An Exploratory Study on IS Capabilities and Assets in a Small-to-Medium Software Enterprise 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 An Exploratory Study on IS Capabilities and Assets in a Small-to-Medium Software Enterprise case study

At Oak Spring University, we provide corporate level professional Net Present Value (NPV) case study solution. An Exploratory Study on IS Capabilities and Assets in a Small-to-Medium Software Enterprise case study is a Harvard Business School (HBR) case study written by Tom Butler, Ciaran Murphy. The An Exploratory Study on IS Capabilities and Assets in a Small-to-Medium Software Enterprise (referred as “Capabilities Smse” from here on) case study provides evaluation & decision scenario in field of Technology & Operations. It also touches upon business topics such as - Value proposition, .

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 An Exploratory Study on IS Capabilities and Assets in a Small-to-Medium Software Enterprise Case Study

There is a dearth of research on the capabilities of innovative small-to-medium software enterprises (SMSEs). Understanding how SMSEs build and apply business and information systems (IS) capabilities is important, as such firms account for over 90% of software enterprises operating in Europe and the US. This paper elaborates and applies dynamic capability theory to explore and help understand the web of conditions and factors that shaped and influenced business and IS capability development and application in one European SMSE. Drawing on the overarching theory of dynamic capabilities, a theoretical model is presented that posits relationships among (1) a firm's past activities; (2) its integration, learning and reconfiguration, and transformation capabilities; (3) its financial, complementary, locational, and technological asset positions; and (4) the products and services that result, and which are of value to an SMSE's customers. The paper refines and elaborates the model by describing and enumerating the business and IS capabilities, assets, and products and services of the SMSE under study. To properly assess whether this firm's products and services were of value to its customers, research was also conducted at two customer sites in Ireland and the US, in addition to the investigation at the primary research site in Dublin. The study therefore informs both practitioners' and researchers' understandings of this complex and under-researched phenomenon: for practitioners, it highlights the characteristics required to build innovative software solutions; for researchers, it illustrates the patterns and regularities associated with the development and application of business and IS capabilities.

Case Authors : Tom Butler, Ciaran Murphy

Topic : Technology & Operations

Related Areas :

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 6% for An Exploratory Study on IS Capabilities and Assets in a Small-to-Medium Software Enterprise Case Study

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 6 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10024728) -10024728 - -
Year 1 3472109 -6552619 3472109 0.9434 3275575
Year 2 3979123 -2573496 7451232 0.89 3541405
Year 3 3945296 1371800 11396528 0.8396 3312547
Year 4 3229435 4601235 14625963 0.7921 2558015
TOTAL 14625963 12687541

The Net Present Value at 6% discount rate is 2662813

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. Profitability Index
3. Payback Period
4. Net Present Value

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 Capabilities Smse 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. Capabilities Smse 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 An Exploratory Study on IS Capabilities and Assets in a Small-to-Medium Software Enterprise

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 Technology & Operations 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 Capabilities Smse 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 Capabilities Smse 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 (10024728) -10024728 - -
Year 1 3472109 -6552619 3472109 0.8696 3019225
Year 2 3979123 -2573496 7451232 0.7561 3008789
Year 3 3945296 1371800 11396528 0.6575 2594096
Year 4 3229435 4601235 14625963 0.5718 1846440
TOTAL 10468550

The Net NPV after 4 years is 443822

(10468550 - 10024728 )

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 (10024728) -10024728 - -
Year 1 3472109 -6552619 3472109 0.8333 2893424
Year 2 3979123 -2573496 7451232 0.6944 2763280
Year 3 3945296 1371800 11396528 0.5787 2283157
Year 4 3229435 4601235 14625963 0.4823 1557405
TOTAL 9497266

The Net NPV after 4 years is -527462

At 20% discount rate the NPV is negative (9497266 - 10024728 ) so ideally we can't select the project if macro and micro factors don't allow financial managers of Capabilities Smse 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 Capabilities Smse has a NPV value higher than Zero then finance managers at Capabilities Smse 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 Capabilities Smse, then the stock price of the Capabilities Smse 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 Capabilities Smse 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 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 are the key aspects of the projects that need to be monitored, refined, and retuned for continuous delivery of projected cash flows.

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

Tom Butler, Ciaran Murphy (2018), "An Exploratory Study on IS Capabilities and Assets in a Small-to-Medium Software Enterprise Harvard Business Review Case Study. Published by HBR Publications.