The 5 Steps to Capital Budgeting

Big businesses need big budgets. Here are the 5 most important steps.

Nov 29, 2015 at 10:27PM

Capital budgeting is a multi-step process businesses use to determine how worthwhile a project or investment will be. A company might use capital budgeting to figure out if it should expand its warehouse facilities, invest in new equipment, or spend money on specialized employee training.

The capital budgeting process consists of five steps:

1. Identify and evaluate potential opportunities
The process begins by exploring available opportunities. For any given initiative, a company will probably have multiple options to consider. For example, if a company is seeking to expand its warehousing facilities, it might choose between adding on to its current building or purchasing a larger space in a new location. As such, each option must be evaluated to see what makes the most financial and logistical sense. Once the most feasible opportunity is identified, a company should determine the right time to pursue it, keeping in mind factors such as business need and upfront costs.

2. Estimate operating and implementation costs
The next step involves estimating how much it will cost to bring the project to fruition. This process may require both internal and external research. If a company is looking to upgrade its computer equipment, for instance, it might ask its IT department how much it would cost to buy new memory for its existing machines while simultaneously pricing out the cost of new computers from an outside source. The company should then attempt to further narrow down the cost of implementing whichever option it chooses.

3. Estimate cash flow or benefit
Now we determine how much cash flow the project in question is expected to generate. One way to arrive at this figure is to review data on similar projects that have proved successful in the past. If the project won't directly generate cash flow, such as the upgrading of computer equipment for more efficient operations, the company must do its best to assign an estimated cost savings or benefit to see if the initiative makes sense financially.

4. Assess risk
This step involves estimating the risk associated with the project, including the amount of money the company stands to lose if the project fails or can't produce its previously anticipated results. Once a degree of risk is determined, the company can evaluate it against its estimated cash flow or benefit to see if it makes sense to pursue implementation.

5. Implement
If a company chooses to move forward with a project, it will need an implementation plan. The plan should include a means of paying for the project at hand, a method for tracking costs, and a process for recording cash flows or benefits the project generates. The implementation plan should also include a timeline with key project milestones, including an end date if applicable. 

The $15,978 Social Security bonus most retirees completely overlook
If you're like most Americans, you're a few years (or more) behind on your retirement savings. But a handful of little-known “Social Security secrets” could help ensure a boost in your retirement income. In fact, one MarketWatch reporter argues that if more Americans knew about this, the government would have to shell out an extra $10 billion annually. For example: one easy, 17-minute trick could pay you as much as $15,978 more... each year! Once you learn how to take advantage of all these loopholes, we think you could retire confidently with the peace of mind we're all after. Simply click here to discover how you can take advantage of these strategies.

This article is part of The Motley Fool's Knowledge Center, which was created based on the collected wisdom of a fantastic community of investors based in the Foolsaurus . Pop on over there to learn more about our Wiki andhow you can be involved in helping the world invest, better! If you see any issues with this page, please email us at knowledgecenter@fool.com . Thanks -- and Fool on!

Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Money to your ears - A great FREE investing resource for you

The best way to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as “binge-worthy finance.”

Feb 1, 2016 at 5:03PM

Whether we're in the midst of earnings season or riding out the market's lulls, you want to know the best strategies for your money.

And you'll want to go beyond the hype of screaming TV personalities, fear-mongering ads, and "analysis" from people who might have your email address ... but no track record of success.

In short, you want a voice of reason you can count on.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich," rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

And one of the easiest, most enjoyable, most valuable ways to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as "binge-worthy finance."

Whether you make it part of your daily commute or you save up and listen to a handful of episodes for your 50-mile bike rides or long soaks in a bubble bath (or both!), the podcasts make sense of your money.

And unlike so many who want to make the subjects of personal finance and investing complicated and scary, our podcasts are clear, insightful, and (yes, it's true) fun.

Our free suite of podcasts

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. The show is also heard weekly on dozens of radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers are timeless, so it's worth going back to and listening from the very start; the other three are focused more on today's events, so listen to the most recent first.

All are available for free at www.fool.com/podcasts.

If you're looking for a friendly voice ... with great advice on how to make the most of your money ... from a business with a lengthy track record of success ... in clear, compelling language ... I encourage you to give a listen to our free podcasts.

Head to www.fool.com/podcasts, give them a spin, and you can subscribe there (at iTunes, Stitcher, or our other partners) if you want to receive them regularly.

It's money to your ears.

 


Compare Brokers