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You need to submit a digital adoption plan to access loans and youth subsidies – but what does the submission process look like?

Your digital adoption plan is your personalised road map to success during the digital adoption process. You need to submit this plan in order to access the 0% interest loan and the youth wage subsidies that are part of the CDAP program for eligible businesses. 

But what happens in between qualifying for the grant and submitting your fully-prepared CDAP digital adoption plan?

Keep reading to find out:

  1. The 7 steps to completing and submitting your digital adoption plan
  2. Get your digital adoption plan started 

DISCLAIMER: and its owner are not agents of the Government of Canada or CDAP. The thoughts shared below reflect the interpretations and experience of a CDAP-approved digital advisor. For exact interpretations of CDAP Boost Your Business Technology policy, please refer to this Government of Canada web page

7 steps to completing and submitting your digital adoption plan

Step 1: Sign up for a CDAP account

During the registration process when you create your CDAP account, there are a few items you ought to have on hand to make the process easier for you. These are: 

  • Personal online banking info and authorization to use. The business owner, or one of the owners, must confirm their identity to get the company registered with CDAP. CDAP verifies identities through their Sign-In Partner on Verified.Me (which connects to a number of Canadian banks and credit unions).
  • Legal business name. The name of your business exactly as the government has it documented in their database. Check your business CRA account or your business registration documents to make sure you have all uppercase and lowercase words correctly written, and including the exact use and placement of any special characters (eg: –, ! , etc).
  • Your business number. This is the number you received when you registered your business with the CRA. Also known as your HST number.
  • Industry code. Specify the most appropriate industry code that your business falls under. You can find this code by searching for your business industry on this government website in the search bar.
  • CRA login OR your latest T1 tax return. Sometimes during the CRA login process, they ask you to verify your identity by confirming a random line number from your tax returns. Make sure you have that handy, just in case. Tip: do a test login on both your personal and your business CRA accounts to confirm your account is accessible before starting your CDAP account signup. 

Step 2: Provide initial digital adoption plan intake

In order to prepare a digital adoption plan that is specifically tailored to meet the needs of your business, some initial information is gathered by your CDAP advisor at the beginning of your relationship.

In building a plan with your advisor, your advisor will ask you for your perspective and insight on the following: 

  • Basic information about your business operations 
  • Your corporate structure
  • Any key market trends impacting your current business decisions
  • Current tech team member supports or third party IT reps
  • Technologies you are investigating or are interested in
  • Current challenges to your business

Once this information is collected, your digital advisor can start to highlight areas to focus on during their work preparing your digital adoption plan. 

How long does that take? Not as long as you may think! Our digital advisors are usually able to collect all of this information within two Zoom sessions.

Step 3: Prepare and approve your digital adoption plan

CDAP-approved digital advisors have access to plan development software. Our plan software has recently been upgraded through investments made to enhance our plan development experience.

Developing an approvable CDAP plan used to take us four weeks – now it only takes us two weeks to develop a plan with our clients (on average) while maintaining the same approvable plan format that CDAP requires. 

Once the plan is prepared, we:

  • Export our plans in PDF format (one of the formats recommended by CDAP).
  • Present the plan to our client during the final step of plan development. 
  • Make final tweaks to meet the needs of the client during the presentation call.

Step 4: Submit your digital adoption plan

All completed digital adoption plans must be submitted by the business owner via your CDAP account, which you signed up for in step one. 

Once the digital adoption plan has been formally finalised (the plan is prepared, exported to PDF, approved of and received by the clients), we help our clients with the submission process. 

Although we can’t go onto your account for you to submit your digital adoption plan, we do provide: 

  • Specific instructions on exactly how to submit your application and plan to your CDAP account. 
  • Troubleshoot any issues you may encounter with your CDAP account during the submissions process. 
  • If needed, we can tap into our special CDAP Digital Advisor support resources to help you with tips that will keep your grant approval process moving forward. 

Step 5: Approval of your CDAP digital adoption plan

After your plan has been submitted, it is reviewed by the CDAP Team for approval. 

Who approves the CDAP digital adoption plans?

A CDAP government officer will review the plans to confirm that it meets the requirements. Once completed, the grant is disbursed to the SME, and they can access the BDC loan application or youth wage subsidy to start implementing new technology.

How long does it take to get approval for a digital adoption plan?

This approval process is completed entirely on the government’s side, and your digital advisor has no access to this review process or their timelines. 

In our experience, approval of a grant submission starts with a 3-5 business day wait time (for confirmation that the plan has been successfully submitted) and a 30 calendar day wait period (before the plan is actually approved). 

As of today (August 24, 2023) it takes an average of about 15 to 20 calendar days to receive approval. 

Once a plan has been approved, the SME will receive a “congratulations” email directly from CDAP. This email will note when you can expect to receive funding. 

When and how is funding usually received?

Funding is received via electronic transfer of funds into your preferred bank account, usually within 5 business days of the day your plan is approved. 

We’ll talk about this in more detail in the next step. 

What if a plan is not approved?

If your CDAP digital adoption plan is not approved, the CDAP Team will state exactly what is lacking from the submissions. 

