Capital Budgeting: Meaning, methods and how it works

An organization’s goals are expansion and growth. If a corporation lacks capital or solid assets, this isn’t easy, Capital budgeting, therefore, becomes necessary.

What is capital budgeting?

Capital budgeting, also known as investment appraisal, is how a firm decides which fixed asset or project investments are appropriate. Each proposed investment is quantitatively analyzed using this method, allowing business leaders to make sensible decisions.

Capital budgeting costs a lot of money. Thus before investing, they must undertake capital budgeting to ensure the company will benefit. In addition, companies must take steps to increase profitability and shareholder value.

Characteristics of Capital Budgeting

Capital Budgeting has numerous characteristics that aid the overall perfection of the concept to business, some of the major characteristics of capital budgeting are:

  1. Investments take a long time to pay off: Generally, the investments made through capital budgeting are expected to take a long time to mature into profits.
  2. Organizations expect big profits: The profits expected by organizations to roll out from the capital budgeting technique are believed to be big. This makes up for the delay faced after the investment is made.
  3. It involves high risks: the risks involved are huge. This is drawn from the fact that the investments attracted through capital budgeting are usually large and can invariably lead to greater loss.
  4. It’s long-term: investments using the capital budget technique usually attract long-term projects that cannot ordinarily be undertaken with small capital and within a shorter time.

How Capital Budgeting Works

Capital budgeting considerations must determine a project’s profitability for a corporation. The most common methods include the Payback Period (PB), Internal Rate of Return (IRR) and Net Present Value (NPV).

Capital budgeting systems that yield positive answers for all three metrics may appear perfect but typically yield contradicting outcomes. The business’s needs and management’s selection criteria will determine the best methods to choose from the three. Nonetheless, these widely used valuation approaches have both benefits and drawbacks.

Steps of capital budgeting

The steps of capital budgeting are:

1. Project identification and generation

Capital budgeting begins with investment ideas. There are several motivations to invest in a business. For example, there may be product line expansion, increased or lower costs in Production.

2. Assessing the project

Selecting all criteria needed to evaluate a proposal is the key part. To enhance market value, it must fit the company’s objective and Consider the time worth of money.

It would help if you also considered the process’s positives and cons, such as cash inflow and outflow concerns.

3. Selecting a Project

There is no “one-size-fits-all” project selection method. Instead, project approval depends on a company’s goals. Apart from company goals, market conditions, finance acquisition, viability, profitability, and viability also plays a part.

4. Implementation

Once the project is started, additional important factors like finishing on schedule and cutting costs come into play. The management then monitors the project’s impact.

5. Assessment

Then analyze and compare actual findings to estimated results. This process helps management discover and fix issues in future bids.

Objectives of Capital Budgeting

The capital budgeting objectives include:

  1. Capital Expenditure Control: Estimating investment costs helps companies manage and control capital expenditures.
  2. Profitable Projects: The organization must choose the best project from the many options.
  3. Identification of Source of funding: Businesses must find and choose the best source of funds for long-term capital investment. Borrowing and predicted profit costs must be compared before starting a business.

Capital budgeting limitations

  1. Funds: It analyzes if a project’s increased value justifies the investment. The estimate may be wrong. At this moment, both expenditures and revenue are estimations. As a result, the firm may suffer from overestimation or underestimation.
  2. Time Horizon: Capital budgeting usually takes years. Longer projections are impossible to estimate. Therefore, capital budgeting estimates may be affected by a longer time horizon.
  3. Duration: It’s easy—the corporation has to pay back in time. However, the time value of money does not apply to it. Thus, equivalent sums of money have different values at various times.
  4. Reduced Prices: Understanding discount rates is crucial. However, it isn’t easy to estimate and calculate. Moreover, even if this is achieved, additional swings like interest rates could hurt future cash flows.

Capital budgeting methods

Companies can evaluate a project’s potential value using many valuation methods. For example, capital budgeting can be traditional or discounted cash flow. Several budgeting approaches are available for each kind.

Traditional capital budgeting

This procedure comprises two steps. These:

1. Payback period: Budgeting a new project using the payback period method is easiest. It estimates how long it will take to recover your investment from your project’s cash flows. Using this strategy, a project with a shorter payback period is more enticing because you will return your investment cost faster. The payback time strategy is popular for those with limited means who need to repay their initial investment before starting another project.

2. Average rate of return (ARR): The accounting rate of return (ARR) approach is sometimes called the return on investment (ROI) method. It calculates investment profitability using financial statement accounting data. Some companies prefer ARR since it evaluates the project’s earnings over its economic life.

Discounted cash flows methods.

Discounted cash flow (DCF) approaches are called “time-adjusted techniques.” They use the time value of money when assessing project expenses and benefits. The cost of capital discounts projects cash flows. All project advantages and expenses are considered using these methods.

1. Net present value (NPV)

Project profitability is estimated using net present value capital budgeting. Any project with a positive net present value is permissible under this method. Because it helps you identify the most profitable projects or investments, the NPV approach is one of the most used capital budgeting methods.

 2. Internal rate of return (IRR)

The internal rate of return approach estimates a project’s ROI. The higher the rate of return percentage exceeds the project’s initial capital investment percentage, the more enticing the project utilizes this strategy. To pick between conflicting project possibilities, companies often employ the IRR approach.

3. Profitability index (PI)

Capital budgeting uses the profitability index (PI). This method is also known as “profit investment ratio (PIR),” “benefit-cost ratio (BCR),” and “value investment ratio (VIR). The index links project investment and payout. Project rankings are its principal use.


If a project is developed without proper planning, expenditures may rise, the output may be delayed, etc. Therefore, every organization should have a solid capital budgeting strategy before starting a significant investment project.

This method can help compare project profitability and prioritize projects. A business with inefficient capital budgeting will have a higher risk, less investor and consumer trust, and less cash. Capital budgeting is an efficient technique to determine a company’s best course of action.

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Richard Okoroafor

Richard Okoroafor

Richard is a brilliant legal content writer who doubles as a finance lawyer. He brings his wealth of legal knowledge in corporate commercial transactions to bear, offering the best value that exceeds expectations.

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