Written by Marijn Overvest | Reviewed by Sjoerd Goedhart | Fact Checked by Ruud Emonds | Our editorial policy

Cost Effectiveness vs Cost Efficiency — What You Should Know?

Key takeaways

  • Cost-effective is doing the right things while cost-efficiency is doing things the right way.
  • Cost-effectiveness means getting better results without spending a lot.
  • Cost efficiency gets the most out of resources, while cost effectiveness achieves the best results for the money spent.

Cost-effectiveness and cost-efficiency are often used interchangeably by many people. However, these two have different meanings.

Cost-effectiveness is the analysis of the value obtained relative to the cost incurred, focusing on the quality of outcome regardless of resources used. Cost-efficiency evaluates how well a provider utilizes resources in providing goods and services, aiming to achieve the highest output for the least input.

In this article, we will discuss what cost-effectiveness and cost-efficiency are. We will tell you their differences and how to improve them in your company.

Once you are done reading this article, you will know the difference between cost-effectiveness and cost-efficiency. Additionally, you will know how to improve them, which will allow your company to develop further.

I have created a free-to-download editable margin calculation template. It’s a PowerPoint, together with an Excel file that can help you maximize the value of your business efforts. I even created a video where I’ll explain how you can use this template.

DifferenceBetween Cost-Effectiveness and Cost-Efficiency

As we told you earlier, cost-effectiveness and cost-efficiency are two popular words in businesses that are often confused with one another.

Cost-effectiveness is done to measure how well companies achieve their goals. It is the relationship between the resources used and the results achieved. On the other hand, cost-efficiency refers to the approach where companies use the least amount of resources or costs in completing a project.

To put it simply, when something is cost-effective, it means that it is about doing the right things. While being cost-efficient means doing things right.

Whatis Cost-Effectiveness?

Cost-effectiveness is usually used as a synonymous word with cost-efficiency. However, they have different meanings depending on the context. Cost-effectiveness is the ability of companies to maximize profits while minimizing expenditures.

To simplify, cost-effectiveness is about enhancing in contrast to spending money on a high-cost solution that does not bring any benefits to the company. You can say that a transaction is cost-effective when the best benefit is acquired for a low price.

Importanceof Cost-Effectiveness

Cost-effectiveness enables companies to maximize their profits while minimizing expenditures. Additionally, companies can measure how well they already achieved their goal through cost-effectiveness.

When you are cost-effective, you know the right things to do for your company. Thus, this will enlighten you about the growth of the company. If you want to grow, then cost-effectiveness will help you achieve it.

Whatis Cost-Efficiency?

In businesses, cost-efficiency is an important term. It can mean a lot of things although it depends on the context. However, cost-efficiency always has to do with the ability of businesses to reduce their expenses, enhance productivity, and generate more profits among others who have the same costs and resources.

When a business is cost-efficient, it can provide high-quality services to its customers while maintaining high-profit margins and preventing overspending.

To simplify, cost-efficiency talks about how businesses can deliver projects or services at the lowest price possible without compromising quality. It is about saving more money while also maintaining a high level of quality, service, and innovation.

Cost-efficiency must not also be confused with cost-cutting as the latter focuses on saving money without taking into consideration the long-term impact of it on the business. Cost-efficiency can help you save lots of money without having detrimental effects on your services or products for your consumers.

Importanceof Cost-Efficiency

Cost-efficiency helps companies to become more profitable. Additionally, it allows companies to make better decisions by assessing the benefits, costs, and worth of investments. It can also help you to uncover opportunities that you might not notice or consider.

Cost-efficiency helps companies to maximize their capabilities and prevents them from stretching out what they can take, especially for small businesses that do not have many resources yet.


To maximize profits while minimizing expenditures, here are the ways to improve cos-effectiveness:

1. Developing a cost management system

It is important to have a system that allows companies to assess and employ cost-saving strategies. If you do not have visibility of the spending of your entire company, then implementing a cost-effective strategy would be next to impossible.

Developing a cost management system optimizes your supply chain to lower your cost through domestic purchasing and other methods.

2. Finding ways to save money on inventory

Inventory is a huge cost for a lot of businesses around the world. However, it can also be an opportunity to reduce your spending. Companies need to manage their materials by reducing the amount through enhanced inventory control measures.

Having control of the inventory minimizes the total spending by checking on variable costs that may occur when holding inventory.

3. Creating a strong IT infrastructure

Creating a strong IT infrastructure allows you to reduce downtime, outages, and failure in your business operations.

Switching to a cloud IT infrastructure can reduce your maintenance costs and improve your system manageability. Although the initial investment may be huge, automation provides a large return in the short and long term for your business.


To provide the lowest price possible while not compromising quality, here are a few ways to improve cost efficiency:

1. Improving Cost-benefit analysis

Cost-benefit analysis helps organizations to evaluate the economic worth of making a particular project. It is useful for businesses looking to achieve cost efficiency as it determines whether the project outweighs the costs.

Cost-benefit analysis provides companies with a framework to compare projects. Further, it is a systematic way to know the most cost-efficient path of the company’s desired outcome.

2. Setting a budget for the project

There is an old adage that tells us that “you cannot manage what you do not measure. It might be obvious but setting a project budget can help you manage costs.

In a project, the people or firms you will hire are your biggest assets and expenses too. Thus, knowing the path of your project and calculating costs and resource allocation are the most important factors in project accounting.

If you are armed with a realistic budget, you are more equipped at knowing how to manage costs for maximum efficiency and look for ways to save money without compromising the outcome of the project for clients.

3. Focusing on your revenue growth

Revenue growth is the most valuable metric you can use to assess your business as it is the most strategic path to long-term profitability.

The revenue growth formula is used to work out the revenue generated by your company in a certain amount of time compared to previous times. For example, compare your profit from last year to the current year.

Revenue growth looks beyond cost-savings and sales as a shortcut to profit. It builds organization-wide accountability for growing revenue that includes marketing and pricing strategy, project management, and human resources.


In conclusion, understanding the distinction between cost-effectiveness and cost-efficiency is crucial for effective financial management. Cost-effectiveness focuses on maximizing value relative to costs, emphasizing quality outcomes, while cost-efficiency assesses resource utilization for optimal output.

Recognizing these differences enables companies to strategize for development. Key takeaways highlight that cost-effectiveness emphasizes achieving better results with lower expenses, cost-efficiency involves reducing costs while enhancing productivity, and both concepts demand attention for balanced financial growth.

Practical improvements include developing cost management systems, optimizing inventory control, and building a robust IT infrastructure for cost-effectiveness, while cost-efficiency benefits from cost-benefit analyses, project budgeting, and a focus on revenue growth.

Frequentlyasked questions

What is cost-effectiveness?

It is the ability of companies to maximize profits while minimizing expenditures.

What is cost-efficiency?

It talks about how businesses can deliver projects or services at the lowest price possible without compromising quality.

What is the main difference between cost-effectiveness and cost-efficiency?

To simplify, cost-effectiveness means doing the right things while cost-efficiency is doing all things right.

About the author

My name is Marijn Overvest, I’m the founder of Procurement Tactics. I have a deep passion for procurement, and I’ve upskilled over 200 procurement teams from all over the world. When I’m not working, I love running and cycling.

Marijn Overvest Procurement Tactics