C&S Wholesale Grocers: Self-Managed Teams Net Present Value (NPV) / MBA Resources

Introduction to Net Present Value (NPV) - What is Net Present Value (NPV) ? How it impacts financial decisions regarding project management?

NPV solution for C&S Wholesale Grocers: Self-Managed Teams case study

At Oak Spring University, we provide corporate level professional Net Present Value (NPV) case study solution. C&S Wholesale Grocers: Self-Managed Teams case study is a Harvard Business School (HBR) case study written by Thomas J. DeLong, David L. Ager, Tejal Mody. The C&S Wholesale Grocers: Self-Managed Teams (referred as “Cohen Grocers” from here on) case study provides evaluation & decision scenario in field of Organizational Development. It also touches upon business topics such as - Value proposition, Human resource management, Leading teams, Operations management, Organizational structure, Workspaces.

The net present value (NPV) of an investment proposal is the present value of the proposal’s net cash flows less the proposal’s initial cash outflow. If a project’s NPV is greater than or equal to zero, the project should be accepted.

NPV = Present Value of Future Cash Flows LESS Project’s Initial Investment

Case Description of C&S Wholesale Grocers: Self-Managed Teams Case Study

This case is accompanied by a Video Short that can be shown in class or included in a digital coursepack. Instructors should consider the timing of making the video available to students, as it may reveal key case details.Rick Cohen, president and CEO of C&S Wholesale Grocers, is trying to decide whether and how to implement the self-managed teams concept in his warehouse. Eight months earlier, C&S had begun to act as principal wholesaler to A&P throughout New England, a decision that was consistent with the firm's growth strategy, but that also represented a significant increase in daily throughput. Cohen was concerned about whether the company's existing operations would be able to meet the needs of all its customers and maintain the high levels of customer satisfaction for which the company was known throughout New England. When implemented successfully, the self-managed teams concept had been credited with enhancing an organization's productivity and competitiveness. Cohen wondered how such a concept could be implemented in the context of a labor-intensive, unionized warehouse environment.

Case Authors : Thomas J. DeLong, David L. Ager, Tejal Mody

Topic : Organizational Development

Related Areas : Human resource management, Leading teams, Operations management, Organizational structure, Workspaces

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 6% for C&S Wholesale Grocers: Self-Managed Teams Case Study

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 6 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10026267) -10026267 - -
Year 1 3468010 -6558257 3468010 0.9434 3271708
Year 2 3960758 -2597499 7428768 0.89 3525061
Year 3 3965017 1367518 11393785 0.8396 3329105
Year 4 3230564 4598082 14624349 0.7921 2558909
TOTAL 14624349 12684782

The Net Present Value at 6% discount rate is 2658515

In isolation the NPV number doesn't mean much but put in right context then it is one of the best method to evaluate project returns. In this article we will cover -

Different methods of capital budgeting

What is NPV & Formula of NPV,
How it is calculated,
How to use NPV number for project evaluation, and
Scenario Planning given risks and management priorities.

Capital Budgeting Approaches

Methods of Capital Budgeting

There are four types of capital budgeting techniques that are widely used in the corporate world –

1. Internal Rate of Return
2. Net Present Value
3. Payback Period
4. Profitability Index

Apart from the Payback period method which is an additive method, rest of the methods are based on Discounted Cash Flow technique. Even though cash flow can be calculated based on the nature of the project, for the simplicity of the article we are assuming that all the expected cash flows are realized at the end of the year.

Discounted Cash Flow approaches provide a more objective basis for evaluating and selecting investment projects. They take into consideration both –

1. Timing of the expected cash flows – stockholders of Cohen Grocers have higher preference for cash returns over 4-5 years rather than 10-15 years given the nature of the volatility in the industry.
2. Magnitude of both incoming and outgoing cash flows – Projects can be capital intensive, time intensive, or both. Cohen Grocers shareholders have preference for diversified projects investment rather than prospective high income from a single capital intensive project.

Formula and Steps to Calculate Net Present Value (NPV) of C&S Wholesale Grocers: Self-Managed Teams

NPV = Net Cash In Flowt1 / (1+r)t1 + Net Cash In Flowt2 / (1+r)t2 + … Net Cash In Flowtn / (1+r)tn
Less Net Cash Out Flowt0 / (1+r)t0

Where t = time period, in this case year 1, year 2 and so on.
r = discount rate or return that could be earned using other safe proposition such as fixed deposit or treasury bond rate. Net Cash In Flow – What the firm will get each year.
Net Cash Out Flow – What the firm needs to invest initially in the project.

