In the fast-paced world of Information Technology (IT), Managed Services Providers (MSPs) play a crucial role in helping businesses maintain and...
Become a Canada Digital Adoption Program (CDAP) Digital Advisor to access $15,000 in grants for your clients to develop digital plans, projects and get in front of new prospects.
“The Canada Digital Adoption Program (CDAP) has been established to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) realize their full potential by adopting digital technologies. Announced in Budget 2021, the $4 billion program is an investment of $1.4 billion in grants and advisory services to SMEs from the Government of Canada and up to $2.6 billion in loans from the Business Development Bank of Canada to help businesses cover the costs of implementing new digital technologies.” - Government of Canada
This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Canadian MSPs to not only help clients through their digital transformation but build up a digital practice that’ll future-proof their organizations.
That’ll increase the company top line, bottom line and also the valuation as the digital planning services are boosting other professionalism services and MRR after the plans.
How to become a Canada Digital Adoption Program (CDAP) Digital Advisor?
1. The Opportunity for MSPs
Let’s dive right into the 3 major benefits Canada Digital Adoption Program (CDAP) can bring to the MSP’s business.
The grants will enable them to increase consulting revenue. No more free vCIO services or given away free high-value consulting.
One full time advisor can deliver approximately 30x $15,000 digital adoption plans over a year. That is $1,800,000 revenues in 4 years based on a repeatable process that can be learned and supported.
1. Hire and retain talent
As the funding is available for 4 years, it's accessible for even smaller clients. The scope of deliverables is limited, and you are able to hire and train employees based on the government's money with literally zero risk.
The $15,000 grant will give about 60 hours of work per advisor at a $250 hourly rate. One advisor can deliver about 30 planning services to your clients 90% financed by the government.
2. Farm Digital Projects that Matter to Clients
The planning services are only one part of the equation. You are able to use the funding and the 0% loan comes with the program for various projects.
Implement cybersecurity initiatives, migrate clients to modern cloud infrastructure, expand MS Teams, Sharepoint implementations or modernize the infrastructure.
Your clients are happy, your team is happy, your bottom lines are happy.
3. Get in front of Clients
Not every MSP will be able to become an approved advisor to render these services. That means it's the single best opportunity to get in front of potential clients.
You can bring them $15,000, delivering a solid Technology Strategy, and demonstrate your superiority to win more MRR easier.
It's a two-edged sword... you missing out on the opportunity opens the door for your competition to serve your clients with the grants.
2. The process to access the funding and deliver services
Let’s see who is eligible for the grants, what the grants can be used for and who can be an advisor to render those services.
Based on the definition the following organizations are eligible for the $15,000 grants:
- “Be incorporated federally or provincially, or be a Canadian resident sole proprietor
- Be a for-profit, privately owned business
- Have between 1 – 499 full-time equivalent employees
- Have at least $500,000 of annual revenues in one of the previous three tax years”
Most of the sweet-spot MSP clients are in this range, so most of your clients are eligible for the funds.
"Boost Your Business Technology" - Digital Adoption Plan
“The grant covers up to 90% of the eligible cost of retaining the services of a digital advisor, up to a maximum grant value of $15,000 per SME, to develop a digital adoption plan.”
That means a digital adoption planning service is supported by the grants that check the government eligibility criteria.
Digital Adoption Plan implementation
“Businesses also have the opportunity to secure a 0% interest loan from the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) to facilitate the acquisition of new technology. “
After the digital adoption plans, there are loans available to implement those plans.
The process is done through "Digital Advisors"
An MSP can be eligible to become a Digital Advisor and provide the services. The code of conduct promotes vendor neutrality, which means the MSP cannot be a vendor of the recommended products subject of the plans.
Let’s review the challenges to becoming an approved Digital Advisor and to delivering the services at scale.
Challenge 1: Becoming an Approved Digital Advisor
The Digital Adoption Planning Services can only be done by approved Digital Advisors. The criteria are pretty vague but there are some very specific requirements that have to be met:
“In order to be listed on the marketplace, digital advisors must meet the following eligibility criteria:
- hold a relevant post-secondary degree or diploma or certification in a relevant field (e.g., computer science, engineering, business or commerce, digital or information technology or systems; an MBA, CPA or related professional designation is preferred)
- have a minimum of five years of experience providing digital advisory services
- have experience in developing digital business strategies, models, products or services
- have expertise in digital technology solutions for SMEs (e.g. Enterprise Resource Planning, Customer Relationship Management) in various industries (e.g. manufacturing, distribution, retail, construction)
- have experience in executing digital technology selection processes and structural analytical techniques
- be able to provide all elements of a CDAP digital adoption plan (as per the CDAP digital adoption plan guide)”
- Secondary Degree or Certification in the subject
- 5 Years of experience
- Experience in Digital Business Strategies, Digital Technology Solutions, Solution Selections
- Capability to execute Digital Adoption Plans that are compliant with the requirements
Proof must be attached to the application:
- CV proving the applicant’s eligibility
- Two References demonstrating past successful Digital Adoption Plans
- Sample Plans for past executed Digital Adoption plans eligible for the requirements
Overall it seems not a whole lot, but there are some slippery slopes here. We have heard about rejected applications from multiple sources, which tells us that the applications have to be well crafted for smooth approval.
