The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) wants to buy new financial management software using what it describes as an "ecosystem approach" and an "aggregator business model".
However, there appears to be a lack of clarity about exactly what that means.
The ministry is asking vendors to register their interest in helping it understand the options available within the financial management information system (FMIS) market for an "out-of-the-box, software-as-a-service (SaaS) and best-of-breed/best fit, FMIS ecosystem."
One potential respondent to the notice issued this week tried to tease out more detail about the requirements.
"With 45 million transactions made, your ROI does not cover any requirement detail on subscriber management, customer care, payment methods, benefit payment methods, food grants, etc," another potential respondent said before asking whether this would be a separate request later in the process.
"Possibly," MSD said, "it will depend upon the chosen solution, it's ability to scale and the chosen aggregator/main provider etc.
"The main thing for respondents to note is that these are long-term and not included in our initial scope."
One problem vendors may have is that the term "FMIS aggregator" is not commonly used.
When Reseller News checked on Google, MSDs notice was the first item to appear in such a search and the ones that followed were not related to what MSD appears to be seeking.
MSD said it prefers the ecosystem to be delivered as a complete service but will consider other approaches - this appears to indicate it is looking for a prime vendor to take charge of and roll up the required services.
Initially MSD is looking for a fit for purpose "FMIS ecosystem" delivered as a complete service using what it calls an "aggregator business model or equivalent".
"Long-term where appropriate MSD would work very closely with the aggregator/main provider to review all of pay related systems, then utilise and add to the FMIS ecosystem, where appropriate," it said.
"The FMIS solution for MSD that is being sought at this point is one that will address the needs of MSD as a ‘Corporate Services’ organisation and 'Shared Service' provider, but also one that will allow the solution to grow and evolve to address the other faces of MSD – as a shared services provider and as a service delivery organisation."
The licensing model should ideally reflect the staged approach that MSD will likely take, it said. The provider should ensure flexibility required for service growth is available when required.
"This ROI is the first step in a possible multi-step procurement process," the ministry said. "Following evaluation of ROI responses MSD will be completing a business case.
"If MSD chooses to proceed with an RFP after the business case has been completed, then a shortlist from the ROI Respondents will be invited to submit a full proposal in response to a request for proposal document."