Vortal is a Portuguese software firm specializing almost entirely in the public sector (although as we will see, it also works directly with the suppliers to the government sector). Portugal was one of the first countries to mandate government bodies to use e-sourcing (advertising of contracts and communication of documents at least) in Europe, which gave the firm a good base to grow its domestic business and then use that as a platform for expansion. It now has individual clients in a number of European countries, including Spain and Germany, and have won significant “national” contracts with the governments of Columbia and the Czech Republic.
While its product set is probably strongest around the sourcing process, the firm covers the full range of source-to-pay (S2P) activity (catalogs, e-invoicing, etc). As well as supporting all the standard EU/public sector-type processes and requirements within that (e.g. audit trail, tender opening protections), it has a range of additional features. It has the capability to support collaborative buying processes, for instance (GPOs if you like) and will cope with different sourcing processes such as auctions or the “dynamic purchasing system” EU procedure. It also enables the buyer to carry out tender evaluations within the system, with built-in marking options, for instance.
Vortal has another angle because the platform also creates and utilizes supplier networks. Most e-sourcing platforms (certainly in the public sector) don't retain data about suppliers from any particular sourcing exercise. But every supplier that participates in a Vortal competition becomes a member of its network, which means that they can participate not only in future large “OJEU” tenders but also any smaller procurement exercises that the buyer may run. That takes us onto another differentiator: Vortal also provides services to suppliers in its network, using the data it collects via its platform to support information and education services to firms within that network and indeed others. That is not something we see often.