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Telco start-up Dave Wireless taps SAP for business support

Set to soon launch a cellular service to compete with players such as Telus and Bell, Dave Wireless turned to SAP Canada and partner IDS Scheer for backend support

Looking to hit the ground running and compete in the Canadian wireless communications market with players such as Bell Mobility, Telus Mobility and Rogers Communications, start-up Data and Audio Visual Enterprises Wireless Inc. (Dave Wireless) has tapped SAP AG (NYSE: SAP) and partner IDS Scheer Canada to help it build the backend systems to support its national roll-out.

Based in Toronto, Dave Wireless holds 10 wireless licenses in urban markets across Canada, and is constructing a 3G wireless network scheduled to launch in 2010 in five markets: Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa. The new high speed packet access (HPSA) network will offer voice and data services.

Dave Dobbin, president of Dave Wireless, said the company needed a software platform that could scale and support its rapid plans for growth, and after a competitive request for proposals (RFP) process settled on SAP Business All-in-One. The company will primarily be using the financial and fixed asset modules, as well as several others.

“We got responses from different vendors with all kinds of solutions, from small to big,” said Dobbin. “We evaluated the features and functionalities we could get as well as the overall cost of ownership, and SAP was simply the best answer.”

One of the big reasons they settled on SAP, said Dobbin, was its modular approach and ability to scale-up as Dave Wireless expands and grows. While now the company is a start-up, in three years Dobbin said Dave Wireless will be a very different business.

“SAP is clearly one of the foremost systems in the world, and as a greenfield situation we’re in a great position to implement now for growth later,” said Dobbin. “We’ve been impressed with their response, us being a small company. We thought we’d end up with something more niche, but SAP has been great.”

Dave Wireless turned to IDS Scheer, an SAP partner, to handle the implementation. Dobbin said the partner has been very professional and knowledgeable in handling the technical implementation. He added they’ve also hired several people with SAP experience, including a controller who was involved in an SAP implementation at Bell, to handle maintenance and support going forward.

“There’s a great pool of available talent that has worked with SAP, great expertise,” said Dobbin.

Dobbin calls SAP the “keystone brick” of Dave Wireless’ backend systems, handling all revenue management and accounting. Ericsson has been brought in to build the actual wireless network, Admocs is building the backend rating and charging CRM engines, and a third-party logistics vendor is handling shipping/receiving.

“We got what we could from SAP,” said Dobbin. “We’re utilizing a strategy of limiting the number of vendors we work with.

Jason Mausberg, president of IDS Scheer Canada, said the solution provider is implementing the fast-start SAP Financials for Dave Wireless, which from start to finish takes less than six weeks to implement. Designed to handle backend financials and some procurement for the telco, Mausberg said it’s a good solution for a start-up with plans for growth.

The implementation will be 80 to 85 per cent vanilla, with the 15 per cent that’s customized mainly centering around the reporting requirements unique to the telecommunications industry.

“As a start-up, they looked at SAP as having best practices from a software perspective, so they’re really looking to us to identify and promote best practices,” said Mausberg.