What is a cost-benefit analysis in project management?

Cost-benefit analysis definition 

Cost-benefit analysis (CBA) is a process that involves weighing the total expected costs of a project against its anticipated benefits, typically expressed in monetary terms. The goal is to determine if the benefits outweigh the project costs, thereby justifying its implementation. In agency project management, cost-benefit analysis is used to make informed decisions about project feasibility and prioritization. It helps in assessing various project alternatives and selecting the one that delivers the maximum value for the investment, thus ensuring optimal resource allocation for agencies.

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How to do a cost-benefit analysis

Performing a cost-benefit analysis is a vital step in project decision-making. These steps are crucial for agency owners, agency project managers, and client operations specialists to ensure that the selected projects align with both the goals and budgets.

  1. Identify the objective: Clearly define the goal of the project or the problem that needs to be solved, setting the context for the analysis.

  2. List potential costs and benefits: Enumerate all potential costs (including one-time and recurring expenses) and benefits (tangible and intangible) associated with the project.

  3. Quantify costs and benefits: Assign monetary values to each identified cost and benefit, creating a measurable base for comparison.

  4. Calculate the net present value (NPV): Apply a discount rate to compute the present value of future costs and benefits, taking into consideration the time value of money.

  5. Perform sensitivity analysis: Analyze how changes in variables or assumptions might impact the overall analysis, identifying potential risks and uncertainties.

  6. Compare alternatives: If different project options exist, compare the net benefits of each to identify the option that provides the best value.

  7. Evaluate non-quantifiable factors: Consider factors that might not be easily quantified, such as cultural or strategic alignment, to ensure a comprehensive analysis.

  8. Make a decision: Utilize the gathered information to decide if the project’s benefits justify the costs and whether to proceed with it.

  9. Document and communicate: Create a detailed report of the analysis, outlining the methodology and findings, and communicate it to relevant stakeholders for transparency and alignment.

By applying cost-benefit analysis, agency project managers and client operation specialists can make more strategic decisions that align with the clients' goals and budgets. To streamline this process, offers powerful tools to manage and track all aspects of project planning and execution.

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