Step 1 – Understand the nature of the project and calculate cash flow for each year.
Step 2 – Discount those cash flow based on the discount rate.
Step 3 – Add all the discounted cash flow.
Step 4 – Selection of the project

Why Organizational Development Managers need to know Financial Tools such as Net Present Value (NPV)?

In our daily workplace we often come across people and colleagues who are just focused on their core competency and targets they have to deliver. For example marketing managers at Cohen Grocers often design programs whose objective is to drive brand awareness and customer reach. But how that 30 point increase in brand awareness or 10 point increase in customer touch points will result into shareholders’ value is not specified.

To overcome such scenarios managers at Cohen Grocers needs to not only know the financial aspect of project management but also needs to have tools to integrate them into part of the project development and monitoring plan.

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 15%

After working through various assumptions we reached a conclusion that risk is far higher than 6%. In a reasonably stable industry with weak competition - 15% discount rate can be a good benchmark.

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 15 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10026267) -10026267 - -
Year 1 3468010 -6558257 3468010 0.8696 3015661
Year 2 3960758 -2597499 7428768 0.7561 2994902
Year 3 3965017 1367518 11393785 0.6575 2607063
Year 4 3230564 4598082 14624349 0.5718 1847085
TOTAL 10464711

The Net NPV after 4 years is 438444

(10464711 - 10026267 )

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 20%

If the risk component is high in the industry then we should go for a higher hurdle rate / discount rate of 20%.

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 20 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10026267) -10026267 - -
Year 1 3468010 -6558257 3468010 0.8333 2890008
Year 2 3960758 -2597499 7428768 0.6944 2750526
Year 3 3965017 1367518 11393785 0.5787 2294570
Year 4 3230564 4598082 14624349 0.4823 1557949
TOTAL 9493054

The Net NPV after 4 years is -533213

At 20% discount rate the NPV is negative (9493054 - 10026267 ) so ideally we can't select the project if macro and micro factors don't allow financial managers of Cohen Grocers to discount cash flow at lower discount rates such as 15%.

Acceptance Criteria of a Project based on NPV

Simplest Approach – If the investment project of Cohen Grocers has a NPV value higher than Zero then finance managers at Cohen Grocers can ACCEPT the project, otherwise they can reject the project. This means that project will deliver higher returns over the period of time than any alternate investment strategy.

In theory if the required rate of return or discount rate is chosen correctly by finance managers at Cohen Grocers, then the stock price of the Cohen Grocers should change by same amount of the NPV. In real world we know that share price also reflects various other factors that can be related to both macro and micro environment.

In the same vein – accepting the project with zero NPV should result in stagnant share price. Finance managers use discount rates as a measure of risk components in the project execution process.

Sensitivity Analysis

Project selection is often a far more complex decision than just choosing it based on the NPV number. Finance managers at Cohen Grocers should conduct a sensitivity analysis to better understand not only the inherent risk of the projects but also how those risks can be either factored in or mitigated during the project execution. Sensitivity analysis helps in –

What are the key aspects of the projects that need to be monitored, refined, and retuned for continuous delivery of projected cash flows.

What are the uncertainties surrounding the project Initial Cash Outlay (ICO’s). ICO’s often have several different components such as land, machinery, building, and other equipment.

Understanding of risks involved in the project.

What can impact the cash flow of the project.

What will be a multi year spillover effect of various taxation regulations.

Some of the assumptions while using the Discounted Cash Flow Methods –

Projects are assumed to be Mutually Exclusive – This is seldom the came in modern day giant organizations where projects are often inter-related and rejecting a project solely based on NPV can result in sunk cost from a related project.

Independent projects have independent cash flows – As explained in the marketing project – though the project may look independent but in reality it is not as the brand awareness project can be closely associated with the spending on sales promotions and product specific advertising.

References & Further Readings

Thomas J. DeLong, David L. Ager, Tejal Mody (2018), "C&S Wholesale Grocers: Self-Managed Teams Harvard Business Review Case Study. Published by HBR Publications.