Technology projects are inherently risky; research shows that large IT projects succeed as originally planned only 28 percent of the time. Building flexibility, or real options, into a project can help manage this risk. Furthermore, the management flexibility of options has value, as the downside risk is reduced and the upside is increased. The case is based upon real options analysis for an enterprise data warehouse (EDW) and analytic customer relationship management (CRM) program at a major U.S. firm. The firm has been disguised as Global Airlines for confidentiality reasons. The data mart consolidation or EDW marginally meets the hurdle rate for the firm as analyzed using a traditional net present value (NPV) analysis. However, different tactical deployment strategies help mitigate the risk of the project by building options into the project, and the traditional NPV is expanded by the real option value. Students analyze the different deployment strategies using a binomial model compound option Excel macro, and calculate the volatility using Monte Carlo analysis in Excel. A step-by-step tutorial is provided to teach students how to accomplish the real options analysis for a simplified project, and this tutorial is easily generalized by students to the case scenario. In addition to the tactical options, the case also has the strategic growth option of analytic CRM. Students must therefore analyze both the tactical and strategic growth options and make a management recommendation on funding the project and also recommend an optimal deployment strategy to manage the project risk.
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