Intenda: South Africa Moves Up the Export Food Chain (Part 1)

(Note from Peter Smith: this is the first of what will be a regular series of technology analysis posts from Jason Busch, the founder of Spend Matters and my partner in Spend Matters UK / Europe.  We hope you find them interesting and useful.  Much more on spendmatters.com. )

During the summer, I spent a few hours speaking with South African-based Intenda, a technology vendor with increasingly global ambitions, especially in the UK. I was fortunate to both gain context and perspective on the company’s technology, having questioned one of the company’s founders over tea and then spending ninety minutes walking through a detailed product demonstration. Based on this experience, I must say that Intenda’s capabilities across the three areas it focuses on -- Sourcing Management, Contract Management and Purchase Management, in their language -- often provide a different take than the rest of the pack in their area. Moreover, the configurability of the applications and the ability to support what are often quite unique, some may say arcane, public sector processes and rules make Intenda’s solution set all the more intriguing.

In a series of posts looking at Intenda, I’ll share my perspective on their solution capabilities and how their roots are informing new strategy in the UK and European markets. Let’s start by diving right into product: Intenda’s “Sourcing Management” solution module. At first, Intenda’s sourcing capabilities seem quite similar to many others in a crowded market. Here, it features core functions like basic supplier management, spend analysis (nothing revolutionary, but a useful elementary take), sourcing strategy development, RFX/tendering, competitive bidding (with optional auctions) and award scenarios/recommendations. I know what you’re thinking -- it sounds just like everything else in the market (e.g., Ariba, BravoSolution, IValua, Iasta, Emptoris, Oracle, SAP, etc.).

Yet the configurability of the application -- and how information is presented, such as grabbing and selecting line item details for inclusion in an RFI -- is not quite like anything else I’ve seen in the way it’s executed. Now, this is not to say the interface is the cleanest in the market. Zycus, for example, presents a simpler walk-up UI. Yet the power to completely control and move how you want to configure a sourcing process, let alone supplier management workflows, spend analysis details, etc., suggested to me that Intenda feels more like a next generation version of Frictionless (now SAP) than anything else. In other words, the platform delivers an underlying set of capabilities with the ability to completely tailor the actual workflow, user experience (although not down to the button/look-feel graphic level) based on a highly customized set of needs.

When it comes to actual parameter setting in an RFI or negotiation, Intenda excels, with the ability to set evaluation criteria on a specific item or sub-item level, creating weights based on information requests or fields that can go down into a range of functional and non-functional criteria (and that can in fact roll-up to an item level rather than treating all the criteria at the item level as a foundation -- Granular, eh?)

For example, based on a response to quoting at different volume levels (and potentially even using other criteria as part of the equation, such as quality expectations, on-time performance, past contract adherence), it’s possible to easily create a response field structure that enable (or not) the ability of a supplier to request premium or discounted pricing within specific or unlimited windows for both item-level, rolled-up lot, or bundled bidding. Of course Intenda supports, like many other vendors (including SAP, which just got around to it), the import/export of Excel for buyers and suppliers if they prefer to enter or evaluate data outside of Intenda’s platform.

Intenda also supports both the general (e.g., the ability to completely separately evaluate price and non-price factors in tendering evaluation) and highly specific (e.g., the ability to request and roll-up highly complicated responses with different expectations/contingencies in a power-by-the-hour situation in A&D or MOD contracting). Certainly, Intenda’s tendering flexibility will play to its favor in both the private and public sectors when organisations want to manage completely bespoke self-service tendering processes without the help of a third party, either for control, cost containment, and/or security reasons.

Stay tuned for our second post next week, where we’ll provide some general details on the company’s progress to date and corporate background. We’ll also take a quick look at what they’re up to outside of the sourcing area, offering an overview of their contract management and eProcurement capabilities.

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