Making cost-benefit analysis work for you

Making Cost Benefit Analysis


Course Overview:

CBA is one of the methods used to evaluate value for money for new projects or a regulatory change. If the sum is positive, the benefits exceed the costs and the project should be undertaken as it increases efficiency and value to society. If it is negative, the opposite conclusion arises. This course is aimed at managers needing to understand workings and limitations of CBA rather than fostering technical expertise for specialists already carrying out CBA analyses in their everyday work. As such the course highlights the functioning of CBA, its weaknesses, and the ‘grey areas’ that may be overlooked but have substantive impact on the final result. This course uses real examples and is designed to be interactive.

The course is organised around 10 modules of about 1-1.5 hours each over two days covering the rationale and key components of CBA as well as its step-by-step application using specific examples. Topics include:

•           The structure of CBA reports

•           What should and should not be included in CBA?

•           Which methodology to apply when targeting efficiency vs. value for money

•           Estimating benefits: which approach?

•           ‘Seeing” a CBA through a spreadsheet

•           Sensitivity analysis: a key step to understand drivers of benefits and costs

•           Key weaknesses for using, or abusing, CBA


Course material: references and handouts will be distributed to students prior to the course.

Prerequisites: none. Some working knowledge of Excel is useful but not essential.

Who Should Attend:

Managers of units using CBA as part of work and in need of an hands-on understanding of what CBA numbers actually tell.

Course Outline:



Why CBA: thinking about efficiency and transparency

How CBA works in practice: using applications to

- identify the perimeter of the project

- is it possible to estimate both benefits and costs?

- justify chosen measurement indicators

- quantify impact of the project over its lifetime


How CBA works in practice (continued): using applications to

- attach a dollar value to all impacts

- discount benefits and costs

- compute the net present value of the project and its alternatives


Making a sensible sensitivity analysis
Making use, and possibly abuse, of CBA


Class size:

Maximum 20 students

Standard Price:







Professor Massimiliano Tani

Professor Massimiliano Tani

Professor Massimiliano (Max) Tani teaches graduate level Finance at UNSW Canberra.  Max carries out applied research with an economic angle and business/policy implications, mostly related to individual decision-making.

Max is a member of the Public Service Research Group (PSRG), within the School of Business UNSW Canberra.  Max has a PhD in Economics from the Australian National University (Canberra, Australia), a MSc Econ. from the LSE and Laurea from Bocconi University (Milan, Italy). Before moving to Australia in 1999 Max had a previous life in investment banking in the UK for a decade.

The course Making Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA) Work For You combines teaching techniques and research insights from across Max's broad academic and professional background.