US software start-up Dexterra has outsourced the engineering of key parts of its next generation mobile computing application to consulting firm CGNZ.

The New Zealand firm will build connectors between Dexterra's field force automation products, which are designed to run on mobile devices, and back-end enterprise planning and customer management applications such as SAP, PeopleSoft and Siebel.

The deal could be worth millions to CGNZ, as it gets a share of connector sales as well as being paid to develop them. CGNZ will also contribute to Dexterra's around the clock support service and has exclusive rights to sell Dexterra products in this country.

"We are outsourcing about 20 to 25 per cent of our engineering to CGNZ, which has unique domain experience at the integration level of similar technologies using NET and XML to back end CRM and ERP systems across multiple industries," said Dexterra chief executive Robert Loughan.

Gareth Berry from CGNZ said the firm, which was formed last year in a management buyout of Cap Gemini Ernst Young's New Zealand operation, already has eight staff working on connectors and expects to hire more to cope with business arising out of the deal.

It has about 160 staff, up from 125 at the time of the buyout.

Berry said NZ firms had an advantage over many large overseas rivals because of the relatively small size of the market here.

"In New Zealand everyone is exposed to a broad range of engagements, so we have people who have worked on Oracle, they may then have got involved in an SAP job and switched to a Siebel job. That has allowed us to build a broad base of knowledge across all platforms - there are examples of clients of every major platform in New Zealand."

Loughan and many of his management team were involved in customer management software start-up Octane, which was sold to E.piphany in 2000 for $3.2 billion, the highest price paid for a privately owned software company.

Loughan said he expected more than 20 per cent of Dexterra's revenue to come from New Zealand and Australia in the first year, reducing in time to about 10 per cent as larger markets were cracked.

He said of the 10 sales prospects identified so far in New Zealand, six involved some input from US, European or Australian parent companies.

The Dexterra applications run a Microsoft operating system, a factor which influenced the company's decision to site its headquarters near Microsoft in Washington.

Loughan said that while many mobile applications tried to push call centre processes out to browsers on mobile devices, Dexterra tried to look from the outside in at the business process.

Berry said one of the key differences between Dexterra and other mobile applications CGNZ had worked with was the user interface.