equivalent value over two days) plus we received a batch of 150 free cupcakes.

The cupcake sale spanned two days during which we sold more than 400 cupcakes. As a small token of our appreciation we also gave away cupcakes to our various sponsors who helped us make the event possible.

Lessons Learned & Takeaways

Having been through every stage of the event ourselves, there were a few takeaways that we felt could be beneficial for the future:

  1. Setting Milestones – It is of utmost importance to set clear milestones and adhere to them. In our case, we had extremely limited time at our disposal and realized that any slippage could easily jeopardize the entire project. Clear milestones and deadlines need to be established upfront and adhered to so that there is no ambiguity of what is due when.
  2. Progress Monitor – Project progress and overall development needs to be established on a frequent and regular basis. This can be easily done through clear communication without even meeting face-to-face. If ignored, slippage can become uncontrollable very quickly putting the entire project at risk of failure.
  3. Activity Slack – It is a prudent habit not to depend on slack times. Although the implementation plan might show slack in some activities, this can quickly disappear especially if those tasks also involve external parties.
  4. Try to complete tasks as soon as possible although there may be slack available. Given the number of externalities in any project it is difficult to predict what and when something can go wrong. Doing this will ensure available time for any other activity that requires attention.

Advice for Similar Events

Our advice to other teams attempting to conduct a similar event would start with the list of lessons learned in the previous section. In addition, we would recommend the following to ensure a smoother implementation:

  1. Whenever any third party is involved, ensure there are written agreements so that neither party suffers due to any untoward event. In our case we made the mistake of not taking this route at the time of finalizing the venue. As a result, the Seef Mall management failed to appreciate our sense of urgency in the matter.
  2. Try to finish everything as soon as possible. Slacking is dangerous. Usually, a plan is as good as its implementation. But a plan cannot incorporate unforeseen risk as you as a planner are not very experienced in project management.
  3. One should have clear understanding with the charity organization as the things they are responsible for and their continuous support on the day of event is very important. Choosing a Charity that you are going to represent is also a very important decision. Charity and their causes have inherent fund raising power. In our case, the charity we chose had no specific cause and as such it was harder for us to rally support.


7 6 5 4 3 2

Team members:

Syed Ehsan-Ul Hassan

Mahmood Abdulla

Asim Qureshi

Mayukh Chaterjee

Hind Abdulla

Hamza Haroon


Risk Management – Projects vs. Banks

In project management, managing risk is a four step process as illustrated in the chart below. The approach is very risk specific for identifying each potential risk.  Step one is always to identify the risk. Once a potential risk is identified, assessment of the risk must be done. The severity of impact and the likelihood of occurrence are evaluated. After which, a response to such a risk is developed. The last step is more general as a response to any unforeseen risk being discovered after the risk management plan is developed.  I feel that in the context of project management being a process of finite time period, identifying specifics risk is easier than Banking and therefore a useful exercise. However, that being said, every project is different and some in some projects it may be just as difficult or even impossible to list the potential risk.  With banks, such a technique would not be fruitful as the number of risk that the bank is subject to are limitless. In general, what risk management is used for in banks is to minimize losses and to minimize the impact of these losses on the stability of the Bank. Stability is very important to banks. That is why Central Banks focus on a bank’s ability to sustain losses and issue regulations for the bank to hold adequate capital to sustain losses. This can looked at as a strategy to reduce possible damage to the overall balance sheet of the bank emanating from a loss event.


Ch 7 – Project Management – Larson and Gray (Figure 7.2)
Ch 7 – Project Management – Larson and Gray (Figure 7.2)

This feeds into a risk breakdown structure. All the risk can be categorized into either being technical, external, organizational or related to project management planning.

Ch 7 – Project Management – Larson and Gray (Figure 7.3)
Ch 7 – Project Management – Larson and Gray (Figure 7.3)

In contrast, banks use a different approach which is specific to their model. They categorize the source of risk as either being credit risk, investment risk, operational risk or legal & compliance risk.  This is in some way is similar to the risk breakdown structure above but more specific to banking.

Banking Risk Catogorization
Banking Risk Catogorization

With modern banking risk management techniques, they have moved towards quantifying each type of risk in the numeric number which is the potential loss. With the potential loss in mind, they hold adequate capital as per the regulations issued to cushion any financial losses. Also to minimize the losses themselves, (step 4: risk response control) banks embed in their strategies and processes & procedures, risk control policies.

For the potential impact (step 3) the techniques used are mostly maths based and depend on track records of previous financial losses that had occurred for a number of reasons in the past. Based on the past data, a likelihood of a financial loss s reached.

In essence, the model presented for risk management in project is a more generalized framework of what most organizations use in running their businesses on daily basis.