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Can a New ‘Canary’ Make Government Procurement Sing?

Procurated, a procurement marketplace for state and local agencies, has officially launched its Canary supplier review tool after a quiet debut. The company’s CEO discusses the thinking behind the product’s design.

When it comes to procurement, quarterly business reviews and other relatively slow methods of keeping tabs on suppliers are out, and timely digital feedback is in.

That’s the view of Washington, D.C.-based Procurated which has officially launched its Canary ratings and review tool, following a quiet debut in January.

Procurated, founded in 2019, runs a marketplace for state and local procurement.

Canary, the latest addition to the company’s offerings, builds off a previous ratings effort to go deeper into supplier reviews, which in turn can influence how officials buy and deploy technology. Since January, it has been used by officials in eight states.

According to Procurated, “Canary aggregates the thousands of interactions between your suppliers and internal customers into an easy-to-navigate, performance platform. Dashboards highlight supplier performance across agencies, contracts and more.”

The idea is to give what the company calls a “holistic, bird’s-eye” view of suppliers as well as the ability to “dive as deep as needed” into the details of their performance.

Procurated founder and CEO David Yarkin, who was previously the chief procurement officer for Pennsylvania, offered an example of a food vendor contracted to feed school children prepared, ready-to-eat meals — but instead serving them frozen milk and vegetables.

Word of mouth, peer-to-peer conversations might not be effective in cautioning other, geographically diverse school districts about the bad performance. But bad reviews from school officials could not only lead to change in the suppliers’ behavior but — perhaps more forcefully — provide quantifiable warnings to other schools about using that particular vendor.

“We in procurement spend so much of our sourcing, all this time up front, but precious little time on the back end, actually managing suppliers and making sure they are doing the job they said they would do,” Yarkin said. “This tool makes it so much easier for a contract manager to see how the suppliers are actually performing.”

Typically, reviews of suppliers would come through quarterly business reviews, he said, which can take “hours and hours” to prepare. Canary cuts down on that time commitment, offering supplier performance reviews in an easy-to-navigate online home.

And it’s not just technology buyers who can participate in this review system, Yarkin said. Other IT professionals can write quick reviews of suppliers to help inform performance management decisions.
Thad Rueter writes about the business of government technology. He covered local and state governments for newspapers in the Chicago area and Florida, as well as e-commerce, digital payments and related topics for various publications. He lives in Wisconsin.