Introduction to Net Present Value (NPV) - What is Net Present Value (NPV) ? How it impacts financial decisions regarding project management?
At Oak Spring University, we provide corporate level professional Net Present Value (NPV) case study solution. Key State Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plan: A Strategy for Winning in the Market through Customer-Focused Service case study is a Harvard Business School (HBR) case study written by Robert D. Dewar. The Key State Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plan: A Strategy for Winning in the Market through Customer-Focused Service (referred as “Key Health” from here on) case study provides evaluation & decision scenario in field of Strategy & Execution. It also touches upon business topics such as - Value proposition, Organizational structure, Personnel policies, Strategy.
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.
Key State Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plan (a disguised case of an actual BCBS Plan) is the merged product of three state plans. Initially burdened with a reputation of poor customer service, Key State's executives decided to invest heavily in service improvement, eventually achieving superior levels. Key State's high-quality customer service emerged as a true competitive advantage for its customers, who were primarily businesses and health benefits consultants who influenced corporate purchasers of health insurance. The Key State brand came to be synonymous with personal service, security, choice, and dependability. But the health care insurance market was changing under Key State's feet. Spiraling costs meant that high-quality service became less of a competitive advantage as employers were lured by low-cost, low-service providers. Many employers cut or dropped health care benefits entirely, swelling the ranks of the under- and uninsured, who in turn were extremely price-sensitive when shopping for health insurance on their own. Finally, the health care insurance market was being revolutionized by financial institutions willing to hold health benefit accounts and pay providers directly, thereby eliminating the need for Key State as a mediator. Key State executives were aware of these changes but were challenged by the mindset, culture, and organizational design custom-fit to their business accounts. The case asks the reader to consider whether Key State has the right number of target markets, whether it should have one brand or several for its different target markets, what it should do for the uninsured, and how it should improve its brand experience in light of the industry's changing landscape. All of these decisions will have significant implications for the organizational design of Key State.
|Years||Cash Flow||Net Cash Flow||Cumulative
@ 6 %
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 -
Capital Budgeting Approaches
There are four types of capital budgeting techniques that are widely used in the corporate world –
1. Net Present Value
2. Internal Rate of Return
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. Magnitude of both incoming and outgoing cash flows – Projects can be capital intensive, time intensive, or both. Key Health shareholders have preference for diversified projects investment rather than prospective high income from a single capital intensive project.
2. Timing of the expected cash flows – stockholders of Key Health have higher preference for cash returns over 4-5 years rather than 10-15 years given the nature of the volatility in the industry.
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
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 Key Health 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 Key Health 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.
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
@ 15 %
(10469939 - 10004291 )
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
@ 20 %
At 20% discount rate the NPV is negative (9498009 - 10004291 ) so ideally we can't select the project if macro and micro factors don't allow financial managers of Key Health to discount cash flow at lower discount rates such as 15%.
Simplest Approach – If the investment project of Key Health has a NPV value higher than Zero then finance managers at Key Health 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 Key Health, then the stock price of the Key Health 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.
Project selection is often a far more complex decision than just choosing it based on the NPV number. Finance managers at Key Health 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 –
Understanding of risks involved in the project.
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.
What can impact the cash flow of the project.
What will be a multi year spillover effect of various taxation regulations.
What are the key aspects of the projects that need to be monitored, refined, and retuned for continuous delivery of projected cash flows.
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.
Robert D. Dewar (2018), "Key State Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plan: A Strategy for Winning in the Market through Customer-Focused Service Harvard Business Review Case Study. Published by HBR Publications.
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