Challenge 2: You are not without competition
Based on the objectives of the program a wide variety of service providers, consultants and solution experts can become advisors and go after the same clients.
- Subject Matter experts in Marketing / Sales / Communication / Inventory / Analytics...
- General Business Consultants
- ISO Certification Organizations
- Business Process Reengineering Experts
- Controlling, Reporting Business Intelligence Consultants
- Communication, Teamwork and Collaboration Consultants
- ERP, CRM or Business Intelligence Consultants
As “Digital” is a pretty broad term it can be applied to many disciplines that are not in the wheelhouse of an MSP. Your challenge is to create a business case with clients who would be steering their “Digital Adoption” to Technology Infrastructure, Cloud Migration or General Application Adoption. Many other providers are steering the narrative to “Digital Marketing”, “Digital Advertisement” or growth within the “Digital Marketplace”.
Challenge 3: Digital Advisors are Vendor Agnostic
Most MSPs are trained and deliver services around a particular product such as MS Office 365, MS Teams, or MS Sharepoint as examples. These products might be the subject of recommended digital projects mentioned inside the Digital Adoption Plans. However, the relationship with these products has to be clear and the planning process can not be part of the “sales process”. There are some specific terms inside the documentation that prevent this.
“Digital advisors must disclose if they or the organization they represent is a technology vendor (e.g., selling a particular product or software). Digital advisors must provide vendor neutral advice to clients, and as such, advisors that also serve as vendors will not be permitted to register at this time. CDAP will perform reviews of digital advisors to ensure their attestations are valid.”
Also part of the code of conduct:
“exercising neutrality in the provision of consulting advice and assistance to SME clients”
It does not mean that MSPs cannot add their products and services into the plans, but it has to be disclosed properly and made sure it does not breach the code of conduct. The document states specific cases when approval status can be revoked:
“CDAP reserves the right to suspend or remove digital advisors from the marketplace based on evidence of the following (this is not an exhaustive list):
- fraudulent information provided during the registration process;
- failure to meet the terms of the SME client agreement;
- any demonstration of wrongdoing in dealings with the SME client;
- determination of a conflict of interest that would impact the integrity of advisory services delivered by the digital advisor; and
- unsatisfactory ratings provided on the SME client feedback form.“
Challenge #4 - Orchestration and Account Management
As most of your clients might be qualified for the grants you need to create a specific communication strategy to lead this initiative from the “thought leadership” perspective. That’ll help you to “own the narrative” and teach them about Digital Transformation and Digital Adoption. That, in theory, associates you and your domain with “digital”.
Some examples of activities need to be orchestrated across the lifecycle of the project.
- Pre communication: Let clients know that your MSP is "approved" or “being approved”
- Sell them on the idea of "why they need a digital adoption plan"
- Strategize with each client about the specific benefit for them having a plan
- Block out their applications and schedule them to your roadmap (one advisor can handle 25-30 digital adoption plans a year)
- Help them to apply in time (to meet the 6 month application-delivery window)
- Deliver the "digital adoption plan" services
- Comply with the regulations
- Manage the paperwork
That’ll add an extra layer of activities to your busy Account Management, Marketing and Service Delivery complexity. It needs some standard operating procedures, communication templates and training to be able to handle the workload.
Challenge #5 - Scalable Delivery
The good thing is that “Digital Adoption Planning” is a streamlined process with definitive inputs, process, client meetings and specific outcome documentation. That means you do not need super senior people to deliver it IF you have the processes, templates and procedures to do it. Without any scope, checklists, documents and supporting materials the work is difficult and complex. Unfortunately, the government does not give any best practices, recommendations to follow, and only some requirements of the outcome documents.
