For Datavalet, a Canadian WiFi managed services provider, billing a customer can be a complicated endeavor. Managing WiFi services for hotels, restaurant chains and the like means customers vary widely.
“McDonald’s has more than 1,500 restaurants in Canada, and every one has a subscription,” said Jean-Claude Homet, vice president of finance for Datavalet. “I need to make sure I have the proper number every month. On the other end [of the spectrum] I have a single hotel or a chain with two dozen sites.”
A combination of growth, demand for greater visibility into operations and the frustration of finance led Datavalet on a journey to solve not just its billing challenges but to replace an outdated accounting system.
Spun off from Nortel in 1998 as a company that provided wired internet services to the hotel business, Datavalet’s growth took off as WiFi emerged. It now serves managed WiFi solutions to large enterprises, restaurants, banks, insurances, hospitals, airports, hotels and school campuses. Its services span installation, network and infrastructure management, and it has become the leading managed WiFi provider in North America with 10,000 client locations.
For years, managing billing at Datavalet was done manually with spreadsheets, forcing finance staff to carefully check to make sure nothing was missed. But when new investors acquired the company in 2017, they wanted greater visibility into operations. Datavalet tried to reconfigure its existing Acomba accounting system to meet its requirements but when that failed to meet expectations leadership realized they would need new software.
The company looked at Sage Intacct, SAP Business One and Microsoft Dynamics before ultimately choosing NetSuite.
“Subscription billing, consolidation, ease of access, out of the box reporting—no one did all of those things as well as NetSuite,” Homet said.
NetSuite didn’t just address the company’s accounting issues, it was able to solve its billing problems as well. NetSuite’s unified billing framework supports transaction, subscription, usage-based and hybrid models, all while managing revenue accurately and in accordance with the latest revenue recognition standards. While importing and setting up the roughly 200 subscription accounts Datavalet was managing took some work, once it was in NetSuite the results were impressive.
“As soon as July hit we were amazed how fast we were done with our billing,” Homet said. “By July 10 we were done and everyone was wondering, ‘what do we do now?’”
Indeed, the entire implementation took just four months using the SuiteSuccess methodology and NetSuite Professional Services, and it now has a unified platform for managing financials, its US subsidiary thanks to multi-subsidiary management with NetSuite OneWorld, and its complex billing scenarios with SuiteBilling. Billing has been simplified significantly.
“SuiteSuccess made a huge difference,” Homet said. “It’s their team, their product, that’s what they do day in and day out. To have a team dedicated to SaaS, made a huge difference to us. We really dealt with people who know what they’re doing.”
Datavalet was so pleased with the initial implementation, it quickly decided to add NetSuite Professional Services Automation (PSA) software for managing professional services. Datavalet had tried using a highly customized version of SugarCRM to manage its deployment department, but eventually gave that up and tracked resources manually.
“PSA will allow us to better integrate the deployment department into accounting,” Homet said. “It’s going to help us calculate cost of goods sold, deployments and internal labor costs. It’s also going to be easier to manage when we deploy a new customer with hundreds of locations.”
Datavalet is looking to double its annual growth of around 15 to 20%, as it expands into the US with a new partnership with AT&T. NetSuite OneWorld will allow it to continue to add and easily consolidated subsidiaries.
Learn more about NetSuite SuiteBilling.