The Payback Method: Disadvantages of the Payback Method Saylor Academy

The Payback Method: Disadvantages of the Payback Method Saylor Academy

A shorter payback period also implies that the project frees up cash for other uses sooner, which increases the liquidity and flexibility of the firm. Payback period also has some disadvantages as a capital budgeting method. This means that it may reject projects that have lower payback periods but higher net present values or internal rates of return. For example, a project that pays back in four years but has a negative net present value is worse than a project that pays back in six years but has a positive net present value. The simple payback period does not account for the fact that a dollar today is worth more than a dollar in the future. The discounted payback period does consider the time value of money, but it still ignores the cash flows after the payback period.

Since the project’s life is calculated at 5 years, we can infer that the project returns a positive NPV. It is possible that a project will not fully recover the initial cost in one here are the cash flows for a project under consideration year but will have more than recovered its initial cost by the following year. In these cases, the payback period will not be an integer but will contain a fraction of a year.

  • If your investment finances are limited, you correctly eliminate projects with longer payback periods.
  • Projects with longer payback periods than the length of time the company has chosen will be rejected.
  • But there are drawbacks to using the payback period in capital budgeting.
  • If the payback period of your project or investment is longer than your desired or required payback period, you can reject it.

The quicker a company can recoup its initial investment, the less exposure the company has to a potential loss on the endeavor. Payback period analysis ignores the time value of money and the value of cash flows in future periods. This method is important if a company wants to recoup their investments so that they can continue reinvesting and growing. It is possible to determine which investments will pay you back the fastest, or the most efficiently, and use this information to invest wisely. In order to grow your business, you will want your money to constantly work for you through the right investment opportunities.

Disadvantages of Payback Period

One of the main advantages of using the payback period as a decision criterion is its simplicity and ease of calculation. You only need to estimate the cash flows of the project and divide the initial investment by the annual cash inflow. This makes the payback period easy to understand and communicate to stakeholders, especially those who are not familiar with more complex methods of capital budgeting. Another advantage of the payback period is that it reflects the liquidity and risk of the project. A shorter payback period means that the project recovers its initial cost faster, which reduces the exposure to uncertainty and volatility in the future cash flows.

  • You can then decide when a project should have returned capital invested and profit.
  • The payback period is an evaluation method used to determine the time required for the cash flows from a project to pay back the initial investment.
  • This process is continued year after year until the accumulated increase in cash flow is $16,000, or equal to the original investment.
  • In order to purchase the embroidery machine, Sam’s Sporting Goods must spend $16,000.

Businesses can easily find themselves in trouble if they have too much money locked up in investments without a way to access it. By using the payback period method, management will know what investments to make to maintain liquidity for future growth. As a business manager, it can sometimes seem impossible to choose between multiple prospective projects or investments. Without solid numbers to back it up, choosing between similar projects can be challenging. ROI can help you determine which investment is going to be better based on payback period, which should make decision-making easier.

Evaluating Investment Appraisal

For both of these projects, Sam’s estimates that it will take five years for cash inflows to add up to $16,000. The payback period method does not differentiate between these two projects. The simplicity of the payback period analysis falls short in not taking into account the complexity of cash flows that can occur with capital investments. In reality, capital investments are not merely a matter of one large cash outflow followed by steady cash inflows. Additional cash outflows may be required over time, and inflows may fluctuate in accordance with sales and revenues. The simplicity of the payback period method is one of its greatest advantages.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of using payback period as a performance measure?

If a company’s funds are too heavily invested and not easily accessible, they may quickly find themselves in difficulties. The payback time technique will help identify the best investments for management to concentrate on to maintain the business’s cash for future growth. The payback technique is highly helpful in sectors with a high degree of uncertainty or that experience quick technological change.

Liquidity Focus

If the cumulative cash flow drops to a negative value some time after it has reached a positive value, thereby changing the payback period, this formula can’t be applied. This formula ignores values that arise after the payback period has been reached. As the equation above shows, the payback period calculation is a simple one. It does not account for the time value of money, the effects of inflation, or the complexity of investments that may have unequal cash flow over time.

Sensitivity Analysis for Capital Budgeting

Payback Period is the time where a project’s net cash inflows are equal to the project’s initial cash investment. This method is often used as the initial screen process and helps to determine the length of time required to recover the initial cash outlay (investment) in the project. The payback period is calculated by dividing the initial capital outlay of an investment by the annual cash flow. Initially the project involves a cash outflow, arising from the original investment of £500,000 and some project losses in Year 1 of £50,000.

Payback Period and Capital Budgeting

However, the payback method does not give a complete analysis as to the attractiveness of projects that receive cash flows after the end of the payback period. And it does not consider the profitability of a project nor its return on investment. If you want to improve the payback period of your project or investment, you need to either increase the cash flows or reduce the initial investment.

As a senior management consultant and owner, he used his technical expertise to conduct an analysis of a company’s operational, financial and business management issues. James has been writing business and finance related topics for work.chron,, and e-commerce websites since 2007. He graduated from Georgia Tech with a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering and received an MBA from Columbia University. The expansion will produce an annual increase in cash flow of $50,000/year (1,250 pairs x $40/pair) from the expansion. At this rate, the company will realize a total of $150,000 cash flow for the first three years of the expansion.

People and corporations mainly invest their money to get paid back, which is why the payback period is so important. In essence, the shorter payback an investment has, the more attractive it becomes. Determining the payback period is useful for anyone and can be done by dividing the initial investment by the average cash flows. Business investments, in general, are far from simple endeavors, even at the best of times. There are so many different factors that need to be evaluated and accounted for, that such a simple form of measurement is not going to be enough for most projects. For a business to truly understand what a potential project can do for them they must have more information than just how fast the initial investment can be paid back.

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