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Sourcing Education

How To Calculate Purchase Price Variance (PPV)

December 14, 2021

This blog was refreshed on October 12, 2023.

In today’s rapidly evolving procurement landscape, where the priorities of Chief Procurement Officers (CPOs) have shifted towards driving operational efficiency and digital transformation, the importance of metrics like Purchase Price Variance (PPV) cannot be overstated.

As highlighted in Deloitte’s 2021 survey, cost reduction, while traditionally a top priority, has taken a back seat to efficiency optimization. PPV emerges as a pivotal KPI that not only reflects cost control but also measures the effectiveness of a procurement team.

PPV represents the difference between the budgeted baseline price and the actual price paid for products or services. Achieving a negative PPV signifies cost savings, a coveted outcome, while a positive PPV suggests overspending—a situation organizations aim to avoid.

With input costs often accounting for a substantial portion of overall expenses, tracking and reducing PPV becomes crucial in achieving cost reduction and operational excellence. The path to this optimization involves digital transformation, leveraging historical data, and predictive procurement tools like Arkestro, which empower procurement teams to proactively manage and minimize PPV while aligning with the evolving priorities of CPOs.

PPV just might be the most critical metric when it comes to measuring the effectiveness of an organization’s procurement team. In this post, we explore what purchase price variance is, why it’s important, how to calculate PPV, and how to reduce PPV.

Woman looking puzzled

What is Purchase Price Variance (PPV)?

When your procurement team needs to source something, a standard or baseline price is used in setting the budget. The data for setting this baseline price is usually historical—for example, the price paid the last time the team placed an order for the product. As part of this baseline price, it’s assumed that the quality remains the same, the quantity is the same, and the delivery speed is the same.

The purchase price variance is the difference between that baseline price and the price the organization actually pays for the product or service. PPV can be positive or negative. When PPV is negative, that means the actual price paid is less than the baseline. That’s a good thing. When PPV is positive, the procurement team had to pay more for the product than the budgeted baseline price. This is a situation organizations would rather avoid.

You can see already that PPV is a key measurement in achieving cost reduction.


Why is PPV Important?

Input costs like raw materials and services make up a big part of any company’s overall product costs. In manufacturing—where there are significant outlays for raw materials and components—that can be upwards of 70% of the total cost.

Budgeting and tracking costs are critical, especially when a company is working hard to reduce costs. PPV is arguably the most important metric in determining whether cost reduction is being achieved. It is also a vital measurement of the effectiveness of the procurement team.   

Man calculating at desk

How to Calculate PPV 

When calculating PPV, you need two key numbers: the baseline cost and the actual cost. This is where digital transformation and operational efficiency come into the mix. 

To get an accurate baseline price, you need to know historical costs for the same product. Having this information available digitally makes it much faster and more accurate for the procurement team to come up with that baseline price. 

To calculate PPV, use the following formula: 

PPV = Actual Quantity x Baseline (or Standard) Price—Actual Quantity x Actual Price   

If you end up with the actual costs decreasing compared to the baseline costs, the results will be a negative PPV. On the other hand, if the actual costs have increased, you end up with a positive PPV. 

It sounds counter-intuitive, but a negative PPV is considered to be a favorable outcome. It means the procurement team has come in under budget. A positive PPV is what companies want to avoid. That means they are paying more for a product than they have in the past. On top of this, they are now over budget.


What Causes Variance in Purchase Price, and How to Reduce PPV

Multiple factors can result in a variance in the purchase price, some good and some bad.

A favorable (negative) PPV outcome is good news for the procurement team. They have managed to get better-than-expected pricing from their suppliers—which means they are contributing toward that high priority of cost reduction. How does this happen? Suppliers don’t just give discounts for no reason, although it’s possible that lower material prices are being reflected or improved currency exchange rates. There may also be a volume discount in play.  

However, In many cases, a favorable PPV outcome means that the procurement team has become more effective at negotiating pricing. That is often attributable to digital transformation and improved operational efficiency. Through an advanced procurement software solution, that combination can make the procurement team much more effective at assessing bids from multiple suppliers. AI-powered software like Arkestro can automate many tasks, including the bidding process (with Intelligent First Bids) and exception warnings that get a procurement team member involved in an issue immediately. Arkestro even offers real-time purchase price variance KPI reporting.

An unfavorable PPV means there is room for improvement. There could be factors at play over which the procurement team has little or no control. 

For example, the business owner may have required a smaller order this time, resulting in the loss of a volume discount. Maybe the supplier is improving quality and hiking prices as a result. More often than not these days, demand for a product or material is raising its market price. 

How to Reduce PPV

The bad news for the procurement team is that no matter the reason, it’s seen as a failure on the organization’s part. They not only failed to achieve cost savings but ended up spending more. Real-time purchase price variance KPI reporting can help to prevent these unfavorable outcomes. Even when there is no way around it, the reports are invaluable in explaining what happened and helping to devise a strategy to avoid a repeat.

Procurement teams can be proactive about reducing PPV. One of the best ways is through advanced forecasting and predictive procurement. When you combine digitization with AI that can process massive amounts of data, the odds of being caught off guard by an unfavorable PPV are significantly reduced.

Next step

Take The Next Step

Now that you understand the importance of PPV, it’s time to take the next step. So, seize the opportunity to embrace predictive execution, predictive insights, and predictive procurement to stay ahead in the procurement game and achieve your organization’s strategic goals.

Book a demo and see first-hand how AI-powered predictive procurement software makes it easy to track purchase price variance while supporting the top priorities of CPOs.


Calculate PPV

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    What is Purchase Price Variance (PPV)?

    PPV represents the difference between the budgeted baseline price and the actual price paid for products or services. It indicates whether an organization has overspent (positive PPV) or saved costs (negative PPV) in procurement.

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    Why is PPV Important?

    PPV is crucial for assessing cost reduction efforts and measuring the effectiveness of the procurement team. It directly impacts overall product costs, making it a key metric for achieving operational efficiency and cost reduction goals.

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    How do you Calculate PPV?

    PPV is calculated using the formula: PPV = (Actual Quantity x Baseline Price) – (Actual Quantity x Actual Price). A negative PPV indicates cost savings, while a positive PPV suggests overspending.

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    What Causes Variance in Purchase Price, and How to Reduce PPV?

    Variance in purchase price can result from factors such as supplier negotiations, changes in order quantity, or market fluctuations. To reduce PPV, procurement teams can leverage digital transformation, advanced procurement software, and predictive procurement to optimize pricing and mitigate unfavorable outcomes.

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    How can Real-Time Purchase Price Variance KPI Reporting help?

    Real-time PPV reporting enables proactive management of procurement outcomes, allowing teams to identify and address unfavorable variances promptly. It also facilitates strategic planning and helps prevent recurring issues.

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    What are the Benefits of Advanced Forecasting and Predictive Procurement in Reducing PPV?

    Advanced forecasting and predictive procurement leverage digitization and AI to process large volumes of data, enabling organizations to anticipate and mitigate potential PPV issues. By proactively identifying trends and market fluctuations, procurement teams can optimize pricing strategies and minimize variance.

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    What is the Next Step After Understanding PPV?

    After understanding the importance of PPV, organizations can take the next step by embracing predictive execution, insights, and procurement. Booking a demo of AI-powered predictive procurement software can demonstrate how it supports strategic goals and facilitates effective PPV management.