3 requirements of a scalable delivery are:
1. STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE
- Digital Adoption Planning Framework
- Digital Adoption Planning Flowcharts
- Digital Adoption Planning Process Steps
- Digital Adoption Planning Decision Tree
- Digital Adoption Planning Handoffs
- Digital Adoption Planning Meeting Agendas
- Digital Adoption Planning Visuals for Clients
2. EFFICIENT DELIVERY MECHANISM
- Software managing client
- Software managing Process Checklists
- Software manages Visuals
- Software handle Checklists
- Software for Meeting Management
- Software for Follow-Ups
- Software calculating Benchmark
- Software document Statement of Work
3. TRAINING AND SOFT SKILLS
- Certification for executing Digital Adoption Planning
- Digital Adoption Planning On-Demand Learning
- Digital Adoption Planning Group Coaching
- Digital Adoption Planning Skill Building
- Digital Adoption Planning Community
- Submit and pre-evaluate Digital Adoption Plans
Digital Maturity Advisors has certified many Digital Advisors over the previous few years and built an ecosystem to help them with the challenges.
1. Digital Advisor Framework
Your Advisors are armed with detailed process blueprints, checklists, meeting agendas, worksheets and flowcharts to make the process repeatable. They can follow procedures that integrate into their existing workflows. All compliant with the Canada Digital Adoption Program (CDAP) requirements.
2. Defined Digital Adoption Services
5. Digital Adoption Plan Process Maps
Your advisors can deliver digital adoption plans by following best practices. All Digital Services are explained in detailed flowcharts with inputs, collected information, consulting sessions and deliverables.
6. Digital Adoption Plan Standard Operating Procedures
Your Digital Advisors are never lost or overwhelmed. Every step of digital services is broken down into standard operating procedures advisors can follow and repeat. This not only helps to learn the processes but to keep track of all engagements.
7. Digital Adoption Plan Meeting Agendas
Your Advisors are always generating amazing client experience, showing professionalism and control even with the most demanding CEOs. Each meeting is defined with an agenda that can be sent prior to the meeting and used during the consulting sessions.
8. Digital Adoption Plan Group Workshop Agendas
Your Digital Advisors can save a huge amount of time during the Digital Adoption Planning process by having well-defined workshop agendas. Each workshop and group session is covered to be able to simplify the consulting events.
9. Digital Adoption Plan Roadmap & Budget
Your Advisors are not generating 50-page consulting documents nobody will read through. The digital adoption plan's main output is a Roadmap Plan & Budget with defined deliverables, responsible and statuses. That is used not just for the planning but through implementation processes to follow.
10. Digital Adoption Plan Complete Report
Your Advisors are always generating government-accepted plans. The PDF report helps you to submit your Digital Adoption Plan as a statement of work to the government and your clients. All instances of required compliance are in the report, generated automatically based on your consulting work. This living and breathing document can help you to execute the plans and implement the recommendations later on.
11. Digital Advisor Software
Your Advisors and your team can leverage a very robust software package to generate the digital adoption plans, roadmaps, and analyses defined by the Canada Digital Adoption Program (CDAP) requirements. All integrated with the tools you use like Connectwise, Autotask or Office 365.
12. Digital Advisor Education
Your account managers, advisors, marketing and salespeople have access to a wide range of course materials, marketing kits, templates, training sessions and supporting materials to make sure everyone is ready to scale this opportunity.
13. Advisor 24-Week Group Coaching
The module-based 6-month group coaching program guides you through all aspects of digital practice. Bootcamp, Strategy, Delivery, Marketing, Sales and finally a campaign. The group coaching goal is not only education but helps implement the theories in your business, deliver services to early adopters and generate a complete campaign after your certification.
14. MSP CDAP Advisor Community
Your team will have access to the most progressive Canadian MSP community via dedicated monthly peer group sessions, an online community, and a resource exchange program to help if resources aren't available. It'll help your managed services provider to grow with enormous support.
15. Digital Advisor Certification
The certification not only requires the advisors to go through mandatory courses and group coaching but to perform several Canada Digital Adoption Program (CDAP) consulting service engagements with clients. This way the certification process pays for itself through client engagements.
16. Digital Advisor Marketing Kits
Your marketing team is supported with a library of branded materials, ready-made email sequences, landing pages, explainer videos, outreach kits, call scripts, and LinkedIn connection building templates to make their work easier.
This helps to become a CDAP Digital Advisor, Deliver Digital Adoption Planning Services and comply with the government regulations and code of conduct.
If you are looking to leverage the opportunity, you can access more information through the videos, you can schedule a strategy call or participate in one of our webinars.
On a Bumper Sticker
Becoming a CDAP Digital Advisor and accessing grants up to $15,000 per client is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for MSPs to help clients’ digital transformation, train and hire staff and improve the top and bottom lines of the organization. However, this requires a strategic approach to ensure the scalability of the model.
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