The Lump Sum Grant Initiative for Hong Kong Social Services 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 The Lump Sum Grant Initiative for Hong Kong Social Services case study

At Oak Spring University, we provide corporate level professional Net Present Value (NPV) case study solution. The Lump Sum Grant Initiative for Hong Kong Social Services case study is a Harvard Business School (HBR) case study written by Howard Husock, Herman Leonard. The The Lump Sum Grant Initiative for Hong Kong Social Services (referred as “Lump Social” from here on) case study provides evaluation & decision scenario in field of Leadership & Managing People. It also touches upon business topics such as - Value proposition, Human resource management, Innovation, International business, Operations management, Project management, Social enterprise.

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 The Lump Sum Grant Initiative for Hong Kong Social Services Case Study

Notwithstanding its reputation as a free market bastion, Hong Kong has long been home to a well-developed, government-supported "social sector." Although many non-governmental social service organizations began as purely private and charitable, the government, over the course of the 1980s and 1990s, began to pay an increasing share of their budgets through payments known as "subventions." In the mid-1990s, however, the leaders of nonprofit social service organizations become increasingly concerned that the conditions under which their organizations receive public support-including pay scales, job descriptions, and staffing levels set by the government-allowed too little management flexibility. This case describes the evolution of a replacement "subvention" system one which, instead of providing support for specific positions and supplies, would instead provide the social service nonprofits with "lump sum" grants-a single pot which NGO managers would apportion. The case details the complexity of planning and implementing such a transition, focusing among other things on the transition arrangements required to ensure continuity of services and minimum of workforce disruption. The government must deal specifically with fears of senior social workers that the new system will give managers an incentive to replace them with new, more junior hires. In addition to allowing for discussion of the specific dilemmas faced in Hong Kong, the case can be a point of departure for a more general discussion about the variety of imaginable relationships between the public and nonprofit sectors and how such arrangements are, as a practical matter, effected. HKS Case Number 1630.0

Case Authors : Howard Husock, Herman Leonard

Topic : Leadership & Managing People

Related Areas : Human resource management, Innovation, International business, Operations management, Project management, Social enterprise

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 6% for The Lump Sum Grant Initiative for Hong Kong Social Services Case Study

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 6 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10010951) -10010951 - -
Year 1 3462410 -6548541 3462410 0.9434 3266425
Year 2 3953819 -2594722 7416229 0.89 3518885
Year 3 3953000 1358278 11369229 0.8396 3319015
Year 4 3231153 4589431 14600382 0.7921 2559376
TOTAL 14600382 12663700

The Net Present Value at 6% discount rate is 2652749

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. Payback Period
2. Profitability Index
3. Internal Rate of Return
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 Lump Social 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. Lump Social 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 The Lump Sum Grant Initiative for Hong Kong Social Services

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 Leadership & Managing People 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 Lump Social 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 Lump Social 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 (10010951) -10010951 - -
Year 1 3462410 -6548541 3462410 0.8696 3010791
Year 2 3953819 -2594722 7416229 0.7561 2989655
Year 3 3953000 1358278 11369229 0.6575 2599162
Year 4 3231153 4589431 14600382 0.5718 1847422
TOTAL 10447030

The Net NPV after 4 years is 436079

(10447030 - 10010951 )

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 (10010951) -10010951 - -
Year 1 3462410 -6548541 3462410 0.8333 2885342
Year 2 3953819 -2594722 7416229 0.6944 2745708
Year 3 3953000 1358278 11369229 0.5787 2287616
Year 4 3231153 4589431 14600382 0.4823 1558234
TOTAL 9476899

The Net NPV after 4 years is -534052

At 20% discount rate the NPV is negative (9476899 - 10010951 ) so ideally we can't select the project if macro and micro factors don't allow financial managers of Lump Social 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 Lump Social has a NPV value higher than Zero then finance managers at Lump Social 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 Lump Social, then the stock price of the Lump Social 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 Lump Social 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 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.

Understanding of risks involved in the project.

What can impact the cash flow of 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.

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

Howard Husock, Herman Leonard (2018), "The Lump Sum Grant Initiative for Hong Kong Social Services Harvard Business Review Case Study. Published by HBR Publications.