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Syllabus H. Innovation, Performance Excellence & Change Management H7. Leading And Managing Projects

H7d. The Costs And Benefits Of A Business Case

The costs and benefits of a business case

Project Appraisal

Projects tie up a lot of resources in terms of time, costs and human resources, it is therefore important to assess these properly. Part of the assessment includes financial rewards derived from the projects. 

The following project appraisal methods focus purely on the financial rewards of the project, however this should not be the only determining factor of whether management should select a project or not. 

Indeed, focusing only on financial costs and benefits can lead to the following issues:

  • Non-financial costs or benefits might outweigh the financial ones
    Managers might be encouraged to make use of ‘creative’ calculations of benefits and have them classified under financial benefits
    Costs may be removed from forecasts in an attempt to ‘overstate’ the case for the project
    Managers may include slack in forecasts in an attempt to show enough benefit to achieve project approval
    Projects with no financial benefits will be automatically rejected

Payback Period

The payback period is how long it takes the cash inflows to exceed the initial outflow - "the time that it takes for an investment to pay for itself." 

The quicker the better - particularly when the focus is on liquidity


Initial cost   3.6 million

Cash in annually  700,000

What is the payback period?

3,600,000 / 700,000 = 5.1429

Take the decimal (0.1429) and multiply it by 12 to get the months - in this case 1.7 months

So the answer is 5 years and 1.7 months

Eg 2
Consider the following data:

Capital out 800 -800
Cash in 100 -700
Cash in 240 -460
Cash in 200 -260
Cash in 250 -10
Cash in 120 +110

When the cumulative cashflow becomes positive then this is when the initial payment has been repaid and so is the payback period

So in the final year we need to make 10 more to recoup the initial 800. So, that’s 10 out of 120.  10/120 x 12 (number of months) = 1.

So the answer is 4 years 1 month.

Return on capital employed (ROCE)

Average annual profit (PBIT) of the investment / Cost of the investment

This is used when company’s are more interested in PROFITABILITY than liquidity 

It uses profits rather than cashflows

The answer is expressed as a % and can be compared to a target return (often the company’s cost of capital)

Net Present Value

So, to appraise an investment we compare the cost to all the discounted inflows. The hopefully positive difference is the NPV
If a company has 2 projects under consideration it should choose the one with the highest NPV.

NPV Proforma

0 1 2 3 4
Sales x x x x
Cost (x) (x) (x) (x)
Profit x x x x
Tax (x) (x) (x) (x)
Capital Expense (x)
Scrap x
WDA x x x x
Working Capital (x) (x) (x) (x) x
Discount Factor


0 1 2 3 4
Land & Buildings 2000
F & F 500
Revenue 600 800 1000 1200
COS 150 200 250 300
Overheads 100 100 100 100

Additional information:

20% of office overhead is an allocation of head office operating costs.

The cost of land and buildings includes a feasibility study which has already been paid of 100

The entity hope to sell the business at the end of year 4 for 1,500

Cost of capital is 10%

Tax is 30% and is payable one year after profits are earned

WDA on fittings and equipment at 25% on a reducing balance basis. None available on land and buildings.

Estimated resale proceeds of 100 for the fittings and equipment have been included in the total figure of 1,500 given above.

Working capital = 10% of next years sales


0 1 2 3 4 5
Sales 600 800 1000 1200
Costs 150 200 250 300
Overhead 80 80 80 80
Profit 370 520 670 820
Tax -111 -156 -201 -246
Capital Expense -2400
Scrap 1500
WDA 37.5 28 21 33.5
Working Capital -60 -20 -20 -20 120
Discount Factor 0 0.909 0.826 0.751 0.68 0.621
-2460 318 352 392 1537 -132

NPV = 7

WDA working
Yr 1 500 x 25% x 30% = 37.5
Yr 2 37.5 x 75% = 28
Yr 3 28 x 75% = 21

Asset effective cost = (500 - 100) = 400.

So WDA should be 400 x 30% = 120, so extra 33.5

NPV Benefits

  • it considers the time value of money (that is in the discount rate used)

  • it gives an absolute figure not a percentage

  • it considers the whole life of the project

  • is based on real cashflows.

NPV drawbacks

  • is the reliance placed on the cost of capital - this can be tricky to calculate (as we shall see later)

  • inflation rates for selling price  and variable cost are assumed to be constant in future periods. In reality, interaction between a range of economic and other forces influencing selling price per unit and variable cost per unit will lead to unanticipated changes in both of these project variables

  • it is heavily dependent on the production and sales volumes forecasts

Internal Rate of Return

The IRR is essentially the discount rate where the initial cash out (the investment) is equal to the PV of the cash in. So, it is the discount rate where the NPV = 0

Consequently, to work out the IRR we need to do trial and error NPV calculations, using different discount rates, to try and find the discount rate where the NPV = 0.

The good news is you only need to do 2 NPV calculations and then apply a formula.

That formula is:

L + NPV L / [NPV L - NPV H   x (H - L)]

L= Lower discount rate
H = Higher discount rate
NPV L = NPV @ lower rate
NPV H = NPV @ higher rate


If a project had an NPV of 50,000 when discounted at 10%, and -10,000 when discounted at 15% - what is the IRR?


10 + (50,000/60,000) x 5% = 14.17%

ROCE, Payback, NPV and IRR compared

Time value of money accounted for? Yes Yes No No
Use relevant cashflows? Yes Yes No No
Looks at cashflows for all investment’s life? Yes Yes Yes No