SMEs will have a chance to resubmit a corrected version of the digital adoption plan, as instructed by the CDAP Team. 

Step 6: Access grant funding and apply for CDAP loan 

As part of your registration process in step one, your SME provided EFT (void cheque) information. 

Your payment from the CDAP program will be delivered by electronic funds transfer after your grant has been approved. 

The grant must always be paid directly from CDAP to the SME. Then, the SME is obliged to pay their bill to the digital advisor who prepared your digital adoption plan. 

A failure to pay your digital advisor may be considered misappropriating government funds, so it’s a good idea to check that box as soon as you can.

After the grant has been approved, you have to go back to your CDAP account and click on a unique link to the BDC to apply for the CDAP interest-free loan and youth wage subsidies that are available. You need to formally apply for the loan and subsidies in order to gain access to them.

Applying for the 0% interest loan

The application process for the loan is similar to the initial registration process. Here are a few items we recommend you have nearby for the loan application submission: 

  • Your HST / Business number. Everything before RT0001
  • Your NAICS industry code. Search for your industry code here.
  • Shareholder names. Including contact information and percentages of ownership.
  • Accountant’s name. Including address, phone number and email address. 
  • Digital copy of void cheque. Required for EFT payment after approval. 
  • Year-end financial statements. This is to confirm your annual income and determine the amount of grant money you are eligible to receive. 

Your CDAP interest-free loan approval will be confirmed through an email from BDC.

Funds will be released by EFT to your preferred bank account. 

This usually takes around 30 calendar days from the loan application, though timing may vary.

Step 7: Next steps

Once an SME has received their funding, they’re encouraged to take their digital adoption plan, calendarize (or set timelines and deadlines for) their processes and the next steps identified in the digital adoption plan, and begin implementing the technology adoptions. 

Am I allowed to work with the digital advisor who prepared my plan to implement my new digital adoption plan?

CDAP-approved digital advisors are  never supposed to build themselves into your digital adoption plans in order to abide by the program’s neutrality policy.

Therefore, you are not obligated to consult with the advisor who prepared your digital adoption plan for any of the technology applications you act on. You are free to work with any other service providers to implement your strategic plan for digital adoption. 

You may choose to work with your digital advisor in the future, but that choice must come from you, and you should not feel pressured or encouraged to do so by your CDAP digital advisor — that would go against their code of conduct.

CDAP’s intention is that the advisor provides neutral advice on the best service providers and technologies they are aware of to meet your business’s needs.

CDAP advisor recommendations cannot be motivated by commissions, affiliate fees, or other tangible benefits to sell you a particular service — whether it is by another brand OR themselves.

Equipped with a fair plan recommendation, you are free to work with any other service providers to implement your strategic plan for digital adoption that you see as the best fit for your business.

Do you have to use the digital adoption plan exactly as stated?

If the plan is strong enough, you will want to follow the suggestions provided by your digital advisor exactly as stated in your digital adoption plan to achieve the best outcome for your business.

However, as all plans need room for realistic adjustments (such as fluctuations in service costs, availability of support work, and other unanticipated social/economic factors), you can safely assume that there will be room for adjustments in your CDAP digital adoption plan. 

Do I need to use the government funding budget exactly as listed in my plan?

As above: there may be room for reasonable adjustments impacted by changes to the market and other unanticipated factors. 

That said – our clients are encouraged to do their best to adhere to the plan as prepared, submitted, and accepted by the government officer.

Here are some tips we provide to all our clients at the close of a relationship to help them as they move forward: 

  • Keep all invoices and receipts for expenses related to your CDAP budget.
  • Document all activations related to your digital adoption plan and keep all invoices and receipts that relate to your digital adoption plan budget, with reasonable rationale for any adjustments.
  • If you choose to make changes to your CDAP plan and are worried about how to proceed, contact us and we can advise the best way to make adjustments to your plan or budget while staying in adherence with the CDAP program. 
  • We are always happy to check the rules with our CDAP Digital Advisor supports to give clients peace of mind as they begin to implement their digital adoption. 

These steps will be as useful to your own financial records or future funding requests, as well as to any government representative who may be interested to see how your plan implementation rolled out.

At the very least, you can expect a follow-up survey from CDAP to determine the efficacy of the plan to improve your business.

How to get started with your digital adoption plan

You can learn more about the CDAP process by watching this video – an AI tutorial prepared just for you. 

If you want to work with a digital advisor with a 100% approval rating for submitted CDAP digital adoption plans, you’re in the right place. 

Ready to book a FREE 30-minute initial consultation with a CDAP-approved digital advisor, or ask specific questions that weren’t answered in this blog? 

No problem! Get in touch in one of these days: 

  • Start a LiveChat on the website (bottom right corner)
  • Call to book at 289-768-3562
  • Find us on Facebook to see if we’ve answered your questions in a past blog

In the meantime, here are the blogs you should explore next…

What to read next:

Find out what to look for in a CDAP-approved digital advisor to make sure you find one that’s right for you.

Check out why it’s necessary to work with a CDAP-approved digital advisor. 

Learn about which technologies will help SMEs expand their digital reach as you make investments on new digital technologies