We explain what efficiency is and what are its differences with efficiency. Also, what is effectiveness and examples of effectiveness.

Efficacy is not focused on how to achieve a goal while it is being met.

What is efficiency?

According to the Dictionary of the Spanish Language of the Royal Spanish Academy, effectiveness would be the quality of something that produces the desired or expected effect, for which, however, the use of the synonymous voice efficiency is recommended. It is a concept also linked to effectiveness, especially in the corporate and business world, in which the distinction between all these terms is often emphasized, known as the “Three Ess of Administration”.

Broadly speaking, we can define effectiveness as the degree of achievement of objectives set in advance that an object, a procedure or even a person. Thus, something is effective when the expected result is obtained from it, regardless of how it was obtained or if there was a better way to obtain it.

Efficiency is a value in most of the professional and social fields of the culture, even when it implies methods unorthodox.

Difference between effectiveness and efficiency

Efficiency looks for the most convenient way to achieve what is projected.

While by efficiency we understand the capacity of an object, person or procedure to achieve the proposed objective, without paying attention to the means or resources used for it, whether there were better ways or the cost to achieve said objective represents, efficiency is understood as something similar but more desirable: it is the capacity of that same entity or process to achieve the proposed results, but this time using the best possible means.

This means that a procedure can be effective, but expensive, brutal or cumbersome, but it does not matter because in the end it always achieves its objective; While an efficient procedure will be one that always achieves its objective in a way that is also economical, suitable or convenient, depending on which area it is, of course.


The effectiveness achieves results according to the capacities that the specific case implies.

When we talk about effectiveness, especially in the administrative field, we are referring precisely to the balance between effectiveness and efficiency, that is, to achieving a result according to the capacities that the specific case implies. Effectiveness is often understood as the union of effectiveness and efficiency, that is, as the ideal panorama of the situation, or as the closeness that we can achieve in a procedure or through the use of an object.

Thus, the relationship between these three terms can be considered according to this formula:

Efficacy + Efficiency = Effectiveness

Which is to say that the calculation of the efficiency and effectiveness of a process allows us to understand, even in a general panorama, the ideal functioning of the process or the system in which it is inserted. Therefore, it would be impossible to be efficient without first achieving good performance in terms of effectiveness and efficiency.

Examples of efficacy

A simple example of efficiency (but also efficiency and effectiveness) might be the extraction of gold from a mine, let's say.

The efficiency of the mine has to do only with the fact that there is indeed gold inside and that this gold can be extracted to the surface in some concrete way, without stopping in the type of mining or the necessary materials.

Instead, its efficiency has to do with the cost extraction of said gold, with the personnel involved, with the weather that it takes to remove it and other similar variables that determine how convenient the mining procedure is in that specific case, and that allows us to evaluate if there will be other better (more efficient) methods, such as the use of explosives, robots, etc.

And its effectiveness, finally, would be evaluated annually or semi-annually, according to how often it would drop Profits the mine, once its effectiveness has been evaluated and its efficiency taken into account (as well as other possible routes of improvement).

!-- GDPR -->