In 2008 San Francisco International Airport (known by its three-letter airport code, SFO) had announced a $383 million plan to renovate and reopen Terminal 2. Assistant deputy director of aviation security Kim Dickie and her team had selected Quantum Secure's SAFE software suite as the new Terminal 2 credentialing system, but she needed to develop a business case quickly that would convince senior management to give the green light to fund the purchase. The case describes a scenario that occurs frequently in the real world, in which a decision offers some real but qualitative value in ways that are difficult or impossible to quantify. The discussion and analysis gives students the opportunity to consider the factors that will drive the internal rate of return (IRR), net present value (NPV), and discounted payback period calculations without constructing comprehensive spreadsheet models. Analyzing the case suggests the limits of such approaches in cases where perceived value is difficult to quantify. The case prepares students to evaluate and justify purchasing requests when interacting with financial gatekeepers such as CFOs and CEOs by introducing a framework to analyze the quantifiable benefits of a capital expenditure while keeping in mind important intangible benefits.
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