As the new year ushers in and you look for ways to improve the value you provide to your organization, we\u2019ve compiled a list of 6 resolutions you can commit to that will enhance the strategic value of your procurement services.\n1. Commit to enrich your partnerships with finance, contracts, legal and IT architecture teams\nJust as important as your relationships with your external suppliers and service providers are your relationships within your organization. Strong relationships with finance, contracts and legal are obvious table stakes for a strong procurement organization. Connecting with these groups early in 2018 to understand their objectives will ensure alignment in your sourcing events. But don\u2019t discount the value of also connecting with your IT architecture team.\nArchitects are constantly evaluating the ever-expanding base of new technologies, solutions and leading-edge development platforms.\u00a0 But they also evaluate current technologies and make recommendations on where to consolidate, what technologies to standardize on and what technologies to sunset.\u00a0 Establishing or improving your relationships with your architecture team helps to inform procurement with insights on what vendors to consider when sourcing new technologies, what relationships will grow (including what areas and when), as well as what relationships and\/or technologies have an expiration date.\u00a0\nThese data points empower procurement with negotiation leverage on pricing, discounts, contract terms, and renewals.\u00a0 Commit to early 2018 engagement with your architecture team to review their technology roadmap and share your views of aggregated third-party demands.\u00a0\n2. Determine the budget early to identify vendor spend\nBudgets are often developed in aggregate, meaning at the cost center or project level, with placeholders that account for the third-party dollars needed to purchase hardware, software, subscriptions, services and pay maintenance costs.\u00a0 The descriptions of the projects are often described at very high levels such as:\n\nTo purchase an order entry system\nTo replace an aging hardware platform\nTo acquire the resources to staff a project, or\nTo support a system\n\nWhile Finance organizations focus on reviewing, securing approvals and allocating OpEx and CapEx dollars to build a budget for the next fiscal year, they often don\u2019t engage procurement early in that process, if at all. Often the procurement team is engaged only once the approved projects kick-off and only to assist in sourcing the needs of the project itself.\nAnalyzing the full project portfolio and committing time to review each project and cost center budget to decompose the budgeted dollars for hardware, software, subscriptions, and third-party labor will help to identify 80-90% of all projected spend by vendor.\u00a0 In some instances, you may only be able to identify what vendors each project is considering, but not how much would be spent with each.\u00a0 In other instances, you may identify that the technology itself has not been selected.\u00a0 In these cases where an RFP, or even an RFQ followed by an RFP, is needed to select the technology, you can still attempt to identify some of the potential vendors in play.\u00a0 Completing this exercise takes time and may be uncomfortable for some, but the insights you derive will pay dividends across all your sourcing and even your renewal activities throughout the year.\nWhen you pair these project-based projections with your view of IT architecture\u2019s technology roadmap, you will have two of the five key inputs to build your sourcing plans for 2018.\n3. Aggregate your demand in early Q1\nIt may seem too obvious a next step to take the resulting, decomposed demand by project and roll that up into an aggregated view, but resolve to do it.\u00a0 Even more importantly, resolve to share the results and confirm the timing of the demands with your primary stakeholders and IT leaders.\u00a0 Aggregate more than the dollars by vendor.\u00a0 Aggregate the number of RFP\u2019s projected, the number of licenses needed, and the project resources required, and then break it down by quarter.\n4. Build\/refresh your vendor profiles (fiscal year calendars, market penetration, quarterly financials, and other market intelligence, along with their current performance at your organization)\nWith each new year comes a new opportunity to resolve to update (or for some, to create) your vendor profiles.\u00a0 This collection of vendor profiles is the fourth and final key input to building your sourcing plan. Allotting time in Q1 to refresh this information will help you complete your sourcing plan and strengthen your negotiations throughout the year.\n5. Review your existing agreements for currency to terms, pending expirations\/renewals\nHas this ever happened to you?\u00a0 In the heat of an immediate need to purchase more licenses or to process a renewal, you realize the Master Agreement has expired or doesn\u2019t have the latest Security Services rider or Medicare Part D addendum.\u00a0 You can\u2019t complete your purchase until these items are addressed.\u00a0 Resolve now to review all agreement end dates.\u00a0 Connect with contracts and legal to ensure you have the most up-to-date Master Agreement terms available and separate these updated terms into \u201cmust haves\u201d and \u201cnice-to-haves.\u201d\u00a0 Factor in the time to address these base agreement updates outside the critical path of sourcing events as you build your 2018 sourcing plan.\n6. Start building your 2018 sourcing plan\nIf you haven\u2019t completed your 2018 sourcing plan or even started to build one yet, there\u2019s no time like the present.\u00a0 Build your sourcing plan in stages. \u00a0First lay out your RFPs through the year, keeping in mind your procurement team capacity and broker adjustments to schedules based on what is achievable.\u00a0 Second, lay out your critical path renewals where contracts are approaching expiration or mandated contract updates are required by contracts or legal. Once complete, balance alignment of remaining sourcing events by internal need dates while factoring in the provider fiscal year end and quarter ends to maximize your leverage.\u00a0 Lastly, fill in those activities that support currency of contract terms, updates to amendments or other desired changes.